- Not a substitute for professional veterinary help.
If you’re a cat parent, then you’ve probably been there. A little paw trying to reach its way under the closed door. A furry spectator watching you shower. Yes, we’re talking about cats following you into the bathroom.
We all know everything a cat does is on their own terms. Unlike our canine friends, cats treasure eating alone, pooping alone, and sometimes sleeping alone. So why do cats choose to follow us to the bathroom? Is this odd behavior harmless, or is your cat trying to communicate something more?
From “normal” cat behavior to health concerns, let’s take a look at some of the reasons your cat follows you to the bathroom.
Why Do Cats Follow You Into The Bathroom?
If you feel like you always have a furry potty partner in the bathroom (I do!), you’re not alone. In fact, one British survey found that a third of survey takers allow their pets in the bathroom with them. Here are seven possible reasons your cat wants to join you in the commode.
#1: It’s Part of Their Routine
“Cats are creatures of habit,” says Dr. Mark Biehl, DVM, owner of the College Station CatClinic in Wheaton, according to an article by Homeward Trail Animal Rescue. “Cats have a good internal clock [and] know when their owners are getting up, when they’re going to leave for work, and when they’re going to come home again.” It only makes sense that your typical bathroom morning routine will just be part of your cat’s everyday routine, too.
#2: Because They Love You
“Cats can sometimes be more subtle in their signs of love—for some cats love means sitting next to you on the couch or just being in the same room with you. For other cats, it means they are sitting on your lap purring or demanding attention,” says Rover’s resident cat expert, Dr. Mikel Maria Delgado.
If you and your cat have a special bond, it’s likely she’s genuinely curious about what you’re up to and wants to spend time with you. Your feline shadow might have caught on to the fact that the bathroom is a place she can often find you sitting, sometimes with your warm lap exposed! A little invasive, perhaps, but it just means she loves you.
#3: Separation Anxiety
Joining in on your morning routine could be a harmless behavior, but if your cat shows other signs of hyper-attachment, she may be experiencing separation anxiety. During the pandemic, we’ve changed our daily routines, work schedules, and our home life. As creatures of habit, your cat may be reacting to changes in her routine—this could especially be true if you’ve returned to the office and your cat is suddenly no longer a Zoom meeting superstar.
If following you to the bathroom is accompanied by excessive grooming, atypical aggressive behavior, a swishing tail, and other behavioral clues, VCA Hospitals suggests trying out independence training, a way to help your pet learn to be comfortable when you’re not around—learn how to in the steps outlined in the VCA’s article about preventing separation anxiety in pets.
#4: Your Cat Wants to Play
With endless cool surfaces, smells, and a plethora of fun “toys”—my cat Atlas loves to play with the shower curtain and the bathroom rug—the bathroom is a kitty playground! But if your mischievous feline starts to get into things she shouldn’t—like the bathroom trash—she might be telling you that she’s bored and desires more enriching activities.
#5: Your Cat Is Curious
Curiosity made the cat fall into the bathtub. That’s the saying, right? For curious felines, the bathroom is full of wonder and awe. Close the bathroom door and their curiosity has never been more piqued, making it even more enticing to get in there before they miss all fun. Just like their natural instinct to drink from the faucet, cats have an instinct to be curious.
@paws_pdxSplish splash mum was taking a bath.. ##catsoftiktok ##kitty ##kittensoftiktok ##kitten ##kittens ##funny ##foryou ##foryoupge ##bathttime ##cat ##cats♬ Splish Splash – Good Timers
#6: Your Cat Is Hungry
If your cat is following you around to the bathroom (among other places), she might be asking you for a snack. Cats are natural grazers, so it’s not uncommon for your cat to want to eat small meals throughout the day. Watch your kitty to see if she is also meowing and pawing at her empty bowl—and keep in mind that as with humans, obesity or underfeeding in cats can lead to serious health problems. So, it’s best to talk to your vet about your cat’s ideal weight and diet and how often she needs to be fed.
#7 Positive Reinforcement
Some nights, my cat Lyra beats me into the bathroom. I’ll find her sitting on the counter patiently waiting for her teeth to be brushed (true story, I swear!). She knows that every night after I brush her teeth, she is rewarded with her most favorite treat: coconut oil. This is positive reinforcement—teaching desirable behaviors by introducing a positive stimulus after your cat (or dog) performs those behaviors.
While you may or may not be brushing your cat’s pearly whites, there is a good chance you’re providing some type of positive reinforcement every time she follows you into the bathroom. It could be a morning conversation with your chatty feline, an elevator-bum-worth scratch, or even picking her up to place her outside of the bathroom. Whatever attention you give her, she’s learned the bathroom is the place to get it!
Does My Cat Know What I’m Doing in the Bathroom?
Cats are super-sniffers, so chances are they know when you’re doing your business. Unlike humans, they don’t get grossed out and are just the opposite—curious! To cats, scents contain a lot of information. As for showering, flossing our teeth, or shaving—your cat probably has no clue what you’re doing, but it sure is interesting!
It’s perfectly normal for your cat to be curious about what you’re up to, or to make your routine their routine—even if it means following you into the bathroom! If you’re observing other unusual or destructive behaviors in addition to being your trusty feline shadow, it’s best to talk with your vet.
If you decide that privacy is what you need in the bathroom, you can redirect your cat’s attention elsewhere with a toy, food puzzle, or other enriching activity. And of course when it comes to cats, it’s always good to be reminded that it’s their world, and you’re just living in it!