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Potty Buddies? Why Cats Love Bathrooms

by | Jul 30, 2015 | Cat Behavior & Care | 9 comments

Do you have potty buddies? Do your cats love bathrooms? Does your cat follow you to the bathroom, paw-pat under the toilet door, yowl for attention when you want privacy? What’s up with that?! Why do cats love bathrooms?

cats love bathrooms

Our cats’ behavior sometimes challenges the most insightful among us to figure them out. Felines always have a good reason for doing what they do. But a given behavior doesn’t always mean what you think. Your dog or cat following you to the bathroom has some surprising reasons.

dog loves bathrooms

Dogs to this, too, but the toilet terrorist behavior seems even more universal among cats. Dogs, on the other paw, really love underwear–of the well worn variety. Read about why dogs love underwear here. And what’s up with dogs who won’t potty on grass.

I’ve had many readers relate funny stories about being ambushed on the (ahem) facilities, stalked with paw-pats under the bathroom door, and persistent potty buddies demanding lap-time or napping in unmentionables dropped to half-mast. Now the secret can be revealed!

cat sink

Karma does this. He loves “nesting” in the cool basin. What a surprise when there’s water in the bottom, LOL!

Why Cats Follow Us to Bathrooms

Human bathrooms are often the coolest place in the home because of the tile, small space, and 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 the health condition called hyperthyroidism, the metabolism goes into overdrive and heats up the kitty so hyperthyroid cats often seek out cool resting places.

Cats also are instinctively drawn to high perches like countertops that they associated as safe. They chain behaviors that link one action to another in a particular routine. And cats LOVE routine, so once a behavior sequence becomes a habit (especially if there’s a benefit for kitty), your pet will repeat the routine over and over again.

Cats never do anything unless it’s of benefit to them, and they are rewarded in some form or fashion. For instance, when you awake in the morning and run to brush your teeth (before filling the cat food bowl), it only takes a couple of days for cats to remember the routine and race you to the bathroom first. So let’s put all this together, and answer the question, why are cats avid potty buddies?

6 Reasons Cats Love Bathrooms

Black cat sitting on human toilet, close up

Seren uses the potty as a stepping stool to the vanity, where I’ve placed a fountain and snack bowl.

  1. People visit the bathroom on a predictable schedule, and they perform predictable behaviors while in the room. Cats know what to expect and won’t be surprised.
  2. Bathrooms offer convenient sinks with running water that many cats relish. Moving water simply tastes better, and people persuaded to run the tap for the cat reward this interaction with attention.
  3. The sink vanity provides a great perch or lookout for cats. Sitting on the sink or vanity positions a cat for a convenient face-to-face interaction when you are perched on the (ahem) thrown. That’s ideal from the cat’s perspective for controlling the interaction—the human can’t easily escape, so kitty can approach or stay out of reach as she prefers.
  4. Cats that insist on lap-sitting time may be frustrated in other parts of the house if you often instead give attention to a magazine, book or laptop computer. The felines that snuggle in your rumpled tidy whities draped around your ankles offer another type of compliment—basking in your most personal aroma to be as near their beloved human as possible.
  5. Felines appreciate the rewards they get by spending private one-on-one time with owners. Even the kitties that only paw-play under the door get attention in terms of you talking to them, or rewarding the behavior by FINALLY coming back out the door. The longer you spend inside the room and then emerge, the more powerful lesson cats learn that paw-pat persistence and kitty complaints eventually will garner success.

cats bathtub

6. Toilet paper chase, the game that never ends! ‘Nuff said.

How about your cats–and dogs? Do they follow you to do your duty? What’s their reason? How do you manage the unwelcome attention? Do tell!

cats toilet paper

Karma LOVES playing with TP, how about yours?

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I love hearing from you, so please share comments and questions. Do you have an ASK AMY question you’d like answered? Do you have a new kitten and need answers? Stay up to date on all the latest just subscribe the blog, “like” me on Facebook, and sign up for Pet Peeves newsletter. Stay up to date with the latest book giveaways and appearances related to my September Day pet-centric THRILLERS WITH BITE!

Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!

 

9 Comments

  1. Ronnell

    Our dog follows us in and expects a back rub every time. Lol. When we say ‘ok’, he knows the rub is over and he plops in the floor until we open the door to exit. If we get into the bathroom before he enters, he will lay outside the door with a paw under the door. Lol

    • Amy Shojai

      Magic has taken to napping in my office bathroom…a tiny room. So I have to make him move or carefully step over him, he’s so big! Oh, and the TP now lives INSIDE the cabinet to keep Karma from “killing” every roll.

  2. Cecile Buls

    Bella follows me in and climbs in the box. I’ll never pee alone.

  3. K.B. Owen

    Every once in a while, our Tora follows me (just me) to the bathroom. I can hear her purring madly under the door, and then she sticks a paw underneath and swats around. I’m *ahem* right nearby, so I’ll playfully grab her paw, then wiggle my fingers under the door. She loves that, and swats around some more. It’s hilarious.

    • Amy Shojai

      I think that’s also one reason cats are enthralled with doors….MYSTERY FINGER PREY on the other side.

  4. Karen Allison

    Stella wanders in and out of the little commode room when I sit on the throne. She wanders by with her tail out and I pet her and give a gentle tug on her tail. She goes back and forth until she’s had enough and then she heads off.

  5. stella

    My little cat always follow me every time I go to the bathroom, funny things was sometimes she go first and I just got surprise when she is sitting while waiting for me. In that moment I realize that the pet also need bathroom just like human so I decided to do something special for my cat. I hired a bathroom renovator to organize and divide my bathroom for two, for me and for my cat. I am happy for the result, my cat already have her own bathroom.

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