Cat Doors: How to Train Your Cat to Use A Cat Door

by Melissa R. on November 19, 2010

Our Diva Cirrhi

Our Diva Cirrhi

Our cat’s litter boxes reside in the downstairs laundry room. We have four boxes (one for each cat, plus an extra!). Although I do use a high quality kitty litter, four cat boxes is a lot and I have a very sensitive nose.

Given that, we’ve been thinking about installing a cat door so the cats could come & go into their room, but no odor for us! In addition, Border Collie Mocca cannot resist the occasional temptation of dinner out of the litter box (UGH!). She is pretty good about it, but every-now-and-then, she comes upstairs licking her lips with a little cat litter on her nose. We were hoping to curb this as well.

I looked on our website for cat doors, and found one for large cats. Two of our cats are quite large, so we wanted to make sure the door would be comfortable for them. Then we bought it from the Retail Store, and installed it. Installing was pretty easy, as there were extensive instructions available on the website, and it’s really not all that difficult. Cut hole, insert door. You have to measure your cats first though, to see how high to install it. Once we got it installed, we got some treats out, and the cats came running!

While sitting inside the laundry room, shaking the treat jar vigorously, I could see the cats sniffing around the door, wondering how in the world they would get to their treats! We poked the flap open a bit, so they could get the idea. Eventually though we just had to pull the flap all the way to get them to come through, get treats, and then go back out for more treats on the other side. We did this for a few nights in a row, trying to lessen the amount we would open the flap so they could get used to how it felt, and how to push it open with their heads.

Ritter, the youngest cat, figured it out quickest. He was darting in & out like a pro in no time and the other two cats would look at him curiously! Why was Ritter getting all those treats and they weren’t???

One day I left the flap down, thinking the cats had it figured out. Whoops. This was not so, as I came home to find somebody had left me a gift in my slipper, a rather smelly gift at that. So, the flap to the cat door remained open for another week, while we trained nightly with treats. Once I was 100% comfortable all three cats could use the door unassisted, and seemed happy to do so… we left the flap down permanently… for a few days.

Sadly, it appears Miss Diva Cirrhi does not care for the flap on the cat door. Although I have seen her use it a few times on her own, she apparently doesn’t like it all that much because she left me several more smelly gifts. We are leaving the flap open for now, and I will continue our nightly training for a couple weeks. Hopefully, she’ll be more comfortable with it after awhile longer and we’ll try again.

I guess this isn’t a roaring success story on training a cat to use a cat door, but I did get two out of three trained! LOL… Stay tuned!

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About the author: Melissa is a devoted pet owner with several cats: Kai, Cirrhi & Ritter; and the newest addition, Emme a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever. Melissa is an avid dog agility enthusiast, and hopes her new pup will someday be an agility champion! She is a Graphic Designer and Project Coordinator for the and websites. She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Graphic Design from Michigan State University and is a lifelong pet lover and owner. See more articles by Melissa R.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Keri K. November 23, 2010 at 12:54 pm

A new cat entry in our laundry room door is also what solved our dog-in-the-litterbox problem! Because our laundry room is located off the main room of the house, I it’s nice to be able to shut that door to hide any messiness from guests, and the cats still have their access.

Kim November 29, 2010 at 12:43 am

I have a shy cat who took quite a while to adjust to the door. In fact, I had to leave the flap of my at door taped open for a little more than two months. By the time I put the door down, the rubberized flap was somewhat bent out, which left a rather sizable crack at the bottom and sides of the door. It actually worked out great, because the door relaxed and straightened out very gradually (it was at least a couple of weeks) and by the time it finally fit the opening properly, my cat no longer even took notice of it.
I think the key to working with cats is DON’T PUSH THEM. They like to think everything is their own idea (BG) Good luck with your kitty!

cat door in double glazing January 21, 2017 at 7:58 am

Nice post Melissa I really think of buying a cat flap and this article will be useful for me 😉 <3

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