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Why Do Cats Seek Attention In Bathrooms?

By November 19, 2013

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This is one of the most masterfully crafted FAQs I've ever read, and it's hard even now to keep a straight face while writing.

photo of cat in bathroom sinkMarie seriously asked:"Dear, wise, cat whisperer, I have a very burning question that has never been answered to any form of satisfaction. Why do all my cats (and my friends report theirs, too) love to be in the bathroom with me? I can sit for hours in the living room, bedroom and office and no one even shows up to say "meow." I mean they are around but don't interact with me.

But, if I walk into the bathroom and sit down, even if I am not using the facilities, they literally line up to come visit me. They bring their brushes and toys and leg wrap and 'talk'. They want to be petted and, if God forbid, I close the door and they are on the other side of it, they meow and stick their arms under the door and scratch at the door. I simply do not understand it. They don't really do this with anyone else in the house. I mean at this stage in my life, I just want to be able to close the bathroom door without sending out the 'Apocalypse Now' message to all three cats. Also I'd like a more comfortable chair for brushing and playing with my 'four legged daughters.'"

Amy famously replied: "What a great question! And I am giggling a bit, but that's because my own cat does the same thing. A cat's interaction can be impacted by both health, instinct and environment, so I'll get serious and put this in terms of the H.I.S.S. Test, which stands for health, instinct, stress, and symptom solvers.

H=Health: Human bathrooms tend to be one of the coolest places in the home, because of the tile, small space, and typically fewer windows. Cats tend to be furry heat-seeking missiles that relish lounging in warm places, but a few--my Seren is one--enjoy cool spots. These kitties seem to appreciate spending time on cool tile, damp towels, or other slick or cool surfaces. For older cats suffering from hyperthyroidism, the metabolism goes into overdrive and heats up the kitty so hyperthyroid cats often seek out cool resting places."

Amy continues to offer her sound, solid advice, occasionally spiced with a sprinkle of the famous Shojai humor. The bottom line could be that we are "rewarding" our cats for being our "bathroom buddies," a cause and effect with no end in sight. You'll not want to miss the rest of this article.
Photo of Drake, Credit: © Jennifer Van Dyne

Is Your Cat a Bathroom Buddy?

Vote in the poll, then add your comments to those already below.

Comments

June 27, 2010 at 10:31 am
(1) Kurt Schmitt says:

Teddie rarely does bathroom visits, although she likes to drink from the sink, and paw at the running water (a very common behavior). Priscilla and Frankie, however, were my bathroom buddies.

Priscilla even had a post-shower ritual with me. She knew how long it took, and would usually enter the bathroom just a minute or two before I would turn the water off. Then, she’d yell at me as loudly as possible, lick my legs, and sometimes bite my legs, feet and toes. Crazy cats!

June 27, 2010 at 12:15 pm
(2) jetgirl86 says:

Ripley follows me everywhere, so the bathroom escort is no surprise. However, Muffin loves watching the toilet flush, and revels in playing in a wet bathtub! There’s something weird and funny about having a calico looking over your shoulder, purring in your ear, while you’re occupied on the “throne”!

June 28, 2010 at 1:04 pm
(3) Sue says:

Anywhere from four to six of the cats are devotees of the “Cat Party in the Bathroom” ritual, and sometimes the other two will hover outside!

July 1, 2010 at 2:07 pm
(4) Barb says:

My son’s one cat, a flame point siamese, goes in the bathroom if he is taking a bath or shower & won’t keep quiet until my son wets him all over real good. Then he quietly dries himself as my son dries. This is every time my son showers or takes a bath.

July 1, 2010 at 2:14 pm
(5) Linda says:

Yes, Tova Louise always comes in the bathroom with me. While I am using the facilities, she sits on my lap! That’s my time to sing to her and give her lots of kisses. Ironically, there she seems to love all that attention. Outside the bathroom, I have to beg for a kiss! Whatever makes her like the bathroom, I don’t know, but I hope it never changes.

July 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm
(6) Sue says:

One thing I have noticed: Most of our cats are former ferals and have taken some time to warm up to being petted or picked up. They seem bolder in the bathroom; this is where they start to approach us for a tentative pet before they work up to feeling comfortable being approached by us anywhere else. I think they have realized somehow that we aren’t going to get up and go after them if we are sitting in there, so they feel safer being in the area.

July 1, 2010 at 3:05 pm
(7) Joseph says:

My two Tabbie cat brothers- Berni and Woodie- love the bathroom. The window, the toilet after it flushes. BUT the one guy just goes beserk as soon as i start the shower water. He always has. He could be as cool as a cucumber then as soon as i start the water and step in the tub and close the curtain, he cries and cries and cries. If i ignore him (i usually do), he stops after about 5 minutes or so. In the 3 and a half years i’ve had these guys, it’s always been this way… straaaannnnnnnge…

July 1, 2010 at 4:32 pm
(8) Judy Orange says:

My Samantha is a bathroom cat but not for any of previous reasons. Since day 1 she has refused to eat with any of the other cats.When it is mealtime she heads to the BR , gets on the counter and waits for counter service. I have to shut the door as she will not eat if any of the others come in. I have to time it as she is a slow eater and I must go down 1/2 way through her meal to run the water into the sink. After she has had her cold drink she will finish her meal.The rest have their meal gone in minutes. She takes about 20 minutes.Guess she just likes to enjoy her food.
When I walk by the BR door and see her on the counter it is a message that she wants a drink of fresh water. She will not drink from the bowls on the floor.
I think she just thinks she is aristocracy and will not associate with the lower class cats.

July 1, 2010 at 5:20 pm
(9) chicoanddude says:

My Dude can’t stand it if I shut the bathroom door. He’ll sit outside and scratch softly on it till I let him in. He loves to sit on my lap if I’m using the toilet but he’ll sprawl out on the floor just watching me wash up or put makeup on. When I’m done in there he is too!

July 1, 2010 at 6:16 pm
(10) Leigh Arrathoon says:

I have four cats, and, as far as I can tell, the rule is for one of them to be keeping an eye on me at all times. Muffie’s guard duty is at night. He follows me to the bathroom and revels in sleepy petting. He’s also up for that in the morning. Désirée follows me in there any time there’s no competition because she knows I keep a brush in there and she’s sure to get brushed. Cinder comes to let me know I forgot to brush her teeth (I do everybody’s teeth) and to be held, and Biscuit comes in to say “Come on! I’m hungry!”

July 1, 2010 at 10:11 pm
(11) Margene says:

My cat Tommy loves the bathroom. He likes to sit in the sink and on the counter. Watches me put my makeup on and tries to get me to pet him.

July 2, 2010 at 2:32 am
(12) sonia smart says:

Mycat Chotisi is not really a bathroom buddy but she turns up from nowhere when she hears the toilet being flushed. She watches the water swirling with fascination, thanks us and stalks off till the next time. Sometimes we flush the toilet just for our entertainment, to see her reaction.

July 2, 2010 at 2:40 am
(13) Sonia Smart says:

My cat Chotisi is not a bathroom buddy but flush the toilet and she appears from nowhere to watch the water go swirling down. Sometimes we flush just for fun, to see her reaction. And yes, she likes to lick water off the floor.

July 2, 2010 at 2:51 pm
(14) keith sheldon says:

i have 3 cats all approximately aged between 3 and 5 years old, the youngest one called bleach will ignore me until i leave the room and will then cry until she either finds you or you call her and then she is happy, if i go into the bathroom she cries outside until you open the ddor and then she jumps into the sink, drinks the water in the sink and then sits in the sink until you are finished doing whatever it is you are doing, strange enough the other 2 cats also female don’t do anything of the sort.

July 4, 2010 at 11:34 am
(15) balletblonde says:

My baby Matilda always follows me to the bathroom. She immediately jumps on the sink, tells me to turn on the tap and drinks from the faucet with her paws. After I take a shower, she weaves around my ankles being sure to leave tons of her fur on them. Then she leaves and I could swear I hear her snickering

July 28, 2010 at 4:28 pm
(16) KANARY68 says:

If I shut the bathroom door, Tiffany had better be on my side of it. If she is outside she will try to scratch through and scream the whole time. When the door is open she comes in, looks at me, stretches, then lays down on the rug. When she had an ear infection, the only way I could put drops in her ears was to sit on the commode, put her in my pants between my knees and lay her head, first on one knee then the other. Once, when my grandson was over, I shut the door. Of course, Tiffany started franticaly scratching. I opened the door just a little, for a peek, and there she was laying on the floor beside my grandson, who was sitting in the bathroom hall waiting for me. I don’t think I’ve been to the bathroom alone for thirty years, since his dad was born!

August 29, 2010 at 9:52 am
(17) BJ says:

Goober used to accompany me to the bathrooom; then he would nip my thigh as I sat on the throne. lol He would also insist on escorting guests in as well. Cat lovers didn’t mind; others were confounded by this behavior.

March 16, 2012 at 8:51 am
(18) Walt says:

My cat Suki (who is only a few months) always wants to be in the bathroom when I’m in there. She will wrap around my leg or jump up on the sink. If I’m taking a shower, she will sit on the toilet and watch (not because of me, but because she is fascinated by the water). But regardless of what I’m doing, if I’m in the bathroom, that’s where she wants to be.

She also likes to watch the toilet water

January 12, 2013 at 1:24 am
(19) Robyn says:

My 25 pound maine coon cat named Gizmo throws a fit if I dont let him in the bathroom with me! Gizmo comes in the bathroom, jumps in the tub, then I turn the water on for him to drink, then he jumps out and comes over to me and will lick my knees while im doing the do! If im in the shower, he will wait outside the shower and talk to me until im done….such a ding dong!!!

January 28, 2013 at 1:50 pm
(20) Phyllis says:

As soon as I get into the bathroom my 20lb main coon cat is meowing and trying to open the door. I watch the door knob go down to where he just about opens it. I let him in and he lays on the rug and cleans himself. I just think some cats like to be with the one they love wherever they are. I get a kick out of it.

February 3, 2013 at 4:49 pm
(21) Lucy says:

My nebelung Jade loves to accompany me to the bathroom. He will scratch at the door, meow and stick his legs and tail under the door if I shut him out. He is very affectionate when I’m on the toilet, and will take a nap on the rug while I brush my teeth or put on makeup. I don’t keep him in there with me when I shower because it takes me quite a while and he isn’t fond of water. He does try to follow family members to the bathroom, but they think its weird and won’t let him in. I personally don’t mind the company, and he really seems to enjoy it.

February 16, 2013 at 1:42 pm
(22) Charlene says:

My cat Lexi follows me to the bathroom every time, she sits and waits on me going for the loo roll the tries to catch it when i throw it down the loo, then she likes to watch the toilet flush, when i go for a bath or shower, she sits above the sink watching the water, and she likes to play with bath bubbles!

February 16, 2013 at 9:41 pm
(23) CJ says:

When our cat Gus was a kitten, he started out first just sitting on the ledge of the tub while we took a shower and just hung out. He progressed on to then sitting on the ledge meowing for us to cup warm water in our hands so he could take a drink. I thought that was a little odd for a cat until he started doing what he does now……. he actually jumps into the tub with us and walks through the shower stream and takes a shower too. He takes 2-4 showers a day!!. ….It’s gotten to the point now where we wake up in the morning or we come home from work and he runs into the bathroom, jumps into the tub and meows non-stop until you turn on the shower for him. He puts his paw in the stream to test the temperature and will grunt if its too hot or cold. Has anyone ever heard of a cat like this, or is mine just an oddball? I read that Bengal cats like water so I’m thinking maybe he’s part Bengal.

March 23, 2013 at 10:57 pm
(24) erin says:

My cat Quinzel is a bathroom buddy, but only with me. Everyday any time I use the bathroom she runs inside, she always beats me there. If I’m using the toilet she’ll rub up against me to get pet, and as soon as I flush she’ll jump on the edge of the tub for me to turn on the drips for her. It has to be the exact perfect drip rate or I’ll get squeaked at. Drinking from the tub is her absolute favorite, and I think that she takes advantage of the alone time with me because she doesn’t have to compete for affection because my other cat Fonzie isn’t really big on the bathroom.

October 31, 2013 at 9:32 pm
(25) Holly Geddie says:

My new furry companion, Odd Thomas has this weird obsessions. If I am in the bathroom, he has to be in there. If I am taking a shower or a bath he sits and watches me, wide eyed and with the occasional inquiring meow. He will walk along the side of the tub, and sometimes bat at my legs if I am showering. If I don’t let him in when I am in there, wow! It is as if his world is ending! He does not do this with anyone else in the house, just me. He also likes to be in the sink and will start to clean himself in it.
Is my cat completely nuts, or do other cats do this?
He may have done this before, we don’t know. He is a rescue from the humaine society and only 13 months old.
Anyway, thanks for letting me share.

November 19, 2013 at 1:48 pm
(26) Penelope says:

My kitty is a bathroom buddy – but only in the mornings. He hurries and jumps on my lap and purrs loudly and falls asleep. Somtimes – if I’m petting him the ‘wrong way’ – he’ll quickly snap out of his nap and attack my arm. But usually he stays asleep.

When I take a shower he likes to sit on the ledge or attempt and come inside. When I brush my teeth he likes to swirl through my arms and make it really difficult for me to get water from the sink. He also likes when I do my makeup…he’ll watch and grab for all of my makeup to smell and see what it’s all about.

It’s very strange…

November 20, 2013 at 4:02 am
(27) E says:

The vowels are CONVINCED that I’ve fallen in the well when I close the door, and sit outside crying to alert my husband to the fact. Eventually I will ask him if he could please console them. “Yes, she is in the well, but she will be okay, I promise”. Before he lived there, the door would be left open, and I always got visited. They never came up with a good answer to “How would you like it if I tried to sit on YOUR lap while you were in your litter box?”.

Seriously, they just really hate all closed doors, other than the ones that lead to OUT.

November 20, 2013 at 8:16 am
(28) oneandahalfcats says:

What a great question and funny personal experience! Sounds like Marie has a very nice relationship with her kitties. All of our cats are bathroom buddies. They all like to come visit when I am in the bath and sit of the edge of the tub and no doubt a bit curious as to why mom is lying in so much water. Maggie’s morning routine is to slip into the bathroom and sit on the vanity while my husband is (ahem) taking care of some business, and showering. When she’s spent enough time in there, she will claw the door to be let out.

November 21, 2013 at 6:47 am
(29) Amy says:

I have four cats & always have atleast one or three come visit me while I’m doing my doodies, if the door is open. If I close it, my one kitten Gensen will do her little teeny meows. Daisy will usually scratch at the door. I close the door if I am taking a shower. They love to be petted while I’m sitting. Sometimes Jasper will jump on my lap. They also love to hang out in the tub & drink running water or lick up any remaining. It is quite entertaining & I’m never alone lol.

November 24, 2013 at 3:36 pm
(30) kate says:

my two cats are in the bathroom all the time.they love to sit in the sink ..so I thought it was to keep themselves cool…that all changed when I got a bath onr night and they both sat at the bottom dippin their paws in.they also loce when I turn the shower on..weird

January 13, 2014 at 11:44 pm
(31) dee says:

My cat Aslan follows me in the bathroom all the time .Even even when he was a kitten. Apparently if you know anything about cats it is not just curiosity it is their way of protecting you as your at your most vulnerable Also when sitting down on the lop or in the bath.My cat also will look down the loo if I have done a poo and worries until I flush it away .This is because in the wild they would make their young cover it up same s all cats do.

February 3, 2014 at 3:48 am
(32) Josh Baker says:

Exactly put. My cats won’t pay ANY attention to me anywhere else in the house, unless I grab them and snatch em up before they walk on by me. But if I’m standing trying to pee.. my male purrs the entire time he’s in here, and then rubs his tail on my leg, and kicks his tail real fast (which is why I ended up on this site).. at least I’m not the only one.

February 3, 2014 at 3:26 pm
(33) catlady says:

We adopted a cat about 3 months ago. At first she would just wait outside the shower and meow occasionally when I was in the shower. But now the whole time I’m in there she meows at me like she’s worried about me. She used to do it to just me, but now she does it to my husband too. She also tries to stop me from taking a shower if she sees me turn the water on. I think she is confused about why we take showers.

April 1, 2014 at 9:59 am
(34) iness says:

I have 2 cats that are strays. Now just couple of weeks ago I got this second cat that showed up on my porch when it was almost below zero outside. It was small and feminine and in need of attention and food and warmth. When I took this kitty in it spent a lot of time sleeping. But when it adjusted.. and I just realized yesterday its not a female as I though it was smaller and feminine but it was male. But, when it adjusted already.. and its been couple of weeks, also, it seamed to wanted less attention from me, and did not like to be picked up. But, it does come to me as soon as I sit on the toilet. This is the reason I was looking up on internet this strange behavior. It even let me pick him up while I am sitting on the toilet and is not trying to get away and off like it does when I am not sitting on the toilet.
My other cat that has been with me for about a year, spends time with me in the bathroom when I take showers. It used to cry because I think it was afraid of the fog-mist from the shower but not really any more.
Since he is an inside outside cat, once some ladies took him in and would not let him out.. so he could not come back home. When after fliers I went to pick him up from ladie’s house they told me that he followed them in the shower lol.
He jumps in the shower when its empty but does not get in when there is water running.
It it really an odd thing, how they like to be petted when I am sitting on the toilet. I really think it has something to do with what some others have mentioned above which is that they know.. .. we are not moving.. and will just pet them that way.
Its very interesting about the cats. This was an excellent thread.
thanks !

April 6, 2014 at 7:10 pm
(35) ajjmc5 says:

Our female cat Boost is a calico she loves the bathroom. To be honest that’s how my son and I ended up with her. A family member cat had kittens they would follow their mom around but this one followed my son into the bathroom and sat herself well in his pants he didn’t realize it and his pants started to move. She has been with us for 3 years and if you happen to get up she will race you to the bathroom.
There are times she will go in with my son than come out than go back in. Jestingly I told my son we need a cat flap for the bathroom door.

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