How to Stop a Cat From Clawing at a Door

By Susan Paretts

To stop your cat from clawing at a door, you'll need to use harmless deterrents to discourage her and work to keep her busy with other activities. Cats claw at doors for a number of reasons, including boredom, the need to scratch or to get your attention because they're hungry. Use some deterrents around the door itself to prevent your cat from scratching at it and provide your kitty with acceptable alternatives to claw at instead.

Door Clawing Deterrents

Make the area that your cat is clawing unpleasant to scratch so she'll stop this unwanted behavior.

  • Cover the area of the door that your cat is scratching with double-sided tape, recommends the Doctors Foster and Smith website. Cats don't like sticky surfaces and this should stop her from clawing at the door.
  • Place a motion-detecting cat deterrent in front of the door. These items will emit a harmless puff of air when your cat comes near the door, scaring her away from it and discouraging her scratching.
  • Spray the door and frame with a scent deterrent, according to the Connecticut Cat Connection. Citrus oils repel cats because they don't like the scent.

Test a spray deterrent on a small area of your door to ensure that it won't discolor or otherwise damage the door's paint or finish.

Provide Alternatives

Cats have a natural need to scratch things so that they can mark their territory and groom their claws. Give your cat an alternative to use, such as a scratching pad that hangs from your door knob to scratch on, rather than the door itself. Try placing a scratching post in front of the door for your cat to use instead.

Make the scratching surfaces more appealing by rubbing them with catnip to attract your cat to them, recommends the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

Use deterrents on the door itself and place scratching posts near it to encourage your cat to use them instead, not the door.

Keep Kitty Busy

Your cat may scratch at a closed bedroom door to get your attention at night because she wants to play or is hungry.

  • Provide your kitty with a variety of toys to play with.
  • If your cat is hungry, leave out some food for her to eat during the night or feed her just before you go to sleep.
  • Fill a treat ball with dry kibble so that she can play with it and get some food during the night, recommends petMD. You can hide some kibble in spots around your home so she has to go on a treasure hunt to find it, keeping her occupied.
  • Give your feline friend a cat tree to climb, preferably near a window so she has plenty to see during the night.

Cat Scratching Considerations

When choosing a scratching post for your cat, take into consideration her preferences, recommends Cornell University. Cats who scratch and claw at doors may prefer vertical, wooden surfaces. Choose a post at least as tall as the areas on the door where your kitty has been scratching. Remember to place a post by each door that your cat likes to scratch.