Why Do Cats Flop Down In Front Of You?

Why Do Cats Flop Down In Front Of You?

Cats may not always show their affectionate side but they are adorable all the same.  They may rub against your legs, sit on your lap and knead you. It is also a nice surprise if your cat suddenly flops down in front of you, also called the social roll, when she greets you at the door. 

Why do cats flop down in front of you?

Here are the reasons why cats flop down in front of you:

1. They are seeking your attention. 

Are you clueless why your cat suddenly flops down in front of you each time she greets you at the door when you come home in the evening? It is their way of seeking your attention because they miss you and want some petting and cuddling. While dogs are popular for doing this adorable flop routine, cats also tend to do it to solicit some quality pet time. Just be careful not to aim for her belly as it is a sensitive part for cats. 

According to cat behaviorist Pam Johnson-Bennett, cats are both predators and prey which makes them protective of their tummies where all the vital organs are located. Thus, the typical reaction is to go into defensive mode if the stomach is touched. Also, cat experts note that hair follicles on the belly area are hypersensitive to the touch so petting her there can be overstimulating for her. Felines usually prefer to be stroked on the head, under the chin and on the cheeks.  

2. To show their trust and affection. 

If your cat flops down in front of you when she sees you, consider yourself fortunate and blessed. Her action means that your cat trusts you and she is showing her affection to you.  Cat experts note that felines will only do the social roll when they are completely relaxed, comfortable and safe in a person’s presence. They may act the same when they are around their siblings or fellow cats and pets at home. 

3. They are marking their territory. 

As territorial creatures, cats are known to mark their turf by rubbing their scent on surfaces, corners and humans. As you may have noticed, when cats flop in front of you, they may roll back and forth vigorously. This leaves their scent on a particular spot such as near the front door or in your yard since their cheeks, face, feet and tail have scent glands. By doing the social roll, they are letting the feline world know that certain areas are part of their territory.

4. It brings them comfort and makes them feel good. 

Just as humans feel good when they take a warm bath or surround themselves with aromatic scents, cats find it comforting when they roll and flop in front of you. It allows them to stretch their muscles and the texture of floors or soil acts as a little extra back scratch for them. Some cats may prefer to roll in the dirt or on cold tiles while others may like to flop down in a sandy patch of your yard. 

5. They may be in heat. 

Another reason why your cat flops down in front of you is that she may be in heat. Female cats that are mostly in heat flop down and roll and they do it almost exclusively for adult male cats, according to a study made by Cambridge University. Thus, doing the social roll may have nothing to do with you but it may indicate something about your cat! It may just be an indication that she is looking for a mate and the action may be accompanied by vocalization while keeping their butts up while rolling. 

6. They may be inviting you for a little playtime. 

Just as dogs tend to flop down and roll about to invite you to play, cats may similarly be signifying it, too, when they do the social roll.  If you notice your cat rolling about with her tummy exposed and also doing kitty kicks, she may just be inviting you for some honest-to-goodness playtime fun!

7. They may be having some catnip overdrive. 

Ever wonder why your cat will suddenly flop down in front of you while playing with some of her toys? Blame it on catnip! This is because catnip contains nepetalactone that triggers happy receptors in a cat’s brain and as a result, they become rolling maniacs. Cats may also flip, rub and growl or meow at the same time. 

8. They may not be feeling well. 

While doing the social roll may be adorable, it may also mean that your cat is feeling ill. A possible culprit is cerebellar hypoplasia that affects the cerebellum which controls a cat’s balance and movement. It may also be due to ataxia, a sensory dysfunction that affects a cat’s balance, head and limbs. This causes cats to fall and have trouble staying upright. If you suspect that your cat is not feeling well, bring her to the vet at once for proper diagnosis and treatment. 


Cats tend to display their adorable side by flopping down in front of you which they may do when greeting you at the door. Cats do this to catch your attention, to tell you that they trust you and to invite you for playtime. However, it may also indicate that they are in heat or they may be feeling ill.

Image: istockphoto.com / Nils Jacobi