Why Your Cat Follows You To The Bathroom – And Other Socially Awkward Cat Habits!
By Lorrie Hartshorn.
Although they’re purrfectly lovely, cats can also be pretty embarrassing sometimes. In this article, we look into the reasons behind a few of the most socially awkward cat habits and suggest ways to tackle the problems…
1. Why does my cat follow me to the bathroom?
Type this question into Google and you’ll find over two million results. It’s fair to say, then, that cat-owners all over the globe being followed by their furry friends when they go to answer a call of nature!
But why do cats follow you to the bathroom? Cat Behaviourist Amy Shojai points out that there are probably a number of factors at play. Bathrooms, she says, are a pleasantly cool area of the house and – as a bonus! – contain a handy, cat-sized perch: the sink!
She also points out that cats are creatures of habit, who may get used to their owners visiting the bathroom at certain times of the day – for example, when they’ve just woken up. If a trip to the bathroom is regularly followed by activities that are beneficial to your kitty, such as feeding time, they might well be trying to hurry you along.
Finally, Shojai points out that cats love a captive audience. She comments: “A perch on the vanity places a cat at human face-height when the owner is (ahem) seated. 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. She has a captive audience!”
It all depends on how shy you are! If a curious, furry face won’t put you off your business, then let your cat stay in the bathroom with you. Cats don’t get embarrassed by toilet habits or nudity, so there’s no need to spare their blushes! And shutting them out might cause more issues, as it did for Simon in Let Me Out…
However, there are certain things in the bathroom that can be hazardous – both to cats, and to you if your furry friend gets his paws on them. Hair dye, razor blades and cleaning products should all be kept well out of reach of your cat. Likewise, if you’re drying your hair or you have jars and bottles on the bathroom counter, it’s probably best not to have your feline friend climbing on there. Shoo him out and shut the door!
To see the dangers of having a cat on a counter, take a look at Simon’s Cat in Shelf Life!
2. Why does my cat stare at me while I’m getting undressed?
It can be pretty awkward when your kitty watches every move you make. But have you ever wondered why your cat stares at you while you’re getting changed? Or sleeping? Or soaking in the bath?
According to specialist cat veterinarian and founder of California’s Chico Hospital for Cats, Dr. Elizabeth Colleran, wild cats are basically used to getting up in each other’s business. They live as a community: eating, playing, sleeping and socialising together. Your cat doesn’t understand the social boundaries that humans have; plus, as Dr Colleran points out, “your activities are interesting to him.”
Another theory is that rescue cats are more likely to stare at their owners because they feel anxious about being separated from them, and like to reassure themselves that their favourite human is still around!
And, from author and cat-fanatic, Pamela Merritt, comes this theory: “As desert creatures, cats evolved corneas that don’t need the constant blinking to wet their surface that humans do. So cats can stare, and stare, and stare.”
For humans, staring is rude. If someone stared at us intently for hours on end, we’d probably feel pretty nervous or annoyed. But remember: for your cat, staring isn’t necessarily an aggressive gesture. Staring sleepily for a prolonged period of time then blinking gently is one way for a cat to demonstrate friendliness, so why not return the gesture? Look back at your cat then blink slowly to show him you love him too.
If you really do need your cat to leave the room for a while, simply move him somewhere else until you’re happy for him to come back. Give him something else to look at – Dr Colleran suggests a high perch, some of his favourite toys (like this snazzy Simon’s Cat scratching post!), and an interesting view, such as a bird feeder, to keep your kitty occupied.
3. Why does my cat always go to people who hate cats?
Picture the scene: you’ve invited a group of your closest friends round for a delightful dinner party. Everything’s going brilliantly and you’re the star of the evening. Suddenly, the door opens and in stalks your feline friend.
Your guests are thrilled and start making smooshy faces and “Here, kitty-kitty!” noises. And who does your cat go to? The one person in the corner who’s allergic to her, or your cat-phobic friend, who’s trying to hide behind the dining table.
So why do cats gravitate towards people who don’t like them? Research suggests that cats are intimidated by the very behaviour that many of we humans use to solicit their attention.
Mikkel Becker, a cat trainer from PetStreet, suggests that cats feel threatened by the noise and intense eye contact we often lavish on a cat when we’re trying to attract its attention. Looking away from a cat is often a sign of submission, and non-aggression, which explains why your furry friend seeks out the least ‘friendly’ face in the room!
Your cat’s interactions with your guests show that he feels comfortable – not just in his usual daily activities, but when something new and exciting happens, too. It’s a good thing and indicates that your cat is confident, secure and well-adjusted.
But, if you have guests who are allergic to cats, or who are just plain frightened of your feline friend, it’s best to ensure that your cat is safely tucked up in another area of the house. The last thing you want is to have worried, itchy guests who might tread on your cat’s tail in their bid to escape him!
Does your cat share any of the awkward cat habits we’ve mentioned here? Or does your kitty have other ways to make you cringe? Let us know with #AwkwardCatHabits