Why Do Cats Lay On Their Backs?

by Hayley
Why Do Cats Lay On Their Backs

If you’re a cat owner, no matter if we’re talking about a beginner or expert, there’s no doubt that you’re still asking this one question: “Why do cats lay on their backs?”

There are actually quite a lot of reasons behind the said behavior. More often than not, however, it’s nothing to be worried about. Your cat may just be looking into a comfortable position to sleep or play. The worst-case scenario is them trying to alleviate stomachache.

For a better overview, this article will walk you through the top reasons how come cats will lay on their backs, as well as some other things that you will need to know as a cat owner.

Why Do Cats Lay On Their Backs With Paws Up

What Are The Reasons Why Your Cat Lays On Their Back?

If you are wondering why do cats lay on their backs? Read on more.

The said question has more than one answer. Sometimes, there may even be no reason, and your cat simply likes doing it. You have to assess your cat’s demeanor, behavior, and body language to know the specific reason behind it. That said, here are some of the possible matters that you may be dealing with:

Your Cat Feels Safe

Probably the most common reason why cats lay on their back is that they feel safe. The environment that they are in is just right for their liking. They feel comfortable with the room’s temperature, surfaces, and the people they are with.

Your cat may top the behavior off with its purring, which will confirm that they feel safe enough to be on their backs and be vulnerable.

Defensive Mechanism

Some cats tend to lie on their backs if they feel threatened and need to go into defense mode. This usually happens if there are other people or animals around. Most of the time, they will also curl their bodies up along with their backs to appear smaller in size. They believe that by doing so, the predator that they are dealing with won’t easily see them.

The Cat Is In Heat

If you haven’t got your cat spayed or neutered yet (which you should if there aren’t any complications), then it’s probable that your cat saying that they’re ready to mate. If this is the case, then you should expect the behavior to be accompanied by loud meows and sudden mood swings. You may also want to avoid being overly touchy with your cats if they really are in heat.

Read Also: Will Neutering Calm My Cat? Find Out Here!

Asking For Belly Rubs

If your cat suddenly plops down on their back when they see you or the other people that they are close with, they are only looking for belly rubs. Give them a little scratch on their tummy as long as you like or up until they get up.

Looking For Grooming

It’s not always the case, but cats who were taken early from their mothers usually lay down on their back if they are looking for grooming. You can simply brush out their fur if you think that this is the reason.

While you’re at it, you can consider checking if they have any kind of skin or fur condition on their stomach since it can also be another reason.

Read also: Best Brush for Maine Coon – Our Top 5 Picks!

They’re Regulating Body Temperature

Cats who are adapting to a new environment may want to regulate body temperature by lying on their backs. It’s either they feel too warm or too cold, so they try to get accustomed to the current room temperature through the said behavior. The former is more common because cats tend to “overheat” in some cases.

Digestive Issues

Cats with milk digestive issues like stomachache or diarrhea are more likely to lie on their backs. They do this as a way to comfort themselves or try to ease the pain. Try to observe your cats if they are displaying other unusual behavior to know if you need to bring them to the vet or not.

Your Cat Is Pregnant

If your cat recently mated with another cat or simply got out without supervision, and they lay on their back more often than usual, then chances are, they are pregnant. You may notice their stomach getting bigger in the long run if this is the case. They may also be noisier around this time.

Why Do Cats Lay On Their Backs With Paws Up?

When cats lay on their backs with paws up, there are two main things that they may be feeling.

The most common reason involves being defensive. They may have sensed a predator around the room they’re in. Because of this, the cat lies on its back, curls up, and puts its paws up to appear smaller. This gives them the right amount of warmth and comfort. At the same time, it helps them appear smaller and thus, harder to see by whatever predator is around.

If the cat is not being defensive, then they may just use this as a sign that they don’t want to be disturbed. They need some space to rest and recharge. They may also do this if they are not in the mood to do anything at the moment.

Why Do Cats Lay With Their Belly Up?

Usually, when cats lay with their belly up, they are displaying comfort and safety towards the environment and the people that they are with. They aren’t sensing any kind of danger, which makes them feel at home.

Cats may also go into the belly-up position, as some may call it, to prepare to relax and/or doze off. You may notice them sleeping not long after.

On another note, some cats may also be showing their bellies as a way of asking for rubs, scratches, or any kind of physical affection from the people around them. It will never hurt to play with their tummies for a while.

Is There Something Wrong If Cats Lay On Their Backs?

There isn’t necessarily anything wrong if cats lay on their backs. Hence, if they seem normal or you feel like they aren’t calling out for your attention, then you have nothing to worry about.

So, how do you know if something is wrong? Here are some signs that you may need to look out for:

  • Constant mood changes
  • Cat becomes more vocal (cries, whines, or clings more than usual)
  • Doesn’t respond to rubs or pets
  • Displays lethargy
  • Pupils are dilated or eyes become more droopy

Note that these symptoms aren’t displayed in just minutes. These occur either before or after your cat lies on its back. If none of these is present, then you can rest assured that your cat is just fine. You can also check their stomach to see if they are pregnant just to be sure.

What To Do When Cats Lay On Their Backs?

As long as your cat doesn’t seem to be crying, extra whiny, or in pain, then you don’t need to do anything. You can choose to groom them, play with them, or rub their stomachs to see if that’s what they are looking for.

On the flip side, if you notice that your cat is displaying negative behavior, then you may want to get them checked up by a trusted vet. In this way, you will easily know if they need to get treated for something or there’s a chance that they are pregnant.

Either way, it’s a must that you pay attention to your cat to know if you need to do anything or not.


Your cat will lay on its back for many reasons. It can either be good or bad. The key is in thoroughly observing them for issues.

For instance, if your cat seems happy or nonchalant, then they are most probably just looking for cuddles, playtime, or they’re preparing for sleep.

If they seem cautious, then you may want to look around for triggers since it means that they are lying on their back as a defense mechanism.

Lastly, cats that constantly meow while on their backs have a high chance of suffering digestive issues like diarrhea, stomachache, and likes.

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