Why Do Cats Hate Closed Doors? 🚪

As any cat owner knows, kitties absolutely hate closed doors. They can be calm, but their inner alarm goes off when that door is shut. They meow, scratch, fidget, and 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.

Don’t you wonder what they’re thinking, “Locked doors are an insult to my feline dignity – I must patrol my entire domain!” Or perhaps, “The forbidden room beckons, but this pesky barrier blocks my path. Time for a strategic meow-ffensive!”

Ragdoll cat meowing in front of closed french door.

Why? Find out as I uncover the main reasons behind this peculiar cat behavior and what you can do to convince them that some doors must stay shut, at least sometimes.

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Ragdoll cat pawing at closed door in garage.

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 possible so that what they reign over is always evident. So, 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 side. But a noise or a smell is coming from the other side, and your cat can’t go over there to investigate, which means there is a problem. So once again, don’t be surprised if the cat goes out of its way to let you know about it.

Ragdoll cat pawing at closed french doors.

Reason No. 3 – Clowder Rules

Your cat is part of your family, right? 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 family members are on the other side of a closed door, the cat can’t see them, which is a problem. The meowing, scratching, and fidgeting mean the cat wants to ensure 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 vocal and usually will 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 fidget. They walk back and forth to the closed door, planning their next steps.
  • Pawing – For most cats, if meowing and fidgeting are unsuccessful in opening the door, 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 have yet to work, 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, cats must use their own weapons – their claws. The last stand in the fight with the closed door is scratching because they know it is bound to get everybody’s attention on both parts of the door.

How To Keep That Door Closed Despite Your Cat’s Protest

Sometimes, some doors must 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 in 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 they feel left behind. So show your kitty how much you care, spend time with it, cuddle it, and 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 with an issue with the front door being closed, giving them a 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 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 great scratchers just lying around. So, if you want to keep your doors intact, get your cat a scratcher that it really likes, which makes the door pale away in comparison.
Ragdoll cat meowing, sitting in front of closed French doors.

Plan B – Methods That Keep Kitty Away

If you’ve tried everything else but have yet to find a suitable solution for your cat’s protests of the closed doors in your house, here are some other solutions that might keep your kitty away from the door:

  • Anti Chew/ Bitter Spray – You can turn to a taste deterrent if nothing else works. Anti-chew or bitter sprays are veterinary-approved and safe for cats, but they will not like them. Spray the bottom part of the door 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 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. Still, the feel of their paws sticking to the band, even for a moment, is a sensation 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 helpful for doors.
  • Training Mats – Place training mats before the door you want to clear. Cats will avoid stepping on them; that might be enough to keep them from pawing and scratching the door. Remember that you shouldn’t step on these mats barefoot either because it might also be unpleasant for you.
  • 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.
Cat Trigg standing outside in front of closed patio door

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 your 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 on:

When the cat is inside the bedroom with you
It usually goes like this – your kitty falls asleep next to you in bed, and all is calm and cozy until about 4 in the morning when the 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 leave the kitty out of the bedroom for the entire night to ensure 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. But remember that the worst thing you can do is open the door for the 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 all the methods mentioned above, and stay strong! In the meantime, a pair of earplugs might be helpful.

Ragdoll cat standing in front of closed house door leading into garage

Keeping the Bathroom Door Closed

As any cat owner knows, going to the bathroom unaccompanied will not do. 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. First, rotate the cat’s toys to have some of its favorites stashed up.

Then, when you want to shower, you can give the 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 an interactive toy that will engage the kitty to play with it and get its attention. If this doesn’t work, it’s time for Plan B.

Keeping the Closet Door Closed

Cats love everything about closets. They have places to rest and hide and clean clothes and linens to sleep on. So naturally, a closed door to the closet will not be appreciated. In this case, your best option is to offer the cat some desirable alternatives to the closet – such as comfy cat beds, cat trees, and cat scratchers. If that doesn’t do the trick, you have to initiate plan B.

Ragdoll cat sitting in front and looking up at closed French doors

Keeping the Front/Back Door Closed

Cats are unhappy when you have to go out and 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 conducive for the cat to find this out, so making a space next to the window where it can watch you leave and then return will help the kitty better understand what’s happening.

Rags at 18 years old, sitting outside in front of closed patio door.

The Great Wide Open

For some cats, protesting 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 true, you can take the kitty outside and let it explore. However, remember that indoor cats must be supervised at all times outside and 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, 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.

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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7 Comments

  1. Sharon Dickmann says:

    From Louie’s perspective: the pantry is the source of all things good and wonderful! Our food, treats and many toys are in our section of it. I lie on my side and kick the bifold doors until they open. Then I jump on the bottom shelf and play among the cat products. Mom foiled my fun by filling a gallon jug with water & placing it at the center of the bifold door. I can’t move that sucker no matter how hard I kick! For the linen closets, I just reach my paw under the middle of the bifold door and pull it open. Sometimes I do the kicking first because it gets my parents’ attention. I like to be the center of attention. I look at the handles to the bathroom & bedroom doors, but haven’t tried to open those-yet.

  2. Susan Whitney & Izzy says:

    I have not been able to close the bathroom door for 20 years! If I go in, it is an invitation to cuddle!

  3. Jennifer Roberts says:

    Hi Jenny! Absolutely loved this article!!! So insightful and the tips you gave are great! Why didn’t I think of these!! Hah!! Enjoy this lovely weather we are having! Ps love your newsletter! I always look forward to reading it! Jennifer

    1. You too – enjoy the weather! Glad you enjoy the newsletter too – helps me stay motivated to keep sending it =)

  4. Jennifer Roe says:

    Jenny, thank you for this in-depth discussion on closed doors. I love the suggestions because they are non-toxic, positive reinforcements. We have several cats, and they have access to only some rooms; closed doors are the norm. I claim two floppy cats: one who prefers to stay in the room, the other goes in and out. Because my cats are so large, stand high, my traveler can reach the door knob. She has learned that it is the key to accessing my room. So when I hear the door knob rattling, I know it’s her asking to get in. Because our cats are smart and stay focused on us, they learn certain behaviors from us, so stay alert. We can’t say, don’t do what I’m doing—they won’t understand. Doors are a very interesting subject. Thank you.

    1. Thank you for sharing, Jennifer – I am glad you enjoyed the article.

  5. SUPER FABULOUS & PAWESOME TOPIC AND POST, Jenny honey! TYSVM!!!! Miss PSB doesn’t like closed doors between her and us but she’s pretty chill about it (as it’s pretty rare that a closed door situation exists except for our potty time). She doesn’t really create too much of a fuss about it. 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love & purrs!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3

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