Let sleeping cats lie?
October 9, 2008 1:23 PM   Subscribe

Banishing cats from the bedroom.

My S.O. moves in with me this weekend along with her two big white cats. They are used to sleeping on (an in) her bed every night however I'm not willing to share mine so they're going to have to get used to sleeping elsewhere.

(Reasons: they shed a lot of hair, they sleep on your head, they wake up at 5am and make a ruckus till they get fed, they look disdainfully at my sexual technique etc)

We'll buy them a couple of nice cat beds for them to use in another room but how much resistance will I face from The Miaows and what can I do to encourage them to adopt this new nightime regime without too much fuss?
posted by theCroft to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: My cat would be mighty annoyed about being banished from the bedroom, especially since that's where he is used to sleeping. Also, if he's shut out of anything he becomes insatiably curious about whatever it is I've just banned him from. That's not a good combination when you're trying to sleep at night.

One suggestion is to maybe try feeding them late at night/right before you go to bed. That would keep them from making a ruckus for food in the morning. You also might want to use doublesided tape on the door if they like to scratch at it (assuming you will be keeping it closed at night). If you're keeping the door open, a squirt gun might help teach the cat where not to go.
posted by handful of rain at 1:32 PM on October 9, 2008

They will no doubt hover near the closed bedroom door, scratching, sliding their paws underneath, meowing, and being a nuisance in general. So you'll want to browse this other question for advice on that.
posted by nitsuj at 1:33 PM on October 9, 2008

The "not too much fuss" part is exceedingly unlikely. You'll have to get them used to sleeping apart from your SO *ever* before they stop making a fuss about it.

I'm guessing it might take a few weeks, and both you and your SO are going to have to stand firm if its going to work. If you let them in one night just to shut them up you'll have taught them that making a fuss all night, night after night, sometimes gets rewarded. My guess is that sort of backsliding doesn't just reset the clock, it adds penalty time: If it would have taken two weeks, but you backslide after a week, its going to take more than another two weeks. I suggest good earplugs.

It probably wouldn't hurt if the cats were banned from the bedroom at all hours.

Good luck.
posted by Good Brain at 1:35 PM on October 9, 2008

How much resistance will you face?

You are in for a world of pain. I predict that you will quickly realize that sharing the bed is the much more restful alternative.
posted by mudpuppie at 1:39 PM on October 9, 2008 [2 favorites]

posted by cjorgensen at 1:43 PM on October 9, 2008

It depends on the cats. If I understand correctly, your SO and the cats are moving to a new apartment? They might accept that the new bedroom is off-limits. Good Brian is correct that you shouldn't get soft and let them in -- not even once -- that will just confuse them.
posted by bchaplin at 1:44 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

The cats are moving. Rather than being locked out of their normal gig, they'll be locked out of a different bed in a different room in a different house. If there was ever a time to train them to sleep by themselves, that time is now.
posted by rlk at 1:53 PM on October 9, 2008

Keep them in a room at least two away from the bedroom for the first two weeks at night. That way you're less likely to hear the mewling. They still won't like it when they *are* able to get near the bedroom door, but they'll whine less.
posted by notsnot at 1:54 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Squirt gun. Don't bother with the cat beds, cats sleep wherever they want.
posted by electroboy at 1:59 PM on October 9, 2008

It would be easier for all involved (the cats, your SO and even you) if you at least consider letting the cats sleep with you. The cats will hate the change, your SO will feel horrible hearing them scratch and howl at the door, and they will already be a handful with the move. They will all be under stress in a new place including your SO.

This would be a really good opportunity to make SO feel at home. You can put them out of the room when you're practicing your technique. And you can reduce the hair problem by brushing them, which will win you more points than locking them out will.

I don't mean this to be snarky at all and I know it's not a good answer. It just that, you know, you're ALL moving in together and maybe you don't want to start setting up a them vs. you situation on the first night. Unless you are saying she doesn't want the cats to sleep with her either.
posted by quarterframer at 2:09 PM on October 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

I agree that now is a good time to retrain them. The whole place is new to them, so it should be easier than training them to stay out of a room they are used to sleeping in. I suggest bringing something that smells like the kitties with them to the new house, and putting that in the new cat beds. OR... buy the cat beds now and let them get used to them before they move... maybe a couple days isn't enough time for that to work, but it's worth a shot.
posted by purpletangerine at 2:13 PM on October 9, 2008

When we moved to a new house, my senior to ancient cats were given their own room into which they are shut at night to keep the dogs from hassling them. They've got their favorite chairs and beds on the floor (the window is floor level, so they watch Front Yard TV most of the time), and they made the move with relatively little fuss. I don't think it would have worked if it wasn't combined with a move, though, so if you're going to do it, do it now.
posted by Lyn Never at 2:14 PM on October 9, 2008

My cat shreds the carpet at the foot of any door he's locked out of, and scratches the paint at the bottom of the door. So you might want to fortify these things against claws, at least until the cats have accepted their new status. Squirt guns when they act up.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:15 PM on October 9, 2008

1) Consider getting an automatic feeder so they don't have to prompt you or your SO for food. My cats never ask for more food or water than the auto feeder and waterer provide.

2) Consider giving the cats a room of their own, if you can spare it. I have a guest bedroom that is made up and ready for guests at all times. I cover that bed with a old bedspread and let the cats have it to themselves. When guests are in town, I remove the bedspread and the cats find someplace else to sleep for a few days (usually under my bed or under furniture somewhere else in the house).

I let them jump up on MY bed almost every night, but they wander off to their own room after a few minutes.
posted by Exchequer at 2:21 PM on October 9, 2008

Just chiming in again. I would not assume that anything bad will happen until you try it. If the cats have places to play and sleep, and can cuddle with your SO at other times, there is absolutely nothing wrong with locking them out of any place you choose. It is easier on the cats to establish the rules in the new place from the beginning. IF they scratch and whine and otherwise make your lives miserable, then perhaps re-consider.

My cats are barred from the bed. They seem fine with the arrangement.
posted by bchaplin at 2:28 PM on October 9, 2008

If you could provide a moatlike arrangement to keep them from wrecking the door/doorframe/floor, it might be good. A couple of plastic boot trays with a little water in the bottom might do the trick.
posted by fish tick at 3:03 PM on October 9, 2008

I suggest bringing something that smells like the kitties the girlfriend with them to the new house

Put some of her laundry in the cat bed so they can have something with her scent. Of course, they might just pee on it out of spite.
posted by desjardins at 3:08 PM on October 9, 2008

The cats won't be used to having access to your bedroom so that will make things easier. I would suggest never letting them in your room. Just keep the door closed all day and if they sneak in when you have it open, shoo them out. Don't let them ever get the idea that your room is a comfy place to hang out.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 3:22 PM on October 9, 2008

I love me my kitties, I'm (especially now with three!) this [] close to being a crazy cat lady, but they don't sleep with us at night.

We bought our cats very comfy cat beds and they sleep in their own "bedroom" every night, which is our laundry room (in the house, air-conditioned, they aren't suffering, people!).

When we recently adopted a third cat, we let her get used to the house first, then gradually introduced her to the sleeping arrangement with our other two cats in the laundry room once the three of them were getting along (took a while). There is very little fuss because it's the accepted routine and they know what to expect. Your girlfriend's cat will get used to the new arrangement. The only occasions where we forgot or were too sick, etc. to have them sleep this way, they got on the kitchen counters and knocked things down and generally made mayhem, so this solution works for us.

Tip: Call them by name, give them cat treats BEFORE you put them in their room, and lots of attention and good-nighting, and then put them in and shut the door.
posted by misha at 3:35 PM on October 9, 2008

We had to retrain one of our feline companions NOT to sleep in the bedroom after she decided that she was going to mark 'moonMan's pillow as HER territory.

The only way we could do it was to keep the bedroom totally, totally off limits for about two weeks and keep a fan blowing outside the door so that there was a pretty good deterrent to scratching at the door incessantly. Now the cat knows that when she is forcibly removed from the premises at bedtime, there is no hope of re-entry.

You must be more firm with cats than with dogs or even babies because 99% of the time, in a battle of wills, a cat will win.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 5:15 PM on October 9, 2008

My cats are terrified of those air spray cans. Just spray them when they get near the bed.
posted by jockc at 8:48 PM on October 9, 2008

Response by poster: All good answers and thanks all for your time and contributions. The first night was a disaster, we hadn't got their new beds and one of the two mewled most of the night till my S.O. caved around 5am. Once they were in the room and on the bed they were fine and quiet.

posted by theCroft at 10:28 PM on October 11, 2008

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