Have you ever tried to keep your cat out of a single room of your house? Did you felt like it’s impossible? Well, it certainly isn’t impossible, but, it may be easier, if you do it right.
We know, there might be several reasons why you would want to keep a cat out of a specific room. Most popular, no doubt, is bedroom. People love cats not bothering them during sleep, which can get extremely annoying when the cat decides he wants to eat at 4 am in the morning (at night). Rooms of babies and kitchens are also spaces many people do not want to see cats in.
Keeping your cat out of room without stressing him out?
Studies show, keeping a cat out of a certain area is not possible, unless human is present to give a negative cue. Which means, offering an ice cream, in a return for a promise not to go in your bedroom, will not work for your cat.
Sad thing is, negative reinforcement, always includes stress (you can learn how to recognize stress in cats here), and kicking your cat’s ass whenever he tries to enter a room will make him hate you. It may backfire in other forms of unwanted behavior, like urine spraying, litter box avoidance and just going nuts. Is there a workaround?
- The most popular is squirting water from a bottle on him. This is the most popular, and most advised techinques to punish a cat. Are there problems? Yes! One is that it requires your presence. Second, it requires you to stay calm, without adding “Shhh” or “You bloody creature”. Third, we’ve seen cats figuring out the connection between the water and you, which may not improve your relationship with the cat you already decided to keep out of room.
- Electronic cat repellents may come in handy. There are devices that spray air (in some cases accompanied with a smell cats dislike), whenever your cat is approaching it. So you put it on a floor in the doorway, and, whenever your cat is approaching, its motion sensor notices your cat and releases air burst, forcing the cat to retreat.
Our recommendations would be StayAway by Contech and ssscat by Innotek. They work similarly, with one big difference. Wile ssscat emits an air burst as soon as it detects motion, StayAway releases a small beep before it and can later be set to “beep only” mode. This may save some air in the can as soon as your cat learns what’s coming after the beep.
- Spray-on repellers can be applied on the doorway, and are usually emitting a scent, that is non pleasant to your cat’s nose. Hardest parts with those are, 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, indeed do work, however, they dry out in less than a day (so you will need o eat tons of orange and lemons) and they always attract weird questions from people visiting.
Step by step training to keep your cat off the room
Now, that you are familiar with most common cat repellers, we may shout out the step by step procedure of training (yes, training) your cat not to enter the room:
- Lower your expectations. It is not gonna happen overnight. Your cat will still be able to get in the room, and, most likely will. Don’t yell, shout or throw things at cat. It’s stressful already, and you do not want to add to it. Follow everything below, and be patient.
- Set up the cat repeller. You indeed do need to get something to say: “STOP!”. You, yourself can not be around all the time; thus, you will need some assistance in a form of cat repeller. See above for a list of most common and effective repellers.
- Redirect your cat’s attention whenever he tries to enter the room. It, of course, is possible when you are present, only. If you see a cat approaching the unwanted room, call him to you. If he does not respond to “just calling”, trow a toy in the opposite direction, drop a food kibble or scratch a floor to get your cat’s attention. If your cat did manage to go inside the room, either you have to pick him up and carry out, or, better, take the deterrent away, and call your cat out.
- Reward your cat, if he responds before entering the room. Skip this step, if your cat already has entered the room. Reward is given by treating, petting, or just cheering your cat up IMMEDIATELY after he responded, within one or two seconds. If it’s not possible to treat immediately, you may use a clicker to increase this gap.
- Enrich the environment in all the other rooms your cat is allowed to step in. There are plenty of ways to do it. 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), provide an outdoor view and more. All these modifications will improve your cat’s life and reduce his stress. At some point you may achieve that your house has so much fun for your cat, so he does not need to enter the undesired room. All because it’s not fun enough, even without deterrent.
- Fill your cat’s day. And this is the hardest part 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” but for the rest of your cat’s life. On the other hand, every cat will benefit those activities no matter if his owner is or isn’t trying to keep him out of a room.
It’s really hard work, we know. Some might want to ask: “Can I skip it?”, and our answer would be – yes.
In order to keep your cat out of the room, it is not necessary to do things listed above. Deterrent alone should work well, but without them, your cat is surely going to have other behavior problems in the near future. So it’s necessary to keep your cat happy, behaving and healthy.
Maybe a workaround instead of keeping a cat out of the room?
If you have decided to keep your at out of the room, you can stop reading here; however, cats are animals who want to be involve,d who want to be part of your life, so they want in all the rooms. Sometimes, keeping a cat out of a room seems the only available option, which is not the case.
Now, you have to remember, when we said all attempts to keep your cat out of a room will create a stress in your cat. That is still true after implementing all of the above, because you can’t just keep your cat out of the room, without irritating him. Cats are not kind of animals who love to obey, and every attempt to confine them (even if it’s the whole world, except your tiny bedroom) may lead to a catastrophe.
So, is there a way to avoid it? Well, here is your chance to find other solution to, whatever the reason you want your cat off room is. Let’s go with few examples:
- Cat disturbs you in your bedroom at night, so you are not able to sleep. There is one great advice in solution to this. Play with your cat for about 15 minutes, right before you go to sleep, and feed him a small amount of the cat food. And then go to sleep yourself right away. It triggers a natural pattern of activities of your cat, as in the wild they used to go for a hunt, eat the prey, groom themselves and off to sleep after it. This makes it just perfect solution for cats who do not sleep at nights. Of course, you will still need to do some environment enrichment, and playing during the day (or evening), as well, but, in case of keeping a cat out of room, you would need to do it anyway. You can read how to stop cat waking you up at night here.
- Cat disturbs you in your bedroom, in the morning, begging for food, so you are forced to wake up early. The best way is to set up a scheduled feeding for your cat, with at least three meals per day. It’s extremely important not to feed your cat upon awakening, that is, if you, in example get up at 8am, schedule your cat’s feeding to 9am. This time your cat will know when his food will come, so he’s not gonna bother you. Automatic cat feeder may come in handy here, as it will provide an ability to schedule the feeding with no improvisations, and your cat will stop associating you as a food source. Second, all things from the previous point about cat disturbing at night will apply here, as well.
- Cat is entering your baby’s room and is…
- … sleeping his dirty paws and butt on a baby’s pillow. If a hygiene is your concern, you should make sure your cat is wormed regularly. Also, you may consider training your cat not to avoid entering that room, but not to jump on a baby’s cradle instead. It may be done in a similar manner as described above for not entering a room. Remember, it must be done at least a month before the baby is about to arrive. Otherwise, he’ll associate the arrival of baby, and changes in household rules, which will make him anxious about the baby. If you still want your cat out, why won’t you read our article about keeping cat out of baby’s crib, instead of restricting the whole room?
- … disturbing your baby’s sleep. Sorry, but the best option here would be getting a baby camera, and closing the door. Otherwise, you may try to entertain your cat in some other room, your baby is not sleeping in. There are “automatic” toys, to keep your cat busy when you are not available, and, regarding to babies, we know, lucky parents are always short in time.
- … threatening to scratch the baby’s face. First is it due to inappropriately introducing them both? If it’s so, yes, it’s already too late to introduce them again; however, you may be addressing an aggression problem here, not preventing a cat from entering a room. By trying to keep him out of a baby’s room, you will make him more anxious, and he will “hate” your baby more. Wise thing would be consulting a pet behaviorist, as an aggression in cats may be expressed in several forms, and correction method will vary in every case. So, have a pro who can help your specific case. Other things to consider are, not leaving baby unsupervised (which is a good idea no matter if there’s an aggressive cat involved, or not), trimming your cat’s claws, spaying him, if it’s not done before, and NOT leaving your cat in a shelter, before you haven’t tried everything and more. Act fast though, it’s serious.
- The room, the cat is about to enter, is dangerous to him. In this case, it’s extremely dangerous relying on training. No matter how well your cat responds to your restrictions, errors will definitely happen. There are only two options, cat proof the room, or make sure it’s locked, bolted, nailed and sealed. There’s no place for experiments when it regards to your cat’s health and/or life.
- Cat is jumping on a kitchen counter where you prepare food. Kitchen is usually a community room in most households, so it’d be unfair leaving your cat out of it. Our definite suggestion would be training a cat not to jump on a kitchen counter, rather than keeping him out.
What we wanted to say? Whatever the reason for keeping a cat out of a room, there always is a way out. If you did not find your reason listed above, please let us know in comments. We will try to figure out, what the solution might be for you. Cats don’t love being kept out of a room, and the best we can do, is to ensure you don’t have to.