Going in the opposite direction can encourage a cat to go through a door or gate

Sometimes we need to encourage a cat to come into the house, or for whatever reason go through a gate or door opening. You don’t want to be aggressive when you do this. And if you try and grab your cat to carry him or her through, you’re likely to fail because they might back off, out of reach. This is my experience. It does not always work out like that but there is, I believe, a tendency for this to happen.

Walking in the opposite direction can encourage a cat to go through an open door or gate

Walking in the opposite direction can encourage a cat to go through an open door or gate. Image: MikeB

I have also found that if my cat is on one side of an open door and I am on the other and I want him to come towards me, inside the home or in the room where I am standing, if I walk through the door towards him he will then walk in the opposite direction to the place where I want him to be! It is a perverse reaction designed to irritate, perhaps. It does not always work but then nothing that we do with our cat can be guaranteed to work 100% of the time. It is simply a trick which I employ sometimes with success. Why should this happen? Well, I am scratching my head to try and figure out a good reason.

Perhaps an over sophisticated reasoning would lead me to believe that my cat knows that I want him to come through the door to where I am standing but is not processing the request. However, if I move towards him through the door opening he then complies with my request belatedly in order to avoid me picking him up. That is probably an overcomplicated assessment. It can be difficult to get into the head of a domestic cat to figure out what he or she is thinking.

To put it another way. They know they’re being asked to come through the door or gate opening but they don’t want to comply with the request. When you walk towards them they feel that they are going to be forced to comply. They don’t like that and therefore reluctantly comply by walking through the opening. Once again that may be an overcomplicated or overly sophisticated reasoning but I believe that it is plausible. Certainly domestic cats have a kind of intelligence which works like that. Also, they get used to their human companion’s behaviour and know how to interact with them and what the outcome of certain interactions will be.

At the end of my garden I have a gate. I feed the foxes just outside this gate. My cat follows me to that place while I’m doing it. I then quickly come back into the garden. He follows, but too slowly, and I want to encourage him to come through the gate. In order to achieve this I walk in the opposite direction, sometimes. It is a last resort because often times he follows my request because of habits and routines. It is a trick which triggers something in his head which can make him respond quite briskly. You might like to give it a try and report back in a comment!


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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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