How To Keep The Cat From Using The Dog Door

How To Keep The Cat From Using The Dog Door - 3 Options to Buy and a DIY Dog Door Hack | www.fromh2h.com
How To Keep The Cat From Using The Dog Door – 3 Options to Buy and a DIY Dog Door Hack

This post doesn’t really have much to do with decorating, but it does have to do with solving a problem that keeps my pets safe and my house cleaner…and I thought if I had this issue some of you might, too.  Read on to find out how to keep the cat from using the dog door.

The issue was that I have a dog door, which my cocker spaniel Winston (in the picture above) has used for all of his life (10 years and counting).

Chanel - How To Keep The Cat From Using The Dog Door - 3 Options to Buy and a DIY Dog Door Hack | www.fromh2h.com
Chanel

I also have cats…somewhat large, long-haired, mostly-white cats that are meant to be indoor cats. And they were indoor cats for the first 4 years of their lives until one of them (Chanel) figured out how to use the dog door.

Then I had one mostly-brown with leaves tangled in her fur outdoor cat.

Not only did she track all of that dirt into the house and onto the sofa, she also very quickly got into the habit of bringing me “presents” (ie. dead mice that appeared in the middle of the living room floor.  Yuck!).

I was on the hunt to find a dog door solution that would let the dog go in and out, but keep the cat in.

My original thought was that there must be something I could buy to do this.  And I found three options that were workable, but each one had a couple of things that didn’t quite fit with what I wanted.

So I ended up modifying the dog door I already had and it seems to have done the trick (for less than $20 I might add)!

Keep reading to see the options I considered (one of them might work for you), and what I finally ended up doing.

Option 1: Buy a New Electronic Dog Door

via amazon.com*

Electronic Dog Doors* are the ones that open up automatically when a pet wearing the trigger device on its collar gets close to the door.

They come in a variety of sizes, trigger mechanisms and installation options (I wanted one that fit in my sliding glass door space).

For this option, the receiver would fit on the dog’s collar and the cat would not have a receiver.

Then the door would open when the dog got close to it, but not for the cat…exactly what I wanted it to do!  (Just make sure to get one that locks both ways, since some of them will let any animal go out the door, but require the receiver to get back in.)

If you’re interested in seeing how it works, you can go to the amazon.com page and watch the product videos.

The “pros” for this option are that none of the animals get shocked, it keeps out other animals and intruders (not that I have ever had a problem with that), and it’s kind of cool!

However, I decided the electronic dog door wasn’t the best option for me:

* First, it’s much more money than I wanted to pay  (I already have a functioning dog door installed).

* The second reason is that I think the cat would learn how to get out anyhow. Chanel learned how to use the dog door in the first place by following right behind Winston as he went out.  So I can just see her doing the exact same thing with the electronic door, and then not being able to get back in because the door wouldn’t open.

Option 2: Install Invisible Fence

via amazon.com*

My plan with this option would be to install an invisible fence outside the dog door.

Since I have a deck there, it would have been fairly easy to put the invisible fence wire between the deck and the house.

Then the cat could wear a collar with the shocking device on it, and the dog would not have the shocking device.  So she would get zapped if she tried to go through the door and he wouldn’t.

The “pros” of this option are that it is really easy to install and less expensive than buying a new dog door.

However, I also decided not to go with the invisible fence option:

* First, I wasn’t sure the shock would actually stop my cat.  As everyone knows, cats are very different than dogs…and I read about people whose cats just sped up in order to get through the shock zone as quickly as possible (where most dogs try to avoid the shock).  I was sure Chanel would be one of those cats!

* Second, I’m not that keen on zapping my pets with electricity, to begin with.

* And third, the instructions for the invisible fence say that the animals should only wear the shock device on their collar for a maximum of 12 hours a day.  That means keeping the dog door closed for the other 12 hours.  Since Winston is used to being able to go out whenever he wants to, that would mean either teaching a 10-year-old dog a new bathroom break schedule (not likely) or me getting up in the middle of the night to let him out (very likely).

Option 3:  Lay Down a Scat Mat

via amazon.com*

Scat Mats are meant to keep pets off of things that you don’t want them going on.  It gives the animal a static shock when they try to step on it, somewhat similar to the invisible fence but in a mat format.

My plan was to put the mat inside the dog door to prevent the cat from getting to the door and going outside.

The “pros” of the scat mat are that it is really inexpensive and very easy to install.

But, as you probably guessed, I didn’t go with this one either.

Mostly because I was afraid that the mat would keep the dog away from the door more than it would discourage the cat.  I think she would find a way around it (that cat personality thing again).

It also has the zap-factor, which I don’t like that much.

Option 4:  The DIY Dog Door Hack

Winston in front of his dog door that he no longer has to share - How To Keep The Cat From Using The Dog Door - 3 Options to Buy and a DIY Dog Door Hack | www.fromh2h.com
Winston in front of his dog door that he no longer has to share

My final solution was to modify the dog door that I already have.

My current dog door has magnets at the bottom of the flap which keep the door closed when it’s not in use.

I figured since the dog is stronger than the cat, all I have to do is add enough magnet strength so that the cat couldn’t open the door, but the dog still could.

Step 1 | Watch The Cat

The first thing I did was to watch the cat as she was going out the door to see what she did and where she was pushing on it.

With my pets there is a difference in the way they open the dog door.

The dog just runs right through it.

The cat puts her paw through the edge of it to open the door and then slides her body through.

So my strategy was to place the magnets at about the height and location where the cat would normally be trying to push through.

She likes the right side better than the left, so I put 2 sets of magnets on that side…I probably could have got away without the second set but I’m not taking any chances 🙂

Note: Your cat may push the door in different spots, so you may need to put the magnets in different locations.

Watch to see what their favorite spots are. Then place your magnets in those areas of the door.

Step 2 | Get The Supplies

Magnets and screws for Dog Door Hack - How To Keep The Cat From Using The Dog Door - 3 Options to Buy and a DIY Dog Door Hack | www.fromh2h.com
Magnets and screws for Dog Door Hack

After a few trips to the hardware store, I ended up with these bits:

Since I added the magnets in 3 places on the door, I bought 3 packages of each type of magnet (a total of 3 larger magnets, and 6 smaller ones).

You can adjust the number you need based on the size of your animals 🙂

I would start with 2 sets of each (one for each side of the flap) and then go from there.

Step 3 | Attach the Magnets to the Door

Screw the large magnets onto the frame of the door
Screw the large magnets onto the frame of the door

I used the 5/8″ screws to attach the larger magnet to the frame of the dog door.

Cut the edge of the plastic
Cut the edge of the plastic

Then I cut the edge of the plastic off on the dog door flap so that it fits around the magnets on the frame.

Two small magnets on either side of the flap - How To Keep The Cat From Using The Dog Door - 3 Options to Buy and a DIY Dog Door Hack | www.fromh2h.com
Two small magnets on either side of the flap

Finally, I attached one small magnet on either side of the flap so that the edge of those magnets would meet up with the large magnet. Make sure that you have them pointing the right way so that the magnets on the flap stick to the magnets on the frame.

Because these magnets had a hole in the middle, I used a screw and nut to attach them to the flap. If the end of the screw sticks out on the other side, you might want to cut it off so that it doesn’t poke your dog when he’s coming through the door.

The dog door after the 3 sets of magnets have been installed - How To Keep The Cat From Using The Dog Door - 3 Options to Buy and a DIY Dog Door Hack | www.fromh2h.com
The dog door after the 3 sets of magnets have been installed

The dog door “hack” has been in place for a couple of months now, and the cat seems to have given up trying to escape.  Success!!  Even better, the entire project cost less than $20.

Have comments or questions about How To Keep The Cat From Using The Dog Door – 3 Options to Buy and a DIY Dog Door Hack?  Tell us in the section below

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37 Responses

    • Glad it was helpful, Dee! I also spent a bunch of time looking for a solution, so once I found something that worked, I thought other people might find it useful, too 🙂

    • Didn’t work for me. Cat was still able to get out even though I had to reteach my puppy to use it!! Lol. More magnets??

      • Sorry to hear it didn’t work for your cat. For my cat, I had to watch to see where she was pushing on the flap and put the magnets there. Although you don’t want to make it so hard to open that the dog can’t get through 🙂

  • Hi Wanda ~ Thanks for your post. I have the same problem, except I need to keep the cats out and let the dogs come and go freely. I have not yet gotten the dog door. I spent months talking my new husband into letting me install a dog door, only to have the thought…”well how am I going to keep the cats out (all 3 males and even though fixed, caught one trying to spray in my closet, and now they are banned). This mat you talked about that static shocks though, I am interested in trying to keep the cats off my husband’s 1967 Fairlane. Do you think it would work? Thanks!

    • Hi Ellen…My cats would be banned if they tried to spray in the closet, too 🙂 The static shock mats should work as long as you can figure out the best place to put them…where the cats will definitely step on them and can’t jump over them.

  • I have same problem, but with 4 dogs, 6 cats (3 semi-feral), and a pool (not good for the electronic devices). I purchased a https://energyefficientdogdoors.com/ which was quite expensive, but very well made and energy efficient. Unfortunately, though the magnets along all 3 edges are quite strong, 3 cats can still get out. I have yet to find a solution. I need collars that I can put on the cats that will trigger a spray to scare the cats away. I’ve been looking at the shock collars, but they are huge and shouldn’t be worn 24 hrs a day rendering them useless.

    • Hi Jane…I’m sorry to hear that your dog door isn’t working to keep all of your cats in. I’m always amazed at how resourceful cats are. Finding something that would spray water sounds like a great idea! I haven’t seen anything like that, but would love to hear about it if you do!

    • We recommend using a DogWatch indoor boundary. Your cats wear very small collars, and the device, which is about the size of a smoke detector, is mounted near the dog door. This effectively keeps the cats from using the dog door.

      disclosure: I work for Freedom Pet Pass (the link above), and some DogWatch dealers resell our pet doors.

    • Hi Joshua…I haven’t had any problems with that with my dog (he doesn’t push close enough to the edge of the door to come in contact with the magnets). But you could try sticking (or gluing) some of that foam weatherstrip tape over the magnets to add a bit of a cushion if you think it will be a problem.

  • Ughhhhh thank you so much I’m going to try this. I moved and I have a dog door and a dog now. The only problem is I had three cats. I’ve been living here for about 3 months now and about two weeks ago one of my cats went missing and about one week ago another went missing and I’m so sad!! I am down to just one cat now which breaks my heart and I can not figure out how to keep him in the house. I was thinking about putting him in my room when I’m gone so the doggy door can be open for my dog and then when I’m home I can put the dog door cover on and let my cat out and then I’ll just let my dog out like every hour or so but that’s just a hassle!! I really hope this works because I would be devastated if I lost another cat.

    • Hi Tabbitha…I’m so sorry to hear about your cats. That is heartbreaking. I hope this works for you, too!

  • I actually have a solution! This sounds jank, but I actually adhered two heavy pieces of metal on the bottom of the flap, so it made the door just heavy enough that the cats can’t push it open, but the dogs can:)

  • I’m definitely trying this. My 8 month old kitty just figured out the doggie door. It is a big door for our Rottweiler, hope the magnets will do the trick. My last kitty never came home and I was devastated. Don’t want to lose her to other dogs, cats, cars or mean people. Thought my only options were to keep the dog out or keep the cat locked in a room. None of these were an option for me.

    • Hi Zandra…I’m sorry to hear about losing your last kitty. I would be devastated, too! Hopefully, this will work and keep your new kitty safe!

  • Unfortunately our cat is just too smart for her own good. There are so many magnets on the dog door that our dogs have to push to get out, yet the cat has already managed to figure it out. So bummed.

    • I have the same problem. I have a tiny 11 pound cat and two 80 lb pit bulls. The doggy door has heavy magnets all over and that cat still can crack it open enough to sneak out. My dogs have to push hard with their heads to open it. My cat will hear me open up the doggy door just to let the dogs out and he comes running to watch me to see if I’ll forget to put the cover back.

  • OMG we’ve been stressing on how to solve this same problem with our new 1 year old cat Jasmine. It did not take her long to figure out how to get out the dog door, and I don’t want her wandering the neighborhood and worrying about her and cars, fox, coyote and unfriendly dogs! We went through the same process (and elimination) of options as you mentioned on your post. My husband is off to the hardware store to try your solution. Really appreciate your post and suggestion!!!

  • Wanda, I do believe your Chanel and my Tapioca would probably figure out how to rob banks together. She is strikingly beautiful by the way. I thought it strange that Tapioca would stand so close to the dog door knowing what came through it repulsed him so much. He would stand inches away, tilting his head slightly if a strong breeze caused any movement in the flap. This went on for several days and when I saw it I thought to myself: “Nawww, he wouldn’t.” Little did I know he was probably just beaming the blueprints of this specific dog door make and model to the mothership as anyone with cats knows they are not from this earth. Anyhow, after careful study, and receiving the go-ahead from his feline leader, he used what is probably a similar bottom right corner paw trick, as I watched him go through the dog door just last night. I was utterly horrified and screamed his name the way a mother a would scream her childs name if that child darted into oncoming traffic. I am thankful for the recent dusting of snow as his kitty prints were easy to track and after a scolding I jumped online to try to figure out how to put an immediate stop to this. I am so grateful to have come across your website and advice. I am off to the hardware store right now. Thank you for posting this.

    • Hi April…Cats are amazing, aren’t they? I had to spend hours teaching my dog how to use the door. But not Chanel…she just figured it out. I’m happy to report that the magnets are still holding up. She hasn’t been able to get around this one 🙂 Hopefully, it will work for you, too!

  • Thank you!! Our barn cats have learned to enter our home through the dog door. The bigger problem is they cannot get back out through the door…can’t figure this one out. So we come home to cats trapped in the house…not a welcomed sight. Trying this today!!

  • Hi! I read your post and tried it out. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the magnets with the screw holes in it. Can you tell me the brand you used? I can’t make out the words in your picture thanks!

  • I don’t have a dog door yet. I am trying to figure out how and where to put one. I have to go down 3 steps to the landing. Open the inside door and then the screen door. I contemplated taking screen door off but then can not have door open in the summer. No room to install one from the wall down there either. Very perplexed but I and my Daisy would very much like one. I also have a cat who thinks the great outdoors would be an adventure. I think not. So I read this with great anticipation. Back to trying to figure how to do this.

    • Hi Jordan…that does sound like a problem situation. Maybe you could put 2 dog doors in? One in both the inside door and the screen door lined up with each other? Then teach the dog to go through both…a bit of a pain to install (and more expensive), but it might be worth it. Now that I have a dog door, I don’t know how I ever owned dogs without one! Anyhow, I hope you find something that works. If you find a good solution, I’d love to hear what you did 🙂

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