Why Do Cats Hate Closed Doors? 9 Possible Reasons

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Gray cat try to open a closed door

Do you spend your nights cozy in bed with your cat curled up next to your head? If this is you, then we’re envious! Many cat owners struggle to sleep with their cats in the room, perhaps because their cat purrs too loudly and repeatedly gives them loving headbutts or ear nibbles. Others might have cats that spend their time pacing and kneading around the bed or are partial to 3 a.m. zoomies.

Quick Overview

01

Most cats seem to hate closed doors and will scratch, meow, or attack a closed door to try to get you to open it.

02

Cats hate closed doors for many reasons, but most often they just want to be close to you.

03

Other reasons cats might scratch at closed doors is for attention, food, or because they want to access their territory.

So, what do you do if you can’t let your cat in your bedroom at night? The obvious thing is to close the bedroom door. However, lots of cats hate closed doors and will spend their time incessantly scratching the door while meowing or yowling loudly—which means you still get no sleep! So, why do cats hate closed doors so much?

Why Do Cats Hate Closed Doors?

There are lots of potential reasons why a cat might hate a closed door. Here are nine possibilities:

1. They Miss You

Most of the time, our cats just want to spend time with us. If you’re on the other side of a closed door then you can’t give them cuddles or fusses, or even food! So, that racket that your cat makes when you shut the door on them, and the damage they might inflict on your door frames, all come from a good place—love.

2. They Have ‘FOMO’

Chances are that we all know someone who says yes to every social invite due to fear of missing out (FOMO). Well, cats might also get FOMO. After all, who knows what you’re doing behind the closed door without them? You might be opening a huge tin of salmon, carving some cooked chicken, or even putting away shopping that contains their favorite cat treat. Or worse, you could be petting another cat! It’s understandable, when you think about it, that cats don’t want to miss out on any opportunities for love, cuddles, or tasty titbits.

3. They Want Your Attention

calico maine coon cat running inside to house

If your cat is feeling lonely or bored, they will turn to you for some attention and possibly some cuddles.

Most cats love attention, although they might only want it on their terms. Occasionally, cats are independent and might seem a little aloof, but most will enjoy your company in one way or another. Shutting the door and leaving them on their own can make them feel lonely, bored, or ignored, so they might meow or scratch to get your attention.

Even if your cat isn’t distressed, they might scratch the door or stick their paws through the gap below the door as a way to initiate playtime or stave off boredom. If you think your cat might be bored, read Is My Cat Bored? for ways to help.

4. They’re Hungry

Cats are usually quite food orientated and know how to get their meals on time. That’s why, as it’s approaching dinner time, your cat might drift toward the kitchen and start meowing near the cat food or their cat bowl. If they’re hungry and you shut the door on them, they might think you’ve forgotten about their food, and they’ll be sure to let you know of your mistake.

5. It Takes Away Their Choice

It’s probably not news that cats can be indecisive. There’s a familiar scenario among cat parents where the cat sits near the open door pondering whether to go outside, then goes outside only to sit at the door waiting to come back in.

If you shut the door, it takes away your cat’s choice, and they probably won’t like it. After all, what will they spend their time doing if they can’t rope you into being their personal doorman?

6. They Are Worried It Will Never Open Again

It might seem a little dramatic, but when your cat sees a closed door, they don’t know for sure when or if it will open again. In their minds, unless they can convince you to open the door they could be stuck on the other side of the door forever! This might be why some clever cats learn to open doors, so they can be more independent.

7. They Want To Be in Charge

 cat laying on floor near the front door

Cats like feeling in control of things in the house, including open pathways and rooms.

Cats rule the world, or at least in their mind, they do. It might seem a little strange to us, since we provide their food, water, toys, and a cozy home, while also cleaning their litter box and getting them checked by the vet if they’re sick.

However, in the world of cats, they are in control (and if you’ve ever tried to get an unwilling cat into their cat carrier you might agree!). By closing the door, you’re controlling where they can go in the house, and that’s not going to be popular with your cat.

8. They Can’t Reach Their Territory

Cats are territorial and spend their time scent-marking to show other cats that their home belongs to them. Their familiar scent will linger, reminding them of their territory and making them feel safe and secure. So, you can imagine why they get a little angry or frustrated if they can’t reach an area of the house that is rightfully theirs.

9. They Have Separation Anxiety

It’s not just dogs (and people) who get separation anxiety, cats do too, and you can find out more about it here. If your cat has separation anxiety you might notice that they follow you everywhere around the house, like your shadow, and get distressed and vocal when they’re not able to come with you.

You might spot other signs like restlessness or distress when you pick up your keys, put your shoes on, or head to the front door. It’s best not to ignore signs of separation anxiety in your cat because it could progress to stress, which can cause health problems like cystitis, blocked bladders, and over-grooming.

Also Read: My Cat Cries When My Husband Leaves

Final Thoughts

tabby cat in a house in front of a door with a cat flap

Cats hate locked cat doors as much as they dislike closed doors inside the house.

Cats hate closed doors, and once you think about it, it’s easy to see why! If your cat reacts excessively when a door is closed in the house, it’s worth considering whether they have separation anxiety and getting advice from your veterinarian or a certified feline behaviorist.

Also Read: The 7 Best Cat Doors, Portals, Flaps and Electronic Doors

Frequently Asked Questions

Why do cats attack closed doors?

Cats might attack closed doors because they’re anxious or angry at being separated from you. They can also attack closed doors as a game when they’re looking for fun or feeling a bit bored.

Why can’t cats decide to go in or out?

Cats like to be indecisive—it’s a normal part of cat behavior. When they’re hovering by the door deciding whether to go in or out it means they have your attention and they are calling the shots.

Why do cats scratch closed doors?

A cat might scratch closed doors to get their owner’s attention because they feel bored, lonely, or hungry. They’re also unlikely to approve of a closed door because it blocks off some of their territory.

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About Dr. Hannah Godfrey BVETMED MRCVS

Hannah graduated from the Royal Veterinary College, UK in 2011 and began work straight away at a busy mixed practice. Initially, she treated all species, but as the small animal hospital became busier, she focussed on small animals. Hannah is an expert on cat behavior and nutrition.

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