Why Does My Cat Follow Me to The Bathroom? Top Reasons · The Wildest

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Why Does My Cat Follow Me to the Bathroom?

Uh, may I help you?

by Kerensa Cadenas | expert review by Kristiina Wilson, MA, CCBC
April 8, 2024
A young girl brushing her teeth while her cat watches.
Melanie DeFazio / Stocksy

When I got my new kitten, Squeak, late last year, I wondered when she would become what I have self-titled a “bathroom cat.” My last beloved cat, Cricket, loved the bathroom — she would follow me in there and hang out, play in the shower, and drink from the sink. One time, I even found her napping all curled up in the sink. Squeak has recently discovered the bathroom for herself and loves to sit on the sink while I’m in the shower. 

Turns out, the bathroom isn’t a unique place for my kitties to choose as a hangout. Cats often follow their humans to the bathroom due to a combination of reasons: protective instincts, social affection, or begging for food. However, some cats might take it too far. Those who trail or vocalize can be gently encouraged to relax by positively reinforcing independence.

Whether or not your cat’s bathroom visits are just to say hello or might need to be controlled a bit more, let’s see some reasons why your cat is so fond of the bathroom. 

Common reasons cats follow you to the bathroom

1. Protective territorialism

Cats, even more than dogs, are very territorial creatures. When they go to the bathroom with their parent, they may simply just be protecting their territory, which is you, their human. However, Kristiina Wilson , a cat behaviorist in New York City , says that your cat might not necessarily see the bathroom as their territory, even if their litter box is in there. “[Your cat] most likely looks at you as the ‘top cat’ or head of the house anyway,” she says. 

2. Seeking human social interaction

Your cat is following you to the bathroom primarily just because they want to hang out. Think about when you are doing something and then go to see what your cat might be doing in the other room — it’s their version of that. Cats are quite intuitive creatures, so they also likely have an idea of your daily schedule, which includes using the restroom.

Wilson says, “When you’re using the bathroom you are most likely seated and being still. You also aren’t on the computer or phone or tending to anything else, so they will have your full, undivided attention! Cats may follow you into the bathroom for an assured pat or just some quality time when they know you won't be distracted by anything else and you’ll be more at their level/height.”

3. Monitor for feeding cues

If your cat is following you to the bathroom, or even other places in the house, your cat might be trying to send you a signal about something they need. Because they are natural grazers, cats eat small meals throughout the day. So, if your cat associates mealtime with following a bathroom break, your cat might be trying to send you a signal. Wilson says this might not always be the case, but to look out for specific behaviors after your cat visits you during a bathroom break.

”Watch to see if your cat tries to lead you from the bathroom to their litter box or to the area their food bowls are. Again, they know they have your attention when you’re in your bathroom, and they may possibly try to lead you from that area somewhere else once they have you focused.”

4. Facilitating litter box use

Cats are again territorial creatures and not just over the lucky human they’ve decided is theirs. They can also be territorial over certain spaces, toys, and especially their litter box. If their litter box is in the bathroom, cats might also be feeling territorial over their own bathroom space, especially if there’s anything blocking or obstructing them from accessing their litter box. It could also be a way for your cat to point out anything to you that they might need for their litter box, like say, a change in litter type or needing their box to be cleaned out. 

5. Investigating the bathroom

Aside from being a place a cat can be close to their human, the bathroom is a veritable playground for a curious cat who wants to investigate. Of course, if your cat’s litter box is in the bathroom, it’s a given they’d want to hang out in there. But aside from that, there’s a ton of things for cats to explore in the bathroom.

Cats love running water, so between a bathtub and the shower, there’s all kinds of drips and drops for your cat to lick. Wilson says, “Cats like running water because it's fresh! Fresh water will keep your cat healthy (versus stagnant water in a puddle outside), running water is nice and cool and can also function as a fun toy.” This also might be a good sign to invest in a water fountain for your cat if they get a bit too into it. 

Wilson also mentions that there’s all kinds of textures and hiding spots that can attract cats to the bathroom as well. “Bathrooms can be nice and warm and cozy, but also have bathtubs that feel cool and smooth on their skin. Bathtubs also have high sides which make cats feel safe and protected (cats are surprise predators but are also prey, so they love boxes and tubs and tight spaces they can hide in and spring out from).” 

And the smells! There’s all kinds of smells that can attract your cat to the bathroom, including their own, but especially the smell of their favorite human. “The bathroom also has your smell in it, which your cat loves,” Wilson says. 

6. Separation anxiety

For most cats, hanging out in the bathroom is a way for them to bond with their human, but sometimes, as Wilson notes, if it’s coupled with other behaviors, it could be a sign of something else.

“It could be, but only if combined with other signs such as your cat also following you around in the rest of the home, being extra vocal, being destructive or having inappropriate elimination when you're away.” 

Is it normal for my cat to follow me to the bathroom?

Following you to the bathroom is a completely normal thing for cats to do. And there’s many reasons why they are attracted to hanging out in the bathroom. As keen investigators, a cat wants to know what’s going on in there, especially if the door is normally closed.

“You may also keep your bathroom door closed when it's not in use, and cats love any opportunity to go in a room that is normally closed off,” Wilson says. There’s also a ton for cats to do and explore in the bathroom — from noisy shower curtains, toilet paper rolls, new smells, and running water. But above all else, it’s a place where their human might not have other normal distractions so a cat is expecting your undivided attention. 

Does my cat understand the bathroom?

Because there can be so much going on in the bathroom, it could be easy to assume that your cat might not know exactly what’s happening in there. But don’t underestimate your cat’s intelligence, according to Wilson they know exactly what’s happening in there. “Cats have a very good sense of smell and can smell and hear what is going on. I've had cats who watched me in the bathroom and then tried toileting in the bathtub and/or in the toilet to imitate me!”

How to handle cats who take it too far

For the most part, your cat hanging in the bathroom shouldn’t be too much of a nuisance. But some cats might take it a bit too far when coming to visit you in the bathroom. Wilson gives some tips to help wean some cats from their bathroom habit.

“If your cat insists on going into the bathroom with you every time you use it you may need to spend more quality time with them on a daily basis. Try setting aside at least 30 to 60 min a day to spend playing and cuddling with your cat, and you'll probably find their need to be with you in the restroom greatly diminished. You might also experiment with leaving the bathroom door open so it’s less of an exciting mystery spot for your cat.”

FAQs (People also ask):

Why does my female cat follow me to the bathroom?

There is no correlation between a cat’s sex and their habit of following you to the bathroom, Wilson says.

Why does my male cat follow me to the bathroom?

Once again, sex is not a factor in your cat’s habit of following you to the bathroom.

Why does my cat guard me when I pee?

Again, this can be a form of territorialism. Your cat could be taking part in guarding behavior because they are being protective of you. They also want to spend time with you and could just be standing near you for this reason.

References:

Kerensa Cadenas

Kerensa Cadenas is a writer based in New York. She’s previously worked at The Cut, Thrillist, Cosmopolitan, and Complex. Her work has been featured in Vulture, GQ, Vanity Fair, and others. 

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