Why Do Cats Lay On Their Backs?

Why Do Cats Lay On Their Backs

When you see a cat laying on her back the first word that will come to mind is cute! A cat lying on her back accompanied by a meek stare is sure to melt hearts everywhere.  But, why does a cat do that? Is she trying to convey a message to you? Let us find out in this article exactly the reason why.

Why do cats lay on their backs?

Cats lay on their backs for an array of reasons. Here are the most common ones:

1. It means they are happy and they feel comfortable. 

Cats may lay on their backs if they are happy and comfortable and it means they feel safe and protected with you.  Laying on their backs also indicates that they are contented and they feel secure.

2. It is a display of trust. 

A cat’s belly or stomach is considered a vulnerable part of their body especially since there are essential internal organs inside it.  So, when you see your cat laying on her back it means she is being submissive and that she trusts you. Most often, cats will also spread out their legs, relax their tails and may also purr softly. If you approach your cat in that position she does not look jumpy and nervous, quite the opposite, and will not flick her tail.  This may also mean she is open to belly rubs but be cautious and gentle so as not to betray her trust.

3. It may mean they have a mischievous intent. 

Cats may also lay on their backs to invite you for playtime with a mischievous twist. They may be in a feisty and naughty mood when they are on their backs but be cautious and try to decipher their body language just to be sure.  If you see your cat’s tail flicking back and forth rapidly it may mean she is open for playtime and not petting time. They may also bring their tails between their legs and bellies to bite and paw at. 

Check if your cat’s eyes are glowing and following your every move as it may mean you are targeted as her signal for playtime.  If this is so, make sure not to put your hands near her and do not give her belly rubs. What you can do is to bring out wand-style or teaser toys and stuffed animals that your cat can play with.

4. It is a relaxing and comfortable sleeping position for them. 

Your cat may be laying on her back because she finds it a very comfortable sleeping position. If you see your cat laying on her back with relaxed legs and eyes closed, it may be that she is just resting and relaxing. But if the breathing is slow and if it is accompanied by gentle snoring it may mean your cat is in deep slumber. If this is so, do not attempt to wake her as your cat may become agitated and attack you, it is best to just let her be.

5. Your cat is in estrus and she wants to mate.  

Your female cat may be laying on her back because she is in heat and ready to mate especially if there are male cats around.  Other signs signifying that your cat is in heat include loud vocalizations like yowling as well as a desire to go outside.  If this is so, avoid touching your cat’s belly as she may become agitated and may bite or scratch you. Spayed cats do not go into heat so if your spayed cat suddenly lays on her back it may indicate other reasons. 

6. It may mean your cat is in a defensive mode. 

Cats may lay on their backs because they are preparing for an imminent attack and in a defensive mode. This may happen after an encounter with other pets like dogs or if they were disturbed in their sleep. Watch out for fluffed up or flicking tails, hissing and growling as it means these cats are not in a good mood so better steer clear from cats if they are in this mood. 

Why do cats lay on their backs with their paws up?

Cats may lay on their backs with their paws up because they are keeping their paws cool. This is because they use their paw pads to regulate their body temperature if it gets too hot.  They also do it to keep themselves warm for the same reason that their paw pads can retain heat.

Why do cats lay on your back?

Your cat may be laying on your back because she likes the warmth of your body and she wants to stay warm that is why she is doing that.  Consider yourself one lucky cat parent if your cat lays on your back because it may also mean that she feels secure and protected with you and she is comfortable while she lays on your back.  Most of all, she is laying on your back because she is expressing her love and affection for you. 

Why does your cat roll on her back when she sees you?

Your cat may be rolling on her back each time she sees you because she wants to get your attention. This may usually take place each time you arrive home from work. Your cat may also roll on her back when she sees you as her way of telling you that she is comfortable and that she loves you. 

If you notice your cat in this position, be sure to give her attention and shower her with cuddles. Your cat may also be rolling on her back because she feels itchy in the backside and she may be rubbing her back against the floor or carpet. 


Cats are fun to be with because they are playful and quirky.  They also have weird behavior that will amuse but also confuse you. Cats may lay on their backs to display trust and to signify comfort and trust. They may also do it because they are in heat or they are in a defensive mode. Most importantly, laying on their backs is a relaxing and comfortable sleeping position for them that is why they are fond of doing it. 

Image: istockphoto.com / Mete Basar