Sometimes we need our kitty companions to stay out of a room. We need them to learn to see the border wall, for a multitude of reasons. Maybe it’s the bedroom, or a baby’s room, or your Great Aunt Agnes is visiting next month and the mere sight of a cat will make her sneeze a hurricane.
The point is sometimes cats got to stay out. But cats are curious creatures. Close a door on them and they’ll lay on their side pawing at the door, mewing a demand that’s translated as “Let me in! Pleeeeease!”
Keeping cats away from anything—let alone an entire room—is a challenge.
Your cat will probably not be licking your nose for a bit if you decide to keep your cat out of a room. But that’s the tradeoff to ensure Aunt Agnes breathes easy.
Before we start setting up baby gates (which don’t work if your cat jumps like Miles) let’s highlight one important point…
Minimize Your Cat’s Stress
Anytime you want to mitigate one of your cat’s behaviors you’ll create stress for your cat.
Spray them with water when they pounce on the table and your cat will get a shot of endorphins.
The goal when training your cat is to minimize stress.
Because trying to keep your cat out of a room through overly negative reinforcement will lead your cat to dislike you like a rebellious teenager; they purposely miss the litter box and spray urine all over the house. Nobody wants to live with that, especially your cat.
Which is why I highlighted some minimal-stress methods for keeping a cat out of a room below.
The Methods To Keep Cats Away From a Room
Create an Uncomfortable Space
Here at the top is the most general and abstract rule for keeping your cat out. Keep your cat out of a room by making that room uncomfortable.
(Did it have to be said? Maybe.)
When protoplasm is being moulded into a cat it has to include a few traits. Being able to relax is near the top. Considering felines sleep between 12 and 16 hours a day I can’t think of anything more natural to a cat than chilling out.
That’s why if you want to keep cats out of a room it’s up to you to make that room uncomfortable.
How do you do that? Good question.
One off the cuff answer is leave vinegar in the room. The smell may be enough for a cat-quarantine. But your own nose will also have to negotiate the nose-tickling odor of vinegar.
If you can’t handle the smell you could try the terrible idea of making a loud noise every time your cat enters. Doing so will scare your cat away from ever coming near you.
So we have to look for some more straightforward answers.
A Cat Spray Bottle to Guard the Room
The classic way to stop cats from doing anything is to spray them with water. We’ve done this before to stop Miles from chewing our lilies into potpourri.
It does work, if you’re there to see your cat doing the behavior you want to stop.
There are drawbacks.
You’ll be conditioning your cat to hate water, at least in spray form. And it turns out—contrary to common belief—cats don’t naturally hate water (in fact some cats like swimming!). That’s a stereotype perpetuated by cartoons.
Once we realized we’d been fooled by media we stopped using a spray bottle. Especially since we now think Miles is a Turkish cat known for their unusual affinity with water.
If you’ve already used a spray bottle as a disciplinary tool then go for it. If you’ve forgone spray and preying then it may be best to pick something else.
We recommend you do.
Citrus Peels at the Entrance to the Room
Cats not only dislike citrus, they hate citrus. Citrus fruits are full of juicy oils that cause cats to gag like it’s hairball season. If there’s even a hint of orange in our fruit bowl Persephone will stay far away from the kitchen table.
And that’s why placing citrus peels at a doorway may scare your cat away. They’re not likely to approach a room emanating a noxious smell. Think of citrus as a fruity access-denied.
Be careful if your cat is brave, abnormal, or has a stomach lined with iron. Citrus is toxic to cats, and is poisonous if your cat munches on too much tang. They may become sick enough to warrant a trip to the veterinarian.
Before leaving citrus peels lying around make sure you watch how your cat reacts to the fruit. If you see your feline pick up the acrid citrus and run around it’s best to pick a different tactic.
Automatic Spraying Sensors
Here we get a bit technological, a bit half-kitty, half-machine. By placing a spray-emitting sensor near the doorway your cat may learn to avoid the room.
Your cat should be motivated to make a sound withdrawal from the room. Then again some cats don’t care. The cats with the souls of a rebel.
If a spray isn’t to your liking there are also sound-sensors.
When your cat crosses the DMZ a screeching sound will be emitted—it’s inaudible to human ears. It may be more convenient. Since you won’t be tripping a spray every time you enter the room.
Distract your Cat with Awesome Toys
We’ve arrived full-circle. While you make the no-go zone room uncomfortable , turn another room into a cat palace. A bona fide kitty paradise brimming with toys. Make it more interesting than the cordoned rooms so that your cat isn’t motivated to explore.
Toys, towers, scratching boards coated in nip are all typical ways to entertain your cat.
And setup comfortable areas for them to chill out. If your cat loves the feel of a soft pillow, or a particular blanket, make sure to include it in your cat room—or anywhere else you don’t mind your kitty going. That way they know the most comfortable spots to stretch out are not behind a closed door.
The “Stay Out of This Room” Training Regiment
Now for any of the above there are a few key principles to keep in mind.
Set realistic goals. Understand that your cat won’t learn to steer clear of a room after a single day of citrus fruit—or any other method.
You know that saying, patience is a virtue? Well, the hidden half is practice virtue. And there’s no better time to practice patience then when trying to persuade a cat to change her behavior.
Similarly, if you really want to stop the behavior, you have to decide whether or not you want to take part in the process. Repellants take your place by saying “No,” with the sound of frustrated mist. Unless you plan to watch your cat during their waking hours it may be your best bet to have some passive deterrent.
When you are involved it’s important to both actively distract your cat and reward them when they avoid the off-limits area. Throw a mouse, and give a little treat when your cat behaves.
Positive reinforcement leads to a better relationships between you and your cat.
Don’t feel bad if you need to keep your cat out of a room. As long as you understand that it’s not going to be easy.
Especially if you’ve given your cats free reign in the past. Because changing an ingrained behavior is much more difficult than building habits at the outset. Think about your own attempts at change (maybe a New Year’s resolution that fizzled out by Spring).
But thy keys are simple enough: patience, practice, patience. That’s “patience” twice and for a good reason.
Admittedly we have never tried to keep a cat out of a room. Though we did keep Miles and Persephone separate when they first met, though that’s another story. And we weren’t very successful at it.
Our cats roam like scavengers across a goldless land in search of gold. Just imagining trying to change their excursions sounds tiring. So we’ll throw the mic to you.
Have you ever tried to keep a cat out of a room? How did it go? Success, failure? Any tips or methods we missed that you can share?