You may think you need privacy when using the bathroom, but chances are your cat has other ideas! Does your cat follow you into the bathroom and stare as you go about your routine, or perhaps they sit by the door as if on the lookout for something?
Guarding is a common, normal protective behavior in cats. Guarding behavior can sometimes be the sign of separation anxiety or overprotectiveness. If your cat's guarding behavior progressed to unhealthy levels, schedule a visit with your veterinarian.
Guarding is a common, normal protective behavior in cats.
Guarding behavior can sometimes be the sign of separation anxiety or overprotectiveness.
If your cat's guarding behavior progressed to unhealthy levels, schedule a visit with your veterinarian.
This may seem a little odd, but you are not alone (pun intended!), and the good news is that it most likely means your cat simply cares about you.
Let’s take a look at guarding behavior and what it means for you and your cat.
What Is ‘Guarding’?
Do you have the feeling you’re being watched? Guarding is a normal protective behavior that is often a display of affection, accompanied by purring, kneading, head butting, and licking.
Signs Your Cat Is Protecting You Include:
- Sitting close to you
- Following you
- Staring at you
- Meowing and scratching at closed doors
- Staying by the bathroom door
Domestic and tamed cats now live in human diverse cultures, and their learned behaviors are receptive to different ways of living with people. Some cats may exhibit clingy behavior and follow their owner everywhere, particularly into the restroom.
Here are some of the key reasons your cat might be guarding you in the bathroom, the shower and even when you sleep.
1. Your Cat Loves You
Don’t be fooled by the air of independence many cats give off; they really care about their owners. One way your cat may show this is by guarding you. Your cat may perceive a certain area of your house or a specific situation as a threat, and they simply want to look out for you. This means you may have company while on the toilet or in the shower!
Put yourself in your cat’s paws for a moment. Bathrooms are strange places, full of odd smells and loud noises like running water and flushing toilets. Not only can these things make your cat think you are vulnerable in there, but to top it all off, what do we all do when we go to the bathroom? We close the door.
In your cat’s eyes, you have just locked yourself into a potentially dangerous room and really ought to have someone looking out for you in case you disappear down the drain or get attacked while sitting on the toilet!
Although affection is a likely explanation for your cat’s behavior, following you into the bathroom is not always an entirely selfless act. Here are some other reasons your cat might insist on joining you in the bathroom.
2. Your Cat Has Separation Anxiety
Some cats find it stressful to be separated from their owners. A closed door between you and your cat can make them anxious, cling to you, and do their utmost to get into the bathroom with you.
Although this may seem like the affectionate behavior we have already talked about, it is more of a concern because it is a sign of underlying fear and stress, which isn’t nice for any cat to go through.
If you think your cat might be suffering from separation anxiety, get in touch with your veterinarian for advice on how to help navigate this condition.
3. Your Cat Loves To Play
Toilet paper, towels, cotton balls, and dripping faucets may not seem exciting to us, but to your cat they can be an endless source of entertainment, making your bathroom the cat equivalent of an amusement park. It’s just a bonus if you are in there giving them attention while they go about their mischievous ways.
4. Your Bathroom Is a Great Place for a Snooze
Sinks and tubs make for great cat beds with the added bonus that they are in a warm room with their favorite person. Your cat may see the bathroom as a sanctuary to take a nap in while you shower.
5. Your Cat Loves Attention
Cats love attention (on their terms), and what’s better than a captive audience in the bathroom? It’s hard to ignore a cat staring at you or sitting on you while you use the facilities, which means one thing: undivided attention!
Cats are also very smart. It doesn’t take them long to learn that certain behaviors generate attention, so they naturally repeat them. This means you’ll soon have a regular companion in the bathroom.
6. Your Cat Is Curious
Contrary to the saying, curiosity does not kill cats; it helps them stay safe and survive. As both predators and prey animals, cats need to be aware of everything going on around them.
This instinctive curiosity means it’s only natural your cat is intrigued by you disappearing into a room with lots of different smells and noises. The detective in them means they have to check it out and be in the know.
Your cat may also follow you into the bathroom and guard you just to be sure they’re not missing out on something exciting. If there’s fun to be had, cats want in!
7. Your Cat Is Territorial
Cats are territorial by nature. They protect their environment and like to micromanage to ensure they are safe and well fed. Your cat needs to know that there are no intrusions to their area, and since the bathroom is part of your cat’s territory, closing the door doesn’t always go down well. In fact, if cats could choose, all doors would be open to them at all times!
8. Your Cat Likes Routine
Cats like familiarity and routine. Visiting the bathroom is part of your daily routine, so your cat may have adopted the habit alongside you. If you use the bathroom in the morning and then feed your cat, it won’t take them long to figure out the connection between a visit to the bathroom and breakfast. Attention and food are great ways to start the day!
Should You Discourage Guarding Behavior?
Although we all love our cats, and it’s nice to see that love reciprocated, it can be a bit overwhelming to never get any personal space, especially when using the bathroom. Some cats may also take guarding behavior to the extreme, become overprotective, and perhaps even take a swipe or a bite at other people who try to get close to you.
Reasons to address guarding behavior in your cat include:
If you don’t mind being watched and your cat seems happy, sit back and enjoy the bathroom attention. After all, it does mean you are your cat’s number one person.
How Can You Discourage Guarding Behavior?
If you need to regain some privacy in the bathroom, you can start by trying to ignore your cat when they follow you into the bathroom. Less attention may make the bathroom a less exciting place to be, especially if you give your cat extra attention in other areas of the house.
Your veterinarian will be able to check your cat doesn’t have any underlying health issues that could be exacerbating stress or aggression, and will be able to advise on managing and discouraging this behavior, such as establishing routines and introducing calming aids like pheromone sprays and anxiety medication.
Guarding is a common, normal behavior in cats. Although we’ll never know exactly what it is about bathrooms that triggers this behavior, there are several possibilities, and affection is top of the list. So while you use the bathroom under the watchful eye of your cat, it can be comforting to know that it’s most likely just their quirky way of showing that they love you.
Ultimately, if you are a cat owner, it’s likely that your days of using the bathroom in peace are over. Of course, the irony in all this is that cats like their privacy when using the litter tray. So it’s one rule for cats and another rule for the rest of us!
Also Read: How Do Cats Know To Use A Litter Box?
Frequently Asked Questions
How do you tell if your cat is protective of you?
How can you tell if your cat has imprinted on you?
When cats imprint, they form a special bond with their favorite person. It's all about them feeling safe and secure in that person's presence. If your cat has imprinted on you, they are likely to:
- Follow you about
- Sit on your lap or chest
- Knead on you
- Purr when near you
- Head butt you and rub against you
- Roll over and show you their belly
- Check on you when you sleep
Why shouldn't cats follow you to the bathroom?
Generally speaking, if your cat likes to follow you to the bathroom, just let her. She probably just wants to use every opportunity to show you how much she loves you. If you find the attention overwhelming and want to reclaim some alone time, or if your cat is showing signs of separation anxiety or overprotectiveness, you may need to discourage her from following you. If you are using bathroom cleaning products, you should also ensure your cat stays away.
Do cats know when you're sleeping?
We don't know if cats understand sleep in the same way that we do, but they are undoubtedly aware of our bedtime routine and that we are less responsive when we are asleep. Mind you, you've probably noticed that cats don't necessarily respect our sleep despite being aware of it on some level!
Why does my cat guard me when I pee?
Some cats may exhibit clingy behavior and follow their owner everywhere, particularly into the restroom.