why do cats follow you into the bathroom

Why Do Cats Follow You Into The Bathroom?


May I ask you a personal question? Does your cat follow you into the bathroom? Do you leave your door slightly ajar so your cat can come in after you? And what happens if you close the door behind you and leave your cat out? Do you see paws reaching under the door? Does your cat scratch or leap at the door? This may be one of the quirkiest, funniest and most baffling things our cats do.

Even my docile Ragdoll would stick her paw under the door and rattle it if I left her out when using the loo. Our cat Sophie comes in and walks right back out. But Maddie solicits petting from me or my husband and sometimes plays in the bathtub when one of us is in there.

I talked with my longtime friend, pet lifestyle expert and fellow cat writer Sandy Robins, about this puzzling feline behavior. Sandy’s cat, Fudge, even followed houseguests into the bathroom. I was one of those guests privileged enough to know Fudge before her passing. Today Sandy has two adorable cats, Ziggy and Tory, who, not surprisingly, engage in this same type of behavior.

Although I didn’t find studies or scholarly articles that explained why cats follow people into the bathroom, I do think this funny quirk reinforces several behaviors we attribute to cats.

Cats Can’t Stand a Closed Door

Cats are territorial and so are passionately interested in everything that goes on in their territory. Their survival depends on it. They can spend hours observing it, and they know where the safe places are to eat, drink, sleep and do their business.

Once they learn a door opens and that there is territory behind it to explore, they want in. If there is unexplored space in your home, it almost kills them to not be able to go inside.

“It’s as though they want to know what are you doing in there and ‘May I help,’” Sandy says. She and her family don’t lock the bathroom door, but they close it completely. Yet somehow the cats are still able to push open the door and barge right in, Sandy says. When her son, who has a dog, was staying with them, Ziggy, Tory and the dog all came in. “We wanted to put up a sign that said ‘one at a time please,’” Sandy says.

My cat Sophie has figured out how to open the closet door in our guest bedroom and goes in there at night when she believes no one is looking. We’ve heard her open it. We find her in there the next morning. If cats had opposable thumbs, we’re pretty sure they would open every unlocked cabinet and door in your home.

Cats Love It When You’re Still

Cats like it when you don’t (or can’t) move and somehow instinctively know that you can’t move when on the toilet.

Have you noticed that when you’re still, your cats like to come and hang out? Whether you’re sitting at your computer, relaxing on the couch or lying in bed, most cats will either sit on your lap or near you, plop down on your keyboard or paperwork, or curl up next to you. Take this as a huge compliment that your cat wants to be where ever you are, feels safe with you and likes being the center of your attention.

Why Do Cats Follow You Into the Bathroom? Maybe They Just Like Bathrooms

Bathrooms and closets are usually the smallest rooms in the house. A room where they can see all boundaries provides the sense of security they crave. “Cats like small spaces and boxes,” Sandy says. “Perhaps they see the bathroom as our version of a box.”

The bathroom also contains some other exciting things — running water, for instance, which some cats find irresistible. Many cats like running water and will even drink from a running faucet or fountain.

Other bathroom fixtures cats like are the smooth, cool surfaces of sinks and bathtubs. Just Google “cats in sinks” some time. There’s an entire website called catsinsinks.com. A sink fulfills many feline desires: It’s cat-sized, enclosed and smooth, and provides running water.

Cats also like tubs for similar reasons. But a tub’s size makes it an ideal playground. Many people discover their cats’ toys in the tub. My cat Maddie likes to spin around and chase her tail in the tub. Sandy’s cat Tory plays in the tub, and Ziggy carries his wand toy into the bathroom.

Another feline favorite: the toilet paper roll. “Ziggy pulls the toilet paper and insists on getting the first three squares,” Sandy says. At the beginning of COVID, when we had a toilet paper shortage, Sandy thought she would have to ration toilet paper for Ziggy.

Google “cats and toilet paper” and prepare to be entertained.

If You Feel Safe, It Must Be Safe

Cats look to their favorite people for many of their needs — food, water, shelter, a clean litter box and more. But they also look to their people for their safety and security. My cats like it when either my husband or I watch them eat. Why? Because cats feel vulnerable when they eat. Cats also feel vulnerable when they’re using the potty.

Cats get a lot of their information from observing us. In the world of psychology, it’s called social referencing. Human children and animals look to their parents and guardians for how they should react to something. If something startles us, it will startle them. If we’re calm and relaxed, they feel safe, too. If you feel safe enough to do your business in the bathroom, they’re confident that both you and they are in a safe space.

Author and editor Susan Logan-McCracken shares her home with her husband, Mark, and two red tabby domestic longhair cats, Maddie and Sophie.

10 thoughts on “Why Do Cats Follow You Into The Bathroom?”

  1. We must close bedroom door at night. If not, our 2 cats will engage in play , right on top of us. They will play in our hair and tap us. However, when bedroom door is closed , they will meow, meow, meow and scratch the closed door for hours. Solution…. Not pretty but we close bedroom door and tape long sheets of tin foil on the door. They are afraid of the sound tin foil makes. Try it, it may work for you

  2. James Kauzlarich

    My cat follows me to the bathroom, but not alway INTO the bathroom. I have the catbox placed in the hall outside the bathroom, and if I don't close the door, I can see it. My cat will join me in the bathroom, and more often than not, will get into the box and do his stuff while I do mine!

    My previous cat, a HUGE Main Coon used to sleep in a leaky faucet, and would end up with a pool of water on his side

  3. I read the article about why cats follow us into the bathroom because one of my two cats always comes in to keep me company. If he's asleep, he will somehow know that's where I'm going and wake up enough to saunter in, almost annoyed that I woke him up. But there's the interesting thing! My bathroom has nothing else in it besides a commode; no tub, no sink, and no toilet paper roll (I have a bidet!) So I'm still perplexed as to why he comes in. When he does he strolls back and forth under my legs, rubbing himself on me until right before I hit the bidet button – then he runs out like he's fearing for his life because of the sound of the water!

  4. My kitty BBKing was such a pest when I tried to brush my teeth. He kept getting his head in the way so he could drink the running water in the sink. I finally got him his own fountain and put it on the bathroom floor. He’s delighted and now refuses to drink water from a bowl.

  5. barbara warner

    My manx cats go to the bathroom with me, but for a very different reason…they all want to dive into my downed pants and hide in the warm place…I call it CAT IN THE PANTS!! There seems to be one in every litter who inherits this desire and will actually help me in pulling the pants down faster so they can get in…lol…who knew a cat would love to sleep inside a pair of downed dirty sweat pants on a bathroom floor between our legs…such odd creatures!!

    1. Mine, too! But it’s two of my used-to-be kittens, who Loved to jump into my pajama bottoms while I paused, for my “sitting visit” in my water closets.

      They would tussle, and cuddle up for kitten naps …

      Now my 2 grown guy kittens are twelve y.o. – – and one is an inexplicably overeater, of 17# …

      And the still occasionally jump, sometimes BOTH at Once! Into my pajama bottoms, as I’m sitting, to cuddle up and take a nap …

      Only, I’m ready to move along Much sooner than they are! I can’t believe these grown brothers are still hooked on this itty bitty kitten habit – in this extremely cramped space – the two of them ?!?

      Truth is, yes, it’s silly, and Adorable ????
      I’m glad you can enjoy this with your furry family member, too!

  6. One of my favorite things to see when I am

    at home is my girls all together.
    My wife our daughter and of course our cat fury. She’s a rescue cat and she is just what our family needed our beautiful bombay

    1. Brenda Villanueva

      I have no personal time between my cat Pebbles and my 6 year old grand daughter. It’s everyone packed into the bathroom whether I shut the door or not.

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