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Why do cats hate closed doors?

Black and white cat standing by open door

Cats think a purrfect door is an open door

© Lauren Hudgins - Pixabay

Does your cat hate closed doors and scratch until it is opened? It may be annoying, but it's not that unusual. Here we explain what it's all about.

By Zoë Monk

Published on the 30/05/2021, 17:00

There's a fact about cats that most owners quickly learn. Cats hate closed doors. If cats were in charge, there would be no such things as doors. At the very least, every door would have a cat flap.

Our feline friends aren't shy about showing us their displeasure at encountering a closed door. They will meow and scratch at it until one of their staff, sorry humans, finally opens it. But what do cats have against closed doors?

Why does my cat hate closed doors?

Cats have genuine reasons for hating closed doors. Our feline friends are social creatures. If they know that a member of the family is on the other side of the door, they don't want something stopping them from being able to see what their humans are up to and getting some attention. Cats are also very nosey. We all know that saying about what curiosity did to the cat. They always like to know what's going on, so if they encounter a closed door, they cannot help themselves and must know what's happening on the other side of it.

If you think you own your home, you don't. Your cat does. Cats are very territorial creatures, so if they usually have run of the home, they will think of the whole place as theirs. That means that when a door is closed, they think you are stopping them from accessing a part of their territory which they do not approve of.

Why does my cat meow outside my bedroom door in the morning?

When your cat meows outside your bedroom door, it's their way of telling you that it is morning and it is time to give them attention, let them outside, or, more than likely, feed them.

Why does my cat meow outside my door at night?

Why your cat meows outside your door at night can be for any number of reasons. To your cat, it may seem like you've suddenly disappeared, leaving them feeling lonely and wanting attention. Alternatively, if your bedroom is usually open during the day, suddenly encountering a closed-door may agitate your cat and make them determined to get you to open it. It can also simply be a routine behaviour that your cat has got into.

However, if your cat doesn't usually meow at your door at night, you should think about what may have triggered it. Has something spooked them, or have you suddenly changed your usual routine? If you become concerned about this behaviour, then it's a good idea to speak to your vet for advice.

How do I get my cat to stop meowing at the door?

When your cat meows at the door, it is their way to ask to be let in or out. But their constant meowing can get rather annoying, especially if it's during the night. However, don't respond to their meowing with shouting, clapping, moving them away from the door or any other negative reactions. Instead, try to use a distraction. If your cat is play motivated, use their favourite toy and play with them to distract them from the closed door and tire them out.

Of course, there's always the option of ignoring your cat's meows. While it might be easier said than done, if you ignore your cat's meowing at the door, over time, they will likely stop as they know you aren't going to react.

How do you cat-proof a door?

You can cat-proof a door by upgrading your door handles and latches, making doors less appealing to felines, and using non-harmful repellents such as water sprays. Ensure your cat cannot push open doors by checking latches and door handles and, if necessary, replacing old and worn fittings. Some cat owners’ cat-proof doors by putting double-sided sticky tape on the floor in front of the door and on the door frame. You could also put down plastic floor matting with the bobbly side upward. Your cat probably won't like these surfaces' feel, which will encourage them to stay away from the door.

Solutions for times when kitty wants an open-door policy, but you don't!

While your cat may believe in an open-door policy, there will likely be very good reasons for why you want to keep your doors closed. Keeping the heat in, safety, privacy, aesthetics, or you want to keep the cat fur out of a room. If a door must be kept closed for your cat's safety, everyone else in the household must follow this rule too. If you find that people seem to forget to close the door after them, then install a child-proof lock on the door that will prevent your feline friend from entering.

When a door is used as a scratching post

Sometimes a cat may be interested in a door, not to enter the room, but simply to use as a convenient scratching post. You can help to curb this behaviour by investing in a good sturdy scratching post and put it as near to the door as you can. You can't have too many scratching posts, so consider getting two or three of different sizes and designs to help keep your kitty entertained and away from your doors.

The bathroom door

If your cat seems to like to follow you into the bathroom, you aren't the only cat owner that experiences this. But if you would like some private time to yourself, consider keeping a stash of cat wand toys in the bathroom. When you are next in the bathroom with the door closed, and you sense your feline friend is just outside, get one of the wand toys and move it around under the door, so it's peeking out then disappearing. This will likely keep your cat entertained and deter them from scratching the door, while you can enjoy a bathroom visit minus a furry shadow.

The bedroom door, when you're sleeping

Many cat owners enjoy snuggling up to their feline friend at night. But not everyone is a fan of sharing their bed with their whiskered housemate. If you'd prefer to keep your cat out of your bedroom at night, then unless you do something, any determined feline will likely park themselves outside your door and complain all night. So, think about where they could be overnight. Is there a nice, comfy room in your home that they could have access to for cat naps and playtime? Make sure there are plenty of toys for them to play with, and they have access to either a litter tray or a cat flap outside. Otherwise, they will be soon scratching at your door to tell you they need the toilet.

How to solve your cat meowing at closed doors?

If your cat voices their displeasure at encountering closed doors with meowing, they may be bored, lonely, hungry or in need of your attention. Distraction is by far the better solution, so fill your house with feline hideaways that your cat will love, several scratching posts and toys and treats hidden around for them to find. You can also give them the occasional surprise, such as leaving something out that's a little different. This could be cardboard boxes or paper bags with the handles removed. You could even leave out a pile of your worn clothes for them to sniff and snuggle down on.

If you own a cat, then you'll likely know that sound of your cat clawing and meowing the door. Cats will be cats. But if your kitty is causing you a problem with their door hatred, just make sure you give them plenty of attention during the day. That way, they'll be all topped up with love and will hopefully be not quite so determined to see you on the other side of that closed door.

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