Your cat follows you into the bathroom (or wants to) when you are on the toilet. This is my reason.
Our smell in the bathroom is like a heightened version of us; to our cat we become more intense and our cat’s affection towards us is heightened in response as demonstrated by excitement.
Yes, I know this is a well-worn subject and a delicate one but I am compelled to discuss it because a scientist, Mikel Delgado, a postdoctoral fellow at the School of Veterinary Medicine at UC Davis (who should know better), has got it all wrong in my view. I feel that I have to correct her. All her proposals (which I touch on below) ignore the most obvious: the attraction of the scent of our poop (and less so our pee). This reason is linked to the known fact that cats love to mingle and lie on our clothes and the smellier they are the better. It is the same process. Wild cats use their poop to deter stranger cats from their home range. Once again it is scent sending a message.
A cat’s life revolves around the smell of things. They recognise us by sight and scent. The latter confirms the former and is probably more important.
Domestic cats can definitely become exited when we are having a poop. They want to join us. My cat meows excitedly and trills. He jumps up onto my shoulders. He is all over me! How the hell can I read the paper and have a quiet poop?!
Anyway back to business; why is my cat so attracted to me when I am sitting on the toilet? It has got to be about smell and about how our cat attaches that smell to us. If we are very emotionally close to our cat, the smell of our poop represents us. It is a heightened version of us in terms of our scent. I believe it sends a signal to our cat that we are present and by implication want our cat’s attention. And as our cat is very attached to us, our presence is exiting to him/her. It almost a form of communication which says I am here and I like you. The response from the cat is the same: strong signs of affection. As a consequence I’d argue that cats that are not close to their human guardian will not react in the same highly affectionate way.
The reason behind this feline behaviour is not as Delgado states to do with the fact that we are a captive audience in the bathroom, or because the tiles are smooth and cool (that’s absurd) or that the bathroom is warm. No, no, there is one outstanding, standout aspect associated with a cat owner going to the toilet for a poop and it is smell. Sorry to be so direct. But for a cat, smell, or put more delicately ‘scent’, is a vital component of their lives. Our smell in the bathroom is like a heightened version of us; we become more intense and our cat’s affection towards us is heightened in response.