You've looked in closets, behind the couch, and even the top of the refrigerator for your cat, but don't see her. You might also want to check the bathroom because some cats have an affinity for hanging out in the tub. Whether it's the proximity to dripping water or cats' natural predilection for being in enclosed spaces, felines enjoy bathtubs — sometimes even when they're filled with water.
Why Are Cats So Obsessed With Bathtubs?
Water, water everywhere
If your tub faucet drips, your cat may be enthralled with the slow movement of the water into the tub. He may bat at it with his paws or lap at the drops as they fall, or in the drain. Your cat may find this way more fun than drinking out of his bowl, or he might find the cool, fresh water better tasting. Because many cats aren't big drinkers, this water can be a good supplemental source of hydration. Other cats may be drawn to the smell of the water itself or the musty, earthy smell inside the faucet or drain.
Some cats will leap onto the edge of a filled tub to take a drink. Most won't venture into the tub if it's wet, but some breeds like to swim and bathe. These include cats descended from large felines in hot climates, such as Bengal and Savannah breeds, as well the Turkish van, Maine coon, and Japanese bobtail.
A space of their own
Most cats feel secure and happy in a small, enclosed space. That's why they love playing and sleeping in boxes or appropriating a grocery bag for a bed. The bathtub can serve the same purpose for some cats. They feel safe, with a vantage point where they can observe what's going on in the bathroom. But watch out, she may be planning a stealth attack on your toes or the toilet paper in a swift leap from the tub.
Part of the family
Your cat sees you spending a lot of time in the bathroom and naturally wants to hang out with you. He may smell your scent in every corner and associate the room with you. If he's underfoot in the small space, he may jump in the bathtub to observe you, as well as the water running in the sink.
Cool and comfy
With all their fluffy fur, cats can get hot as temperatures rise. The bathtub offers a smooth, cool surface to stretch out on for a cat nap on a hot summer day. Some cats like to roll around in the tub marking their territory and rubbing their backs.
When to worry
For the most part, finding your cat in the bathtub is nothing to be concerned about. But if your cat is old, normally hates water, and is suddenly showing up under the spray while you shower, that might be a sign of dementia. This may mean it's time for a vet appointment.
If your cat is acting lethargic and not eating, lying in the tub may be a way she has found to cool down because she has a fever. If you have a rectal thermometer, you can check her temperature, which should be 100-to-102-degrees Fahrenheit. If it's higher, she has a fever and needs to visit the vet as soon as possible.
If your cat is suddenly using the bathtub as a large enameled litter box, she may be under stress from new pets or family members. Maybe you've been negligent in cleaning her litter box or moved it to spot she doesn't like. Because cats are normally fastidious about their litter box habits, if you can't find a reason for the behavior, take your cat to the vet to be evaluated for a urinary tract infection or other illness.