It’s the time of year when the new kitten is SURE she’s missing out–and so makes a mad door dashing escape to find out about the great outdoors. In my neck of the woods, that’s a recipe for disaster (and the coyotes). This post garnered a lot of comments when first published a couple of year’s ago, so I’m re-publishing it with some updates and tips. Note: This information and more is available in the ComPETablity: Cats book, too.
There is a saying, that a cat is “always on the wrong side of a door.” My cat Seren(dipity) faithfully adheres to this principle, although with age, her dash-for-the-door has become more like a stroll.
Dealing with door-dashing felines is particularly frustrating for owners. Even when Kitty understands that a particular location (the doorway) is forbidden, she may avoid the place when you’re looking but making a zooming escape as soon as visitors arrive and the door cracks a whisker-width open. With fireworks in the air (literally!) both last night and probably over the weekend, there’s ample opportunity for kitties to get scared, and disappear out the door.
What can you do? Recognize you will NOT stop a cat’s urge to see on the other side of the door. You cannot change instinct, but you can modify some of these irksome behaviors.
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Encourage her to stay away from danger zones with training techniques. Any time you see the cat lounging near the doorway, use an interruption such as a loud “SSST!” or clapped hands to shoo her away. The idea is to make the doorway area unappealing, so that kitty keeps away—and offer her a more rewarding pastime. Some cats are dissuaded with the help of a long-distance squirt gun aimed at their backside. However, some cats like Seren enjoy being sprayed. You have to always be there for this to work and frankly, the spray isn’t all that effective and can do damage to your relationship. There are better ways.
Make the entry way unfriendly. Many cats dislike the feeling of walking on aluminum foil, so place a couple of sheets over the walkway. Another option is to apply Sticky Paws (double-sided tape) to make the surface uncomfortable. Put the Sticky Paws on place mats positioned on the forbidden area, so it’s easily removed. You can also use clear plastic floor mats placed spike-side up so the cat will avoid the area.
The SSSCAT is a cat-repellent device that sprays a hiss of air to startle the pet that triggers the built-in motion detector—you don’t have to be present for it to work. You may also use smell deterrents to keep the cat away from forbidden doorway zones. Cats dislike citrus smells, so orange or lemon scents sprayed at the bottom of the door may help.
It’s not fair to simply forbid the cat access to a much loved activity. Offer her legal outlets that are more attractive than the forbidden zones, and she’ll naturally choose to lounge there and abandon the doorway dash.
Position a cat tree or kitty bed on a table top right in front of a window some distance away from the forbidden door. Make this the most wonderful cat lounge spot ever—hide catnip or food treats in the bed, for example. Before you go out the door, make a point of giving your cat the best-treat-in-the-world, but only if she’s on this cat tree/bed (a safe distance from the door). While she munches, you can make a safe exist. Enlist help from friends to knock at the door or ring the doorbell to practice, so arrivals also make kitty think, “Hey, it’s TREAT time!”
Choose your battles and perhaps allow her to lounge on the television as long as she leaves the doorway alone. Seren enjoys her multilevel cat tree situated next to the front door, where she can watch all comings and goings from the window—and gets paid with a treat for planting her furry tail and staying put.
Do your cats beg to go outside? Perhaps you have a terrific safe outside kitty playground–how did you create it? What are safety tips or training advice that has worked with your cat? The Ask Amy video below has some suggestions, too.
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