Cat Behavior

Why do Cats Follow You into the Bathroom? Love, Turf, and Other Motives

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Do you sometimes wonder what your cat is thinking? What is her opinion of you as she stares balefully from her beautiful, often expressionless eyes?

Why does she smack your hand that was scratching behind her ears one minute and then follow you to the bathroom the next?

Can we ever hope to understand why cats exhibit certain stereotypical behaviors when we can hardly understand each other at times?

Nobody knows for sure the answer to, “Why do cats follow you into the bathroom?”

except for our feline pets. Moreover, the reason is bound to vary from one cat to the next. It is reasonable to assume that the behavior stems in some cats from territorial motivations.

For others, it may simply be boredom or the appreciation of a ritual. Still, others appear driven to get what they cannot have. And, of course, not all cats will follow you to the bathroom, maybe lending more credence to it being a tribute to an invisible bond.

We cover several theories behind one baffling behavior. Some owners find the idea of their cats following them to the lieu endearing while others think it annoying. Nevertheless, your cat’s reasons for invading your privacy may surprise you.

1. Cats are territorial

According to Bustle.com and other sources, a cat’s motives for following you to the bathroom and insisting upon entry are largely territorial.

While a dog undoubtedly seeks to reinforce ties from a pack mentality, cats are solitary. A cat establishes your entire house as her territory.

Thankfully, she does not urine mark it most of the time, but closed doors are possibly an affront to her need to patrol her territory at will.

In a safe environment, your cat has likely marked many surfaces through glands on her paws and the sides of her face.

Therefore, if your feline friend feels particularly offended, she may promptly urinate on the tiled floor or in your bathtub. Inappropriate elimination, in this case, is certainly to have a territorial basis.

You can also assume a territorial motivation is at play if your cat periodically tries to get into the bathroom when you are not even in there.

Territorial and gender motivations are sometimes linked. Male intact cats are more territorial than all others, and unfixed cats of both genders have larger territories than neutered animals.

2. You may be a threat

Are you a threat to your cat?

Of course, you are not a danger to your cat in the human way of thinking. You will not stalk your pet and hunt him, making easy prey of him. But your carelessness may attract viable threats in your cat’s mind.

As his companion, he must ensure that your actions are not leading predators or potential competitors into his territory.

When you close the door to the bathroom, experts surmise that you are closing off your cat’s ability to patrol the area and assess potential intrusions. He will want to supervise your activities, as well, if he is in the vicinity.

3. Your cat loves and needs you

There are plenty of jokes about the ability of cats to form bonds with their owners. Felines are notoriously aloof as a group, and a prevailing thread is that a cat owns you and not the other way around.

Despite a feline’s mysterious nature and mercurial displays of emotion, any cat owner will tell you how important their animal-human bond is. Cats, often but not always more subtle than dogs, can display insecurity and separation anxiety.

Following you to the bathroom could be your cat’s way of staying connected with you. Another motivation is your cat does not want to let you out of his sight.

If your pet is not a cuddler, traveling to the bathroom with you is a way to still be close to you and show affection.

Like territorial reasons for following you to the bathroom, the motivation of affection is also likely tied to gender.

According to DVM360.com, cats show an affiliation with female owners. Pet kitties are more likely to solicit attention from, bond with, and want to be near women and thus are more likely to follow them to the bathroom out of love.

Finally, cats rely on you for protection as well as resources. Some felines may feel particularly open to predation and other dangers when you “disappear” into the bathroom. Their security, like their hunting, depends on their ability to stay in visual reach of you.

4. Where did that warmth go?

Cats are creatures of comfort. Their top priorities are often a good hiding spot and a warm, cozy spot to rest. Cats sleep 12 to 16 hours per day.

Although with their triple-layer coats, most cats are perfectly capable of keeping warm, it does not stop them from utilizing every ounce of convenience they can find.

Cats that like to sleep on your lap can reap the benefits of warmth and your affection at the same time in the bathroom. Hairless cats such as the Sphynx may require the warmth of your lap always.

When you go to the bathroom, your cat might be following your lap. Indeed, many cats will try to climb onto your legs when you sit on the toilet, especially if your stay is prolonged.

Many owners accommodate their cats as they read the news or other literature or chat away on social media.

5. Curiosity killed your cat

Cats are well aware of their status as mid-tier hunters. They must be ultra-cognizant of their environment to survive.

Your cat needs to be able to immediately perceive and recognize competitors for resources in their area as well as the proximity of apex predators.

Although your home does not much resemble the wilderness, all but the most laidback cat breeds have honed instincts that make them very sensitive to movements and poised to explore any changes on their territory.

When you “go on the move,” to the bathroom, your cat is likely compelled to investigate. However, your behavior may not just be a signal to your cat that she should also move.

Maybe she just finds your trips to the bathroom fascinating. If you shut the door, she never satisfies her curiosity about what you do in there.

Even if you allow your cat to follow you into the bathroom, every time may still prove as worthy of exploration as the last.

Perhaps she thinks you are marking and wonders why. Or she is curious as to why you would voluntarily drench yourself in water.

As visual creatures and efficient hunters, some cats may become frustrated when they face something they want and cannot get.

You have surely experienced the cat that seems bored with a treat or toy they kill themselves trying to acquire as soon as you hand it to them. The barrier of a closed room can pose the same challenge to their predatory natures.

6. Your cat likes the bathroom

Your cat may thoroughly enjoy the bathroom. It is a small, sequestered place in the house and relatively quiet and free of traffic. Your cat could see the bathroom as her time for privacy and reflection and not yours.

If your bathroom has tiles and marble, it is probably different from every other surface in the home. Your cat might appreciate the coolness of the tiles or the leftover water droplets in the shower. Or your pet might want to steal some running water as you wash your hands. Finally, your cat may like the warmth of the steam when you shower.

7. A bathroom is interesting and comforting

If you have ever had to come in close contact with a feral cat, then you know how complete their reversion to the wild may be. They have little to no trust for humans let alone any emotional dependency.

However, a cat that you nurture and love as part of your family is completely different. Such a cat grows to seek human interactions and learns to thrive on emotional attachments.

Cats that have loving owners associate their scent with warmth, comfort, and emotional fulfillment. Moreover, they may find the bombardment of olfactory messages intriguing. After all, cats may be able to process nuances in smell even better than dogs. The bathroom has your scent to an extent that only your bedroom can rival.

When your cat follows you to the bathroom and through the door, if you allow her, she is surrounded by your scent on the towels, in your perfume or cologne, your cosmetics, aftershave, and deodorant, and on your discarded clothing.

You may keep your laundry hamper in the bathroom. Perhaps even your cat’s litter box is in a far-off corner of the bathroom.

All these items give your cat a sense of familiarity that she can associate with positive interactions and emotional support.

Moreover, the combination of various scents in the bathroom along with your presence in there virtually ensures your little furry friend will not be bored for at least five minutes. You could even cheat and use a lure to exercise your cat as you sit on the toilet.

7. Do you need protection?

It is easy to forget that some cats are naturally protective of their owners, and a few breeds like the Maine Coon even have guarding abilities. These cats may not want to leave your side long enough for you to go to the washroom.

Some following behavior goes beyond guarding you against impending danger, though. Many cats are smart enough to know that you provide them with valuable resources.

Rather than protecting your interests, these cats are ensuring the survival of a valuable commodity.

Such felines may become frantic when you close the bathroom, clawing and flinging themselves at the barrier. They display all the distress signs of separation anxiety.

8. Now that I have your undivided attention…

Several behaviorists seem in agreement that cats may like accompanying you to the bathroom because they know you will be indisposed at least for a few minutes.

During the time you are in the bathroom you are most likely to be receptive to dedicating attention to your cat.

Even if you are on your phone, if you have an only cat, he has you all to himself in that tiny room. For other cats, they can spend quality time with you marked by quiet and stillness.

9. Everyone marks time with routines

One of the most compelling reasons your cat may want to follow you to the bathroom is that routines and daily rituals are comforting for most animals that live with people.

Even when a cat witnesses the tipsy topsy chaotic world of her person, she finds she can count on certain occurrences to remain the same.

Her mealtimes are probably consistent. She might be able to count on you going to bed at the same time every night.

Maybe you read a book or do computer work right before you turn the sheets down, giving your cat some quality loving time and a signal of something expected to come.

The final thing you are likely to do consistently every day is walk down to the bathroom. That bathroom visit is no privacy for you but rather a necessary marking of time and righting of the world for your cat.

Can you stop a cat from following you to the bathroom?

As you can see, the possible reasons a cat may follow you to the bathroom are several and complex.

It is difficult to train a cat not to follow his territorial instincts. You may correct your cat from joining you on a bathroom trip only to have him start spraying somewhere else.

If your cat sees the bathroom as her only chance to display affection, how will she deal with rejection? Cats that experience separation anxiety may benefit from antidepressants and pheromones but are they following you for only one reason?

You are more likely to aggravate the problem than solve the issue of your cat following you to your shower. It is probably much easier to give in to your kitty’s wishes for those ten to sixty minutes a day.

If you need to flat iron your hair or other hazardous activity, you need your cat out of the bathroom. Behaviorists from Simonscat.com suggest you allow your cat to follow you and enter the bathroom, then shoo her out in a few minutes and close the door. Finish your business and reunite with your cat.

Video Examples

This video covers the main accepted reason cats follow you into the bathroom. It pertains to the territorial instincts of your cat. It also covers boredom and insecurity as other reasons.

This video cites removing the barrier, leaving the bathroom door open, as a viable solution. It certainly solves the problem for cats that see barriers as a challenge or as preventing them from getting what they desire.

This video categorizes your cat’s obsession with the bathroom into boredom, a desire to be in elevated areas, a ploy to get your attention, and an attraction to unique and cool, smooth surfaces.

Although elevated areas to climb certainly are an excellent reason for cats to seek out the bathroom, we did not feel they were unique to that room.

It does bring up the fact that you must remember how high your cat can jump and make your bathroom safe for your pet. You will notice a hairless Sphynx cat comes into view at one point.

The Bengal-type cat illustrates well the frantic and annoying scratching that some felines will resort to.

I have worked in the veterinary field with dogs and cats for several years.

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