Why are cats so obsessed with bathrooms?

cats in the tub


You know what I mean. Your bottom has just barely grazed the porcelain throne, and here comes your personal welcoming committee—rubbing against your legs, propping itself up on your knees, and staring at you intently from atop the vanity.


Why, oh why, are our cats so fascinated with our bathroom breaks?

Or just bathrooms in general? It can be adorable, yes. But also incredibly perplexing. After all, whenever either of my cats is using the commode, my first reflex is to run for the hills holding my nose. (I’m a sensitive and considerate cat momma that way.)

So I did a little digging, and poking, and hypothesizing, and whiled away many hours staring introspectively at my cats as they awkwardly avoided eye contact, all in an attempt to catch a glimpse into the inner workings of their strange little fur brains.

And here is my Master’s Thesis on the subject.





Cats dig attention (But only sometimes)

Cats generally love being coddled, and petted, and cooed at, and fussed over—but only on their terms. Try to do any of the aforementioned lovin’ when they’re just not in the mood, and you’ll likely find yourself on the receiving end of a steak knife to the face. (Steak knife is my affectionate nickname for their sweet little claws.)

Or at the very least, you’ll earn an annoyed look as your cat vacates the room in a huff.


cat staringOur kitties learn very quickly, picking up patterns and the relationships between actions and reactions.*

They’ve noticed that when you plop down on the couch, you usually spend the next few hours distractedly ignoring them. And when you sit down at a table, you spend most of your time trying to scoot them out of your way.

*Total tangent, but have you noticed how quickly cats are able to master opening doors, just by watching us?? It’s eerie and mind blowing.


But, when you enter the bathroom, you just sit there. You’re predictable. Kitty knows just what to expect (and kitty loves consistency). You’re captive, for however long, and completely accessible for cuddles. And when he’s had enough, kitty can just waltz off without further harassment.

Oh, how your cats wish you’d just camp out on the toilet indefinitely, so they can call on you at their leisure..! Would it kill you to just try??



Again, the attention thing…

Let’s revisit the “cats learn from patterns” bit very quickly.

Chances are, when you’re sitting on the pooper, you’re bored and scrolling through Instagram with one hand, twiddling your thumbs with the other. When your cat(s) come calling, you’re more than happy to reward them with affection.


cats in bathroomOver time, our kitties begin to associate our bathroom breaks with this consistent positive reinforcement. A part of me suspects that, like Pavlov’s dogs, we’ve conditioned our cats to follow us into the bathroom without really giving it much thought. Bathroom = positive experiences, says our kittys’ lizard brains. Such happy. Much snugs. Off to the bathroom they trot.

Chances are, if you start ignoring them or making fun of their haircut every time they make an appearance, you’ll see these unannounced visits begin to decline. (You meanie.)

Furthermore, toilets are generally lower to the ground than your average chair (hey, it’s better for your colon), and provides kitty with easier access to you—in all your vulnerable glory.

To test this completely unscientific theory, I drew up a low stool and plunked myself on it in the center of our living room. Sure enough, the kitties came calling. I suspect that sitting directly on the floor would deliver similar results, but alas, I lack the resources to test such a hypothesis.



Cats love water (when they don’t hate it)

cat drinkingAre you surprised? Or completely unsurprised?

It’s true that most cats hate being submerged in water. But oftentimes those very same cats are enthralled by it in any other situation. Water flows, and splatters, and trickles, and makes that lovely crinkly noise they love. And how the light glimmers off its ever-changing surface!

Sita will practically drown herself in the tub while I’m showering in her attempt to satiate her intense water-fueled curiosity. It’s kind of like if you were to wave a mylar ribbon in their face—they just can’t get enough of the sparkly movements and the crinkly sounds.

In the winter, I suspect our heat seeking fur-missiles find comfort in the warm humidity of the bathroom while you’re taking a hot shower. It never fails to amuse me each time I draw back the shower curtain to find two symmetrical fur lumps camping out on the bath mat.



Cats dig the cold

pippin shower

What? It’s my happy place.

Totally misleading heading, I know. For the most part, cats are drawn to all the warm things, like heat registers, human faces…etc.

But there are many cats out there (like my Pips) who love the feeling of cool surfaces. They’ll stretch out luxuriously on our tile floors, or even better, in our unoccupied bathtubs. They’ll curl up on the sleek aluminum cover of our macbook pros.

Kind of like when you flip your pillow over at night to get at the “cold” side, some cats love that fresh, crisp sensation. And in the confines of our warm, cozy homes, oftentimes the only place they can get their cold-side-of-the-pillow fix is—you guessed it—in the bathroom.



Cats are nosy little b$%ches

I love my cats. You love your cats. But the fact remains: they can be nosy as shit, and sometimes we just wanna punt them into the next dimension. No? Just me? Ok just me.


pippin bed

Why, Pip? Just…why?

A little backstory: The night before a big job interview, Pippin spent the hours between 2am and 7am stampeding his fuzzy little clompers all over the bed, my head, the pillow, and the headboard, dragging a slobbery cat toy across my face, yowling in whistle register, and batting/chewing at my hair. He has these night time freakout sessions from time to time. (I’m sure your cats do as well. You’re not alone.)


Anyway, at the five hour mark, I finally got up and locked the little turd out of the bedroom, hoping to get at least one hour of quality shut eye. But it was not to be. Ohhh no. Pippin, sweet fur bun that he is, proceeded to spend the next miserable hour clawing at the doorknob, howling in abject loneliness, and hurling himself at my locked door.


cat paws under door

“A closed door you say? How quaint. I shall investigate, and put an end to this silliness.”

Moral of the story: cats aren’t fond of being locked out of rooms.

Particularly rooms they normally have unrestricted access to. Like, your bathroom. Our tendency to close the bathroom door behind us makes them want to assert their presence even further.

(And there goes your chance for a small moment of privacy.)




But that’s part of the charm of having cats, isn’t it? What’s yours is theirs, and what’s theirs is also theirs. There’s no distance. No “personal space.” Just uncomfortable, awkward, hilarious intimacy—and lots of it.


cat in bathrooms


More kitty mysteries answered: Why are cats such obsessive-compulsive groomers?

All your fluffy blankets in tatters? Find out why cats love kneading soft things


Got any bathroom-loving kitties in your life? What are your personal hypotheses for this strange phenomenon? I’d love to hear it!

8 comments on “Why are cats so obsessed with bathrooms?”

  1. Did you know there is a whole website devoted to posting pictures of cats in sinks? We love the bathroom!

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Really? That sounds almost too cute. Feel free to share! :]

  2. Chirpy Cats says:

    Hilarious post! We have an open door policy in our house and that includes the bathroom. We have to obey the rules that the cats lay down. Our cats do get extra attention in the bathroom, like being allowed to lick dripping water off freshly showered legs, hanging out in the sink or bath while judging you and of course drinking from some water bowls that the humans have specially put out for them. Ah the things we do for kitties!

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Lol!! Yes, my cats are always licking my legs after I leave the shower! And the sitting and judging from atop the sink… my cats are ace at that.

  3. Rae says:

    We’ve given up trying for bathroom privacy.

    Though one day, 1-year old John Milton dd jump up on the toilet behind me and pee into the toilet. I was so happy, I thought he’d finally figured out how to use the toilet himself.

    Alas, it was a one-off thing.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Haha! I think I’d freak out if I saw my cat using the toilet on her own…

  4. Kayelen Sullivan says:

    I’ve had a couple of cats that like to sit by me when I take a bubble bath and lick the water or my arm. My Tommy also likes to do a “Vulcan mind-meld” by pressing our foreheads together while I’m in the tub.

    1. Why Cat Why says:

      Vulcan mind-meld!! Amazing. 😀

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