Horny Cat is Trapped in the Bathroom
January 4, 2010 9:58 AM   Subscribe

An insane cat has managed to lock herself in the bathroom. The handle looks like this from the outside, where I am. The lock, on the cat's side of the door, is a small metal piece that you push in with your thumb to lock and pull out to unlock. Other than breaking down the door, what can I do?

The people I babysit for have a cat who goes into heat (long story, but she's spayed) and then harasses the baby. I don't know how the parents deal with this, but I shut the cat in the bathroom after the cat repeatedly tried to bite the kid's feet and rub her butt in the kid's face. Nice.

Anyways, I put the baby down for a nap and went to let the cat out of the bathroom, where she'd been hurling herself against the door for 2 hours. Apparently in her throes of passion and outrage she managed to push in the sliding lock and now the door is locked.

I've called the super and the parents, but no one is getting back to me. If this were my cat and my house then I'd try to just lean on the door handle until it broke. Does anyone have experience with these door handles? Any trick I can use that won't require the super to bust it down? I'd prefer to get out of this mess with a living cat and an in-tact door, but obviously the cat is the first priority.
posted by Hwaet to Grab Bag (21 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
 
Looks like you should be able to pry off the cover plate and unscrew the rest, allowing you to pop the lock and open the door.
posted by fish tick at 10:01 AM on January 4, 2010


did you look at this thread? Many of the answers you'll get here I suspect will be found there

(and that looks like a particularly bad handle for a bathroom door, their kid is going to lock himself/herself in one day)
posted by edgeways at 10:04 AM on January 4, 2010


Usually, door handles with a privacy lock will have a small hole on the outside. You can use something like a straightened-out paperclip to poke into the hole and press on the release mechanism inside, and that should pop the lock open.

The picture you linked to doesn't show such a hole, but these things are often available in multiple versions, including ones with no lock (therefore no hole to bypass the lock, either).
posted by FishBike at 10:08 AM on January 4, 2010


Yeah, someone had to get that thing screwed on the door in the first place, so you should be able to take off the plate somehow (I'm betting that you'll see a little notch you can pry a screwdriver into if you look around all the edges) and take the entire thing out.

And yes, like edgeways says, that's a particularly bad handle for a kid-occupied home. The parents ought to replace that with a door handle that can be unlocked from the outside.
posted by cooker girl at 10:10 AM on January 4, 2010


Those doorlocks are pish, from memory. Have you dried giving the door a good old shake for a short while and seeing if it opens the lock?
posted by MuffinMan at 10:11 AM on January 4, 2010


which way does the door open? Can you remove it from it's hinges?
posted by TheBones at 10:13 AM on January 4, 2010


No promises, but look for tiny screws around the edge (especially the bottom edge) of the handle plate.
posted by amtho at 10:13 AM on January 4, 2010


Edgeways, I did see that thread, but the problem is that instead of me trapped inside the bathroom, it's a non-verbal creature who lacks opposable thumbs and any ability to listen to my directions. I'm on the other side and would like to be able to unlock the door without breaking it down. Birdlady's problem with solved with jiggling a bad doorknob and inserting a credit card. A credit card doesn't fit through this crack. I've been jiggling it for about an hour to no avail.

There's no hole on the outside and the hinges look like they're almost painted shut. The one boon is that there is a screw on the handle. My friend is coming over with tools to see if we can remove the handle.

It's indeed a bad handle for a kid who's just discovered the joys of swinging doors shut and yelling "BYYE!" I've cautioned them about this before, but they're moving in another month, and they didn't want to fiddle too much with a rented apartment. This is also a terrible pet for having a kid, but, hey, not my family.
posted by Hwaet at 10:15 AM on January 4, 2010


Why not just leave the cat in the bathroom until the parents come home? Seems like a good place for it.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:20 AM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


I have no idea if I can explain this coherently. The part of the doorknob that holds the door closed (goes into the hole in the door jamb) has a slanted side and a flat side. If the slanted side is facing away from you, you can feed a piece of wire or possibly a string around it and pull towards you. This will open the door.

(I recently escaped from my apartment using this maneuver and a Cat Dancer and thought I was MacGyver.)
posted by Mavri at 10:23 AM on January 4, 2010 [5 favorites]


What does the handle on the inside look like? Usually the kind where you push the button to lock will unlock if you turn the handle inside. You might be able to straighten a coat hanger and use the hook at the end to go under the door and turn the inside knob, thus unlocking it.
posted by jeffamaphone at 10:25 AM on January 4, 2010


I assume you've tried something as simple as sliding a credit card?

I came in to say what fishbike said. The hole is tiny and a toothpick or paper clip pushed around will unlock the door.

good luck!
posted by special-k at 10:39 AM on January 4, 2010


You said it's a sliding lock? Like a straight bar that feeds into a slot against the door jamb? This is separate from the door handle? Or is the lock part of the door handle mechanism?

If it's part of the door handle mechanism, after removing the door handle (with an alan wrench, if the image you linked is the exact model), you still might have to pull the internal mechanism towards the hinges. I don't know what the internals of that door handle is, unfortunately.
posted by CancerMan at 10:46 AM on January 4, 2010


Oh, and regarding the space between the door and jamb, if a credit card does not fit, can you find anything in the kitchen like a spreader for cake frosting, or at least a butter knife?
posted by CancerMan at 10:48 AM on January 4, 2010


PLEASE make sure you tell us how this works out
posted by A189Nut at 10:56 AM on January 4, 2010 [1 favorite]


Any chance of going through the ceiling? We used to do this at my old job during, ah, 'access emergencies' - i.e. pop cieling tiles a couple of inches, lower a rope with a loop on the end, and pull the handle via the loop. Air vents are also fair game.
posted by bhance at 11:09 AM on January 4, 2010


Welp, forget what I said about the cat being too stupid to follow directions. As I was jiggling the handle that wouldn't budge, she got more and more agitated at the noise on her end. I heard her fling herself against the door knob, maybe even hang on there judging from the sound of back paws pedaling against the wood, and then *clink*, the door was unlocked.

Cats are weird.

Then she proceeded hurl herself against the door of the bedroom door and wake up the baby. I figured out how to guard the lock, so back in the bathroom went the cat. Let's see if she figures out how to open the door this time.
posted by Hwaet at 11:12 AM on January 4, 2010 [23 favorites]


The door almost certainly does not have an anti-card mechanism (an extra piece that slides out parallel to the latch and keeps it from being slid back). Thus you can use a credit card, or perferably a thinner and more flexible pastic card such as a NYC MetroCard card or a Staples, grocery or drug store discount card. Slide it between the latch and the door jamb and then back against the slanted edge of the latch to push it back into the mechanism.

Is the bathroom window locked? Maybe you can get in that way.
posted by KRS at 11:37 AM on January 4, 2010


Sledgehammer? DIY door replacements are cheaper than you think.
posted by Citrus at 11:44 AM on January 4, 2010


Well score one for the apparently smart cat I guess.
posted by 543DoublePlay at 11:46 AM on January 4, 2010


Yeah, our cat has figured out how to turn door handles, so I'm not surprised (though I am amused) by the resolution. Thanks for the update!
posted by languagehat at 12:48 PM on January 4, 2010


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