cat lying on back with paws up in sun

Why Do Cats Lay on Their Backs? 3 Reasons

Cats lay on their backs when they are completely comfortable and they trust you.

Showing you their belly puts them in a vulnerable position, so cats have to be fully at ease to do this. 

Why do cats roll on their backs when they see you?

You might think that your pet asks for a belly rub when you see her rolling on her back to greet you.

Unfortunately, most cats actually hate having their bellies touched. 

This is even truer for animals that were spayed as you could inadvertently be touching their incision area, and that might not be pleasant at all.

cat playing on back

The truth is that while most cats seem to be glad that you are there, and that is why they are showing you they trust you by displaying their bellies, it actually depends on each circumstance.

For example, if you have ever played with your cat, you probably know that she can sit on her back to try to grab the ‘prey’ (in the form of the toy) as best as possible. 

To tell just what mood your cat is in, we suggest looking for additional clues such as seeing how her ears, eyes, tail, or paws are doing.

A cat that is angry will have her ears pushed against her head.

A cat that is playing or wants to attack will have her claws out, and that doesn’t happen all the time. 

An angry cat can also have a particularly fluffy tail because cats have to assert dominance and scare away animals that might want to attack them, so they have to seem bigger. 

Do keep in mind that if your cat wants to attack you and she is lying on her back, you have every chance of being hurt, at that exact moment, your pet can use all of their claws and her mouth to begin an assault. 

1. Playtime

It usually happens when you are already playing with your cat, but sometimes, she could come next to you and lay on her back to tell you that it is time to take their favourite toy out. 

However, if this happens, the behaviour is usually preceded by other clues, such as your cat being agitated and running around the house in an attempt to show her frustration to you that you aren’t doing your job and you aren’t playing with her. 

2. It’s Their Way Of Greeting you

While many cats will not lay on their backs most of the time, they will almost always do it when you return home. 

Most cats don’t like to spend a lot of time alone.

In fact, some tend to develop separation anxiety if they are overly attached to you, or if you are the only other living being they interact with. 

cat laying on back on kitchen floor

While it might be true that the majority of cats sleep when you are away, that doesn’t always happen. 

They could get frustrated and bored, and some might even develop destructive tendencies. 

In other words, cats lay on their backs when you get back home to tell you that they are quite happy to see you again.

Give your cat some attention if they are craving it.

You might want to avoid petting her belly, though, as most pets don’t react too well to it.

But a little love on her cheeks, the underside of her chin, and even on the head will definitely not hurt!

Also, don’t feel weird if you want to talk to your cat while giving her attention. 

Cats are wonderful creatures and they memorise your voice, so the next time you get back home and call them, they’ll come and see what’s up.

Not all of them might respond to their given names, but they will definitely react to your voice. 

3. They Are Happy

This happens most of the time, and what we mean by this is that more often than not, a cat that will show her belly to you is going to be completely comfortable.

It happens differently between two animals.

In fact, there’s a rule when a cat gives up a fight with another cat outdoors, they lay on their backs and display their bellies so as to tell the other animal that they accept their dominance and are offering their submission to them. 

lying cat

It might not be that your cat is considering you her master, as lots of cats tend to think of themselves as the bosses of their homes, not their human friends. 

But in general, cats lay on their backs when they are happy. They could be taking a little nap on their backs, or they could be purring and wanting to be petted in a certain way — regardless, they are perfectly content. 

Sometimes, female cats might show their bellies to males they want to mate with, but this does not happen every time. 

However, if your cat is not fixed and she goes into heat, she might become overly affectionate and could show you her belly more often. 

Final thoughts

When your cat lays on her back, she is completely relaxed and content.

Above all else, she trusts that you are not going to hurt her, and she perceives her living space as being completely safe. 

Whether your cat lays on her back when she is taking a nap or when she wants to play is something that only you can tell based on the rest of her behaviour.

Although this body position is mainly used as a way of greeting you, cats can sometimes feel agitated or threatened, so pay attention to your cat’s ears, eyes, and sounds to know whether petting her is a good idea. 

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