As any cat owner knows, kitties absolutely hate closed doors. They can be at their calmest, but when that door is shut, their inner alarm goes off. They meow, they scratch, they fidget, and they do not rest until that door is open again. They may or may not choose to go through it once it's open, but it is paramount that they have the option. Why? Find out as we uncover the main reasons behind this peculiar cat behavior and what you can do to convince them that some doors need to stay shut, at least some of the time.
The 3 Main Reasons Why Cats Hate Closed Doors
You may regard their protesting to closed doors as a peculiar behavior, but let's look into the reasons why they become alarmed as soon as a door closes:
Reason No. 1 - Territory
Cats are territorial animals. They mark as often as they can so that it's always clear what they reign over. Even though you may need to close a door to go to the bathroom, to go into your bedroom or your kitchen, what you might be missing is that the door effectively interrupts access to a part of the cat's territory. And that is a problem. So, don't be surprised if your cat meows, scratches, and fidgets. It's a matter of territory that you have to settle.
Reason No. 2 - Curiosity
Ok, you've closed the door and the cat is left on one part of it. But there's a noise or a smell coming from the other side and your cat can't go over there to investigate, which means that there is a problem. Once again, don't be surprised if the cat will go out of its way to let you know about it.
Reason No. 3 - Clowder Rules
Your cat is part of your family, right? Well, the humans in the household are also honorific members of the cat's clowder (find out more about groups of cats), which means that the cat looks over you. When one or more members of the family are on the other side of a closed door, the cat can't see them, which is a problem. The meowing, scratching, and fidgeting simply means that the cat wants to make sure that everybody is alright.
How Cats Protest Closed Doors
Cats have many ways of letting you know that there is definitely a closed door in your home, but let's go through the most common ones:
- Meowing - As soon as the door closes, the cat becomes alarmed and it becomes vocal. They usually go sit in front of the closed door and meow and meow until somebody finally opens it for them.
- Fidgeting - They've meowed and meowed, but the door has yet to open, so the cats become restless and they start to fidget. They walk back and forth to the closed door, planning their next steps.
- Pawing - For most cats, if meowing and fidgeting prove to be unsuccessful in getting the door to open, the next step is pawing at it until somebody notices them. It looks like the cat is trying to dig a tunnel under the door to get across.
- Asking for Help - One way or another, the door must open, so if meowing and pawing haven't worked, then they will look for somebody to help. They will go to a family member, meow and brush up against them, and then go up to the closed door to get them to come and, hopefully, open for them.
- Scratching - If their cry for help goes unanswered, then cats have to use their own weapons - their claws. The last stand in the fight with the closed door is scratching because they know that is bound to get everybody's attention, on both parts of the door.
How to Keep that Door Closed In Spite of Your Cat's Protest
Sometimes some doors need to stay closed, even though your cat disagrees with such practices. But what can you do to get a peaceful closing of the door in a house with a cat? Here are a few suggestions:
Plan A - Methods that Keep Kitty Focused Elsewhere
- Give your cat as much attention as possible - In some cases, the cat's exacerbated interest with what goes on behind closed doors has a lot to do with the level of attention they are getting. If they aren't getting enough time with the family, they might be more prone to protest closed doors because it feels that they are left behind. So show your kitty how much you care, spend time with it, cuddle it, play with it, and it will know that a closed door is not a threat.
- Make your cat a lounging area next to the window - For cats that have an issue with the front door being closed, giving them the chance to see what happens behind it is enough to get them to calm down. They will then be able to look out the window and see you as you walk out and they will know where you are.
- Boxes, Bags, and Toys - This is more of a general solution, but when cats have a lot of things to play with, they are less stressed and, therefore, less prone to respond to the threats posed by a closed door. So give your cat its favorite things - boxes and bags, as many as you are willing to have around the house. When the cat gets bored with them, you can simply throw them out. Add some toys to the mix and the cat will be too busy playing to care about closed doors.
- Scratching Posts - Aside from the last stand in getting your attention, scratching is something that cats really enjoy doing. For some cats, closed doors are simply great scratchers that are just lying around. So, if you want to keep your doors intact, then get your cat a scratcher that it really likes, one that makes the door pale away in comparison.
Plan B - Methods that Keep Kitty Away
If you've tried everything else, but you have yet to find a suitable solution for your cat's protests to the closed doors in your house, then there are some solutions that might keep your kitty away from the door:
- Anti Chew/ Bitter Spray - If nothing else works, then you can turn to a taste deterrent. Anti-chew or bitter sprays are veterinary-approved, they are safe for cats, but the cats will definitely not like them. Spray the bottom part of the door that you want to keep closed with bitter spray. Then, when the cat paws or scratches the door, the smell, and the taste will urge it to reconsider.
- Sticky Paws - Another option is to use Sticky Paws on the bottom part of the door. You will need to use several strips to cover the door, but it is bound to be annoying enough for your cat to get it to stop scratching the door. The bands are not sticky enough to keep the cat there or to harm it in any way, but the feel of their paws sticking to the band, even for a moment, is a sensation that cats do not like and will want to avoid. This is a training aid that is useful for protecting furniture from your cat's paws and it is also useful for doors.
- Training Mats - Place training mats in front of the door you want to clear. Cats will avoid stepping on them and, hopefully, that will be enough to keep them from pawing and scratching the door. Keep in mind though that you shouldn't step on these mats barefoot either because it might be unpleasant for you as well.
- Large Object - Another way to block the door and keep the cat from scratching at it is placing a large object in front of it, hopefully one that is light enough for you to move easily, but one that the cat can't move.
A Key for Every Door
The cat's protests to each door may have a story of their own for your kitty, but they certainly have one for you as well. Here are the most common situations when we need to make it clear to kitty that some doors have to stay closed:
Keeping the Bedroom Door Closed
This is a common challenge for cat owners. As soon as the bedroom door closes, the scandal breaks out. In fact, there are two sides to this story, depending on which part of the door the cat is:
When the cat is inside the bedroom with you
It usually goes like this - kitty falls asleep next to you in bed and all is calm and cozy. Until about 4 in the morning, that is, when kitty wakes up and wants to go out. In this case, your best option is to either give in and sleep with your bedroom door open or to leave kitty out of the bedroom for the entire night to make sure you get a good night's rest. Find out more about cats’ nighttime habits.
When the cat is outside the bedroom without you
Kitty might not like that it is outside and that there is a door between her and you during the night. Keep in mind that the worst thing you can do is to open the door for kitty in the middle of the night. Why? Because it will understand that making noise is an efficient way to get you to open it. So, try out all the methods we've mentioned above, and stay strong! In the meantime, a pair of earplugs might be useful.
Keeping the Bathroom Door Closed
As any cat owner knows, going to the bathroom unaccompanied will simply not do. And closed bathroom doors usually trigger a cat-serenade soundtrack for your shower. To get the cat to accept the closed door, try out Plan A. You can rotate the cat's toys so that you have some of its favorites stashed up. Then, when you want to take a shower, you can give kitty one of its beloved toys to play with while the door is closed. Another good way to distract it from the closed bathroom door is to get it an interactive toy that will engage kitty to play with it and get its attention. If this doesn't work, though, it's time for Plan B.
Keeping the Closet Door Closed
Cats love everything about closets. They have places to rest, places to hide, and clean clothes and linen to sleep on. Naturally, a closed door to the closet will not be appreciated. Your best option, in this case, is to offer the cat some very attractive alternatives to the closet - such as comfy cat beds, cat trees, cat scratchers. If that doesn't do the trick, then you have to put plan B into action.
Keeping the Front/Back Door Closed
Cats are not happy when you have to go out, and they usually protest. Some cats scratch the front door and meow at it for a long time because they don't know where you've gone, they don't know what's behind the front door. It is very helpful for the cat to find this out, so making a space for it next to the window where it can watch you leave and then come back will help kitty get a better understanding of what's going on.
The Great Wide Open
For some cats, the protesting of the front or back door has nothing to do with you walking out through it, and everything to do with their desire to go outside themselves. If this is the case, then you can take kitty outside and let it explore. However, keep in mind that indoor cats must be supervised at all times when they are outside and they should be in a cat harness and leash. An alternative is to build them a catio, where they can play safely outside. Of course, if you don't want your cat to go outside, then you can try Plan A and Plan B.
As you can see, there are plenty of reasons why cats hate closed doors, but also quite a few methods to get them to stop. Does your cat protest when you close your doors? What is the main grievance in your case? Did you get it to stop? How did you manage? Tell us all about it in the comment section below.