My Cat, The Poop Coach
June 21, 2006 1:01 PM   Subscribe

My husband and I have a kinda old, kinda ornery cat with a meow not unlike a gameshow buzzer. She’s something along the lines of 14 or 15 years old and even as a kitten was never particularly cuddly. Most of the time she wants to be left alone to catch a beam to warm her arthritic bones. There are however, certain times of the day when she demands attention.

At night just as we hit the hay, she’ll fly up on to the bed, wedge herself between us and start the un-tuned motor that produces her purr. These lovefests tend to last five or six minutes and seem to slake her affection thirst until…

...either of us has to use the loo. If she detects with her supersonic hearing that either of us is about to use the facilities, she will forget that she is arthritic (and probably asleep) fly up the stairs (or off the cat scratching contraption) and push her way into the bathroom in a very detective movie fashion. If we close the door, she will bang against it wailing and wanting to come in. This behaviour has earned her the nickname “Poop Coach” (“Pooparrazzi” was considered then rejected as a nickname) as she seems to think we can’t function without her encouragement.

Does anyone have any insight into why the “Poop Coach” behaves this way when our bathroom use is concerned? Is there a way to stop it?
posted by verveonica to Pets & Animals (33 answers total) 22 users marked this as a favorite
Dunno, but our cats do this, too, as did some of the cats I grew up with.

Heh: Poopcoach.
posted by everichon at 1:04 PM on June 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

One of my cats *MUST* sit on my chest for a few minutes after I get into bed. I timed it a few times. If she doesn't get the four minutes she will bother me all night.

After that, she will leave the bed and go to her basket.

It is what she does. The C in cat stands for crazy.
posted by birdherder at 1:07 PM on June 21, 2006 [2 favorites]

My two cats are also fascinated by the bathroom. My explanation: they like it because it's a place where their owner sits relatively low-to-the-ground for a few minutes, without much else to do but pet the cats.

This does not, however, explain why one of them likes to sit on the edge of the bathtub while I'm in it, even though she hates water. There might be something to that "C for crazy" theory.
posted by vorfeed at 1:16 PM on June 21, 2006

Our cats absolutely need to know what's going on when the bathroom door is closed. The constant scratching and whining has substantially changed ny bathroom modesty habits, to the extent that I rarely latch the door so they can push their way in if they like.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:16 PM on June 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

sorry no helpful input but I find this amazing. My cat does exactly the same thing and I always just thought it was an idiosyncrasy.
posted by toomuch at 1:18 PM on June 21, 2006

This is a great cat story, btw.
posted by k8t at 1:21 PM on June 21, 2006

How many of these "poop coaches" are female cats, I wonder.

It might be a bit of maternal instinct. Female cats are pretty fastidious about waste when they have a litter.
posted by Good Brain at 1:26 PM on June 21, 2006

My cats also do this. All 3 have the need to be in the same room as me, for at least the first 15 minutes or so (this frustrates them immensely when I'm cleaning the house). I figure this is part of the reason why they follow me to the bathroom.

One cat especially seems to have been conditioned to know that potty-time is pet-the-kitty time, so it just further encourages her. She is also the sort that is really only affectionate when I'm in bed or on the couch, so I assume it's because I'm more at her level.
posted by Sangre Azul at 1:29 PM on June 21, 2006

We have two cats, a male and a female. They both find the bathroom to be a quite fascinating place - when there's someone using it.

The female knows that scratching on the bathroom door is a way to get it opened. The male (big dumb lump of love that he is) never got to the "use paws to open things" stage of development; if battering something with his head doesn't budge it, he'll sit himself down and wait patiently nearby. However, if the door is closing, he'll motor through to get in.

'Poop Coach' is awesome.
posted by lowlife at 1:36 PM on June 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

My two male cats are fascinated by the bathroom, too. I never pet them (while using the facilities), so I don't think that is the reason. I believe that they are fascinated by the sounds the water makes when running through the pipes, as they are never interested in going into the that room when it is unoccupied.

When I leave the room, they'll run in and circle the toilet once, and then leave. They're too polite to scratch at the door or cry to be let in. Thank goodness.
posted by bchaplin at 1:37 PM on June 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Just as with lowlife, our female cat insists on being let into the bathroom (really, any door that is closed, if she's seen us go into it -and not come out); the male tries for a while, then sits and waits.
Our female also insists on being under the covers for about ten minutes right after I go to be - she gets all cuddly and pur-ry; then after about ten minutes, she leaves, rather unceremoniously.
Cats - can't figure 'em out, can't live without 'em.
posted by dbmcd at 1:40 PM on June 21, 2006

We are owned by 4 master felines. The boy and one of the girls are fascinated with this-- the boy comes in to see what is what, while the girl hops onto your shoulder and then makes her way down your back (as you are forced to lean over at this point). If she does this to my husband, she then settles in, not unlike the little black kitty on the back of the bulldog in that heart-rending Tex Avery cartoon.
My theory is that cats understand so very little of what we do (and we understand less of them) that when there is an activity going on that they absolutely "get"--and who doesn't get pooping-- they want in on it.
Incidentally, my boy kitty, Melon, is also quite stern about bedtimes. He pouts up a ruckus if he feels we have been up too long. We refer to him as the Bedtime Sheriff.
posted by oflinkey at 1:42 PM on June 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

Poopcoach, awesome. None of my cats accept a closed door of any kind, opening cabinets (or trying to open them and they thu-thu-thunk closed over and over and over again) and banging on the bedroom door like the damn SWAT team. That noise makes me insane, as does the noise of claws chuk-chuking on the carpet underneath the door. If they're in, they want out, if they're out, they want in.

My craziest cat will lurk in the bathtub in the dark, waiting for someone to get up in the middle of the night for a pit stop by nightlight. She'll wait until you're settled before rising up silently out of the tub in the gloom. Makes you glad you're already seated. Then she wants love, or to fling herself violently at your legs and scream, which is apparently just as good.

Really, I think the bathroom patrol is because they cannot fathom why you are sitting in the water bowl. That's why they're so upset when you take a bath, too. You're not supposed to roll around in it! Sure, stick a paw in, give it a little swish, but if you get in there you'll get wet and you're sure to die from that.
posted by Lyn Never at 1:49 PM on June 21, 2006 [6 favorites]

My cat likes to be in the bathroom. He also likes to be around sinks and drains. I always thought it had something to do with hunting. Perhaps he thinks there's some delicious creatures swimming in the water.
posted by lemhuxley at 1:50 PM on June 21, 2006

I have one that will insist on getting into any bathroom if she thinks there's the slightest chance the tap will be turned on and she can drink from it.

She doesn't bother doing it with me (much) because she knows I will chase her off, but any guests she considers fair game.

I just tell them she's the bathroom attendant :-)
posted by nonliteral at 2:06 PM on June 21, 2006

Our house has a female cat that likes to hang out in the bathroom, but she generally leaves when we go in there. If she doesn't, she just rubs up against our legs. My guess is that it's because the bedrooms are generally closed upstairs and it's the only place up there she can hang out for hours on end without being disturbed. I don't know if this relates at all, but just another anecdote about cats + bathrooms.
posted by cellphone at 2:09 PM on June 21, 2006

Wow, so I'm not the only one with completely insane cats. Both of the cats in my house go into the bathroom whenever the door is opened and they are nearby. I think they just like to get into a 'new room' they don't get to explore much.. Usually they soon realize how small/boring it is and leave.

Sometimes, though, they won't leave. And they reap what they sow, so to speak.
posted by triolus at 2:20 PM on June 21, 2006

Two of my cats (one male, one female) do this, too. Usually not together, though, and often not during daytime hours. I really like "poop coach" and "Bedtime Sheriff"! My stepkids refer to petting an animal as "loving on it," and the cats' action of repeatedly clenching their paws while being loved on (presumably a holdover from before being weaned) as "making biscuits."

Oh, back to the toilet: the youngest cat also is really intrigued by the Coriolis effect.
posted by kimota at 2:21 PM on June 21, 2006

I call ChatFilter. ;)
posted by everichon at 2:26 PM on June 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

My current cat is mostly indifferent when I'm in the bathroom, but my previous cat—ornery grouch that she was—found bathroom time one of the few felicitous to her for giving and receiving affection. I think in her case, though, it was because she just hated to be picked up. In our 14 years together, I learned to moderate my impulse to pick her up and she learned to tolerate it for about 40 seconds. Even so, she tended to avoid any situations where she became conditioned against the possibility of me picking her up. But that never happened when I was on the toilet, so I was "safe" then, I think.

She didn't ever take much interest in what I was doing, or when the toilet was flushed. This new kitty, just now only a year old, finds pretty much everything interesting. She's gotten up on her rear legs with her front legs on the rim of the toilet bowl while I've been peeing with the seat up—I've been afraid I was going to pee on her.

I'm curious about the numerous stories of kitties of having 5-minute bedtime cuddling sessions and then leaving. My new kitty will do that. My previous cat would sleep all night with me, pressed up against my thigh. I wish the new kitty would do that, but she only jumps in bed for brief affection periods. She'll lie on my chest and shift around as if she's trying to get comfortable, but never does, purring all the while. Then she remembers something she needed to do. Or that she'd prefer to sleep in my computer desk chair.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:27 PM on June 21, 2006

"Oh, back to the toilet: the youngest cat also is really intrigued by the Coriolis effect."

You're going to hate me for the pedantry, but that's not the Coriolis effect. That's just the water swirling down in the direction its aimed. It's my understanding that it's very unlikely that you'll see the Coriolis effect in a very small body of water like a toilet or a bathtub—even if you let the water sit in a bathtup for a day or so, it will still end up whirlpooling down the drain either in the aggregate residual direction of earlier motion, or an aggregate motion intriduced by the mechanical water flow as it flows toward the drain. It may be possible in controlled conditions in a home, with water that's left for a long time to become very much at rest, to see the Coriolis effect.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:32 PM on June 21, 2006

It may be possible in controlled conditions in a home, with water that's left for a long time to become very much at rest, to see the Coriolis effect.

Really? I've always told people it was complete nonsense to think you could see it at home. But I'll take your word for it.

This is an amazing thread, and I'm sure glad neither of our cats is a poopcoach.
posted by languagehat at 2:36 PM on June 21, 2006

"Really? I've always told people it was complete nonsense to think you could see it at home. But I'll take your word for it."

Well, don't. :) I was hedging because it seems to me that I dimly recall a Scientific American Amateur Scientist that found a way to observe the Coriolis effect at home—but only after a lot of trouble. But I could be making this up entirely out of whole cloth. In any case, we agree that very few people are ever likely to see the Coriolis effect at home under any circumstances.

Incidentally, because we're mixing cats and physics, I want to repeat my observation that cats are "entropy's little helpers". I'm hoping that it will catch on.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 2:48 PM on June 21, 2006

I have one cat who has to come into the bathroom with me and will jump into the bathtub and wait for me to turn on the cold water to a trickle so she can drink.

Cat 2 then has to come in to see what Cat 1 is doing because she can't bear to miss a thing.

I have to make sure the lid on the toilet is closed, or Cat 1 will also try to drink from that too if I leave the bathroom door even a few millimetres ajar - she'll find a way to open it. The pawprints around the seat have taught me that.

As for bed habits, Cat 2 has to have the full head/cheek/ears/chin scratch, to the extent that she'll drag my hand away from my book with her paw (always her right paw, never the left) if I stop, but she wants this for only about five minutes. Then she flies off the bed as if her tail's on fire and is gone for the rest of the night.
posted by essexjan at 2:55 PM on June 21, 2006

Our male cat MUST BE IN THE BATHROOM when you are there. He then sits behind the semi-transparent shower curtain and watches you, while hoping you will play "get at the people behind the clear thingy" with him.

The female will come in the bathroom if she's around, but won't slap the doorknob in the way the male one will if he's shut out. It's to the point where we just announce it so that he will come with us and we won't have to open the door for him.
posted by Medieval Maven at 3:11 PM on June 21, 2006

Four cats (two boys, two girls). Too many stories about all these subjects so i'll just stick to the original question: one of the boy cats must be in the bathroom with you (unless you are showering. He doesn't like the steam). As with several above posters, i attribute it to him getting some quality time alone with the bathroom user.

On a somewhat related note, we have a room dedicated to my wife's fish keeping hobby. Because there are all sorts of breakable tanks and stuff (not to mention lots of tasty fish) the cat's are not allowed in.

This is the one room that they obsess over, and if either my wife or i go in the room, we can expect to see all four of them waiting outside for us. Even if they can't get in, they want to see what's going on in there.
posted by quin at 5:23 PM on June 21, 2006

My (female) cat loves to wait outside the closed bathroom door and without fail sticks both her front paws under the door gap into the bathroom. Bare feet beware- she snags whatever's in her path. She doesn't do it with any other door. Also, if I'm not careful and she gets in when poop is involved, she absolutely MUST watch the poop disappear when it's flushed away. Even if I put the lid down immediately after, she will put her paws up on the toilet and try to see what's going on underneath.

...Sorry if that's too much info. Interesting idea about it being a maternal instinct though-- I personally think she's just curious about indoor plumbing.
posted by np312 at 6:03 PM on June 21, 2006


I'm amazed at how many people have this experience.

I read something about cats crapping in 'safe' places...and places near the edge of their territory (as markers).

They see you as an alpha creature. They follow you.

And where you crap (sending out all sorts of odors), they come running to get a whiff, as it's part of the alpha dominance. It's safe there. When you're in bed? They're trying to groom you too.
posted by filmgeek at 6:59 PM on June 21, 2006 [1 favorite]

my cat loves sneaking into the fridge (as well as sitting on my lap when I'm in the loo). my fridge has nothing in it, except condiments and soymilk, so the bottom shelf accomodates him perfectly. It's a bitch to get him out once he's inside. anyone else?
posted by chelseagirl at 7:39 PM on June 21, 2006

I once lived with a cat that, when I went for a slash, would put his paws up on the edge of the bowl and stare at the stream of urine, hypnotised. It used to bother me at first but he never tried to interfere, and it wasn't like I could bend down and throw him out.

I suppose I could have demonstrated to him why cats shouldn't really stand so close to a stream of piss, but then I'd have had to clean up after a wet kitty. And he'd have to wash himself - ugh.

I can't really explain why he did it, but I suspect it was a combination of the noise and the visual of a silvery-flashy thing - I don't really know how a cat sees the world.
posted by Ritchie at 7:58 PM on June 21, 2006

Lots of cats like sinks.
posted by radioamy at 9:31 PM on June 21, 2006

anyone else?

chelseagirl, my other boy cat (the one not obsessed with my bathroom,) is deeply in love with the fridge. i'm sure it's because that where the sliced turkey (sorry, in his vernacular it's TURKEY!!!) comes from.

You know how when cats eat, they tend to be kinda delicate and mincy about it. Darwin (he's a polydactyl. He has thumbs...) fucking inhales sliced turkey. It's almost obscene.

Any how, occasionally he fortifies himself in the fridge. i'm sure in his kitty mind he is thinking 'as long as i'm in here, i'm close to my food.'

i've tried yanking him out, but that usually ends up with tons of my groceries on the floor, so i've resorted to the spray bottle. When he corners himself in the fridge i just give him a blast and he goes running.

It's not perfect, but it seems to work.

posted by quin at 10:59 PM on June 21, 2006

Damn my editing skills. Sorry, that should read, his name is Darwin because he's a polydactyl... (you know, trying to evolve and all...)
posted by quin at 11:06 PM on June 21, 2006

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