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How do you train cats to use a kitty door?
I recently had a cat door installed on the basement door for efficiency reasons. I keep their food in the basement and they usually come and go, but with the kitty door installed so we can keep the door closed, they seem confused. They are fine if I hold the flap open and one cat will figure out how to get back out (though he doesn't seem to understand to do it again to go in). The other cat, however, needs me to open the flap both ways or she'll spend hours just sitting at it and poking the flap slightly to get back out. How can I help them adjust to the change?
It has nothing to do with "training". Cats are hard-wired to be waited on by their humans. Cats are smart, so I'm guessing they already know how to go in and out that kitty door, but it's a LOT more fun to pretend they don't and watch you go through the motions of "showing" them...again. ;D
I would wait until they are particularly hungry - perhaps let them miss breakfast and then show them that there is some delicious food at teatime but on the other side of the cat flap. If they have already mastered it properly then they should just hop in through it for the feast. If they really are confused and don't fall for the bait, getting them gradually accustomed to coming through it initially jamming it partly open so that they only have to push a little bit and get used to the sensation of the flap touching them without it fully closing and feeling a bit overwhelming. I would advise not holding the door yourself or they might think you are an essential part of the process.
Good luck, I'm sure you'll succeed - they are trainable, but as JamaGenee says are also very good at training us to do their wishes.
On a bit of a funny note, my mother moved into a house with a cat door and the cats rejected the idea of letting themselves out for a number of months. My mother became tired of the routine of opening a large door right beside the cat door and gently pushed one at a time throught the cat door. Once they got the idea there was no stopping them from using it, and now she has a stray that joins them for dinner along with a racoon!!!
Honestly just show them a few times, or even poke your head through it fro the other side so they can see it. Cats are amazing learners when they see things, they pick up and can emulate very easily, it is in their nature.
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