The cat and the bedroom door
June 7, 2015 4:13 AM   Subscribe

What is the best way to to keep a cat from scratching at the bedroom door at night?

I have two cats. One of them likes to spend the night with his tail in my face and/or climbing over my head, which is not so fun for me. I've started putting them outside the bedroom at night, which results in scratching at the door. Luckily it is intermittent and the door (made of something other than wood) seems resistant to actual damage, but the noise still wakes me up. Suggestions I've found to minimize or stop this scratching include double-sided sticky tape on the door or the carpet, tin foil, pads that will give the cat a mild shock, and one suggestion to put a flat tray or plastic container of water in front of the door (but I'm afraid they'll knock that over). Have you tried any of these, or other suggestions? What worked best (and what should I avoid) in your experience?
posted by 2 cats in the yard to Pets & Animals (24 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: PS despite my user name (taken from the CSN(Y) song) the cats are indoor-only.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 4:40 AM on June 7, 2015 [5 favorites]

This is a recurring question on AskMe :) You may find the nocturnal feline behavior modification advice given in other threads helpful:

Why won't my cat let me sleep?

I hate you more than any other cat at night

stupid fucking cat ("How do I keep my one-year-old cat from making a racket outside my bedroom door in the mornings?")
posted by fraula at 4:48 AM on June 7, 2015

Best answer: My previous answer to a similar question. Basically double sided tape and white knuckle it.
posted by St. Peepsburg at 4:49 AM on June 7, 2015

Prepare yourself for an extinction burst - which will come at some point, even if your cats have lulled you into a false sense of security and dialed it down after you've stuck it through for a few nights. Use earplugs, headphones, fans, white noise machines, whatever will help you stick to your guns. It'll be half a night of blessed quiet and then OMFG IS SOMEBODY ATTACKING YOU DID YOU SOMEHOW KNOCK OVER THE COUCH ARE YOU LITERALLY DYING no, no, it is just your goddamn cat aaaalmost ready to leave you alone at night, but not quite... yet.
posted by Mizu at 4:55 AM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Scat mat worked well for me.
posted by HuronBob at 5:01 AM on June 7, 2015

Could you try white noise in your room? My cats believe the house is theirs and they would not be happy with a door being shut (shut doors are horrifying enough but in your case they have also been deprived from their duty of sitting on your head, they aren't having a great week). If the scratching is only intermittent hopefully you can sleep with white noise block it out

Also lots of play before bed.

FWIW, my immediate answer to your first question was "don't close the bedroom door" which is my solution.
posted by kitten magic at 5:29 AM on June 7, 2015 [6 favorites]

Best answer: Ssscat in front of the door. Doesn't mess around. We make it face sideways instead of head on. We don't even turn it on half the time anymore. She sees it go down at the end of the night and she keeps well away. She's figured out the exact border before it triggers so when we open door in the morning she's sitting right at the border waiting for us to take it away.
posted by like_neon at 5:49 AM on June 7, 2015 [3 favorites]

Whatever you do, do not give in to the scratching. My cats used to try to wake me up when I was sleeping late after night shift and I never gave in. The cats eventually gave up and just started napping with me instead.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 5:52 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing scatmat and ssscat. Both work great, but I slightly prefer scatmat because you don't have to buy refills.
posted by clearlydemon at 6:54 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I solved this by throwing a paperback book at the closed door, although in my case, the cat outside it was howling, not scratching. The resulting thump startled the cat enough that she never did it again.
posted by corey flood at 8:07 AM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Could you clarify whether the house or apartment in which you live would enable you to have *two* doors separating you and your cat at night, or is it designed in such a way that your bedroom door is the only door in the house/apartment?
posted by ClaireBear at 9:14 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Place a powerful fan in the hallway facing the closed door. Cats can walk around a fan pointed at them, but pointing the fan at the door results in blowback from the door itself. Essentially the door is hissing at them.

How well this works depends on how smart or persistent or devilishly obsessed your cat is.
posted by heatherann at 10:13 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

Our friends use the scat mat (or something similar) with success. Just be careful if you have to get up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night!
posted by radioamy at 10:39 AM on June 7, 2015

I have friends who tried Eyebrow McGee's method (from fraula's link) when their cats kept waking them at 3 am to be fed every morning. It worked!

I got mine to stop scratching at the door by refusing to open it for them, ever, but I wish I had done the other method because it took a while and I had to lie there and listen to scratching at night for a week or so. And yes, the extinction burst Mizu is talking about is a horrible thing.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:40 AM on June 7, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers so far. I forgot to mention a few things. I've read several, likely not all, of the previous posts with similar questions. He is on free food, so if he gets hungry he can solve that himself. He is an older cat and not so into active play anymore, and he does get attention/affection most evenings. He doesn't meow or hiss while in my room, so noise is not a problem. I've tried to get him to sleep at the foot of the bed (which doesn't bother me in the least) but if I pick him up and move him away from my face, he just comes back - which makes sense since there is no way for him to know I want him to stay at the foot of the bed, and it might just be a game to him. The problem really is his tail/butt in my face. If I turn to face the other way, he will move too so that he is still in my face. I really am just looking for info on what has worked for others for the door-scratching problem, though I appreciate the additional answers as well.

I could put him in another bedroom so that there are two doors between him & me, and I will do that if needed, but if possible I'd rather he still have run of most of the house as I figure that's a bit more pleasant for him.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 10:43 AM on June 7, 2015

Response by poster: Also - I do like Eyebrow McGee's suggestion in the other thread and some nights I have waited 'til the first time he sticks his tail in my face before putting him outside the bedroom. I also don't ever open the door while he is scratching. Even if it is morning and I am ok with letting him in again, I wait until after he has stopped scratching so he doesn't think the scratching has worked.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 10:49 AM on June 7, 2015

Possible last-ditch solution: offer a place for him to sleep that is up higher than you - cat tree, dresser with a secure means of access and nice bed, a shelf bolted to the wall. He may just use it to leap onto you, because I think cats with that tail-in-face thing are a special kind of cat-evil. But it might work.

A heated cat bed at the foot of your bed might also work, if he figures out it's the warmest place in the room. If your head is currently the warmest place in the room and that's what his deal is, it might solve his cold ass problem.
posted by Lyn Never at 11:19 AM on June 7, 2015 [2 favorites]

Best answer: My low-tech solution is to put another barrier between the door and your cat. For us, a plastic rectangular laundry basket worked well. (something like this, that's wide enough to fit the door.) The holes in the plastic mean they can't really scratch it. They can sorta move it (but you can put books or something in it so it's heavier).
posted by hydra77 at 11:20 AM on June 7, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks for the additional thoughts (and the laugh about his "cold ass problem") and apologies to those who mentioned white noise machines - I just realized you are responding to my complaints about the scratching noise, not meow/hissing as I'd originally thought.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 11:55 AM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I got married once and am allergic and cat knew it and we started closing the door so I wouldn't wake up wondering if I would ever breathe again because cat could somehow get on my chest without waking me and I'd hold him tight, reflexively.

Squirt gun. Cat scratches, you open the door and blast it. It is fun. Chase it. Two nights and the cat I had unwittingly married decided the couch was just fine.

We also stopped his retaliatory Can of Peaches Rolling Down the Stairs in the Middle of the Night thing this way.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 3:09 PM on June 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

How funny, I was just telling someone about my own solution to this problem! It really works.
posted by orme at 5:36 PM on June 7, 2015

I used the vacuum cleaner solution orme mentions for my kitty who would meow, escalating in volume and pitifulness, in the mornings. It took a few goes, and she occasionally needed a reminder, but it did work.
posted by Athanassiel at 9:33 PM on June 7, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks again for all the feedback on what has worked for you. I decided to try tin foil first, since I already had it in the house, and that seemed to work. If they figure out how easy it is to push it out of the way, I'll try some of the other ideas.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 3:16 PM on June 8, 2015

Response by poster: It turned out tin foil didn't work after all. I tried the laundry basket trick, but that didn't work either. Purchase of a scat mat was delayed for various reasons, but I've used it for two night now and there's been no scratching and no whining. As like_neon said (though his/her solution is sssscat), they are waiting just past the edge in the morning and come into the bedroom once I open the door and move the mat.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 4:01 AM on July 10, 2015 [1 favorite]

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