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How to Keep a Cat from Running Out the Door: 5 Expert Tips

If you have an indoor cat at home, you’ll be no stranger to escape attempts. In many cases, these attempts are opportunistic and the cat tries to slip out when the front door is opened. Have you ever thought “Wow, my cat must really hate living here if they want to get out so badly!”? Fortunately, this isn’t the case—except, of course, in cases where a cat is being neglected or abused.

Cats try to slip out for a number of reasons—natural instincts, the urge to explore, and simple curiosity in particular. For one thing, cats have predatory instincts by nature and, though indoor cats have no need to hunt for their food, this instinct is still very much there. Likewise, it’s in their nature to seek to reproduce.

It’s probable that your cat is just following their natural urges to get out there and hunt prey or find a mate. A cat’s curiosity and need to explore are also common reasons for escape attempts. So, what can we do about this? To keep your kitty safe, we’ve compiled this list of tips and tricks for preventing them from doing a runner every time you open the door.

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The 5 Tips for Keeping a Cat from Running Out the Door

1. Spay or Neuter Your Cat

What you’ll need:
  • A vet

Unspayed or unneutered felines will have a strong urge to get out and reproduce. Getting your cat spayed or neutered will make these urges go away, which in turn may deter your cat from trying to get out for reproductive purposes.

Some vets recommend getting cats spayed or neutered at around 5 or 6 months of age, whereas others recommend getting the procedure done even earlier. Speak to your vet about the best time for your cat to undergo the op.

veterinarian doctor holds cat
Image Credit: H_Ko, Shutterstock
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2. Make the Area a No-Go Zone

What you’ll need:
  • Aluminum foil

Try placing some aluminum foil around the exit point. Cats dislike the feel and sound of aluminum foil, so this is a commonly used trick for keeping cats away from places you don’t want them to be. In addition, you can try making a noise every time your cat goes towards that area, like a clap. Then, offer a treat to reward your cat when they walk away from the door.

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3. Invest in a Lockable Cat Door

What you’ll need:
  • A cat door with a lock feature
  • Tools and materials for installation

If you do let your cat outside at certain times of the day to explore your garden or relieve themselves, you might want to consider a lockable cat door. This way, you can control when your cat goes out and keep them inside the rest of the time. Your cats will also start to get accustomed to there being a “schedule” for outside time.

cat looking curiously on the pet door
Image Credit: Astrid Gast, Shutterstock
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4. Use Pet Deterrent Motion Sensors

What you’ll need:
  • A pet-safe motion-activated deterrent

These handy deterrents offer a safe, convenient way to keep your cat away from certain areas around your home. They come in a variety of forms—some are spray-based whereas others make a sound that cats find unpleasant. Have a look around your local pet store or favorite online pet supplies vendor to find the one that works best for you. Please only purchase pet-friendly deterrents.

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5. Distract Your Cat

What you’ll need:
  • Your cat’s favorite toys
  • Your cat’s favorite treats
  • A cat tree

One of the simplest methods of keeping your cat from running out the door is to provide a source of distraction. When you’re about to go out of the door, grab a toy that your cat likes to chase and throw it away from the door. Alternatively, you could try using a laser pointer as you’re stepping out. Be sure to leave a treat behind, too!

It’s also a great idea to make your home as cat-friendly as possible so that they’ll be mentally stimulated and comfortable while you’re away. Cat trees placed next to a window, for example, offer your cat the chance to indulge in the outdoors in a safe way. Provide toys that they can play with individually and that offer a bit of a challenge, like obstacle feeders.

If you’re running a one-cat show, you might also want to consider adopting a second cat. This can help to keep feelings of loneliness at bay while you’re out of the house.

Extra Tips:
  • Avoid using only one exit, if possible. This helps to prevent your cat from getting into the habit of waiting at one specific door to escape.
  • Spend plenty of quality playtime with your cat when you’re at home, using their favorite toys to keep them active and stimulated. This will wear them out and possibly reduce the urge to go outside.
  • Keep up with your cat’s vaccination and preventative treatment (fleas, heartworm, etc.) schedule, whether they’re solely an indoor cat or go outside from time to time.
  • Make sure your cat is microchipped and, if they frequently go outside, also wear a collar and name tag with your contact information, just in case.
  • Take your cat outside to explore with a safety harness on. This way, if your cat is determined to enjoy the outdoors, they can do so in a safe way.
cat plays with a toy
Image Credit: Ekaterina Kolomeets, Shutterstock


Final Thoughts

With a couple of small changes, tips, and tricks, you can successfully keep your cat from running out the door every time you open it. Just be sure, if you’re using deterrents, to buy official pet deterrents that are safe for your cats and cruelty-free. If your cat does go outside, take steps to ensure they’ll be as safe as possible, like microchipping and vaccinating them against potential diseases.

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Featured Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock