Catfilter: How to stop a cat from trying to run out the door when the door opens?
June 16, 2008 6:19 AM   Subscribe

How do I keep the cat from running out the front door every single time it's opened?

I just moved to a new apartment with my two cats; our next door neighbors have two enormous, vicious, and completely untrained dogs. One of my cats tries to run out the front door every chance it gets (it did this at our old apartment, too), and I'm really afraid that one day the vicious dogs and my cat will meet and it won't be pretty. How do I stop the cat from trying to run out???
posted by agent99 to Pets & Animals (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Squirt gun. The first and every time she rushes for the door let her have it (hopefully you don't have a cat that likes water!).

We've got two kittens and have conditioned them this way. Now they'll glance longingly at the open door, but are fearful of approaching.

Not sure is this would hold for a protracted period of time if I (and the squirt gun) weren't at the door, but we're just trying to keep our kittens away from the door while entering & exiting.
posted by Mutant at 6:38 AM on June 16, 2008

I'm not sure if your apartment will let you install one of these, but it might be the most reliable method. I've never tried training my cats, so I can't be certain if it works or not.
posted by wowbobwow at 6:42 AM on June 16, 2008

Would your neighbor be willing to help with training?

Coordinate when the door will be opened... only to find the dogs outside (on a leash). If your neighbor leaves at the same time each day, this could easily be a daily training thing - especially if you can hear their door open.

The next level is to open the door with no dogs there, but - surprise! - they're coming up the steps (assuming there's a staircase).

The point is to drive home to kitty that It's A Dangerous World Out There. It will at least make kitty think twice before dashing out.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:46 AM on June 16, 2008

One of our cats used to do this too, even succeeded a few times. Whenever I open the door I walk through it immediately with an exaggerated first step. A quick and heavy footfall. The cat might make an initial move toward the door, but she's been caught under my big feet enough times to know that she definitely doesn't like it, so she shies away. Eventually it just became habit for her not to try it.
posted by sanka at 7:06 AM on June 16, 2008

On the rare occasion that our doorbell rings, our cat goes to investigate, so when she's hanging by the door trying to sneak out, I ring the doorbell then open the door. Even if this works for you, I think the cat will stop investigating if you ring it every time.
posted by chndrcks at 7:18 AM on June 16, 2008

If your cats are waiting right by the door, ready to dash out, you can try making a racket by kicking the door with your shoes or kicking the wall as you open the door. That is, If they're the type who shys away from noise, this would work.
posted by tybeet at 7:41 AM on June 16, 2008

Is it possible to have cans of compressed air by the door both in and outside? I had luck by squirting it (up and away from kitty!) to make a hissy sound that many cats don't like.
posted by pointystick at 7:59 AM on June 16, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for the ideas everyone; I don't think the neighbors are willing to help train my cats given that they haven't bothered to train their enormous dogs. My cat isn't really afraid of anything, so loud noises, kicking, stomping, etc. would have no effect on him whatsoever. When I've tried the squirt gun method in the past, he ended up thinking it was a fun game . . . The compressed air can might be a possibility, though. Keep those ideas coming!
posted by agent99 at 8:11 AM on June 16, 2008

Getting physically in the way, sometimes forcefully, has worked for me in the past when nothing else did. I am not excluding light kicking from the equation. If it's between pushing the cat out of the way by kicking it lightly and death-by-dog, I'll take kicking the cat.

Also: the squirt bottle may not have worked, but a Dixie cup full of water might well do the trick. I have had some cantankerous cats.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:18 AM on June 16, 2008

Just before you go out, shake some crunchy treats and drop a few on the stairs. In the time it takes to eat the treats, you can leave.

Our cat now goes and sits on the stairs whenever someone puts their coat on. It seems to help that she loves the treats, they're dropped at the same place every time, and the treats are never used for anything else.
posted by Leon at 8:26 AM on June 16, 2008 [1 favorite]

I don't know how helpful this is, but I spent more time than I care to admit watching cat vs. dog fight videos on YouTube last year and my conclusion is that cats always win. Is there a real reason why you think your cat would not be able to outrun or otherwise defend itself against these dogs? The dogs don't sound like they're very subtle about their own presence, so it's not like they'd be able to sneak up on your cat.
posted by rhizome at 9:38 AM on June 16, 2008

If your cat is the kind that runs after a favourite toy after you have thrown it, try doing that every time you're about to open the door. Or if it's into laser toys, get him to chase the red dot away from the door so you can escape.

I actually have a similar problem--it's preventable, but involves me being hyper vigilant every time I'm closing the door. Instead of running out, my cat will wander over and try to squeeze his head through the door as it closes. I'm so afraid he'll be guillotined one day!
posted by Menomena at 9:55 AM on June 16, 2008

We were able to train our four cats that the outside was bad by using the spray-bottle method. We added just a little bit of vinegar to the water to ensure that they understood that it wasn't something fun, and it caught on quick that darting for the door meant smelling bad all day.

They stopped almost immediately.
posted by quin at 11:03 AM on June 16, 2008

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