I have three cats. They live permanently indoors and have 24 hour access to their kitty litter except when I go to the toilet as it is a walk-through toilet and their room is only accessed through there. When I go to the toilet I close both doors because I don't particularly want cats in there with me! One of them either uses the kitty litter or pees in the bath, depending on which side she is on. If she really needs to go to the toilet why does she wait? If she doesn't need to go why does she when I'm in the toilet? When she goes in the bath I can see that it's only a small amount of urine so it doesn't seem that she really needs to go at that time.

Note to Americans: "go to the toilet" means "use the bathroom" to you.

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    "go to the toilet" made sense, it is "pees in the bath" that looks funnier. My cats don't pee in the bathtub. Dec 2, 2014 at 2:34
  • @tedder42 Only one of my cats pees in the bath. The other two are well trained. I've grown up with cats so I know a lot about them. This is new behaviour for me though...
    – CJ Dennis
    Dec 2, 2014 at 6:39
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    My cats like to come into the bathroom with me, but apparently just to supervise -- or to wait for me to wash my hands because they like playing with the sink. Cats are weird little critters. Delightful, but weird. (I don't have an answer to your question. I have pure speculation that it may be related to the instinct which causes them to use the litter box at all, or simply that your going reminds them that they should (in the same way that the sound of running water sometimes suggests to homo sap that this might be a good time).
    – keshlam
    Dec 2, 2014 at 13:06
  • @tedder42 Australian terminology: Toilet n. 1: The utility in the toilet(2); 2: The room that contains the toilet(1), smallest room in the house; Bath n. The utility in the bathroom, bathtub; Bathroom n. The room that contains the bath; Pee n. Urine; v. Urinate.
    – CJ Dennis
    Dec 2, 2014 at 22:02
  • Is that cat more associated with you? Does she tend to follow you around? She might attempting simple mimicry which is common in some animals (including humans) when trying to bond. She could be just trying to make you mad too; I obviously don't know your cat well enough to make that call. Dec 2, 2014 at 22:37

2 Answers 2


Some more information could help to figure out exactly what is going on. But there are a few general things that could make a difference...

How many litter boxes do you have in your home? The general rule is to have 1 box for each cat, plus 1 extra, distributed throughout your home rather than all in the same place, which would be 4 litter boxes in your case.

Too few litter boxes could cause unnoticed territorial conflicts among your cats. If that's the case, they're waiting until you're around for security. If that's the case, additional litter boxes could make a difference.

The kind of litter box could also be an issue. If it's a covered litter box, it gives your cat fewer exits in case of ambush. If the cat was a former stray, or suffers from general anxiety, it can lead to the cat wanting to avoid the box. That could explain why she's using the bath sometimes, as well as why she waits for you to be around.

Another thing to consider is litter box placement. Contrary to what some people may think, cats really don't care about privacy when using a litter box. Some cats prefer using a litter box in a place that is socially important because it can be used as a territorial marker. By waiting until you're in the bathroom she could be trying to say "This is my space, too. See?" Which could be the case, since you mentioned she doesn't always go very much.

  • Thanks Dan. Based on her behaviour today I think it's to do with food anxiety (which you've posted an answer on already!) She doesn't suffer from general anxiety, she always uses the litter when she has access to it, she's just really bad at covering it, scratching at the edge of the box itself instead of the litter. She is very happy, friendly and affectionate, just a little strange!
    – CJ Dennis
    Dec 5, 2014 at 5:28
  • Covered litter boxes should never be used. Cat urine contains a lot of ammonia (which is why it smells so bad). Ammonia is toxic in concentrated amounts. Covered litter boxes allow ammonia to build up and cats don't want to go inside the litter box because it smells really bad (they have a much better sense of smell than us) and can be toxic. Additional tips: catbehaviorassociates.com/covered-litter-boxes-the-real-scoop
    – Lindsay
    Dec 5, 2014 at 20:42
  • @Lindsay: Many cats are perfectly happy with covered litterboxes, as long as one cleans them regularly. The only exception I'm personally familiar with is a cat who had part of his lower bowel removed; his poo is stinky enough that he gasses himself out of a covered box.
    – keshlam
    Dec 25, 2014 at 3:13

I did catch your meaning with 'going to the toilet'. It sounds like operant conditioning to me. I think the whole routine has just become a cue for her. Lots of people work on this type of thing with their dog. Similar to clicker training, they'll take their dog outside and when it starts to go, they'll say, "Go potty". Then they'll begin backing it up to where they say the command and the dog has to go to the restroom, because it has associated the command with act. The same as some people feel the need to go when they hear running water.

It's highly possible that your cat has come to see some combination of your routine as the cue to go to the potty. It could be a combination of bathroom smells and both the doors being shut or something completely different. I think you could break this habit if you wanted to, but as long as she has access to a proper place to go to the toilet, I don't see the problem with it.

People are creatures of habit, because we get into routines that seem like the easiest and most efficient way to do something and stick with it. If you ask someone why they do something a certain way, they won't know what you mean and they'll tell you it's just the way it's done, even if someone else successfully does it a different or even better way. So it's highly possible it's just your routine that sets it off. If you're a friendly person or live alone, try leaving the doors open while you go, or maybe move the litter box. Maybe try leaving the doors shut for a while when you're not in there. Anything that disrupts the routine would disrupt the reaction. Maybe that's the reason and maybe not, but you can certainly test it out easily enough. Good luck on the toilet. Hope every things comes out alright in the end. :D

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    I had to laugh with "the dog has to go to the restroom": I was picturing the dog trying to use the taps ("faucets") in the bathroom to wash its paws! I could move one litter tray into the shower, but that's a bit yuck. If I opened both doors she'd eat all the food and prevent the other two from getting their fair share! And I prefer not to have cats circling my feet when I'm going to the toilet (which they do if I leave the door open), no matter how cute they are!
    – CJ Dennis
    Aug 31, 2015 at 5:22
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    It's easy to get the dog to go to the bathroom, but it's embarrassing when you walk in on them on the toilet reading 'Squirrel Chaser Quarterly'. If you're trying to pee and the cats are circling your legs, just spray them. . . You know, with a squirt bottle you keep in there for that purpose. No one likes to get sprayed in the bathroom.
    – Dalton
    Aug 31, 2015 at 14:05

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