Why Do Cats Follow Us Into the Bathroom?

January 19, 2018

By Julia Williams

The other day I was telling my friend about how my cats always – and I do mean always – feel the need to come into the bathroom whenever I take a shower. I don’t live with other humans, so I don’t close the door completely (unless I have company, of course). But it’s cold in there in the winter, so I run the wall heater to warm up the bathroom while I shower. Invariably, one cat or the other will give the door a good push to come in, which basically leaves it wide open and lets out all of my heat. I mentioned that this annoys me, and my friend said, “Why don’t you just close the door then?”

Lock them out, seriously? Oh no, I couldn’t! Why not? I told my friend it was because if I locked them out, the entire time I was showering they would be scratching at the door. This is only partly true. Oh, they would definitely do that, but the biggest reason I don’t lock them out of the bathroom is because they really, *really* want to come in there, and I don’t see the need to deny them something that obviously makes them happy. Other than the cold air they let it, it makes no difference to me. And card-carrying Cat Lady that I am, it tickles me to whip aside the shower curtain when I’m done and see my cats sitting there staring at me. It makes me wish I had left my phone on the edge of the tub so I could capture this hilarious moment.

As it turns out, my cats are not the only felines who seem to relish being in the bathroom with their human companions. I know this because I have read all sorts of funny stories from other cat lovers who were ambushed on the throne. The cats come in and demand scritches at the most inopportune time. They perch on the edge of the tub or sit on the toilet while we shower. They make themselves at home on the vanity and watch us while we brush our teeth or wash our face. The oddest of the odd behaviors of cats, however, has to be when they try to nest in our pants that are around our ankles. Um, cat? Does that really seem like the best place for a nap? I don’t think so.

While not every cat feels the need to join their owner in the powder room, a great many do. Which begs the question – why do so many felines make it their business to be a part of our business in the bathroom? My “scientific research” (ahem) on the subject revealed the truth, which is that nobody knows for sure. Theories abound, but like so many other strange things cats do that we don’t understand, only our cats know for sure why they feel the need to be a part of our potty breaks and showers. Just for laughs, though, here are some theories.

The Mysterious Closed Door

Cats are called curious for a good reason. It’s a fact that they need to know what is going on at all times. When you go into the bathroom and close the door, it must set off some sort of alert. They just HAVE to know what you are doing in there behind that door! And they just HAVE to be a part of whatever it is, because they do not like being left out. The other issue with a closed door is that in a cat’s eyes, the entire house is their territory, and they don’t appreciate being shut out of any space even momentarily. You might be in there with a snack (Ewww! No cat, that’s definitely not happening!) or doing something else they want in on. Deny a cat access to a room, and you instantly elevate the status of whatever is in there.

Supervising Us

Cats are furry micro-managers who need to oversee everything we do, including whatever goes on in the lavatory. My cat peeps have a funny term for this – it’s called “snoopervising.” Cats are just nosy creatures who feel the need to watch our every move. It’s been suggested that this is an innate behavior passed down from their wild ancestors, who needed to carefully observe their surroundings in order to survive. That seems plausible, but it could also be that they’re just waiting for you to look the other way for a nanosecond so they can make off with that chicken you left on the kitchen counter.

Naughty Opportunities

The bathroom is where the toilet paper is, and every cat knows that TP makes the best toy ever! So when you head into the bathroom, images of unraveling the roll pop into their heads, and it’s a siren call they can’t resist. My cat Rocky has another naughty incentive for racing into the bathroom when I turn on the shower. He sits on the toilet and tries to bite my behind when I’m getting into the shower.

Running Water

Given a choice, most cats prefer fresh, running water over the h2o in their bowl. Running water is aerated and just tastes better to them. So if you turn on the tap for them in the bathroom sink, it soon becomes a routine. They follow you into the bathroom to get a drink.

Want to Be Where We Are

Contrary to the myth that all cats are aloof and unloving, many felines enjoy being with their people. They like our company and our affection, and seek us out for petting and lap-time. Some cats may even be so clingy that they just want to be wherever you are, including the powder room.

The bottom line is that, like many other behaviors of cats, we may never really know why they follow us into the bathroom. Does your cat do this on a regular basis? If so, why do you think they do this?

Read more articles by Julia Williams

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