There are certain times of day that we expect the utmost privacy. One of those times is during our bathroom visits. The last thing we expect is for the door to slowly creep open like a scene from a horror movie only to reveal a set of bright eyes attached to a cute fuzzy face full of whiskers curiously peering back at us from the doorway.
So, why is it that your cat’s idea of boundaries only exists when it is convenient for them? They expect a personal area where they can do their business in privacy. Yet, they do not give you that same courtesy when you are doing the same. Seems a bit hypocritical, to say the least. Let’s delve once again into the mystery of cat to see if we can shed some light and understanding on this peculiar subject.
We as pet owners often forget that our cuddly little fuzzball descended from much larger and wilder versions of themselves. When we think of big cats, lions tend to come to mind. They live in a large group called a pride and because of this, a lot of people will mistakenly assume that all cats prefer this living arrangement. In fact, most cat species prefer a more solitary lifestyle.
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Before cubs or kittens are even born, fathers have left to attend to other business. Mothers rear their babies, teaching them valuable skills like hunting, long enough for them to survive and thrive before sending them out on their own. One skill they pick up is the art of ninja stealth. With this talent, they have the ability to hide from danger, sometimes in plain sight. They are also able to conceal the fact that they were ever there in the first place.
You can see examples of this in nature. To help protect their dinner and themselves, leopards and other cats can be seen pulling their meals into the branches of trees so that they can eat solo without any distractions from other predators. Though these instincts are ingrained in our domestic cats, they are much smaller than their cousins making them particularly vulnerable.
Thus, they are most comfortable when they are able to eat alone, even if there is another cat in the household. You can sometimes see signs of this want to feed alone if one of your kitties hisses or growls when another cat approaches the food dish while they are eating. Another behavior you might observe is a cat that sits halfway in the bowl making it unlikely someone else can get their face in there to eat too. Or, you may see your cat grab a few morsels from the bowl only to drop them a few feet away. This action ensures that they can eat in a more personal space while still having a full view of any danger heading their way.
Households with multiple cats can make it difficult for cats to get the amount of alone time they want. (Kind of reminds you of teenagers.)This desire for privacy can be rectified by placing multiple bowls down for feeding, even placing them in separate rooms, so that each can be comfortable when chowing down.
This need for privacy extends into their bathroom habits. They want a private place where they can feel safe while they are most vulnerable. You cannot just drop a litter box any old place and assume they will use it. Cats want a place where they are mostly concealed while still keeping a lookout for approaching predators. They also want a quick escape route if need be.
Cats conceal their whereabouts by using the kitty litter to bury their excrement. This covers their scent and masks their presence to any hungry predators that may be lurking nearby. So, if they understand a need for privacy during this time, why don’t they provide that to you as well?
Bathroom Privacy Please!
Though there is no one solid reason why your kitty noses its way into the bathroom while you are in there using it, there are many theories that make sense. Here are a few of those theories floating around out there according to the experts.
A Place to Chill
If you have ever stepped foot into your bathroom in the middle of the night and caught a chill when your foot hit the tile, then you know the idea behind theory number one. The surfaces in your bathroom tend to remain cool to the touch because of what they are made of. If you wore a fur coat all day wouldn’t you want to stretch across the bottom of a cool tub?
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Cats are warm-blooded just like us. Like us, your cat uses his environment to help keep his body temperature regulated and at a comfortable level. When we are chilly we may throw on a sweater. When your cat gets cold he may curl up under that sweater. When we get too warm we might find a fan to sit in front of with a cool glass of lemonade. When your furry friend gets too hot he might be able to find a cold drink in the bathroom sink and then lay his sweaty bod across the cool counter. Your cat’s desire to have access to the bathroom may simply come from the knowledge that he may need to be able to get into that area to keep cool.
Your bathroom may already be a favorite spot to relax and cool off during random times of the day. How often have you caught your cat in the sink or sprawled across the floor in the bathroom? Ceramic floor tiles, porcelain tubs, sinks set in counters made of marble, and other smooth and cold surfaces are wonderful landing spots for a nice comfortable nap when the heat becomes a bit too much.
Another reason a closed door to the bathroom may need to be remedied is your kitty may want to ensure its path to its own private area is not being compromised. If you are one of the many owners that prefer to keep a litter box out of the way by placing it in an incognito corner in your bathroom, then your cat may feel it has every right in the world to intrude on you. After all, you are in fact intruding on their space.
With a litter box residing there, your cat feels comfortable coming and going as he pleases since his smell is already present there. Or, maybe your cat is doing you a favor by watching your back. At least you can feel safe that no predator will come and get you while you are at a most vulnerable time thanks to your loyal guard cat.
If you have children, then you may have a larger audience while you are indisposed on the toilet. It seems that our little two-legged mini-mes have figured out that they can have your undivided attention. So, it may not be too far-fetched to think our little four-legged children have figured this out as well. You are now a completely captive audience for dispensing the much-desired chin scratches and plenty of pats.
Some cats take it to the next level and will even curl up on your lap. Undivided attention and a warm skin lap to sit upon? Now you are really stuck. It is as if your feline companion is thinking, “Humans just sit there on the strange seat doing nothing, why not give them a constructive activity to pass the time?” How thoughtful they are! And here we thought they were being rude and intrusive.
This next theory may make the most sense, though, in the end, it is probably a combination of all of them. Cats are territorial and once they have carved out comfort and rubbed their scent all over, your home is part of their territory.
Now here you are sneaking away and shutting him off from a section of his own territory. What a gutsy thing for you to do! There is a reason that curiosity is synonymous with cats. They need to know what is going on in their kingdom at all times. So, it should be no surprise that the bathroom door will swing open while you are in there.
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Cats just cannot hold back. They have to know what mysterious activities you are up to behind that door that they are not supposed to be a part of. What if you are in there snacking on treats or hoarding food? Is there another cat in there that you are making friends with who is now hogging all of your attention? Well, how will he know for sure if he doesn’t check it out for himself?
Animal’s actions are dictated by the priority they place on certain resources. Things that are considered highly desirable to your fuzzy buddy, such as food or protection of assets (you), elicit a strong enough feeling to motivate him into action. This same motivation is often used by trainers who will use treats and other rewards to get an animal to comply with their instructions.
If your cat suspects that there is competition for a specific desirable resource, the value of it becomes greater to him. Every time you step into the bathroom and your cat gets shut out, he may be getting anxious because you are taking the area for yourself and not sharing.
Thus, the value of the bathroom and the value of your attention have become overwhelmingly necessary resources they need to be part of right away. The desire to be reassured that resources are not being withheld or compromised will be plenty of motivation for the little guy to find (or bully) his way into the room.
Mystery solved? Well, maybe not, but we can surely be more understanding. The ingrained need to protect itself, innate curiosity, or preservation of resources can all be possible explanations. Every cat has its own sparkling personality and maybe each has its own combination of reasons that explain why you are bombarded during your most private times. Only you will know the real answer for each of your cats. For them, it seems privacy only goes in one direction.
Cats like to keep us on our toes. It is in their blood to get us to cater to them and give them all the attention they can get. So the next time you let your cat out and he wants to come right back in, meows that he wants food only to find the bowl is still full, or reserves seating on your lap while you are preoccupied in the bathroom, just give them a little nuzzle to let them know they still mean the world to you- even though you closed the bathroom door.
Product data was last updated on 2019-11-08.