The surprising explanation for why your pets follow you into the bathroom

Updated on April 16, 2023

Every pet owner eventually wonders why their pet follows them into the restroom as they’re trying to finish the last level of Candy Crush. If you leave the bathroom door open, my own ancient cat won’t bother to check on you, but if you close the door, she will yodel at you until you open it again, and then she will patrol the entire bathroom to make sure you haven’t been up to any mischief. Pet behaviorists argue that despite the seemingly absurd nature of this behavior, it is actually quite straightforward to understand.

According to canine behaviorists, the key is to look at how packs function. Because of their evolutionary history as pack animals, dogs have a natural inclination to physically remain close to their human companions. Dogs, like their wolf forebears, have not been socialized to grasp the concept of “privacy,” and therefore their conduct of following you into the restroom is a symptom of group behavior, as explained by Animal Channel. Dogs, too, are wondering what their human companions are up to inside. Of course, there are other, slightly less endearing answers.

Not only is it unhealthy for your dog to follow you around all day, but it may also be an indicator of insecurity. When left alone or with other dogs, a dog that doesn’t feel secure may develop separation anxiety. The dog may view the youngster as prey and feel the need to protect them at all times, including when they are in the bathroom. That’s a cute trait to have, but dogs can’t handle being overprotective for long periods of time. Dog trainer Kimberley Mandel warns that “resource guarding,” in which a dog prevents others from accessing a person, location, toy, food, or anything else the dog deems “essential,” through hostility or force, can become problematic. She says, “Low level guarding is generally treated.” “Dogs with low self-confidence are more prone to display guarding behavior as a protective mechanism against the potential loss of a prized possession.”

But cats aren’t herd animals, so there’s a little different rationale for their presence in your lavatory. Sometimes, they’re just looking for a warm place to curl up, like the cats who immediately take up residence in the drawers of anyone who has recently emptied them. However, there is a second, darker explanation.

According to Vet Street contributor Dr. Marty Becker, “the various cat species prefer to be solitary creatures.” Kittens and cubs learn everything they need to know from their mothers before being released into the wild. So, your privacy isn’t as important to cats as it is to you, which is why they have very specific requirements for where they can use the litter box. Why? It’s important for them to be aware of what’s happening around them.

According to Dr. Becker’s research, cats are rather territorial creatures. As the old adage goes, “cats always want to know what’s going on in their area,” and they especially want to make sure you’re not doing anything that could draw in predators. For I Heart Cats, veterinarian Dr. Kathryn Pimm writes, “You should consider the toilet part of your cat’s domain as he has free reign over the rest of your home. I can’t believe you’d dare keep him from his own home “The speaker explains. “Perhaps you’re making feline friends and stockpiling supplies. Only if he checks will he find out.” Therefore, if you’ve seen a distinction in approach from your dog and cat’s potty forays, you’ve got it pegged. Dogs are just relieved to hear from you wherever you may be, but cats are annoyed by the locked door and concerned that something sinister may be afoot in their domain.

Not so obvious is how to convince these furry intruders to leave you alone. Whereas dogs can be trained to avoid the restroom, cats will have a harder time understanding that even if the room is theoretically part of their territory, it is off-limits and cannot be accessed at all times. If it’s getting too much, consult your vet or a behaviorist to learn strategies for helping your cat adjust to living with closed doors.

 

 

 

 

 

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