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How to keep a door-dashing cat safe

Posted by Jennifer on February 20th, 2012

If you have ever witnessed a door-dashing cat or kitten, you know the challenges of stopping one! I owned a door-dashing cat. I adopted him him as an 8-week old kitten from a rescue who said he’d been living in a Chinatown alley. This little guy had some serious street smarts! When  I first adopted him, I lived in an apartment building, and thought it was adorable how he’d hear the “bing” of the elevator door down the hall, and run over to the door with the dog, waiting for it to open. But instead of happily greeting anyone who came inside, he’d dart like a lightning bolt out into the hallway. Then the game of chase was on! We eventually learned to keep a fishing pole toy in the umbrella rack by the front door, to  lure him back inside after a few minutes of romping about. The hallway was relatively safe (there was one elevator trip that had me running down the stairs)… but then, we moved to a house. A house in the hills filled with coyotes! Not to mention cars, dogs, raccoons, and all the dangers that await a cat outside. His door-dashing was no longer cute. It was a huge threat to his life. And so, though trial and error, I figured out what works to keep a door-dashing cat inside… read on to find out  what I tried, and what may help you with your door-dashing feline!

-  If you can close a door to keep kitty out of the room or hallway that accesses the door, obviously this is the easiest method. But many homes simply don’t have this option.

- Alternate entrances: If you have more than one doorway into your home, sometimes simply alternating randomly which door you go in and out of will avoid the “kitty lying in wait to dash” and allow you to safely get in and out.

- Create a “kitty-lock” -- like an air-lock, but for you cat. How you create a kitty-lock depends on your front door setup. Many front doors have an entry way that can be screened in, creating a small screened in porch with a screen door. Or maybe you have an interior vestibule that you can close off with an interior door. Unless you are very handy, this solution can be expensive, but it works 100% as long as you close one door before opening the next.

- Create a kitty barricade. This can be inside your home or outside — or both! Some cats only dash when you are coming in, or going out, so it depends on your cat. A kitty barricade needs to be something a cat can’t super easily  jump over, while allowing you to open the door, get in or out, and close the door. 36″ or higher folding metal/wire dog exercise pens work well for this, as do some child playpens –you can leave the zig zags tight up against the door/walls on either side. It does require a process each time you need to get in and out of your house though!

- Spray bottle training. This works safest in conjunction with a kitty barricade, and if you can enlist a helper, all the better. Set up the kitty barricade on the outside side of the closed door, creating a safe area if kitty dashes out. Some cats don’t mind being sprayed with water, so this only works if your cat doesn’t like it. (Often the “stream” setting is more disliked.) Each human should have a spray bottle filled with water in each hand. Open the door, and when kitty dashes out, spray like crazy. Most cats will dash back inside! Close door. Repeat. It may take a few days and few sessions. If you cat keeps dashing after 6 sessions, this training is not working.

- Give kitty safe outdoor time: train her to walk on a harness & leash, or create a safe outdoor cat enclosure like a catio or purchase a “cat walk”. Sometimes even a closed window (or open with a secure strong screen), outfitted with a window sill cat bed or with a same-height table or bookshelf lounging spot next to it, can give your outdoor-craving cat the experience she desire in total safety!


Our foster cat Solace posed for these photos for us — he’s not actually a doordasher, and this door open onto his catio, so please don’t worry, he’s safe!

How have you kept your door-dashing kitty safe inside? Share your solutions on the Adopt-a-Pet.com Facebook page, and share this article with your friends who are adopting a new cat, or are having difficulties with a door-dasher of her own! You can easily share using the icons below.

 
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