Why Do Cats Follow Us To the Bathroom?



Cats tend to get stereotyped as being “aloof” and acting like they couldn’t care less about what their humans are doing. But swaths of cat owners the world over know this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are cats that, like dogs, follow their humans everywhere. And we mean everywhere – especially the bathroom.

If you haven't trained your cat to use the toilet - yes, that's a thing - a cat following you to the bathroom is a confusing behavior, considering that most cats are private creatures that like to have their alone time. So why don’t they give us the same in return? Why do some cats follow their people into the bathroom?

As per usual, vets and cat behaviorists have no definitive conclusions, but a multitude of theories that could explain why some cats are so determined to invade their humans’ privacy in the Oval Office.

They feel vulnerable.

While cats might get the reputation for being highly skilled predators who will happily swat at bears and big dogs, housecats are also prey animals – and they know it. Veterinarian Dr. Kathryn Primm writes that without you, your cat might suddenly feel vulnerable and susceptible to attack from an unknown predator. Your cat likely views you, the Almighty Can Opener, as a source of safety and comfort (as well as food). So when you disappear behind a closed door, they might feel less safe than normal and as such seek you out to continue to take advantage of the comfort and safety you provide them.

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They’re curious.

We all know the adage about curious cats. But their curiosity likely stems from a cat's territorial nature (a common cause of furniture scratching). “Felines are territorial animals”, writes Dr. Marty Becker for Vet Street. “Cats always want to know what’s going on in their territory, and they probably want to make sure you don’t do anything that might attract predators.” As smaller predators, housecats instinctively bury their feces so it does not attract the attention of predators. They might just be making sure their humans do the same.

After all, your home is the cat’s territory, and that includes the bathroom. Dr. Primm writes that the bathroom is within your cat’s sphere of influence. “How dare you shut him away from his own territory?" she says, from the cat’s perspective. "You might be hoarding resources or making friends with other cats. He can only know if he checks."  

Animals must place value on resources in order to prioritize their actions. High-value resources are ones that are immediately desired and strong enough to motivate action. Animal behaviorists utilize this trait to motivate animals for training purposes, using reward systems.

When there is competition for a resource, its value increases. That is what you do every time you close the bathroom door. You elevate the value of the space by choosing it for yourself and denying your cat access.

You’re stuck there.

Cats are quick learners. They know that when a human is doin’ their business in that strange, small room, they can’t go anywhere. The humans are a captive audience that must then give them pets.

Of course, it could simply be that your cat is trying to find the warmest spot in the house ... which might explain the various photos of cats curled up in their humans’ undies! 

Whether it's because of curiosity or vulnerability or your cat simply playing its role as a furry, heat-seeking missile, the fact of the matter is that cats do respect privacy. They respect their privacy, so don't stare at them when they use the litter box, okay? They'll see you in the bathroom, though. 


  • Carol La Plante

    They miss you

  • Colleen Mari Devincenzi

    My cats’ box is in her, but they are little protectors!❤ One cat sleeps by my head, the other, between our legs on the bed! They are Siamese mix girls we rescued at age 5, 2 1/2 years ago, right aftet my 17 y/o passed. She too, was a Siamese mix. Wonderful little angels!❤❤❤❤

  • grp

    Water love flowing water because their insticts tell them its clean , like a tiger would prefer a stream over stale water – they have your undivided attention and they keep guard – its simple but its just aw so cute , i used to hate it when one day all of a sudden all 3 of them started doing it and meowing like crazy ( do you ever get a cat behaviour that just shows up one day and that’s it now , thats how you have to live your life !? ) ive had a lot from now mewoing to the toilet story thing – love em

  • Erik

    I bought a magazine about cats not too long ago. Experts say that cats, even though domesticated animals, still have all of their wild instincts. Just like a wildcat. Lions, tigers, lynx, puma…etc. Wildcats in the wild know that they are most vulnerable while sleeping, peeing or pooping. Since they know that about themselves, they assume this of us, too. The article said when cats follow us into the bathroom or camp right outside of the door, its them protecting us as we go.

  • Jane

    Well like others here.. Mine also follows me whenever i go bathroom. Both female and one of em is a Queen (pregnant) so i dont want to wake her up so i try sneaking off the bed to go bathroom, she was sleeping soundly i went to the bathroom and was about to start and saw both of my cat awake yawning and sit at the doorway whole the Queen jump and start loafing on my lap.. And there i thought.. Even when you guys sleepy, you still obligated to follow me around

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