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  #1  
Old 02-23-2010, 04:47 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Why Do Cats Roll On Their Backs?

My cat seems to do that when he is contented, and that's practically all the time. But he doesn't want me to rub his tummy. If I try to, he will scratch me.
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  #2  
Old 02-23-2010, 04:52 PM
Drunky Smurf Drunky Smurf is offline
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Both of my cats do that and I just assumed it was to get belly rubs and part of their stretching routine.
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  #3  
Old 02-23-2010, 04:53 PM
otternell otternell is offline
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If there's a sunbeam, I always thought it was to warm up the tummy.

My smokey cat was like that - you try and rub his tummy and he tries to bite!
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  #4  
Old 02-23-2010, 05:07 PM
Skara_Brae Skara_Brae is offline
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Here's some theories: http://www.suite101.com/blog/shaya_w...n_he_greets_me

Quote:
When a cat shows you his belly, it’s often a sign of trust because he is putting himself in a vulnerable position. A cat that rolls on his back and presents his tummy is usually saying that you’re a friend, and that your relationship is cooperative rather than competitive.


Some cats will also roll on their backs when they want to play, as it gets them into a good position to tackle a proffered hand, so it’s risky to assume this gesture is always an invitation to a belly scratch, particularly with an unknown cat.


A cat may also have mixed feelings, wanting to trust but feeling wary, particularly if he has been handled roughly in the past. He might invite a tummy rub but then become fearful and launch a warning attack on the hand. Such attacks are not usually done at full strength. They are a way of letting the person know that the cat wants to trust but has been mistreated in the past and is thus prepared to defend himself if the person takes advantage of his vulnerability.
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  #5  
Old 02-23-2010, 05:10 PM
Malleus, Incus, Stapes! Malleus, Incus, Stapes! is offline
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It's Felinenese for "I trust you".

The body language literally means, "I trust you not to disembowel me while I'm in a vulnerable position."

This does not mean the cat actually wants you to touch its soft bits. Even if Fluffy doesn't feel threatened, it might trigger his "kill it" reflexes.
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  #6  
Old 02-23-2010, 05:21 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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When Edison does it he's saying, "Look, bitch, this belly ain't gonna rub itself!" You can tell, because he also says "EEERA!"
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  #7  
Old 02-23-2010, 06:08 PM
jsc1953 jsc1953 is offline
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I'm confused. If a cat attacks your hand when you rub its belly (and mine does, every time) does that mean they want to play, or they're pissed off?
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  #8  
Old 02-23-2010, 06:09 PM
Oglomott Oglomott is offline
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I had a cat who slept on his back with all fours up in the air.

Sometimes, anyway.
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  #9  
Old 02-23-2010, 06:34 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jsc1953 View Post
I'm confused. If a cat attacks your hand when you rub its belly (and mine does, every time) does that mean they want to play, or they're pissed off?
It means your cats are assholes.

ETA - can't you imagine how they make fun of you? "Dude, he fell for it AGAIN!"

Last edited by Zsofia; 02-23-2010 at 06:35 PM..
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  #10  
Old 02-23-2010, 06:42 PM
panache45 panache45 is offline
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One of my cats does a "happy dance." When I come home, or when he knows he's getting fed, he rolls back and forth on his back while staring at me. If I poke him with my toe he'll grab it, but continue with his happy dance.
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  #11  
Old 02-23-2010, 07:04 PM
Umbriel2 Umbriel2 is offline
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Ours writhes around on her back and every other whichway after coming in off our screen porch in cold weather. I assume she's simply warming herself on the carpet.
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  #12  
Old 02-23-2010, 07:07 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is offline
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Just because they bite you doesn't mean their mad. In the absence of yowling, assume they want to play, even if it doesn't match your definition. Cats who are best friends will often tussle and bite each other.
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  #13  
Old 02-23-2010, 10:09 PM
Malleus, Incus, Stapes! Malleus, Incus, Stapes! is offline
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Yeah. Cats may be cunning enough to plan world domination (yours does, right?), but they can be pretty stupid about causing pain to the fragile little humans. Cats have thick skin covered in fur, so when two friends mock-eviscerate each other, they barely feel it. The human who gets this treatment needs to get stitches, but cats need to learn the proper degree of restraint as kittens. In theory, if you were to immediately stop playing with little Mittens when she bites too hard, she will grow up to know what hurts humans. In practice, few people have the strength of will to stop playing with a kitten.
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  #14  
Old 02-23-2010, 10:19 PM
jsc1953 jsc1953 is offline
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When my cat attacks my hand, he gives it these little tiny bites -- so he's either playing, or he's tormented by the conflict between his desire to rip the flesh from my bones and the sense that his food supply may dry up if he does, and this is the result.
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  #15  
Old 02-23-2010, 10:29 PM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Skara_Brae's cite has it, I think. It shows trust and can be either an invitation to play or a solicitation for belly rubs.

It's all about the belly rubs for Rupert.
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  #16  
Old 02-24-2010, 12:11 AM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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Yipes Tamerlane, that's a feline centerfold.

Does Rupert just cast a long shadow, or is there actually another, black, cat behind him in that shot?
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  #17  
Old 02-24-2010, 01:09 AM
Tamerlane Tamerlane is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kimstu View Post
Yipes Tamerlane, that's a feline centerfold.
He's relatively shameless.

Quote:
Does Rupert just cast a long shadow, or is there actually another, black, cat behind him in that shot?
Yep. For better, or worse .

Incidentally, I'll note that it's hard as hell to get a partially blindingly white cat in the same shot as a black cat, without either blowing highlights or hiding the damn black cat.
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  #18  
Old 02-24-2010, 07:02 AM
Mk VII Mk VII is offline
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It's submissive behaviour, but many cats are uncomfortable/irritated about being actually touched there and will scratch or bite.
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  #19  
Old 02-24-2010, 05:40 PM
barbitu8 barbitu8 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamerlane View Post
Skara_Brae's cite has it, I think. It shows trust and can be either an invitation to play or a solicitation for belly rubs.

It's all about the belly rubs for Rupert.
I don't think so. When I try to rub Wilson's tummy or play with him, he scratches me. I received Wilson just a few weeks ago, and he had not learned to completely sheath his claws when playing. After many scratches, one day Wilson noted the numerous scratches on my right wrist, and from that time on, he has made an effort to sheath his claws, which he now does most of the time. When he now rolls on his back, I get the idea he wants to be alone. Just let him roll on his back, for God's sake. If I make a hasty hand reach or toe reach to rub his tummy, he will grab for the offending object. I make a hasty retreat since I don't trust him to sheath his claws. He does not try to bite me most of the time, but once he did playfully nip on my ear as we lay in bed. (We sleep together. He really enjoys sleeping with me, and if I don't get to bed early enough, he will come down to see what is the matter.)
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  #20  
Old 02-24-2010, 06:50 PM
Kimstu Kimstu is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tamerlane
Incidentally, I'll note that it's hard as hell to get a partially blindingly white cat in the same shot as a black cat, without either blowing highlights or hiding the damn black cat.
Word. They sure are cuties, though.
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  #21  
Old 02-24-2010, 07:26 PM
Sycorax Sycorax is offline
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It's a submissive gesture; the belly is the most vulnerable place, so showing my belly means I (sorta kinda) trust you. I don't think any cat truly trusts anyone or anything. land that's one reason I love cats -- they're not quite tamed -- they retain some wildness. My youngest female does it sometimes when trying to make friends with my oldest cat, a female. She'll do it at other times, and when I move toward her and talk to her and say "belly, belly" (our code for I'm going to rub your belly), she jumps up and runs away. I've never seen it in the older female or the boy cat. I think she (the youngest female) is actually the more dominant of the three. The boy cat chases her and tries to mount her (they're all neutered) but she fights him off (even though she provokes him sometimes -- a tease!)
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  #22  
Old 02-24-2010, 09:23 PM
obfusciatrist obfusciatrist is offline
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Our cat will sleep on its back when it is completely alone in a room. So if it is a sign of trust it is somewhat attenuated. It's very cute when she does this with her front paws over her nose, covering her eyes as if the lights in the room bother her.

But it is definitely not an invitation to rub her belly. If she's not in the mood and you try she'll just run away. If she's feeling playful she'll attack the hand.
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  #23  
Old 02-24-2010, 10:04 PM
silenus silenus is offline
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Our cats run the gamut. Pixel loves belly rubs, and will roll over in an instant. Havoc has to be in the mood, but loves them when she's all warm and comfy. Caelan will bite your hand off if you stray below his chin. I think his response was conditioned by my picking fleas off his belly when he was brought in from the cold. I kinda grabbed his short and curlies in my zeal to depestify him, and he hasn't forgotten.
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  #24  
Old 02-24-2010, 11:34 PM
cplif cplif is offline
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I would be careful with this, though my 12 year old alley cat will grudgingly let me touch her belly for a short while, it is the exact position that she uses to attack a curious dog, smacking fistfulls of needle sharp claws into eyes nose and anything else she can maul. I've seen it quite often with cats used to dog company.
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  #25  
Old 02-25-2010, 06:18 AM
Cicero Cicero is online now
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Keyser Soze loves to roll on his back and sleep- in the backyard, on the pavers or in the billiard table.

It is pretty disgusting- seeing this 16 pound Blue Persian displaying what doesn't need to be seen.

Picture.
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  #26  
Old 02-25-2010, 06:42 AM
Cicero Cicero is online now
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That would be "on" the billiard table.
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  #27  
Old 02-25-2010, 07:30 AM
derek.n derek.n is offline
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Possibility

This is typical behavior for cats big and small. One reason, I think, is breathing is easier. Their body weight is not lifted when they inhale if they are on their side or on their back.
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  #28  
Old 02-25-2010, 07:09 PM
Jeep's Phoenix Jeep's Phoenix is offline
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It really depends on the cat. Mr. Kitty, the rather wide cat who liked hanging out at my apartment when I was in college (I had a bird feeder on the patio) would roll over while being petted, but would swipe at you if you dared touch his furry belly. On the other hand, the cats around here (people in this neighborhood let their cats roam) are pretty good about letting you rub their bellies: Little Gray Cat practically begs for belly rubs, Stripey Orange Cat will allow belly rubs, but only after he rubs all over the person doing the petting; and Cotton Kitty grudingly allows brief belly rubs, getting up and strolling away when he's had enough.
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  #29  
Old 02-25-2010, 07:17 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is offline
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In some circles it's called a "social roll", basically meaning "hello, litter-mate". It's not necessarily an invitation to play, and almost never an invitation to rub the tummy.
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  #30  
Old 02-26-2010, 05:39 AM
Cicero Cicero is online now
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In my circle it is called porno. That's as close as I get.
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