Scientists Explain Why Cats Love To Join Us In The Bathroom

| Published on April 9, 2024

Picture this: Nature calls, so you head to the bathroom to take care of business. Suddenly, a furry paw shoots under the door, rattling it in its frame. The claws extend, searching for something to grab onto. A mournful, gutteral sound pierces your soul from outside in the hall. It is your cat, and he is not pleased to be excluded from the magical secrets taking place on the other side of that door.

Image Credit: via Flickr

Sound familiar? You aren’t alone. Cat parents have long pondered the mystery of cats’ fascination with our most private of rooms. It turns out animal scientists have wondered the same thing. Cat researcher Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis, tells that scientists don’t have all the answers, but they do have some educated guesses.

Image Credit: Flickr/Denise Mattox

“There might be various reasons cats like to join people in the bathroom,” Delgado says. “Their litter box might be in there, so it could be a room that smells very familiar. Cats also probably know that when we are on the toilet, we are a captive audience — nowadays we are so busy and distracted that many cats are probably looking for an opportunity to have our undivided attention!”

Image Credit: Flickr/Charlyn Wee

Wildlife biologist Imogene Cancellare agrees with the “captive audience” theory, telling Inverse:

“Lap sitting is really popular in the loo — I assume this is characteristic opportunist behavior to find the warmest spot in the house and exploit the attention of their human servants. I think they want to be the center of the universe and have learned that humans don’t do much when sitting in the small room with the strange water chair.”


Delgado also adds that cats likely enjoy the “cool, smooth surfaces of sinks and tiles,” and that some like the water. Cats hating water is a long-held misconception. In fact, many kitties love fresh, running water and refuse to drink from the standing water in their bowls. Others simply like to play and splash under the faucet. A few exceptional felines love water so much that they insist on hopping in the shower with their owners. And then there’s Nathan the Beach Cat who adores swimming in the ocean with her humans (yep, Nathan is a girl)!


iHeartCats’ own resident veterinarian, Dr. Kathrynn Primm, also has some interesting ideas on the feline bathroom obsession. She suggests the behavior may stem from evolutionary instinct and a need to feel protected.

“Your cat is a predator driven by the instincts of a hunter,” Primm writes. “But because of her size, she knows that she could also be prey. As her guardian or parent substitute, she may feel vulnerable in your absence.”

Image Credit: Flickr/denAsuncioner


Dr. Primm also points out that cats tend to be “micro-managers” and may simply “want what they can’t have” when faced with a closed door.

“Your home is your cat’s territory and the bathroom is within the boundary of his sphere of influence. How dare you shut him away from his own territory? You might be hoarding resources or making friends with other cats. He can only know if he checks.”

Image Credit: Flickr/Erica Zabowski


Wherever the true answer lies, one thing is for sure: becoming a cat parent usually means an end to your bathroom privacy!

Do you have a funny bathroom story about your kitty? Tell us in the comments!


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Featured Image via Flickr/Erica Zabowski