Help me replace my bedroom door with a cat friendly alternative.
April 8, 2011 5:23 AM   Subscribe

I need a door that I can leave open for my cat, even if it's closed for my privacy. I live in a house with a bunch of roommates and the litter is in my closet so the cat must be able to come and go. My door knob is broken anyway so I'd like to put something in the doorway or hallway that gives line of sight privacy but doesn't impede cat traffic. Does anyone know of some curtains or something that would do the trick?

I'd like something with a similar function to a bead curtain but without the tack. The cheaper and/or more DIY the better.
posted by unknownmosquito to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The standard solution is a cat flap. Usually installed in exterior doors there isn't any reason you couldn't use it on an interior door. It would be a lot more private than any curtain. You can diy with with a few strips of heavy cloth like a mini version of a strip door. Or you could make an actual strip door out of opaque material.
posted by Mitheral at 5:35 AM on April 8, 2011

Why not a cat flap?

(on preview, what Mitheral said)
posted by devnull at 5:36 AM on April 8, 2011

Spring-loaded shower curtain rod and with a stall-sized shower curtain? Light enough that the cat can push it aside and go in and out? Easy to remove when you want to actually close the door.
posted by Savannah at 5:45 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would assume the OP can't install a cat flap because they are a renter, not an owner.
posted by Think_Long at 5:49 AM on April 8, 2011

Response by poster: Yeah, the cat flap implies both ownership of the door and a functioning door to begin with, of which I have neither. I could always get the landlord to fix the door but frankly it's too much trouble. I trust my roommates as far as not barging into my room, I just hate leaving my door open at night so the cats can come and go.

A strip door would work, but it'd be awkward to deal with and it would look weird, although my room is full of ridiculous hacks as it is, so it really wouldn't be much of a stretch.
posted by unknownmosquito at 5:55 AM on April 8, 2011

If you or someone you know has basic sewing skills, you can use a large, flat bedsheet to create an inexpensive curtain.

I wouldn't use a spring-loaded curtain rod; a rod that is mounted to the wall with screws will be more stable and not any more expensive.

An alternative to a rod is to use something like 3M Command hooks. You can cut two or more holes in the top of the sheet and hang it on the hooks, then use a bit of string or ribbon to tie the curtain to one side when you want your "door" to be open. I did that when I was in college and needed to cover some very tall windows on a budget.
posted by neushoorn at 5:57 AM on April 8, 2011

I have no idea if this DIY hack would work, but how about a tension shower rod jammed in your doorframe with a nice curtain? This is assuming your door frame is such that there is space for this rod and you can still close the door when necessary.
posted by like_neon at 5:57 AM on April 8, 2011

We have used a cathole in several of our past residences. The wood can be stained to match the doorway and a landlord may not object to such a modification (assuming it's a pets-allowed rental they may actually appreciate the door upgrade).
posted by labwench at 5:58 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: We're already pushing it with our ethernet "installation".. although to be honest I probably could install a cat hole if I had any sort of way to cut the door itself. While not necessarily a solution to the problem at hand, definitely one I'm going to stick in my trick book for when I own a house (as I will always own cats).
posted by unknownmosquito at 6:07 AM on April 8, 2011

When I was in that situation, I just hung up a heavy blanket in the doorway on a pull-up bar. Later, when I realized I was going to be in the apartment longterm, I bought a cheap replacement door. I took the old door off the hinges and stowed it under my bed. I cut a nice cat-sized hole in the bottom of the new door and put it up. When I moved, I put the old door back. Easy squeezy.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 6:16 AM on April 8, 2011 [11 favorites]

I've used a hook and eye latch like this in a similar situation. The 6-inch length is long enough so the door stays cracked open just wide enough for a cat, but it's still closed enough for some privacy.
posted by SuperSquirrel at 6:35 AM on April 8, 2011 [1 favorite]

I had a similar situation - what I did was to hang an opaque curtain in the door frame on the inside using a spring-based curtain rod. For the opaque curtain, I used a navy bedsheet doubled up - there was no seeing through it. I didn't have aural privacy, but at least I had visual privacy (esp as my room opened directly into the living room). If your door will also stay partially shut (mine swung right open due to being mis-weighted), it should seem very private.
posted by jb at 6:57 AM on April 8, 2011

My solution to animal comings and goings in an interior door setting is to use a small wall hook and a large rubber band. Arrange so that the rubber band goes over the door knob and holds the door ALMOST shut. Kitties can open this with a little practice. Dogs can go in, but not out. Humans, if they are smart, can eventually be trained to put the band on and off the knob as they go in and out, but it's not always fool proof.... humans being what they are and all.

It is also possible to arrange such a device so that the knob is not involved. All you need is just a tiny amount of pull to make the door shut on its own... but not quite shut. Kitty has to be able to work her claw into the edge of the door to open it.

I have two of these operating here at Ice Station Zero, where I live. (It's also called Vermont.) Highly removable, very simple, no drilling required, just a little experimentation. Email if you want a picture. Also, email if you want either my beagle or my cats.

I look forward to hearing from you.
posted by FauxScot at 7:26 AM on April 8, 2011 [3 favorites]

Remove broken door. Cut off a bit from the bottom to allow cat access. A lot of interior doors are hollow so sawing is very easy.
posted by PickeringPete at 7:56 AM on April 8, 2011

Instead of the rubber band FauxScot recommends, try a large shoelace. I had the same situation (not the catbox in my room, just that i wanted the cat to come and go and still have my privacy). I already had a hook and eye in the door, so I threaded the shoelace through the eye, tied it into a loop, and then just looped it over the hook part when I wanted privacy. Cat could push it open when he wanted in, pull it open when he wanted out, and it would never end up opened more than six inches or so.

The rubber band might work, too, but my cat would have been defeated by it, and been upset when the tension pulled the door shut on his ass. He wasn't too bright, though, so YMMV.
posted by clone boulevard at 8:12 AM on April 8, 2011

Use the shoelace. You may be able to tie it between the door handle and the doorjamb. Addition: put something on it as a weight, like a couple of large washers. It will pull the door to its most closed position, but the cat can get in and out.
posted by theora55 at 9:51 AM on April 8, 2011

I have used the spring-loaded shower curtain rod solution before. You would be surprised how un-shower-y it looks. Don't buy a vinyl shower curtain; buy the printed fabric kind that's meant to hang on the outside of the tub. Target has tons of these in all different colors and designs.

A non-damaging, non-permanent, cat-friendly doorway solution can be had for about $40.
posted by ErikaB at 10:08 AM on April 8, 2011

How about a noren? You could buy one but they look pretty simple to make, and that way you could co-ordinate it with your place and spend next to nothing.

Put the noren in the doorway (or the hall in front of the door for that matter) and then just leave the door propped open. Easy peasey.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 10:41 AM on April 8, 2011

Maybe buy a cheap replacement door that is a direct replacemnt and fits and in that door you can add the cat flap/door. When you are ready to leave you can reinstall the original door.
A general replacement door should be failry cheap, and you might even find a direct replacemnt that will just go right in. There might be a little work if the hinges aren't right.

I have almost done this at our rental with the door that goes out to the garage but ours is a metal door.
posted by Blackie at 1:51 PM on April 8, 2011

Just get a simple chain lock at any hardware store. Opens wide enough for cats but keeps roommates (and dogs, fwiw) out.
posted by bink at 10:24 PM on April 8, 2011

If there's a Habitat for Humanity ReStore near you, you can get an old closet door for $5. Then just saw out one bottom corner so the cats can get through, swap out with the old door, and voila. Takes about 1 hour, tops.
posted by MsMolly at 12:05 PM on April 14, 2011

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