Cat Door Training 101: Helping Your Cat Adjust to Using the Pet Door
While some kitties immediately “get it” and are grateful for the escape hatch, others may be more timid and will need some time to get accustomed to this new thing in the home. Learn how to train your kitty to use a pet access door. Read our easy cat door training tips to make the process go as quickly and smoothly as possible.
Step-by-Step Cat Door Training Tips
In our cat door training for beginners, the first lesson is to know your cat. Since not all cat personalities are the same, not all cats will take the same length of time to learn to use a pet door, nor will all methods work with all felines.
First Introduction: Before you install the new pet door, introduce your kitty to this new addition. Let them explore it from different angles and show them how the flap moves in both directions. If they’re the inquisitive type, they may want to go through it, which can greatly speed up the training process.
- If It Smells Like Me, It Must Be Mine: A timid cat may see the new cat door as a foreign invader. To help make this strange object more familiar to them, rub them in a towel and then rub the towel on the door, both inside and outside, to transfer their scent. This marks it as part of their territory, and they’ll realize that it belongs to them—like the rest of your house.
- A Window to the Great Outdoors: Leave the flap open so they can clearly see the outdoors. They’ll soon realize that there’s a hole in your wall, door, or window that they can use to go out. A clear, transparent flap can be helpful in this case.
- A Little Motivation Can’t Hurt: Cats are tremendously motivated by food, especially if it’s a favorite treat. Go outside and hold the flap open, holding the treat out so they can see it from inside. If they’re not immediately encouraged to come get the treat, move your hand inside. Once they start to come to get the treat, move your hand back outside so that they must go through the pet door to get it. Praise them when they do this successfully. Giving them treats and praise will reinforce the desired behavior. Now switch positions, with them outside and you inside, and repeat the process. One tip about treats: it helps if they’re hungry. Once they are accustomed to going out and back in, let the flap close so they learn to open it themselves.
- The Temporary Doorman: If your cat seems bothered by the weight of the flap on their back, you can also use a temporary training flap that is easier for them to push open until they become more comfortable with their new cat door.
- Reward Them for Good Behavior—and Be Patient: Always reward your kitty when they engage in the desired behavior, whether it’s with treats, praise, or a cuddle. Don’t overdo the training sessions; keep it to around 10 minutes. And above all, be patient. Your cat may take a little longer to love their new cat door.
If you have more than one kitty, read our blog Cat Doors for Multi-Cat Homes: Meeting the Needs of Multiple Feline Friends.
Discover the Best Cat Door at Hale
Can you train cats to use cat doors? Absolutely. Of course, it helps if you have a safe and comfortable pet door for them to use. Hale’s pet doors are made from the highest quality materials like extruded aluminum frames, PVC vinyl flaps, multiple types of weather stripping, stainless steel strikes, and heavy-duty magnets. We offer door-model, wall-model pet doors, and in-screen pet doors for your convenience. Our dog and cat doors are all built at our US factory with no outsourced parts, and we provide exceptional customer service. Find the perfect cat door for your favorite feline friend at Hale Pet Door.