If you share a home with a kitty, it is likely that you are aware that Spring has sprung! All of the bird chirping and bunny hopping outside probably has her glued to the window – a sure sign that nature is coming out of hibernation. And while it is undeniably cute to watch her chatter at the critters outside, it can be frustrating to perform the “block the door” shuffle each time someone comes or goes. This week Wisconsin Pet Care has helpful tips and tricks to keep your cat from being a door-darting extraordinaire!
Some cats are perfectly content watching the world go by from the warmth and safety of a nearby perch – the last thing they’d want to do is go outside! However, there are some of us who have been blessed with little daredevils. You know, the cat who waits patiently until you come home with an armload of groceries to make his great escape (or even more challenging, the little fur-baby who makes a run for the door any chance she can get)! And if your cat is not allowed to venture into the great outdoors, this stunt can be a very dangerous behavior. So what’s the easiest way to retrain your cat?
* Begin by creating a new place to say “hello” and “goodbye”. Who doesn’t like a fond farewell or a purr-by greeting? Considering that most kitties learn the sound of your car, or come running at the sound of a key in the door lock, it can be hard not to return their affection. However, it is important to teach kitty that the front door is not the appropriate place to receive attention. Try to refrain from greeting your feline friend until you’ve gotten into the house and over to your new location (such as a nearby couch, a cat tree, or even another room entirely).
* If it’s getting out of the house that creates the most kitty-chaos for you, try the distraction method. Give your cat a treat-dispensing puzzle toy or even try synching up their feeding time with your household’s highest traffic times – it’s unlikely that she will give up food-time in favor of making a run for it!
* Reward your kitty’s good behavior with treats and be sure to shower her with love and praise when she proactively goes over to the new greeting area.
So this works for most cats, but what if you have a persnickety little fellow who refuses to take the easy way?
* Deterrents can be tricky because you don’t want your cat to associate you with the negative experience. Try this: Fill up a spray bottle with water and leave it just right outside of the door. When you come into the house, if your kitty is jumping at his chance for freedom, spray him in the chest with the water (be careful not to spray him in the face). Once you get inside, follow the steps above in an attempt to correct his behavior.
* Never underestimate the power of baby gates. Yes, any able-bodied cat can jump over them, but they do slow your kitty down (giving you more time to get through the door).
* Remember that persistence and consistency are key. If you don’t go over to the meet-and-greet area every time you come in the door, your cat could become confused. If you decide to go with a deterrent as a means to train your cat not to dart out the door, you must perform the deterrent each time your cat exhibits the undesirable behavior. If there’s a squirt of water one time, and not another, your cat will keep on trying until they are successful in their mission. If you need further assistance, WPC has a professional trainer for hire if you need us!