How to Teach a Cat to Use a Pet Door

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Pet doors are great additions to any home that has a pet. You can use them to allow your pet to go in and out of your home or in and out of certain rooms of your home, such as a sunroom or utility room. With a pet door, your pet can come and go as it pleases without you having to constantly open the door for it, so not only is Fluffy happy, but you are as well. Pet doors are ideal for both cats and dogs, but especially cats because you can place a pet door into the entry to the room where you quarantine your cat’s litter box to help reduce the smell from permeating your home. Dogs, however, (in most cases) seem to catch on to the idea of a pet door more readily than cats, who can be more difficult to train. With the appropriate technique, though, you can teach your cat to use a pet door.

Step 1

Show your cat the pet door. Hold your cat and pet it while you walk towards the pet door and sit down before it. If your cat seems curious and begins to sniff at the door, let it do so, for this is normal.

Step 2

Push open the pet door to show your cat how the door works. Stick your hand all the way through the door to show it how the door opens up.  

Step 3

Put your cat down before the door and gently push your cat’s paw against the door to cause it to open the door itself. Release its paw and let it investigate by sniffing the door some more if it wants.

Step 4

Push your cat gently through the pet door, but do not force it. If your cat acts frightened of the door or buckles down, do not force it to go through it.

Step 5

Go on the other side of the door from your cat, sit down before the pet door where you cat can see you and call to your cat to see if it will come through the door. Bribe your cat with a treat if you must by shaking its treat bag before the door to get it to figure out how to come through.

Step 6

After initially executing these steps of teaching your cat to use the pet door, simply leave your cat alone to go through the door on its own time. It will investigate the door more and go through it when it wants something that is in the room beyond bad enough.

Tips

Place a treat just beyond the cat door and leave your cat to find a way to get to the treat. In most cases, your cat will figure out that it can push through the door to get to the treat.

Warnings

Beware of forcing your cat to go through the pet door too soon because this could damage your purpose. If your cat becomes frightened of the pet door (as some cats do when something new is encountered), then you might have more trouble ever getting it to go through it again.

Beware of letting the pet door swing back and forth loudly when first showing it to your cat, for this could incite fear in some finicky or skittish cats.

Do not place something like your cat’s food, water or litter box in the room beyond the door until you are sure that you cat knows how to use the pet door; otherwise, your cat might go hungry or have an accident on your floor.

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