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Why Does My Cat Sit By the Door? 5 Common Reasons

To many cat owners, it may seem as if their beloved kitties intentionally and precisely plan their actions to instill perplexity! Many of our cats’ behaviors are obvious and easily understood, but there are still more that we mere humans may never fully comprehend. In these instances, our best understanding comes down to educated guesswork.

For example, sitting by the door. Though not unusual behavior for a cat, some owners may wonder about it. The truth is there is no single explanation for this behavior, but rather, several plausible reasons that may be close to the truth. Read on to find out five common reasons that your cat sits by the door.

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Why Does My Cat Sit By the Door?

1. Wanting to go Outside…Or Not

The most obvious reason why your cat is sitting at the door is that it is waiting for the opportunity to go through it, for whatever reason. Most cats can’t open doors, so they need to wait patiently for a human to do it for them.

This explanation would be perfect, except that it has been disproven by many-a-wily feline. Many owners report that after obliging their kitty and opening the door for it, the confounded puss cat does not budge—but either simply stares at them, or turns and walks away! So, it would seem, this explanation is only sometimes true and a good example of their often-unfathomable behavior.

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2. Curiosity

cat behind the screen door
Image Credit: Joel Dinda, Flickr licensed under CC 2.0

Curiosity killed the cat! Yep, cats are probably the most curious of all our pets—always near the activity, watching and often interfering.

Cats are apex predators and have lost none of their natural hunting instinct through domestication. They are always alert and ready to launch into hunt mode at a moment’s notice. This state of readiness makes them more inclined to need to know exactly where everyone and everything is, and what’s going on in their vicinity.

If you frequently catch your kitty sitting by the door, it may be that it simply needs to know what is happening on the other side of it—so that it’s ready to plot its next move. In this case, opening the door may be sufficient to satisfy its curiosity.

If your kitty is of the indoor variety, this curiosity may be coupled with a desire to escape and explore the outside world. So, be prepared to act speedily to thwart any curiosity-driven escape attempts!

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3. Hormones

Hormones are a dominant driving factor for most animal species. However, if you’ve ever been kept awake by the wailing of a female neighborhood cat in heat, then you know that cats may be more governed by their hormones than other animals.

When an unspayed female cat is in season, her driving instinct is to find a mate. The desire is so strong that females in heat have been known to mysteriously escape from houses and enclosures that were thought to have been secure. Just as much as a female in heat wants to locate a mate, so too does the unneutered male. Males have been known to go to extraordinary lengths to reach a female in heat.

If this is the reason that your kitty is sitting by the door, then you are advised to be on high alert for sneaky escape attempts whenever that door is opened!

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4. Waiting for Their Special Human

Abyssinian Blue Cat sitting on the arm of a sofa
Image Credit: Foonia, Shutterstock

Often, a cat will sit and wait at a door because they are waiting for someone. Cats and their owners can form very special bonds. While dogs are quite demonstrative about their love for their humans, cats tend to express their love in more subtle or abstract ways. Even in a busy household, a cat may bond with one of the family members over the others, and their devotion to their chosen human is touching.

If their favorite human is not at home, the kitty may sit at the front door calmly and patiently waiting for their return.

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5. They Are Fearful

Sometimes the reason a cat may sit by the door is not so cute, and perhaps even a little concerning. Sometimes this behavior can be for fear-driven reasons, and when this happens, owners should attempt to address their kitty’s fear. It is not pleasant for an animal to experience fear on a regular basis, no matter how inconsequential it may seem.

Some fear-driven reasons that your cat may sit by the door:
  • Your cat may be afraid of something in the house and may feel the urge to be close to an exit in case it needs to escape.
  • They may have separation anxiety, and be anxiously awaiting their human’s return or trying to prevent them from leaving.
  • They feel trapped; perhaps your cat is claustrophobic or stressed by being confined all day.
  • They may feel lonely. If your cat is more of a social butterfly, it may feel depressed because of a lack of social interaction with other people and animals.

Usually, a cat experiencing fear in certain areas of its life will exhibit other signs of unhappiness. Read on to learn about behaviors that could signal your cat is discontent or afraid.

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Is My Cat Happy?

bengal kitten purring
Image Credit: Liz Creative Studios, Shutterstock

It’s easy to tell when a cat is happy or unhappy through its body language, behavior, and vocalizations.

Happy cats tend to meow, chirrup, and purr at their humans and other household members in greeting and conversationally. They will have a relaxed posture and arch their backs with their tail up when stroked. Look out for “cat kisses”—that slow blink in your direction—and make sure you return them!

A content kitty eats, drinks, and grooms itself regularly and is not afraid to do any of these in front of you. They use their litter box properly; that means urinating inside and not outside of it. They are playful and love to cuddle, sit on your lap, knead, and sleep with you.

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Signs of an Unhappy Cat

scared British blue-point cat hiding under the bed
Image Credit: Zossia, Shutterstock

Conversely, look out for any of the below signs that, if exhibited by your kitty regularly, could indicate fear or unhappiness:

  • Aggression, either towards humans or other pets, including excessive scratching.
  • Urinating outside of the litter box on purpose and spraying around the house.
  • Increased or decreased appetite.
  • Reluctance to play or be affectionate.
  • Hiding away from visitors or even family members.
  • Scratching household items to the point of near destruction.
  • Tense posture, tail tucked under, and low yowling verbalizations.
  • Under or over-grooming, the latter sometimes to the point of baldness.

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Why is My Cat Unhappy or Afraid?

scared kitten hiding
Image Credit: Khamidulin Sergey, Shutterstock

The first thing you need to do is ascertain the reason for your cat’s unhappiness. Unfortunately, this is sometimes easier said than done. Nevertheless, through careful and consistent observation you should be able to note the situations that cause your kitty to exhibit some of the above signs of distress.

For example, watch exactly when and how your kitty sits by the door, and when it leaves. Note who or what was around at these times. Once you have an idea of the stressor, you can take steps to remove it or change routines to mitigate the stress.

You might not be able to identify the cause of the stress, and in these circumstances, it may be prudent to seek the counsel of a veterinary professional. Kitty’s stress may be rooted in a medical or behavioral condition, and a specialist would be able to point you in the right direction to help your feline friend.

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What Do I Do if My Cat Seems Unhappy or Afraid?

pregnant cat getting some cuddles
Image Credit: Al-Jauhara, Flickr

There are a few things you could try—which, although not targeting a specific area of stress, could be a good starting point.

Cats appreciate routine, so getting into a regular one might help to eliminate stress.

You might want to try giving your cat more love and attention so that it feels more secure. In addition, you could try providing extra stimulation—play with your kitty more, they love it!

Believe it or not, even though cats behave like lords of their empire, they like to know where they stand with you. Clear boundaries on behavior can be reinforced by discouraging bad behavior and rewarding good behavior.

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Conclusion

Usually, a cat that habitually sits by the door is not unhappy. This behavior is often simply one of those seemingly inexplicable (but oh-so-endearing) things that cats do to keep us on our toes.

Sometimes, however, there may be more worrisome reasons for door-hogging behavior. If this is the case, there are several other underlying reasons to consider that may confirm your kitty is unhappy. If you believe this to be true, then it’s time to make a few changes in the cat’s environment to help improve circumstances.

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Featured Image Credit: Africa Studio, Shutterstock

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