Cats roll in the dirt as a form of dust bathing. When cats lick outdoor dirt off their fur, they deposit healthy bacteria into their system to help with digestion. By rolling in litter, indoor cats can replicate this feeling, depositing the dusty litter on their coat before licking it off.
Rolling around occasionally and licking off a small amount of litter won’t likely hurt your cat. If, however, your cat is making a habit of rolling in litter or dirt and eating a lot of it in the process when cleaning, a condition known as pica could be at play. Pica is a condition that is sometimes caused by a dietary deficiency or behavioral issue and occurs when cats eat items that aren’t food, like litter.
In the litter box or out of it, if you notice that your cat is rolling around, it could simply be because she’s happy. Cats sometimes roll around as a way to initiate play, so your cat may simply be feeling a bit frisky and playful.
Another potentially related cause is that in the past, when you’ve seen your cat rolling in litter or dirt , you’ve started laughing, praised your cat, petted your cat, or otherwise positively reinforced the behavior. If this is the case, your cat may simply be repeating the behavior to elicit a positive response from you.
Rolling in litter or dirt is mostly harmless, but if your cat is spending all of his time hanging out in the litter box or dirt , that’s not a healthy behavior. If your cat is feeling stressed or sick, he might head off to his litter box to hide. That’s because cats tend to feel safe in spaces that hold their scent, like the litter box or dirt , when they are ill or stressed.
To rule out a medical issue, get your cat to the vet for a checkup and encourage him to hang out in other spots instead, like a comfy cat condo or snuggly bed.