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How to Stop a Cat from Scratching Doors (Quick & Easy)

Cats like to scratch…everything. We all know this, but what can we do to prevent them from damaging our doors? Is she trying to get into a room because you’re in there? Or is she just scratching because she’s a cat?

We’re here to address the issues of your cat scratching your door, and the advice we have can apply to your cat scratching almost anything she’s not supposed to. For example, if your cat is not scratching the door itself but your door frames, you can follow these tips as they can apply to the doors, the door frames, or even your walls.

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Why is Your Cat Scratching?

Before you start to tackle the problem, you first need to figure out the reasons why she’s scratching the door.

  1. Curiosity: Cats are full of curiosity, and they might be wondering what they are missing out on when a door is closed. Maybe you have a door that you always keep closed (especially basement doors), and your cat is dying to get in there so she can explore.
  2. Boredom:Your cat might just be bored. This leads into the next category of attention-seeking behavior.
  3. Attention:Sometimes cats will resort to inappropriate behavior because they want something from you. It could be a need for affection, food, or playtime.
  4. Sharpening nails:Of course, your cat may just be using the door as another one of her many scratching posts that she likes to use inappropriately.

When you figure out why your cat is scratching the door, you can then act accordingly. The following steps should work, whatever the reason.

1. Ignore the Behavior

orange cat
Image Credit: Pixabay

Every time you react to your cat scratching, you’re giving her attention. She’ll then continue the inappropriate behavior anytime she wants your attention, even if the attention she’s receiving is negative in nature (scolding or yelling).

Ignoring your cat while she’s damaging your door might prove challenging, so you can look into other methods below that make the door less attractive to your cat.

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2. Startle the Cat

british shorthair cat startled
Image Credit: Pixabay

There are motion-detecting sprays on the market that emit a harmless spray that will startle your cat every time she comes close to the door. She will then start to avoid the door.

There’s also the use of pheromones that will help calm your cat if she’s scratching out of excitability and just plain naughtiness. This product, for example, sprays a scent designed to calm your cat, and it also makes a loud hissing noise that may startle your cat and stop her from the destructive behavior.

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3. Spray The Door With Repellent

You can use a repellent found online or make your own. For a DIY cat repellent, you’ll need:

  • Empty spray bottle (preferably a 2-ounce amber glass bottle)
  • Water
  • 2 drops of lemon essential oil
  • 2 drops of lavender essential oil
  • 2 drops of orange essential oil

First, you should add the essential oil to the spray bottle and then fill it up with water. Be sure to shake the repellent well each time before use and store it in a dark place (essential oils can break down faster if exposed to light). You can also replace these scents with others that cats don’t like, such as anything else citrus (lime, grapefruit, etc.), peppermint, or eucalyptus.

Many of these essential oils are harmful to cats. If you’re going to use them as a repellent, be sure to only spray the door and not your cat. Speak to your vet if you’re unsure.

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4. Get a Door Protector

cat scratching the door
Image Credit: SoNelly, Shutterstock

You can also cover the door with a protector. This particular one is advertised for dogs but can work just as well for cats. If your cat isn’t able to actually dig her claws in, she might just give up scratching that door altogether.

You could also use tape as a way of deterring your cat from even touching the door. You can either purchase tape designed specifically with your cat in mind or use packing or duct tape as your own homemade double-sided tape. Or just buy double-sided tape. Be aware that you might be stuck (no pun intended) with some sticky residue on your door afterward, which is still better than a clawed-up door.

Cats hate putting their paws on sticky things, so if you place the tape in the areas that she commonly scratches, she should stop. You might need to apply the tape in random spots around the door in case your cat figures it out and starts scratching around the tape.

Lastly, since it’s been well-documented that placing aluminum foil on kitchen counters will keep your cat off your counters, you could try taping a sheet of aluminum foil to the door or taping it directly on the floor in front of the door, so she won’t want to walk over that spot.

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5. Feed Your Feline Before Bed

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Image Credit By: slawomir.gawryluk, Shutterstock

Some cats might be scratching because they are hungry and are trying to get your attention (which usually occurs at 3:00 or 4:00 in the morning!). You can change your cat’s meal schedule to just before your bedtime (if the scratching occurs while you’re sleeping) and then immediately close your door and go to bed. Your cat should sleep shortly after she’s eaten, and hunger won’t drive her to wake you up with her scratching.

It should also help her sleep longer throughout the night if you play with her before feeding her. Wearing her out with a lot of frenzied energy is a great way to keep her quieter longer overnight.

Be sure to not feed her after she’s been scratching, or she will believe you are rewarding her for her behavior.

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6. Deal with Those Nails

trimming nails of cat
Image Credit: Yimmyphotography, Shutterstock

Your cat is less likely to cause damage to your door if you take care of her nails. Trim her claws at least once a week, and she shouldn’t be able to cause any significant damage to your door. This doesn’t mean you just rely only on nail trims to solve the problem, but it will make it much easier to ignore the behavior, and she might stop it at some point.

If she’s one of those cats who doesn’t enjoy a good nail trim, you could take her to the vet for a trimming. This might prove difficult since you would need to do this every week, so you could also consider Soft Claws, which are small plastic caps that are filled with an adhesive and attached to each claw. They stay on for about 4 to 6 weeks before they naturally fall off. You can put them on yourself or have your vet apply them.

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7. Give Your Cat Some Attention

person smelling cat
Image Credit: Pixabay

This should happen when she isn’t actually scratching the door. Throughout the day, cuddle her, play with her, and just check to see if she seems happy overall. Doing this before you go to bed will also ensure that she is less likely to attack your door.

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8. Stock Up On Scratching Posts

cat scratching post
Image Credit: EbneRol, Shutterstock

Ensure that you have enough scratching posts for your cat. If she’s not using your current one, make it more attractive to her by rubbing catnip on it, or maybe it’s time for a new one. When purchasing a scratching post, always check the size of it and its stability. You want one that is tall enough so your cat can stretch herself all the way up while scratching and isn’t easily knocked over. This particular scratching post is tall enough for most cats, plus it is just wide enough that a cat can perch on the top.

However, some cats might prefer a wall or floor scratcher. You’ll have to figure out which type your cat will prefer.

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9. Make Your Cat Comfortable

cat sleeping on a woman's lap_Shutterstock_Alena Ozerova
Image Credit: Alena Ozerova, Shutterstock

If you have lots of toys for your cat to play with and a nice comfortable blanket or bed for her to sleep in, she will feel much more content and less bored. She might opt to play over scratching your door.

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10. Window for Entertainment

cat looking at the window
Image Credit: Pixabay

Most cats like to sit up high, and they particularly enjoy looking out of windows. If you provide her with easy access to a window and a high perch, she will be much more entertained and, again, less bored. Consider something like a windowsill perch, which can give her the opportunity to both scratch and watch the activity outdoors.

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How to Stop a Cat from Scratching Your Door at Night

If your cat seems to be scratching your door while you’re sleeping and the ‘before bed’ suggestions we’ve provided doesn’t seem to work, the best thing you can do is to just ignore her. Don’t speak (or yell) at your cat, don’t get up and open the door, just ignore the behavior, and eventually, she should get the message.

You could use white noise from a fan or a Youtube video and/or earplugs to help drown out the cat racket. This, in conjunction with putting tape on the door and placing claw caps on her nails, should help prevent your cat from damaging the door.

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Conclusion

Not every cat will react quite the same way to these ideas. Some cats might be deterred by the motion-detector spray, while others will get used to it. You might need to use multiple methods all at once, and you will definitely need some patience and persistence. A little trial and error is in order until you figure out the best routine for you and your cat.

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Featured Image Credit: Evtushkova Olga, Shutterstock