As a cat owner, you will appreciate they are amazing animals that have their own individual personalities that are quirky and entertaining. Unlike dogs, they need to have a different approach when training as they will rarely listen to you telling them what to do. Rather than damaging your relationship by scolding your cat (which they will not respond to) below are some tips on retraining your cat to not ‘door dash’, one may work or you may need to use a combination.
WHEN LEAVING THE HOUSE
1. Use an alternate exit. If your cat is constantly hanging out by the front door, waiting to make its escape when you leave, try exiting out a different door. For instance, instead of going in and out through the front door, try using the back or garage door.
2. Create a distraction. Before you leave, say goodbye to your cat and give him an absolutely irresistible treat. Your cat will probably be much more interested in eating his yummies than in running out the door. If your cat insists on following you to the door, keep a stash of cat toys in a place that’s easy for you to reach but hard for him to access. Toss the toy across the room as you leave.
– Offer puzzle feeders before you head out the door. A puzzle feeder will provide your cat with entertainment while getting a food reward for their efforts. Divide up their daily meal portion so you can set out a couple of puzzle feeders before you head off to work in the morning.
– If you have children, keep a box of cat toys beside the door and teach the kids to throw a cat toy for the cat to chase when exiting the house. If the cat is too busy chasing toys, it won’t be darting out the door.
3. Deterrents. You may also use smell deterrents to keep the cat away from forbidden doorway zones. Cats dislike citrus smells, so orange or lemon scents sprayed at the bottom of the door may help.
WHEN ARRIVING HOME
1. Distract your cat. Keep a spray bottle filled with water just outside your door. When you open the door to come in, open it just a crack so that you can see your cat waiting to run outside. Put the nozzle of the bottle through the crack and spray your kitty with a well-aimed ‘mist’ of water (not a squirt) and don’t aim at its face. It might take a few sprays before your cat backs up. After a week or so of doing this, your cat will associate the door with getting sprayed by the water bottle and avoid going near the door.
This method, should only be used when you’re entering the home, not exiting. If you do it when exiting, your cat will associate you, not the door, with the irritation of getting sprayed by the water bottle and it could have a negative impact on you and your cat’s relationship.
2. Don’t give your cat any attention at the door. If your cat thinks that being near the door is a place where you will pet or play with it, your cat will gravitate toward the door. If your cat is in the habit of greeting you and getting a friendly hello right when you walk in, break yourself of that habit.
3. Play it extra safe. Post bright neon coloured signs reminding all people entering and leaving the house to stop and look for signs of your daring cat before reaching for the door knob. When you have guests over, put your cat in another room until the festivities are over. This way, when people come through the main door, your cat won’t be around to dart through it.
Part of a cat’s ‘environmental enrichment’ is allowing access to a safe enclosed outdoor area. This will assist with meeting your cat’s natural instincts of feeling sun on their face and having another area they can relax and play in. If this ‘need’ is being met, it may assist with the cat wanting to dart out the door.