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Why Does My Cat Fall Over When I Pet Her? (Playtime?)

If your cat keeps falling over when you try and pet it you may be curious and wonder why it does this…

Why does my cat fall over when I pet her?

Your cat may fall over when you pet her because it is an invitation to rub or stroke its belly. Cats are trusting you in this position because they are exposed and vulnerable. Therefore, it is a good sign of trust between you and your cat.

So, now you know. But, where did this behavior come from? Could it be something else more serious? Is cat “flopping” the same as this? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

Is your cat vulnerable when it falls over like this?

A cat rolled-over getting stroked.

A cat rolled-over getting stroked.

When cats fall over like this and roll-over they are vulnerable. This is because their underside, more specifically their tummy is one of their sensitive areas, if not one of their most sensitive parts of their body.

You should feel privileged if your cat is exposing itself like this because it is a clear sign of their trust. A cat would not expose itself like this if it had no love or trust for you.

Could your cat fall over because of a loss of balance?

A cat could fall over because it lost its balance. This is likely to happen as a result of an injury or infection to its inner-ear. This area of the cat, known as the vestibular apparatus, is responsible for keeping a cat’s balance.

If this is damaged or infected the cat can appear to lose its balance. This is completely different from your cat falling over when being petted. This is an involuntary action that your cat has no control over.

If you fear this is the case it is important to consult your vet to make sure. Why? Because your vet can help to diagnose and offer a solution and/or medication to fix it.

Top 10 Cat Breeds

Where did this falling-over behavior come from?

Falling over for petting is believed to derive from a cat’s early years as a kitten. This is because they are known to do similar actions with their littermates. Beyond this, it is believed to go as far back as their ancestors who understood the benefit and weakness this area of their body had.

So, the chances are your cat does this without even thinking about it. It will fall over for petting almost without a second thought as a throw-back from their youth or ancestors.

Once these behaviors become ingrained in cats it’s often hard to stop them. Some cat owners may be concerned ts happening too often. But, even if it can sometimes be inconvenient it is something to be happy with.

Could a cat attack you after it fell over and exposed its belly?

A cat could attack you in defense if you try to touch it after it falls over in front of you with an exposed belly. The reason for this may be because not all cats want to be touched. Some merely want to let you know that they feel happy around you.

As a human, I get it, this sounds confusing and almost a contradiction, right? But, these are just some of the complexities and differences between us and cats. To make things even more complicated some cats are fine with it.

So, the best thing is t find out how your cat acts and appreciate what it wants. If it approaches you for petting after rolling over then that may be a sign it wants to be petted. Otherwise, especially if you are new to the cat, it may be worth being cautious.

What is a cat “Social Roll”?

A cat’s “social roll” is much the same as it falling over when you pet it (click here if its tail is moving). It is rolling over offering its belly as a way to indicate trust and love. These words are often used interchangeably amongst cat owners and enthusiasts.

If you see a cat doing this social roll take it as a compliment. It means you are part of its inner-circle of trust. And, for cats, that circle could be very small, and often it could just be you. Especially you are in a small household. This is why you may have situations when people outside of this trust circle get a hostile response, like your dad, for example.

Is Cat flopping the same as it falling over when petted?

Why does my cat fall over when I pet her?

A ginger cat rolled-over getting its head stroked.

Cat flopping is really the same as it falling over when being petted. The term “flopping” is used when the cat flops over in front of you exposing its underside. It wants to make you know it trusts you.

So, you may hear people refer to this behavior as flopping, social rolling, or falling over. Either way, they are related, if not the same. And, unfortunately, some people will describe them in slightly different ways to make it more confusing.

How can you tell if your cat is scared of you?

You can tell if your cat is scared of you by monitoring its body language. For example, does it duck if you approach it? Is it running and (click here if it just darting ahead of you) hiding when you enter the room? Well, if it is yes to any of these then there is a strong chance it is scared of you.

If a cat is scared of you it is unlikely to fall over for petting. So, if you are seeing this happen then you have miss-read the signs. But, if it’s any of the other two examples above, then these are genuine signs of it being scared of you.

If you have worked out, based on its body language, that it is scared of you, you will need to work on building some trust in your relationship. This can be as simple as spending some quality time and just playing with your cat.

Can a cat fall in love with its owner?

Cats can fall in love with their owner, it is believed. But, it is not as obvious or easy to see as other pets. Cats do have subtle signs through their body language. For example, waiting for you to come home to poop, cuddling, jumping into your lap (click here if it won’t anymore) for petting, etc.

If you see any of these, or other subtle signals count yourself lucky, it would seem that it has some genuine love for you. A cat often builds a big bond with the person that feeds or spends the greatest time with them.

This can sometimes be frustrating for other family members that feel that they should receive more love from their cat simply because they live in the same home or offer it the odd stroke or two.

Can a cat fall over if you try and dress them?

A cat could fall over if you try and dress it. This is because they are showing resistance. Cats do not like or appreciate being dressed regardless if it’s for fun or a walking harness and lead.

Some cats can be trained to accept being dressed, such as putting on a harness when traveling in an RV (or motorhome). But, it’s never a natural reaction to accept being dressed.

Cats prefer to be natural and wander around independently. They are less forgiving than dogs who may accept this because they love their owner.

Lindsey Browlingdon