Why Do Cats Follow You Into The Bathroom?
By Chyrle Bonk, DVM August 27, 2019
For most of us, the bathroom is a very private place. It's a place where we can close the door and lock out the day’s stresses while going about our business. That is, of course, unless you have a cat. With a cat around, the bathroom becomes more of a shared space rather than the private sanctuary that you may have been hoping for. What is it about the bathroom that piques your cat’s curiosity?
Why Do Cats Follow You Into The Bathroom?
It’s not completely understood what compels cats to want to follow us into the bathroom. There are many great theories, however, including curiosity, protection, attention, and comfort. Whichever reason is behind your cat’s bathroom obsession, the best way to deal with it is to embrace it. After all, most cats aren’t going to respond well to a closed door!
For those cat parents with minds as curious as their cat’s, let’s take a look at some of the reasons your cat may want to follow you into the bathroom.
While your kitty may instill terror in that buzzing fly or the dust bunny under the couch, the fact is that cats are small creatures. Although they are mighty hunters, there are also plenty of bigger animals out there that view them as prey. The need to follow you to the bathroom may simply be a way of sticking by you as their greatest protector and decreasing their vulnerability.
Let’s face it, a visit to the bathroom means that you’re going to be stationary for at least a little while. For those kitties that crave attention and seek out your affection, a trip to the bathroom is the perfect time to corral you to get just what they need.
The bathroom has many strange features that are lacking in other rooms of the house such as cool tiles, a slippery tub, and a curl-up-in-it type of sink. Many cat parents are no longer surprised to find their feline friend hanging out in the bathroom (even when they’re not in there) just to check out these unique and fun areas. Some kitties love to lounge in the sink, while others prefer to watch the water swirl around the toilet bowl. Cats are even known to run laps around the empty bathtub or sit on the edge and chase water droplets while their parent showers. A bathroom also houses fun toys like toilet paper rolls, hanging towels, and garbage cans. You being in the bathroom just makes it all the more inviting.
- Sharing the space
In some homes, the bathroom is where the litter box lives. Your kitty following you to the bathroom may be his way of sharing something with you to show you what you mean to him. Since cats are fastidiously clean, they bury their feces. They may just want to make sure you clean up after yourself as well as they do.
- Best seat in the house
Most cats are heat seekers. You know this is true if you’ve ever watched your cat choose their nap spots based on where the best sunbeam is currently shining. Cats are quick to learn that recently worn underwear and pants are every bit as warm and snuggly. Many will jump in those garments as soon as they are pulled down.
- Behind closed doors
If you try to shut your cat out of the bedroom at night, then you know how much cats hate closed doors. It’s more than just curiosity as to what’s behind them. It’s also a little bit about you having the audacity to keep them out of a part of their own territory!
You aren’t going to find many cats jumping off a dock or splashing around at the beach, but most cats actually enjoy being around water, just not in it. A little drip from the faucet can be very refreshing and intriguing, and some cats will even lick their humans when they are fresh out of the shower.
Are Cats In the Wild Social Bathroom Goers?
It seems that this urge for our domestic felines to follow us to the bathroom is a new behavior. In the wild, a cat’s bathroom behaviors are very private possibly because this can be a very vulnerable time for them. They bury their waste as a measure of cleanliness, but also to keep possible predators from knowing they were there. Cats can also be very territorial in the wild meaning they probably don’t take kindly to some other cat encroaching on their private time. This makes sense as most of the suspected reasons that our pet kitties follow us into the bathroom is more specific to being domesticated and living indoors.
How to Prevent a Cat From Following You Into the Bathroom
For some of us cat parents, having a furry bathroom companion isn’t always a bad thing; some even consider it sweet and appreciate the sentiment. For others, their cat’s bathroom obsession may be more than they can sit for. Fortunately for those cat parents, there are a few strategies to keep your cat happily on the other side of the bathroom door.
- Shower them with attention
For this I don’t mean the literal shower. Make sure you give your feline friend the attention that they are looking for, and do it in other areas of the home. Cuddle with your kitty on the couch or in your bed (wherever you want them to feel more welcome).
- Move the box
If your bathroom is home to your cat’s litter box, try to find a new location so that way your cat will feel less of a need to share bathroom time with you.
- Make a safe spot
For kitties that are on the anxious side, make sure they have a safe spot where they can go to seek comfort and relieve anxiety. Some kitties will prefer a tight, dark, cozy spot, while others may prefer to watch things from up high. Having a safe spot to call their own may keep your cat from following you to the bathroom simply because they’ll no longer be afraid of being left alone.
- Provide a distraction
When you’re in desperate need of privacy, try giving your cat a distraction before you make the trip to the bathroom. This distraction can be a snack or toy that they can’t resist. If you go the food route, be sure that you’re not overfeeding your kitty to the point of being unhealthy. Giving your cat an interactive toy or simply a seldom seen toy from the cupboard may give you the bathroom respite that you’re seeking.
- Close the door
This method is absolutely easier said than done, but closing the door will definitely keep your cat from following you to the bathroom. However, this may not be the most pleasant experience for either of you. Some kitties may yowl or scratch at a closed door.
Why Do Cats Wait For You Outside the Bathroom Door?
For those of you that are able to enjoy your bathroom time in solitude, you may notice that your feline friend waits for you outside of the bathroom door. The reasons for this may be along the same lines as those that have them wanting to make the bathroom journey with you. Your cat may be seeking your protection even though they are not allowed to completely follow you. Naturally, the next best thing is to be as close to you as possible. However, some kitties may just want to keep tabs on their parents. It’s important to them that they know what you’re up to at all times so that they know how to respond to your actions. For example, if you go into the kitchen, then your cat may think it’s time to beg for food.
Maybe the most obvious reason that a cat waits for you outside of the bathroom door is because they like you, since we all want to be close to our favorite things. While your cat might not be allowed to go inside the bathroom, just being on the other side of the door reassures them that you’re safe, and they want to be the first one to greet you when you return from your break.
You can add following you to the bathroom to the list of peculiar behaviors displayed by cats. As with most of their rather unique quirks, the reasons behind it do make sense if you think about it. If your cat finds it irresistible to follow you into the bathroom, consider it as a compliment. They just want to be with you and share in the experience. However, if a furry bathroom buddy isn’t something you're a fan of, then there is nothing wrong with trying to dissuade your cat from following you into the bathroom. Just do whatever helps you and your cat achieve potty break peace.