Why Are Cats So Obsessed With Bathtubs?

By Amanda Rock

My cats are completely obsessed with the bathtub. One of them loves it; the other loathes it. I'm not talking about baths, which they agree are terrible — I'm talking about the bathtub itself.

The white cat lies in a bathtub
credit: artsandra/iStock/GettyImages

My morning ritual of getting ready wouldn't be complete without Emily begging for attention, flip flopping in the empty bathtub, and chasing her tail on the slippery surface. It's pretty adorable. On the other hand, I could totally do without Max yowling at me with terror in his eyes when I take my nightly bath. He's obviously horrified that I would voluntarily submerge myself into hot water. Since my cats usually agree on stuff (food = good, vet = bad) I thought I'd investigate.

Looking for answers, I emailed Deann Shepherd, Director of Marketing and Communications for the Humane Society of Utah. She offered this observation: "I know my cats liked to sit in the sink when I lived in Florida, so I thought it was because the porcelain was cool. My cats don't do it here in Utah."

It's an established cat fact that sinks are fun to sit in. Sinks are cool, smooth and perfectly cat-sized, and trickling water is super awesome.

Enclosed Spaces

Deann reached out to the Humane Society's of Utah's Animal Behaviorist, Emily Strong, CPBC, CPBT-KA, who said, "I have no idea why some cats enjoy sitting in bath tubs and sinks! I could hypothesize until I'm blue in the face, but unless we invent a mind-reading machine, I would have no way of conclusively knowing why cats do that. The closest thing we can come to is that cats do seek out safe, enclosed spaces."

We all know that cats love boxes, so the idea of cats feeling safe in enclosed spaces makes total sense. Strong added that "It may be related to why cats will sit inside circles, but even that hasn't been seriously researched, only hypothesized about ad nauseum." Okay. So even a professional animal behaviorist is baffled by weirdo cats.

Bath Time
credit: akillerqueen/iStock/GettyImages

It's logical to me that Emily would dig spending time in the tub — it's an enclosed space just like her beloved cardboard box. And Max is probably just scared to death of all the water in the bathtub and seriously questioning my human logic.

How do your cats react to the bathtub? Please let me know in the comments!