Cat body posture is fascinating to observe, and rolling on the back sends definite signals. A cat that is secure and content is most likely to roll in an attempt to attract attention. The behavior can be meant as an invitation to play, whether directed to favorite people or other cats. Have you seen your can gyrate on the floor? Does he or she twist and turn in the cutest way possible? Does your cat playfully paw at the air, or does he reach out and grab your pant leg? This is a not-so-subtle request for some playtime. Get your cat toys, a kitty tease, a sparkly toy, or a rolling ball to entertain Fluffy and yourself!
Have you noticed your cat lying on its back, waiting on the sidewalk for you to return home from an errand or a workday? Your cat may be enjoying the warmth of the sunshine, but when Wiggles spots you, she starts to move in a ways that can only be described as flirtatious. Wiggles recognizes you as a family member, and her acts represent a welcome home. Your cat is ready to enjoy your company and all that comes with it.
On the other hand, cats may roll on the floor for logical reasons—to scratch their itchy backs, or to stretch out their muscles. Female cats that have not been spayed may roll around as part of mating rituals. Other cats may have learned that lying on their backs results in tummy tickles, which many cats like (even though they may “attack” the tickler). Assuming the position is a great attention getter.
Much like dogs, lying on the back can also signal submission. However, some cats just like to stretch out on their backs, not really wanting anyone to interfere with their solitude. If you reach to touch the belly, some cats will jump and attack. Before reaching for that tickle spot, know your cat. Some cats will signal that they are annoyed with quick flicks of the tail, or by tucking back the ears. If you get the “don’t bother me” signals, respect your cat’s request and try again later.
Remember that cats are individuals, somewhat temperamental, occasionally independent, and totally set in their ways. That’s what makes them so special and why we love their companionship. Just as with your spouse, your boss, and your friends—timing is everything!