Have you ever tried to keep your cat out of a room without closing the door? Even if you close AND lock the doors, your cat’s scratching and meowing at them may become unbearable after a short time. So what do you do? We’ve found that it is possible to keep a cat out of a room and keep them happy.
Many cat owners (us included) want to keep our cats out of a specific room. That room is probably the same one you want to keep your cat out of, your bedroom. Yes, we love our cats. We also need our sleep and privacy too. Like you, we don’t want our cats bothering us while we are trying to sleep, especially when the cat decides he wants to eat at 4 a.m.
In many cases, if you have allergies, you may reduce your allergy symptoms by keeping your bedroom free of cats. Babies’ rooms and kitchens are also spaces where many people would like to keep “kitty free”.
Keeping your cat out of the room without unnecessary stress
Some say that keeping a cat out of certain areas is not possible unless a human is present to give a negative cue. This means that shooing away your cat or punishing them in some way is needed. While that may keep your cat out of a certain area of the house, they may connect you with those negative actions.
The sad thing is that negative reinforcement always includes stress (you can learn how to recognize stress in cats here), and punishing your cat whenever they try to enter a room may make them fearful of you. Worse, negative reinforcement from you may trigger other unwanted behavior, such as urine spraying, litter box avoidance, and just going nuts. So what can you do?
There are several “humane” ways for repelling a cat that does not associate the unpleasant event with you:
- Electronic cat repellents may come in handy. A pet training aid sssCat sprays air whenever your cat approaches it. You put it on the floor in the doorway and, when your cat approaches, the device’s motion sensor notices him and releases a burst of air, forcing him to retreat, every single time. You can check out the reviews and buy sssCat here.
- Spray-on repellents can be applied on the doorway. These repellents usually emit a scent that is unpleasant to your cat’s nose. The trouble with these types of repellents is that cats usually ignore them, and they must be reapplied frequently. Check the label for proper usage.
- We have also tried placing citrus fruit peels at the doorway. They do work; however, they dry out in less than a day (so you will need to eat tons of oranges and lemons), and they always prompt weird questions from people visiting.
- Other repellents? We have heard (and tried) many other cat repellents. Some are funny, some are scary, but most of them rarely work as intended. What about a plastic mat with “loaded” mouse traps underneath it? We tried not to laugh. What about placing aluminum foil or double-sided tape at the entrance to the room? Our cat actually decided he wanted to play with the sheet of foil. To prevent your cat from jumping over the foil or tape, you should cover at least half of the room with it. That would definitely keep the cat out. If you are interested, you can find more ways to deter cats here.
- Electronic mats are what we’ve found work very well. They come in various sizes, are battery powered, and have 3 levels of static pulse that discourage your pet from that area. Your cat (or cats) will associate the area with that funny feeling under their paws and will stay away from the area. We found the “Medium” sized one was big enough to keep them away from the doorway. Once trained, you can use this mat in other areas of your home like your couch or favorite chair.
Step-by-step training to keep your cat out
Now that you are familiar with most common cat repellents, here is the step-by-step procedure of training (yes, training) your cat not to enter the room:
- Patience is a key. It is not going to happen overnight. Your cat will still be able to get in the room, and most likely will. Don’t shout or throw things at your cat. He is stressed already, and you do not want to add to that stress. Follow all of the steps below, and be patient.
- Set up the cat repellent. And leave. Maybe set up an old phone as a “security” cam so you can watch how your cat interacts with the repellent. You don’t want to be around when the correction occurs as we’ve talked about.
- Redirect your cat’s attention whenever he or she tries to enter the room. This, of course, is possible only when you are present. If you see your cat approaching the unwanted room, call them to you. If they don’t respond, try throwing a toy in the opposite direction, drop a food kibble, or scratch the floor to get your cat’s attention.
- Reward your cat if they respond before entering the room by treating, petting, or cheering them on. Skip this step if your cat has already entered the room. Give the reward IMMEDIATELY (within one or two seconds) after they responded. If it’s not possible to treat immediately, you may use a clicker to bridge this gap.
- Enrich the environment in all the other rooms your cat is allowed to step in. There are plenty of ways to do this. Create several perches above the ground level (cat tree, shelves, window perches) to expand his vertical territory, create places to hide (boxes, niches, cat houses), introduce interaction objects (puzzle feeders, toys), and provide an outdoor view. All these modifications will improve your cat’s life and reduce his stress. At some point, the rest of your house may become so much fun for your cat that he does not need to enter the undesired room because it’s not as much fun, even without a deterrent.
- Fill your cat’s day. This is the hardest step for most owners. It requires playing, petting, grooming, kibble hunting, and other activities. The hardest part is that you are required to do it every day—not just during the “training” period but for the rest of your cat’s life. Every cat will benefit from regular playing and other activities regardless of whether his owner is or isn’t trying to keep him out of a room.
It’s really hard work, we know. Some might ask, “Can I skip it?” Our answer would be – yes.