Why Do Cats Follow You?

Ever wondered, “Why does my cat follow me?” You’re not alone! We take a look at some of the reasons why your cat — and even stray cats — might follow you.

A cat following a man around the house, brushing up on his legs. Photography ©Chalabala | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Most times when I walk to the kitchen, my cat, Mimosa, decides to follow me. I’ve always put this down to the unflinching pursuit of food. Her treats are stored on the countertop, and her nightly wet food treat is served up in a bowl kept in a kitchen cupboard. It makes sense for Mimosa to chance her luck whenever I enter the kitchen. But it turns out there might be more reasons why a cat would follow a human around. If you’ve ever found yourself wondering, “Why do cats follow you?” here are some of the answers.

Why Do Cats Follow You
Ever wondered, “Why does my cat follow me?” You’re not the only kitty parent out there! Photography ©krblokhin | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Why Does My Cat Follow Me? It Might Be a Kitten-Like Behavior

One of the answers to, “Why does my cat follow me?” is that a cat following you around might be learned behavior that stems from her kitten days. Despite the image of cats as highly independent creatures, young kittens learn about life by following their mothers. This is sometimes called the mother-kitten connection.

A kitten quickly learns that trailing her mother around will provide food, play, safety and affection — pretty much all the things a human ends up undertaking when they adopt a cat.

Jacqueline Munera, a Certified Cat Behavior Consultant at the International Association of Animal Behavior Consultants, builds on the point by adding that these sorts of positive interactions — which also include allogrooming activities like brushing and petting — help forge a bond between cats and their humans.

“Some cats are quite curious and want to keep tabs on what their human is doing,” Jacqueline adds. “Some cats just seem to enjoy hanging out with their humans and will follow them around different areas of the house. There can also be a darker side to this strong affiliative relationship in which cats actually suffer from distress when they are separated from their humans.”

So, the next time you find yourself asking, “Why does my cat follow me?” the first answer could be it’s a case of carrying out learned behavior.

Why Does My Cat Follow Me? Is It a Sign of Affection?

The second question after wondering, “Why does my cat follow me?” is to ask whether her habit of trailing you around is a form of cat affection.

“It is quite a compliment to be chosen as a favorite individual!” Jacqueline says. “It means that the cat chooses to be around you and spend her time in your sphere of activity.”

There might also be an element of your cat missing you going on — especially if you’re away from the house all day for work commitments. This can take the form of your cat following you around when you return and acting like she’s trying to instigate a play or petting session.

How Should You Reciprocate Your Cat Following You and Other Signs of Cat Affection?

It’s important to acknowledge and return the affection your cat shows when she follows you around — but make sure to do so in a way your cat appreciates.

“The best way to reciprocate depends on the individual cat’s preferences,” Jacqueline says. “Some cats may enjoy interactive playtime while others don’t really want interaction and just want to hang out near you.”

Related: Do Cats Get Lonely or Are They Fine Without Other Cats?

When reciprocating affection, it’s smart to experiment to see where your cat likes to be petted or brushed. “The areas that most cats prefer include under the chin, the cheeks and the top of the head,” Jacqueline says. “Some cats really enjoy scratches on their back near the base of the tail, and there are even a few cats that like belly rubs and scratches!”

“Owners can learn about cat body language so that they will be better able to understand their cat’s communication signals,” she adds.

Why Does a Stray Cat Follow You?

We may have answered the question,”Why does my cat follow me?” but what should you do if you notice what seems to be a stray cat following you outside?

Well, first of all, Jacqueline points out that if the feline is showing “signs of affiliative or friendly behavior” then it’s most likely “the cat is socialized to humans and is not feral.”

In most cases, the cat is a friendly indoor-outdoor cat taking advantage of her outdoor privileges. Feel free to pet the cat if she seems open to it — although do so softly and without startling her. And make sure you introduce yourself properly. (Also, wash and sanitize your hands afterward when you get home.)

If a cat continues to follow you outdoors, maybe she’s an indoor cat that’s lost. Check the cat for a collar or tags. Scan local listings or social media alerts to see if someone is searching for a cat with a similar description.

If the cat doesn’t seem friendly, Jacqueline recommends watching her body behavior to try and judge if the cat is acting in a threatening or scared manner. Although she adds, “This is generally not a very common problem because most feral cats leave humans alone.” Check to see if the cat’s ear has been tipped – the universal sign that a feral cat has been spayed/neutered. If not, consider getting the cat spayed/neutered through a local TNR program.

Top photograph ©Chalabala | iStock / Getty Images Plus.

Read Next: 8 Weird Cat Behaviors That Stump Kitty Parents

35 thoughts on “Why Do Cats Follow You?”

  1. I had no idea only female cats existed. This article has opened my eyes to the fact, that ever cat is a her or a she. Not a they or them. Not even a their or their's. This article was very helpful, I had no idea that the face that male cats are much more affectionate. Is nothing but a lie, because if you read this article you willn't know they even exist.

    I am a women's rights activist but I do own a few male cats.

  2. I have 6 cats. A mixed breed I adopted, 2 Rag Dolls and 3 Maine Coons. The 3 Maine Coons and the male Rag Doll follow me around with my border collies(7) lol and they will actually call for me, when they can’t find me. The Maine Coons actually stand on their hind legs and reach up for me to pick up, like children lol and they are HUGE! When I come home from being away, all 6 of the cats will greet me with the dogs haha. I LOVE every min of it! My 3 sons are grown, so my animals are pretty much my fur kids now ❤️

  3. Just curious as to why cats follow you to the bathroom, stay and sometimes go to sleep at your feet waiting for you, lay outside the door watching you and have a fit if you close the door?

    1. Both my cats follow to bathrm in morning as if to say hurry up & feed me. In the evening while getting a bath, my female cat lays by the door & comes in when I’m drying off. She jumps on the toilet lid & waits for me to open the closet door. She likes to jump in & walk to the back of the deep closet shelf. She likes to lay downs on some rugs in there. It doesn’t last long before she jumps down. It’s just her habit. By the way, she follows me around the house while I work. I have to scratch her or pick her up when she has a certain meow. She knows how to communicate. She’s trained me.

    2. I have a cat that will follow me in the house,I have picked him up and cuddle him, sit in the recliner with him and he goes to sleep!! Love that!

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  7. Montana follow me around, she will also ask to be picked up, YES she does, She will stand in front of me 7 stand up with her front paws on my leg’s.
    My other cat *Damie* will also follow me, when I stand still, she will take one of her back paws & stand on my foot.
    I love my two girls, They both are *Savannah’s*, very loving cats.
    BUT before any one gets these cats, do your home work, they are NOT a normal house kitty,
    thye lot of attention, interaction walks, Great cats in the right home

  8. My Damie likes to follow me around, when I stand still, Damie will put one back paw on my foot.
    My other cat Montana, she also follows me, she will also ask me to pick her up, like a 4 legged child, she puts her front paws on my leggs, so neat to have such loving CATS
    they both are female Stayed SAVANNAH’s . such loving cats
    before any one gets a *Savannah* do your home work, talk to owners/breeders, they arent your everyday house cat, they need A LOT of attendtion, interaction.

  9. all 3 of our cats are like this but I know its also got a lot to do with the fact that all my family treat our pets as part of the family even the working dogs on the farm when I was little My oldest cat is a 7yo ragdoll x birman who is naturally affectionate due to her breed as well
    our 3yo Bengal cross boy is highly affectionate as is our 1yo peanut striped tabby boy
    simba our tabby is a real mummys boy & constantly has to know where I am meowing like a toddler calling mummy until he finds me & other times he just wants to be cuddled & carried around with me or constantly smooch me & be the centre of attention with all the humans
    I know all our cats are deeply bonded with us as they all do this behaviour on different levels to us & each other & all love belly rubs & close contact with us like a human baby with skin to skin contact
    ive had some people criticise this but all 3 of our cats are vaccinated & bathed regularly plus flead & wormed & kept healthy & clean no different to humans so id rather be a crazy cat lady with an abundance of happiness & love with my cats than be around most humans & our cats are probably cleaner & more hygienic & loving as well

    1. I don’t know why anyone would criticize you! I think it’s wonderful to have such close bonds with our fur babies. I have a 1 yo male tuxedo we rescued at 4 wks old, mainly for my daughter but he’s very bonded to me. He follows me everywhere, sleeps with me, purrs n licks me, “talks” to me & I love it! He’s my boy.

  10. My calico, Cha Cha, is a “herding” cat. She gets in front of me to make sure she directs me to the kitchen. She also follows me to other rooms and seems to know when I am getting dressed to leave the house. So funny!

  11. One of my Bengal cross kittens, 7 months old, doesn’t so much follow me, as precede me. He just has to be in front of me wherever I go in the house! Almost as if he’s making sure that it’s safe for me to do whatever I’m doing, so funny. No more solo bathroom visits, or bath time, and their favourite time of the day seems to be what I call ‘cooking with mother’. Come dinner prep time they are both there ready to help, should get them some kitty aprons! I love the dearly, but they are without a doubt the craziest cats I have ever been blessed to have in my life, so glad I got them.
    Sandra. ;-)

  12. I have seven cats and most of them follow me around at various times…when not sleeping . Some seem VERY kittenish while doing so, others just nosy.I think it depends on the cats personality and strength of their bond with you. They follow me more than they do my husbsnd…they also pester me for tiny bits of whatever I’m eating…and don’t bother him at all.

  13. I recently adopted a cat two weeks ago. It was told to me that he is 2 years old. He has a few odd behaviors. One is, he chews on boxes. Really tears them apart and I don’t understand why. Could he accualy be a kutten instead? And he does follow me around all the time. I think that is normal curiosity. What do you you think he tears boxes apart?

    1. Hi Michelle,
      You might want to ask your vet this question. Here’s more insight on the chewing / box behavior:

  14. Christine Bender

    My Saphira (calico) used to follow me everywhere but she had more of the “what are we gonna do now” attitude. Now my Figaro (tuxedo)follows me to see if I’m going to feed him, but my husband thinks it’s because he loves me. I hope so because I sure love him!

  15. Cats that follow you everywhere remind me of human toddlers (well, most of them). Sometimes they’re anxious when left on their own. Sometimes they think you’re going to give them food or a treat. Mostly they don’t want to miss out on whatever it is you’re doing because it might be interesting and maybe they can “help.”

    And yes, sometimes there’s a little affection too, but never forget that most toddlers have not yet learned to think about anyone but themselves. Nor have some cats.

    1. I have a 14 month old ragdoll. This breed is known to follow their human. I am “momma” to Scarlett. She always follows me around the house. If she can’t see me, she will trill until I call her name. We even play hide and seek and she plays fetch and sleeps right beside me. This is my second ragdoll and the first one did the same thing. It’s so nice to have my “babydoll” beside me. She’s a wonderful companion!

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