It’s the one time in the day when we really just want some privacy. So it is a little unnerving when our cats follow us to the bathroom and appear to guard the area. Especially as we sit down to go. Why do cats do this? Is this normal behavior? Do cats know when their people are pooping? Should you allow your cat to guard you this way? How can you get some privacy if you want it? Here are all the answers to these questions and more.
So, why does my cat guard me when I poop? Cats usually protect their owners when they poop out of protective instinct; they are concerned for their safety in an enclosed room. Sometimes cats do this out of curiosity or because there are fun things to play with in a bathroom. Usually, though, it’s because they have our undivided attention!
While it may seem a little odd, it actually makes quite a bit of sense when we look at the potential causes.
So let’s explore them further before turning to what you can do about it, if you did want a little extra space during these ‘times’ of the day.
Table of Contents
Why Does My Cat Guard Me When I’m Pooping?
Your cat is most likely guarding you while you poop out of love, a desire for attention or playtime, to satisfy their curiosity, or to protect you. Usually, it’s a combination of factors. Cats also like routine – though some cats may take guarding too far because of separation anxiety or stress.
Your Cat Loves You
Your cat does love you, despite cats’ reputation for being aloof creatures.
One way your cat shows that they love you is by guarding you, especially if you’re somewhere that they perceive as a potentially dangerous place.
If your cat has imprinted on you (so that you’re her favorite person), they’ll be even more likely to guard you out of love.
Signs your cat has imprinted on you include:
- Purring when near you
- Following you around
- Kneading on you
- Checking on you when you’re sleeping
- Sitting on your chest or lap
- Rubbing against you or head-butting you
- Rolling over to show you her belly
Because bathrooms have strange smells and loud noises – like toilet flushes and running water: loving cats can perceive them as risky places for their beloved people to be.
It could be your cat wants to look out for you and make sure you come out of the bathroom safe and sound.
When you go to the bathroom – especially if you close the door – your cat can think you’ve locked yourself into a room full of dangers.
They might decide to guard you in case you disappear down the toilet or get attacked in the shower!
Your Cat Wants Attention
Some cats will take attention anywhere they can get it – and once they get it in the bathroom, they are smart enough to know that all it takes is to go back in there for more.
Your cat knows that they have your undivided attention if you’re occupied in the bathroom.
Your Cat Is Curious
Curious cats don’t want to miss out on any potential action, so they may follow their owners into the bathroom to see what’s happening.
Cats have the instinct to seek to know what’s going on around them to survive.
Because bathrooms have lots of smells and sounds, there’s potential not only for play or danger but to discover new things – perfect for curious cats.
It could be your cat guards you in the bathroom so that they don’t miss out on anything exciting!
Your Cat Is Demonstrating Territorial Behavior
By nature, cats are territorial creatures. If cats could have it their way, all doors in the house would be open as a matter of course.
You are part of their territory – as is the bathroom – so by guarding you there, they could be simply continuing to protect what they see as theirs.
Your Cat Has Separation Anxiety
If your cat follows you everywhere and doesn’t seem to want to leave your side – whether you’re in the bathroom or not – they might have separation anxiety.
A cat with separation anxiety will cling to her owner in hopes that their owner will protect them from whatever perceived threat she’s experiencing.
These cats will often do what they can to get inside if you’ve closed the door to any room – including the toilet.
Separation anxiety indicates your cat is frightened or stressed, so you’ll need to get help for them to relieve their fears and worries (see below).
Your Cat Enjoys Being In The Bathroom
Some cats find the bathroom a fascinating place to play or sleep.
Playtime In The Bathroom
Cotton balls, dripping faucets, and toilet paper are just some of the common bathroom items that can provide lots of fun for cats.
If your cat can play with these tempting things while getting attention from you, all the better!
Nap Time in the Bathroom
The sink, the tub, and the bathmat are all places your cat may love curling up for a sleep.
They might love catching a snooze while you’re in the shower, especially if there’s warm steam to relax in.
Your Cat Likes Routine
All cats thrive on a predictable routine, so if you usually go to the toilet in the morning and then feed your cat, they may start guarding you there because they know food is up next.
Do Cats Know You Are Pooping?
Cats are clever creatures with a very powerful sense of smell, so they do know when you’re pooping. And because urine and feces contain scent markers, the smells in the bathroom are highly attractive to cats.
Cats Love Natural Smells
It might sound gross to us, but cats love natural smells – and there’s nothing more natural than what comes out on the toilet.
While cats don’t appreciate perfumes, incense, or air fresheners, they do like the smell of our hair, our skin, and our feces.
Cats are also clever creatures who thrive on routine, so they quickly come to associate certain smells with our actions.
They know that when we go into the toilet, strong odors are often likely to result.
A Cat’s Sense of Smell
Cats have a very highly developed sense of smell to help them identify people and objects.
While we have 5 million odor sensors in our noses, cats have a whopping 200 million. That’s 14 times more than us!
Cats can also ‘taste’ scents, thanks to the two small air passages known as the nasopalatine ducts.
These ducts in the roof of your cat’s mouth are what provide essential information when your cat is sniffing something with their mouth open.
To us, it looks like our cat has smelled something she doesn’t like, but to them, they’re doing detective work – collecting intel from the smells to know what’s going on.
Note: The smells we don’t like (such as urine and feces) are not the same for cats – a cat has a lot of hated smells, most of which we love, like citrus fruit, pine, curry, and cinnamon!
Why Smell Is Essential To Cats
In addition to the scent glands on cats, urine and feces contain scent markers that are highly meaningful to them.
Cats use smell (and scent markers) to:
- Establish their territory
- Identify each other
- Recognize if something is safe to eat
- Know where they are (and how to get back home)
Because odor helps a cat know where he is, the familiar smells of home spell comfort for cats.
And if you have bonded with your cat, one of her favorite smells is you – including when you’re on the toilet.
Should You Allow Your Cat to Guard You When You Are Pooping?
It’s best to allow your cat to guard you when you’re pooping if they want to do that, as long as it isn’t causing either of you any undue stress or anxiety. If you have a highly anxious cat, you’ll want to help relieve that anxiety, regardless of whether you let her guard you or not.
When To Let Your Cat Guard You When You Are Pooping
Basically, if you are happy to have your cat guard you when you’re on the toilet, there’s no reason to try and change your cat’s behavior.
As long as your cat appears happy and relaxed, and you don’t mind the extra attention, there’s no reason why you can’t enjoy your cat’s demonstration of her love for you and your importance in her life.
In fact, discouraging your cat from guarding you could hamper your attempts to bond with them, especially if they are new to your household.
It’s usually best to allow your cat to guard you if at all possible, unless there are underlying problems of aggression or anxiety (see below).
When To Put Boundaries In Place For Your Cat
Sometimes your cat’s guarding behavior can get to be a bit too much, as if you never get any privacy.
There are some cats who become overprotective – they take their guarding duties a bit too seriously, to the point where they can become aggressive if anyone comes near you.
Signs your cat is aggressively protecting you from others include:
- Flattened ears
- Dilated pupils
- Teeth baring
- Puffed up coat and tail
- Tail thrashing
- Hissing and growling
Look to address your cat’s guarding behavior if:
- Your cat is becoming aggressive
- Your cat appears stressed or anxious
- You find it overwhelming
Note: If your cat has separation anxiety, there’s no point trying to establish boundaries or modify their guarding behavior until you have taken steps to help them overcome their anxiety (see below).
On a side note, any time you are using cleaning products in the bathroom, you’ll want to make sure your cat stays on the other side of the door to avoid toxic inhalations or worse.
How to Get Some Privacy from Your Cat While You Poop
If you need to, you can try some non-confrontational strategies to get some privacy while you poop, such as ignoring or distracting your cat. It’s essential, though, to be sure your cat doesn’t have any underlying health issues, such as separation anxiety, and that your cat is getting plenty of love and attention each day.
Ignore Your Cat
You can try ignoring your cat when they follow you to the bathroom. If your cat sees that they get less attention when they are in there, they may decide to stop, as they’re not getting any rewards.
Note: Some people advocate locking the bathroom door behind you to further drive home the message that your cat can’t come in – using this strategy depends on your cat’s personality. Some cats will claw at the door frantically – in which case, you’re better off letting her in and ignoring them. You don’t want to contribute to any potential anxiety they might be feeling.
Distract Your Cat
You could try giving your cat some food, treats, or a favorite toy just before you enter the bathroom. They might be happily occupied and forget where you are – but that very much depends on the cat!
Give Your Cat Quality Attention Elsewhere
Make sure you spend time each day giving your cat quality attention – playing with them, cuddling– in other rooms of the house.
Establish a routine so that they know when to look forward to some special one-on-one time with their favorite person.
You can use pheromone sprays to attract your cat to other areas of the house, too.
Check for Underlying Health Issues
As always, it’s essential to look after the health of our cats.
Any sudden change in behavior or other changes can indicate your cat has a medical issue.
In fact, they may be trying to get your attention if they are unwell.
Address Any Anxiety or Stress
If your cat appears anxious or stressed, see if you can discover the cause of her worries. For cats, this could be:
- A move to a new home
- Introduction of a new member to the family (a new baby, another pet)
- Loud noises in the environment
- Not enough attention from you (leading to boredom and upset)
For slight cases of anxiety, it may be enough to discover the cause and mitigate it where possible.
Sometimes pheromone sprays or soothing music are helpful.
Other times, you’ll need to see your vet, especially if you suspect your cat has separation anxiety.
Separation anxiety can take time to treat effectively and sometimes requires additional support with prescribed anxiety medication.
Your cat guarding you when you poop may have seemed a little strange, but by now, we can see that they may be doing so for various reasons.
Whether or not you want to try and put some boundaries in place will entirely depend on how you feel about it all. It’s certainly doable, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s in the best interest for you and your cat.
Other related cat guides you may want to see:
- Why Is My Cat Clingy When I’m On My Period?
- My Cat Won’t Leave Me Alone All Of A Sudden
- My Cat Follows Me Everywhere But Won’t Cuddle
I am a practiced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site I created to share everything I’ve learned about pet ownership over the years and my extensive research along the way.
To your cat, the bathroom smells like you. The wet towels smell like you, the robe smells like you, and yes, the toilet has your scent as well. Scent means different things to animals than it does to humans.Why does my cat want attention when I poop? ›
Why does my cat want attention when I poop? Cats invite themselves into the bathroom to rub on your legs and get undivided attention. They know this is a time you can't get away and you are in a quite environment with nothing to take away attention from them.How do I stop my cat from resource guarding? ›
Steps to Take to Reduce Resource Guarding
Only purchase open-air litter boxes. This way the cats cannot be trapped by other cats inside. In that same vein, cats cannot be prevented from using it. Also make sure you provide multiple litter boxes for multiple cats.
To answer you question I will say yes, they know. And they love it. Don't be confused or shy if your cat comes around when you are on the toilet. As gross as it might sound to humans - for cats the best smell is the one that comes naturally out of their human, not their perfume, not their aftershave cream, etc…Why is my cat clingy when I'm on the toilet? ›
“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!”Where your cat sleeps on your bed and what it means? ›
If your cat sleeps on your bed, he may choose a position that lets him see out your bedroom door more easily. If he's curled up in a ball under your bed or in a quiet corner, then he may be hiding. Cats who sleep under the covers might love being close to you, or they might be hiding to feel safer.Why does my cat act weird when I poop? ›
There is a physiological explanation. The vagus nerve in cats — and humans — runs from the brain to the colon, and the act of going poo can stimulate that nerve and cause some exhilaration.Why does my cat watch me when I poop? ›
Pooping is a very vulnerable act for an animal and they watch you for cues of alarm. Since it hard/almost impossible for them to have a 360 view while pooping, your animals will look to you and if you display distress or an alarm cue, your pet will pinch that turd off so fast and look to see what is going on.Why do cats sit on your lap when you poop? ›
We call this kitty behavior, 'Potty buddies'. Cats are interested in everything its owner does. A theory is that your cat follows you and sits on your lap on the toilet since it is able to smell all of your odors.Can resource guarding be cured? ›
Can resource guarding be fixed? Like most behavioral issues in dogs, resource guarding can be treated at some level with training and behavior modification. The key is to make your dog feel more comfortable in their environment so they don't feel like they have to compete for resources.
Resource guarding won't just go away, and it tends to gets worse if not managed properly. If your dog has severe guarding issues (where they snap or growl at you) please seek out the help of a professional trainer or behaviorist.Can you get rid of resource guarding? ›
Resource guarding occurs when dogs exhibit behaviors like growling, lunging, or biting over food or toys. This behavior is also known as “possessive aggression” and may occur in dogs of any breed. Training early and often can help discourage resource guarding before it becomes too problematic.Why cats shouldn't sleep in your bed? ›
Risk: Fleas and other parasites
When you share your bed with a cat sleeping, you're also sharing a bed with any parasites the cat is harboring. “If your cat goes outdoors, fleas, ticks, and intestinal parasites pose a risk to you when your cat returns home and cuddles up with you at night,” Dr. DeWire warns.
If you're in the bathroom and your cat starts meowing then it's likely because: Your cat wants to either be let in the bathroom or let back out into the house. They want to join you in the shower but don't want to get wet. Fresh water is available from the sink and they want you to turn it on.What is Splooting cats? ›
"Sploot" is a slang term for the position pets take when they lay on their stomach with their legs stretched out behind them. Dogs can sploot, too, but there's nothing quite like the sploot of the ever-agile cat. cat laying on floor in a sploot postion. Mercedes Santana / Getty.How do cats choose their favorite person? ›
According to a study done by the nutrition company, Canadae, they discovered that the person who makes the most effort is the favorite. People who communicate with their cat by getting to know their cues and motives are more attractive to their cat companions.How to discipline a cat? ›
Toys that can be chased, swatted, and batted should be provided. Species appropriate punishment such as “hissing” or the use of punishment devices such as a water sprayer, can of compressed air, or hand held alarm are better than using any physical techniques since they are less likely to lead to fear and retaliation.How often should you change cat litter box? ›
How Often Should You Change the Cat Litter? If you use a clumping litter, it's best to scoop the box daily and change it out completely at least monthly. If you have more than one cat, it may be best to change the cat litter more often, every 2-3 weeks.Do cats like when you clean their litter box? ›
“Cats will sometimes jump into the litter boxes and often use them while, and right after, their people have scooped them,” says Marilyn Krieger, certified cat behavior consultant. “Cats love clean litter boxes, ones that are freshly scooped and don't smell of excrement.Do cats guard their owners? ›
More frequently, cats try to protect their pet parents from people they consider to be dangerous. Although cats are fierce predators, humans can seem big and scary to some cats. It's instinctual for a cat to defend their territory and yours.
While a cat's gender doesn't seem to make a difference in terms of affection, Posluns notes that studies of cat personality also suggest it has little influence on the type of relationship with their owner. But in contrast, "an owner's gender has a much more significant impact on the cat-human bond," she says.What triggers resource guarding? ›
Resource guarding occurs when dogs exhibit aggressive behaviors, such as barking, biting, and lunging, over food or toys. Resource guarding can stem from fear and anxiety, frustration, and territoriality. It's important to identify this behavior early and use proper training techniques to improve it.Does neutering fix resource guarding? ›
Resource guarding is highly represented in neutered dogs in comparison to intact dogs (Reisner et al., 2007); however, it was neutered males who were more likely to be implicated in human-directed growling and resource guarding rather than females (Guy et al., 2001; Jacobs et al., 2018).What is guarding behavior pain? ›
Guarding, defined as “behavior that is aimed at preventing or alleviating pain” and which includes stiffness, hesitation, and bracing,33 has been shown to predict work loss over 3 months33 in injured workers. It is associated with self-reported pain intensity,16,44 but may itself contribute to the persistence of pain.What is resource guarding Behaviour? ›
“Resource guarding is a behavior motivated by the defense of valuable resources, as perceived by the dog. It can be displayed as a purely defensive response (e.g., running away with valuable items) or as an overtly aggressive response (e.g., growling, barking, lunging and biting).”Should I be worried about resource guarding? ›
While resource guarding is a normal dog behavior, it's not a desirable one. Resource guarding becomes a dangerous problem if a dog is willing to bite or fight to keep an item. Aggression around food, toys, or space, can result in dog bites to humans or fights between your pets.Is resource guarding dominance? ›
Resource guarding is a form of dominant behavior, and most dogs will express some type of resource guarding. Even the most submissive dog can show a little bit of dominance through resource guarding. Sometimes the resource guarding is pretty minimal, supposedly nothing to really worry about.How do I change my resource guarding? ›
How to Stop Resource Guarding Behavior. Giving extra treats when your dog has something of value is a useful technique to prevent resource guarding, but it can also be used to stop an existing behavior. (If your dog has previously bitten or threatened anyone, I advise having a behaviorist supervise this interaction.)Should I pet my cat while sleeping? ›
Reduces stress – Petting a sleeping cat has been shown to lower blood pressure and reduce anxiety, depression, and stress. Strengthens the bond – Cats who sleep with their humans are closer to them.Do cats sleep with you to protect you? ›
Sleeping with you provides them with security and an extra defense if a predator should launch a nighttime attack. They sleep with you because they trust you, they know you're not a danger and you can also provide an extra layer of defense if needed.
Where Cats Go at Night. It's natural to wonder where the heck cats go at night. At home, they're usually sleeping, playing, cuddling, eating, or sleeping some more.How do you Unteach resource guarding? ›
Teach your dog the cue GIVE or TRADE.
Reward and praise him for dropping the object, then give it back to him as soon as he's done chewing. Practicing this cue, giving the resource back each time, helps the dog understand that giving away his resources to a human is a good thing, so there's no reason to guard them.
Cats that block doors with their bodies or swat at other cats as they pass may be demonstrating this type of behavior. The best way to address status-induced aggression is to ignore an offending cat completely. Attention, including play and food rewards, should be given only when an aggressive cat is relaxed.How do you stop status aggression in cats? ›
Reward positive behavior with a treat or affection. Clicker training (see our article on clicker training) often works with status-related aggression because the cat immediately makes the connection with the good behavior. Never strike or yell at the cat.How do you fix guarding behavior? ›
- Step 1: Desensitize the Dog by Standing Outside Their Reaction Zone. ...
- Step 2: Start Throwing the Dog High-Quality Treats. ...
- Step 3: Increase the Intensity by Moving Closer to Their Resource. ...
- Step 4: Live With Resource Guarding.
Resource guarding is a common— and fixable—normal dog behavior. Signs of resource guarding in dogs include behaviors such as growling, tooth displaying, stiffening, frantic eating, glaring, snapping, barking, leaning over the resource to shield it, and biting.What calms cats down? ›
Johnson recommends scents such as honeysuckle and lavender, which can have a calming effect on cats. “At the vet practice, when we have an aggressive cat in the exam room, we'll put a couple of drops of lavender oil on a paper towel, so it's just airing in the exam room,” she says.What can you give cats to calm them down? ›
Supplements, such as L-theanine, Zylkene (hydrolyzed milk protein), or other calming formulations for felines. Pheromone products like Feliway, which release calming cat scent signals. A Thundershirt or other body wrap, which provides comfort by mimicking swaddling. Herbal treatments such as Rescue Remedy for pets.Why is my cat attacking me unprovoked? ›
Once you understand why your cat is acting aggressively, take a look at your home environment. Noise, boredom, or too much competition for resources such as food or the litter box can all cause aggression. Make sure you provide plenty of access to calm “escape” spots, playtime, and other resources.What to do when a cat tries to dominate you? ›
Be sure to discourage overly aggressive play and don't allow your cat to bite or grab you. Redirect them to a toy they can bite or grab in place of using you or another cat for this purpose.
- Respect your cat's space. ...
- Observe body language. ...
- Let your cat come to you. ...
- Learn your cat's limits to being touched. ...
- Give your cat choices and respect the choice she ends up making. ...
- Be predictable. ...
- Decide how to make each interaction a positive one for your cat.