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.
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:
- My Cat Guards Me When I Pee [Why & What To Do]
- 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 an experienced pet owner with decades of experience owning a number of different pets, from traditional pets like dogs and cats, to the more exotic like reptiles and rodents. I currently own a Cockapoo (pictured) called Bailey. I am also the main writer and chief editor here at Pet Educate; a site dedicated to sharing evidence-based insights and guidance, based on my vast pet ownership knowledge, experience, and extensive research.