No matter how deep your love for your kitty is, there are certain spaces in your home or office that you’d like to keep cat-free. Perhaps you have a newborn baby in the house, and you’re worried about hygiene and safety. Or you prefer that your cats stay out of your kitchen to avoid food contamination. Some cats scratch up carpets, furniture, upholstery, and curtains, so pet parents don’t want them in the living room. And you’ve probably seen or heard of cats that drink out of the toilet bowl – that’s a puke-worthy reason enough to keep them out of the bathroom. Some members of your family may have allergies to cat fur, and it’s important that cats stay out of their way. When faced with such situations, it’s wise to know how to keep a cat out of a room.
Enforcing no-cat zones doesn’t mean that you don’t love them. It can be challenging because cats, by nature, are free spirits. They don’t gladly accept restrictions and aren’t the easiest creatures to train.
But don’t give up – there’s hope for the determined! According to animal behaviorists and feline experts, there could be many reasons why your cat doesn’t respond immediately to rules compared to dogs.
Analyze Cat Behavior: Before Knowing How To Keep A Cat Out Of A Room
According to the 2021-22 National Pet Ownership Survey, 2021-22 National Pet Ownership Survey, 70% of American households own a pet. 45.3 million households have a cat, while 69 million households own a dog.
Not surprisingly, there are much less cat behavior studies than dog behavior studies. Though households have multiple cats and fewer dogs, our understanding of our feline friends hasn’t reached the same levels.
Historically, cats have been domesticated only for the last 9000 years, while dogs have been our companions for the last 33,000 years at least. This is one of the main reasons dogs are more in tune with us than cats.
Dogs can read our facial expressions, respond to different tones in our voices much more skillfully, and they are also more “expressive” because they have more facial muscles than cats. This makes it easier for us humans to identify dog emotions than cat emotions. This is why we feel that cats have inscrutable faces.
Cats as a species are extremely curious and exploratory. They love to check out new spaces and discover and mark lots of secret hiding spaces where they can be themselves. That is one reason why it’s not easy to enforce no-cat zones.
If you shut the door on them, they may scratch the wood and damage it or mew continuously till you get annoyed enough to let them in. They may even find a different route to enter, such as a window or skylight.
Cats are obligate carnivores, while dogs are not picky eaters. Cats can’t taste sweet things. For these reasons, food isn’t a great motivator for cats.
Rewards and treats are a big part of training, and dogs will do anything to get that yummy morsel, while cats are puzzled by this cause-and-effect situation.
Being more independent and in tune with their “wild side,” cats are less interested in pleasing humans simply to get food and shelter.
They don’t have a social need to be part of the pack or group and don’t have the instinct to follow a pack leader. They can take care of their own needs pretty well, thank you.
Keeping these facts in mind, it’s still not impossible to train your feline friend. You need patience, understanding, and lots of time.
The best method is to reinforce their natural behavior and start training when they’re very young.
How To Keep A Cat Out of A Room: Understand Why
You know why you want the cat to stay out of a particular space or room. But there’s very little you can do in the way of communicating that to your cat. Instead, it’s important to understand why the cat is attracted to this specific place.
If the kitty’s sleeping on top of fresh laundry, it could be because she’s looking for a warm and fresh place to sleep in. Older cats may suffer arthritic pains that make them seek warmer areas. The solution is to keep her basket or bed well-lined with a warm quilt.
Use a hot iron to get the bedding warmed up and cozy and provide comfort at nap times. This will solve the problem of your cat seeking your bed or your baby’s cot to sleep in.
If they’re coming into a room because they find something that’s eminently suited for scratching, try and relocate that piece of furniture. Hide or move stuff that has already been scratched so that you break the habit.
Divert attention: Understand the cat’s nature. Prepare a space where they can indulge their cat nature without disturbance or annoyance to the rest of the family.
They need to climb, scratch, mark territory, curl up and sleep, and bring prey that they’ve hunted into their personal spaces.
If you find them doing these activities in the no-cat zone, divert their attention by calling them away from the room to the other space where these activities are available.
Consistency: Cats, like other living beings, are creatures of habit. You may find it difficult to analyze their habits and behavior patterns initially. But once you’ve cracked these, be consistent in your own behavior.
If you don’t like them begging at the dinner table, entering your baby’s room, kitchen or bathroom, make sure that you deal with these behaviors consistently every time. Be gentle, but firm.
How To Keep A Cat Out of A Room Or Your Garden Area
If you have a garden area that you don’t want your cat to enter, it’s wise to plan ahead. Observe what exactly your cat does in the garden over a week or ten days to understand whether a kitty digs up plants, urinates, or poops on the lawn or flower beds. If it’s just harmless exploration, you don’t have to worry. Otherwise, install a sprinkler system that comes on when the cat enters the garden and sprinkle strong scents such as lavender, cayenne pepper, or citrus around various spots. Use cat repellent products such as sprays or tablets and install windchimes strategically.
Must Read: How to Create a Cat-Friendly Home
Teaching your furry friend to respect boundaries and no-entry zones takes a little ingenuity, lots of love, and working from a “Yes” point of view rather than a “No” one.
Use rewards rather than punishments. Yelling, hitting, shaking, or forcibly removing the cat out of the room will simply make them afraid and hostile. They generally lack the ability to connect the cause and effect of behaviors.
Spend some time trying to figure out what treatment works best. Some love a bit of wet food, while others relish a morsel of crunchy dry food. Remember to stroke and pet them while talking in a soft tone to let them know that you’re pleased with them.
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When your cat enters the no-entry zone, coax them out with a treat. Do this immediately and consistently to reinforce the behavior in time and context.
Call out the cat’s name and reward with a little treat or a cuddle. Then move to another spot and repeat this about 15 or 20 times a day. This way, you’re teaching them to respond to the name and move away from the location.
Punishment is both cruel and meaningless to cats. When you offer positive reinforcement, they slowly get into the habit of the new behavior that you want.
Most of us lose patience and forget to be consistent with rewarding good behavior. While positive reinforcement is the basis of your training to keep cats out of a room, it may not be enough on its own. It could also take a longer time.
For this reason, you can buttress your positive reinforcement with a variety of training aids.
Deterrent canister: This is a useful product to place outside a closed door. It deters entry and also prevents the kitty from scratching the door. The canister comes with a motion detector trigger set to the cat’s height level.
When the cat crosses the path, it releases a burst of compressed air that doesn’t harm the kitty but certainly provides an unpleasant experience. After a few such experiences, the cat learns to avoid this doorway.
Spray bottles: Fill a normal garden spray bottle with clean, cold water and spray the cat’s body with a blast whenever it enters the no-cat zone. Avoid spraying on the face or into the nose, head, and ears.
However, be prepared for the cat to associate this nasty experience with you, and as a result, it may transfer the avoidance behavior to you as well!
Flavors, tastes, and smells: Cats are very sensitive to smells and tastes. Wiping the furniture, floors, doors, and windows with a mild vinegar solution and water work well with some cats. Some pet parents have found that a dash of hot pepper sauce rubbed on the threshold or furniture legs makes your feline companion dash for the door.
Citrus aromas, lemon peel, mint, lavender, eucalyptus, tea tree oil, perfume, cologne, and coffee grounds are generally smelled that cats stay away from. Spraying or rubbing a small amount of these at the doorway, windows, and floors could be a great addition to your positive training.
Poke holes in a small container, place cotton balls soaked in these cat-unfriendly smells, and place them in strategic points in the room. You can also buy commercial products that are cat repellent. Ensure that you follow the directions carefully and keep your cat’s age and health status in mind.
Sounds: Cats are highly sensitive to sounds. Loud music, sirens, motors, bike, and garbage truck noises, vacuum cleaner sounds, fireworks, power tools and drills, whirring noises, and sudden, loud noises are highly annoying and scary for them.
You can use some of these as occasional deterrents when you don’t want kitty to enter your room. You can purchase a commercial ultra-sonic sound device that gets triggered when the cat enters a certain area.
This has the added benefit of not being annoying to humans. If you have the time and patience, deter them by shaking a tin filled with coins, loud whistles, clapping hands, dropping pot lids, or books. Though these methods are not exactly humane, they can be used occasionally with other methods.
Textures: Hard, knobby plastic mats, vinyl runners, sticky paper, sponge or styrofoam layers spread on the floor, and other stuff that doesn’t feel stable, comfortable, or pleasant underfoot works well deterrent to entering the cat-free space.
Make It Uncomfortable: Keep the room as cat unfriendly as possible. This means no cozy nooks to nap in, no comfortable couches and pillows, loud rock music with a heavy beat playing on the radio, vinegary stink on the floor, and blasts of air from a fan or compressed air device from different points in the room.
Cover furniture legs with aluminum foil to prevent scratching behaviors. Placing a dirty litter tray in the room would make it even more disgusting for a finicky creature like a cat to bear.
Additional Resource: A Complete Guide For Litter Box Problems
How To Keep A Cat Out Of A Room: Take It In Steps
- Don’t expect to achieve results immediately.
- Keep the age and personality of your cat in mind.
- If they are rescue cats, allow them to feel comfortable in your home before starting any training.
- Spend more time analyzing cat behavior and habits
- Be realistic and modify some of your own requirements to accommodate the cat’s own preferences, age, and habits.
- Lower your expectations regarding the length of training and your own levels of consistency and patience
- Choose your training aids carefully. Ideally, use a mix of different things such as smell, sound, texture, spray, discomfort. These should be used along with the positive reinforcers.
- Ensure that the training aids will work whether you’re at home or not
- Reward immediately and consistently, no matter how busy you are
- Ensure that kitty has a better choice of locations to sleep or play in compared to the no-cat zone
- Providing spaces with richer experiences such as climbing, hiding, or watch ensures that the kitty stays out of the cat-free areas.
- Experiment with a combination of different methods keeping positive reinforcement as the base
- Feed kitty before your bedtime so that they don’t disturb you at night and spend some quality play and cuddle time before you start work. This helps them expend excess energy and feel secure about your disappearing into your study.
Given time, your cat will learn to respect your spaces and boundaries, provided you play your part too. With the right kind of training methods and aids, you and your family can truly enjoy the experience of a harmonious, safe, and fun-filled life with one of the most beautiful and mysterious creatures that have chosen to live with us humans.