Cats often follow their owners around the house, and some cats even tag along on outdoor walks with the family dogs. But why do our feline friends like to play Follow the Leader? Usually, it is about attention, companionship, or food, or out of anxiety, curiosity, or a need for security.
We have put together a guide to help you to understand better why your cat follows you, answering questions like:
- Why do cats follow you into the bathroom?
- Why does your cat follow you and no one else?
- What does it mean when your cat follows you?
- Do cats pick a favorite owner?
- Can your cat be overly attached to you?
- What does it mean when a stray cat follows you?
Why Does My Cat Follow Me Everywhere?
Our cats follow us most frequently
- For attention.
- For companionship.
- For food.
- Out of anxiety.
- Out of curiosity.
- Out of a need for security.
Life is busy, and it can be easy to forget an afternoon cuddle or a nighttime treat with your cat. But just because you have forgotten these brief interludes does not mean that your cat has! If you have been unintentionally neglecting your feline friend lately, there is a good chance that they are following you for attention!
You may have an address book full of friends, but your cat’s social circle is much smaller. With so little interaction with others, your cat may be following you simply because they want your companionship!
In this same vein, our cats often follow us as part of their family group – this is often the case when cats join in on walks with the family dogs!
Food is not something that they take lightly – if you have ever been late feeding your cat, then you know this. If your cat is only following you when you go to the kitchen, they could be trying to remind you that you have forgotten a meal or tell you they are still hungry!
Out of Anxiety
If your cat has trouble with anxiety, they could be following you because they are feeling anxious. What usually triggers your cat’s anxiety? Do you notice that same trigger when your cat follows you?
Common triggers for anxiety include:
- Loud noises.
- Other animals.
- Separation anxiety.
- Strangers in your home.
- Changes in a daily routine.
- Previous traumas
- Sundowning in the case of feline cognitive dysfunction.
Out of Curiosity
Our cats also follow us out of curiosity! This inquisitiveness should come as no surprise with as curious as our cats can be about everything!
You may see your cat following you out of curiosity if they are curious about something that you have. For example, your cat may see a bag in your hand when you get home from the store and want to know what is inside.
You may also see your cat following you out of curiosity if you are going somewhere and they do not know where. For example, if you try to sneak off to another part of the house and your cat wants to know where you are going!
Out Of A Need For Security
Many people believe that dogs are the only domesticated animal to forge secure bonds with their humans, but cats do too! One study by Kristyn Vitale of Oregon State University found that cats not only bond with their humans, but they derive a sense of security from their presence.
Amazingly Vitale found that cats (64.3 – 64.3%) formed secure relationships with their human parents (finding security in their presence) at a rate similar to human infants (65%) and rates higher than dogs (61%)! You can read more about Vitale’s findings in her study “Attachment bonds between domestic cats and humans.”
Why Do Cats Follow You Into the Bathroom?
People have a couple of theories about why your cat follows you into the bathroom and watches you at your most vulnerable
- Your cat wants to be with you (back to that companionship factor.)
- Your cat knows that while you are in the bathroom, you are their hostage (back to that attention factor.)
- Your cat likes the feel of the cold tile on the bathroom floor.
If your cat following you to the bathroom is problematic, break them of the habit by closing the door when you go in!
Why Does My Cat Follow Me And No One Else?
If your cat follows you and no one else, it is likely because they trust you, but they do not have that same level of trust in other people in their life. This bond often happens when just one person in the household takes care of feeding, giving treats, playtime, etc.
Cats sometimes bond with a person based on other aspects as well, like the sound of their voice. For example, a timid cat may forge a bond with someone quiet and withdrawn because they make them feel comfortable.
What Does It Mean When A Cat Follows You?
When a cat follows you, it is because one of its basic needs is not satisfied. Basic needs include:
- Love and affection
- Basic supplies
Do Cats Imprint On One Person?
Cats do not imprint in the same way that ducklings do – they do not see something immediately after birth and assume that that thing is a parent, but they sometimes favor one person in their life over another.
Some cat breeds are better known for being “one person cats,” these breeds include:
- Turkish Angora
Do Cats Pick a Favorite Owner?
Some cats pick a favorite owner, but other cats are outgoing, social, and satisfied with being part of the family.
Cat breeds that are more sociable include:
- Russian Blue
- Scottish Fold
Can Your Cat Be Too Attached To You?
Cats can be overly attached to their owners, and this can cause physical and psychological problems. Overly attached cats can
- Develop severe separation anxiety.
- Become depressed.
- Become overly vocal.
Your cat may be overly attached to you if
- They follow you everywhere.
- They always need to be touching you.
- They become very vocal if separated from you.
- They sit on objects that you are using.
- They do not conduct necessary functions like eating and drinking unless you are with them.
If you think that your cat is becoming too attached to you, it can be helpful to talk to a behaviorist and your veterinarian. Together you can make your cat a little more independent and less stressed when parted from you.
Do Cats Worry About Their Owners?
It is tricky to ask whether cats worry “about” their owners because we cannot know what our animals are thinking. We can say that cats form attachments with their owners, though, and they certainly can feel anxiety when separated from loved ones.
What Does It Mean When a Stray Cat Follows You?
If a stray cat follows you, it is most likely because their basic needs are not met.
- They could be hungry.
- They may want companionship.
- They might be cold.
- They could be curious.
What To Do If A Random Cat Follows You?
If a random cat follows you, the first thing you should do is assess whether it is safe to approach the cat. Does the cat seem aggressive?
If the cat seems aggressive or feral, it is best to call an animal control officer or a representative from a local rescue group. These professionals will know how to trap the cat safely and, if necessary, provide veterinary attention.
If the cat is safe to approach and seems healthy, approach them slowly and talk to them in a calm voice. If they get close to you, pick the cat up safely and put them in a carrier. Or, pick them up in a towel, wrapping them safely like a burrito (but not too tightly.) Next, head to the vet!
If the cat does not approach you, try setting out wet cat food with a strong odor. You can set this food inside a humane trap to make it easier to catch the cat and head to the vet.
Once your stray cat has a clean bill of health, you can bring them home and give them a whole new start to life!
Contact local rescue groups or foster the cat yourself until you can find them a new home if you cannot keep them. If you must take the stray cat to a shelter, first make sure that it is a no-kill shelter.
Cats follow us because they rely on us as providers, as friends, and as a source of security. In return for these things that we offer, our cats give us a lifetime of companionship and love, and all in all, it seems like a pretty fair tradeoff!