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Cat Darting: Don’t let your Feline Run Out the Door

Whisker Fabulous Beautiful domesticated yellowish cat waiting by the door

Every day I play a game with my human mom. I know what her car sounds like when she pulls into the driveway so I run to the front door. As soon as she puts the key in the door and opens it, I run out underneath her feet. Usually she catches me right away and sticks me back in the house, but sometimes I get away with murder and run underneath the car. Ha! It becomes a super fun cat and mouse game with me being the mouse and mom being the cat. She gets so mad it makes it even more fun.

I personally think she’s so freaking uptight. But I know why. I just learned that door darters like myself are a serious problem when it comes to cat safety. Some stray cats that end up in rescues or shelters are former owned pets that darted out a door and were never found.

When a cat escapes we can go long and far. Felines like me love to explore. Sitting at a window looking outside just doesn’t cut it. It’s boring living inside a house. We need enrichment: we want to smell the flowers, terrorize birds and pretend we are in the wild wild west.

Whisker Fabulous Grey cat on carpet in spacious living room interior with plant, television and chairs at table
When are they coming home?

Tips to stop door darters

That’s why as a cat owner, you should go the extra mile to take precautions to make sure your pet doesn’t run out the door. The folks at Feline Rescue in St. Paul Minn., have some advice:

  • Never greet your cats at the door. Say hello and goodbye from another side of the room, where your cat hangs out most.
  • Ignore the cat when you are near the door. Train your cat to greet you at a spot away from the door by using treats. Give then something good when you come home so they automatically run to that spot away from the door to get a tasty treat.
  • Anytime your cat hangs out at the door make it unappealing. Make a loud noise or clap your hands.
  • Put aluminum foil or a spikey rug guard face up to stop your cat from hanging around at the door. (The spikes won’t hurt them.)
  • Install a SSSCAT product at the front door that emits a burst of air when the built in motion detector is activated.
  • Put an air freshner with a strong citrus smell at the door. Cats hate citrus smells.

If all this doesn’t work, you can do something drastic. The next time you think your cat might dart out the door, have a spray bottle with water in it and squirt them in the face as they run out. Cats HATE this. But there are no guarantees this will work. Mom tried it with me and she learned I don’t mind getting water in my face. I ended up running even farther away.

Cat are really just fickle and we’re NOT dogs. We’re not dependent on humans and we will do what we want, when we want. So my advice is for you to always be prepared. Always have a current photo of your cat that shows detailed features, especially fur color and length. (Got a black cat? It’s even more important to have a photo of her that shows a very distinguishing feature.) Also, have kitty microchipped and make sure you notify the microchip company of your new address when you move.

This is all common sense, but cats have a much lower rate of return to their owners than dogs do when they go missing. It’s really sad. Door darting can be the start of something tragic, so don’t let kitty do it.

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