My friend Michael sent me an Internet chat message about his cat that made me laugh. Shinobi, a beautiful black feline, is very vocal, affectionate and curious. Her curiosity about Michael’s bathroom time made him comment, "Shinobi is weird. She always wants me to pet her when I’m on the toilet. Strange kitty."
I laughed and sent him a reply that cats know how to catch their people when they are "seated," which forces the people to pet them. At my house, I have an open door policy to my bathroom since I live alone. I am rarely in the bathroom without a cat or my dog around my feet.
Michael wrote that he doesn’t mind if Shinobi joins him in the bathroom. "I pet her and then she guards the door," he said.
The guardian at my bathroom door is usually my cat, Joan of Arc. She prefers to lie across the doorway and growl at my two male cats or my dog if they try to pass her.
My bathroom is very small ÔÇô- not enough room for two people, let alone one person with three cats and a 60-pound dog. But it never fails that all or at least two of them have to join me no matter what I am doing in there. My 18-pound cat, Jack, likes to flop onto the area rug under my feet or sit on the sink waiting for a drink of running water. My dog, Trucker, sits on the same rug. My cat, Forest, hops into the bathtub. I have become accustomed to this game of Twister as I step around their paws, legs, tails, and bodies.
It’s also a regular occurrence for me to see Forest or Jack sitting on the bathroom sink or toilet seat when I exit the shower. They observe my shadow through the curtain and analyze my singing. As I use a towel to dry myself off, Forest and Joan often assist me by licking water from my ankles. I tease them by putting my wet hands on their faces or wrapping a hand towel around their head like a babushka.
One of the funniest pets-in-the-bathroom situations I experienced was at my parents’ house. They have a big male orange tabby named Pyke and he follows me like a dog. He has learned to look at himself in a full-length mirror on the back of the bathroom door, often sitting on a laundry hamper nearby and gazing at himself. Sometimes he puts his front feet on the mirror and accidentally closes the door, locking himself in the bathroom.
During a visit to their home, I entered the bathroom and closed the door behind me. A loud thud abruptly rang out as something hit the door. Rapid scratching noises on the door from cat paws ensued. I quickly opened the door to see Pyke running away and through the house.
I asked my mom, "What the heck was that?" She informed me about Pyke’s new talent. Apparently he likes to run top speed through the living room and leap up against the door when my mom uses the restroom. The difference between her using the restroom and me using the restroom is that my mom leaves the door ajar.
Pyke learned with my mom that he can slam into the door and swing it wide open into the bathroom. This makes her yell at him and then he runs off, probably laughing. With me, however, I closed the door and Pyke slammed into it at full speed.
After that episode, I learned to watch for him before I shut the door. He insists on joining me in the bathroom and exploring the bathtub, behind the laundry hamper and so forth while I take care of business. I joked with my mom afterwards that Pyke was watching me go to the bathroom. "Did he learn anything?" she asked.
Sometimes, when my cats join me in my bathroom or my parents’ cats join me in their bathroom, I will roll up little balls of toilet paper and toss them around in the room or the bathtub for them to chase. Playing with the toilet paper led me to my next creative idea ÔÇô- tying a toilet paper bow around the visiting cat’s neck. It’s as if they’ve been stamped as a guest to the bathroom amusement park.
With the two-ply bow loosely tied around their neck, one of my mom’s cats will prance happily into the living room or dining room. When my mom finally sees the cat modeling the bow, it usually makes her exclaim, "What did you do?"
It’s funny, but when I visit a home without pets or stay in a hotel, I realize how much I miss my canine and feline buddies when I’m in a bathroom. At my home, like toilet paper, hand soap and dry towels, a four-legged creature is a bathroom basic.
Do you have bathroom buddies? Do you love it or hate it? Tell us your story in the comments!
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Tracy Ahrens is a veteran journalist, author, artist and mom to three rescued cats and one dog. See her web site at www.tracyahrens.weebly.com and add her book, "Raising My Furry Children," to your collection. Visit www.raisingmyfurrychildren.weebly.com