Cat-friendly baby gates?
August 17, 2018 12:00 PM   Subscribe

My seven-month old daughter is just about ready to start crawling, and her mother and I now have to deal with something we've been putting off: buying baby gates that are cat-friendly. We'd like to buy baby gates that are cat-friendly, but it's been shockingly hard to find well-reviewed ones. Do you have any suggestions?

The cat box is downstairs, in the utility room, and the main living space is on the house's upstairs. One of the locations is at the top of the stairs, so we'd really be more comfortable with screw-in options than tension options, to avoid her knocking the whole thing down and then falling down the stairs.

Putting the cat box anywhere upstairs is not an option and would require a cat-friendly babygate anyway, so please, no answers for creative cat box placement solutions.
posted by kdar to Home & Garden (21 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Can you drape a towel over the baby gate and secure it, so the cat can use the purchase to scramble up and over but the gate functionality remains? Or are you 100% set on getting an out of the box solution?
posted by A Terrible Llama at 12:07 PM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

I'm not entirely sure what constitutes a "cat friendly" baby gate, but we have one that lets the cat jump over it, but the dogs can't. It's not the same, but it's almost exactly like this.
posted by cmoj at 12:16 PM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

My cats can jump about 5 feet high. Perhaps a small box on either side would let the cat get up and over easily especially if it was almost level w/ the gate on the stair side (where the baby definitely won't be). They would climb up and over. They've very limber and unless they're old or have mobility problems, that's a thing they probably enjoy and might just perch on.
posted by OnTheLastCastle at 12:20 PM on August 17, 2018 [5 favorites]

We had no problem with this. Two cats, cat box and all electronics behind whole screwed-in baby fence with gate set up in living area. Cats just jumped over. I think we got everything through zulily. We had to buy a few separate pieces and customize the whole set up but it all worked out well. We did not have the added concern of stairs, though.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 12:33 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I also think your cat could just jump. But if you don't want to go that route, there are baby gates with cat holes.
posted by If only I had a penguin... at 12:35 PM on August 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

We were in the same situation, needed a gate for the top of the basement stairs, didn't want cat o have to jump over it and then land on the second or third step down. We got this baby gate with small door for cats and were very happy with it. It can be drilled in, though we found tension-mounting to be strong enough that even an adult can't knock it over.
posted by skewed at 12:38 PM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

We used pressure-style gates and left enough room at the bottom for the cat to slither under.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 12:41 PM on August 17, 2018 [6 favorites]

Nthing that the pressure/tension ones are secure.
posted by DarlingBri at 12:52 PM on August 17, 2018

When I had a medium sized dog and a cat, I used a plastic baby gate, and cut a hole in the plastic grid large enough for the cat. I think it would work for a baby - cat's heads are smaller than babies' heads.
posted by theora55 at 1:27 PM on August 17, 2018

Our (old and rather large) cat has no problems jumping over baby gates. I looked into gates with pet doors but I wasn't convinced that there was a way to let a large cat through yet block a baby, so I was glad that it turned out to be a non-issue.
posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 1:38 PM on August 17, 2018

We have this gate, and by removing one of the bars (they come out easily) our tubby cat can fit right through but the baby cannot.
posted by lindseyg at 2:00 PM on August 17, 2018

My parents have a tension baby gate with cat door to block the dog and it works great. (The cats are too old to jump the regular gates.)
posted by jeather at 2:58 PM on August 17, 2018

We have some baby gates with cat doors in them, and the cats ignore the doors and walk between the wall and bars (which is slightly wider than between the bars). I recommend avoiding the gates with cat doors; some babies can fit through them and cats generally don’t need them. Cats can also easily jump over baby gates if there’s something at baby gate height to land on - one of our gates is near a couch, so the cats jump from the floor on one side to the arm of the couch on the other (and vice versa going the other way).

We also have tension gates (including at the top of the stairs) and find them to be totally secure.
posted by insectosaurus at 3:53 PM on August 17, 2018 [1 favorite]

I have this baby gate to keep my cats from trying to claw under my bedroom door, and all the cats can jump over it with no problem, even the fatty. It’s a nice sturdy gate—I believe the brand is Munchkin.
posted by Autumnheart at 4:39 PM on August 17, 2018

We have a couple of these:

posted by Boogiechild at 4:57 PM on August 17, 2018

I have the same baby gate that skewed linked, and am less happy with it. For one thing, my child crawled right through the cat door. I did see a hack when they cut out a small bar from the door and kept it shut to let kitties through but not baby. I also didn't find the pressure mounting particularly secure. But that might be due to the oddities of the doorframe we were installing it in. I think removing a bar or installing slightly above the ground may be your best bets.
posted by weathergal at 6:14 PM on August 17, 2018

We put a tension gate up a few inches so my older, fattish cat could slide under it because he wasn't much of a jumper anymore, and he did slide under it a few times, but then he decided he'd rather just leap over them and not fuck around with the sliding under, so we just put it like normal and he sprang over. Wouldn't jump on or off or over anything else, but he had no problem with just jumping over.

I have found (having had four different cats across three babies) that gates with squareish top bars, rather than rounded ones, make the cats a little happier, since they can balance on the top without too much problem and/or use it as an intermediate point in their leap (leap to the top of the gate and leap right off to the other side). My cats also preferred wood/wood-like top bars to plastic ones, but the plastic ones weren't a problem, they just seemed to like how the wood felt better and would preferentially jump over that one if they were going to use the top bar as an intermediate spring-point. Given the quantity of teeny claw marks in the top bar of all my wooden baby gates, I assume they give better traction to the rear claws! (We had a living room with two doors into the kitchen, for Reasons, so two gates that led to the same place, thus allowing split testing.)

Our walls made installation of anything but tension gates very difficult, so that wasn't a cat-related judgment, but a house-related judgment. But I can say they are quite secure when put up properly, and hold up well to cats using them as springboards or even climbing them.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 6:24 PM on August 17, 2018 [2 favorites]

We have a tall dual door gate in our kitchen from Frontgate. There is a built in cat door that the cats will use if it's open. Might be something that meets your needs.

Our spry & smart cat jumps the gate so.... it may not work for cat exclusion.
posted by countrymod at 6:34 PM on August 17, 2018

We skipped gates and used the Door Buddy - it prevents the door from being opened enough for a child but the cat gets through fine. (Just remember you need the latch plus door stop.)
posted by cessair at 4:13 AM on August 18, 2018

Our cats love jumping over (and sitting on) the gates! It gives them something new to do and also reassurance thar they are out of the sticky, gooey, slappy, baby danger zone. Sometimes they sit close and just watch from the safe side.

We started with the cheap Evenflo plastic tension gate--available for less than $30 at any megastore-- to see how the kiddo + kitties liked the concept. It worked and we will stick with the cheap gates. If your cats *can* jump, I'd say don't waste too much time picking out the 'perfect' gate!
posted by this-apoptosis at 7:20 PM on August 18, 2018

Tension gates are not safe for the top of stairs, nor is jerry-rigging a gate by removing bars or raising it off of the floor, as babies can become stuck in the gaps. Baby gates are designed the way they are for a reason.

The cat may not mind jumping over gates to get to the box, but he might. If he does, the door buddy, or a similar solution which prevents a door from opening more than a small amount, is the best solution. We use a DIY version to keep our basement door open just enough for the cat to get through.
posted by deadweightloss at 7:29 AM on August 19, 2018

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