I know it's a bit rude to be calling my deaf, odd-eyed white cat stupid, but that really is the most adequate way to describe her.

But... before I talk about my cat, I gotta talk about this door. You see, this particular door goes from the outside of the house to the inside of the house -- and it's always left open. So in reality, it's more of a passage than a door.

My cat however does not seem to realize this. When she wants to go outside, or inside, she will sit right in front of the open door and meow until a human guides her through it.

I have tried putting treats right on the other side of the open door, but she sticks to her ways. -- she just continues to meow until you walk through it with her.

As far as I know, she has had no real drama in the past. -- So, I have no idea why she would have a fear of walking through the passage. She is absolutely fine with walking through other doors, just not the one that connects the inside of the house to the outside.

  • 3
    Outside may be Someone Else's Territory, if this is not normally an outdoors cat. Interesting to look at and sniff at, but dangerous enough to not be worth entering. My own cats seem to be of that opinion.
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 2:11
  • 1
    It's not like she doesn't want to be outside. She is completely fine with both the outside and the inside. During the night she is usually inside, but as soon as she wakes up she walks to the passage and starts to meow. When I walk out, she follows. -- and then she will usually stay there for a few hours before she comes back to the passage to meow again. When she does, I have to walk outside, and then back in for her to follow me back inside.
    – Mangona
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 2:20
  • It is as if she thinks that a human is needed to open the door between the inside and outside of the house. -- When in reality, the door is just always open, and she can go in and out as she pleases.
    – Mangona
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 2:22
  • 1
    She want to be sure she has permission, apparently. Personally, I think you're lucky in having a cat you can trust not to try to dash past you every time you open the door.
    – keshlam
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 4:05
  • I guess... but the meowing can get annoying...
    – Mangona
    Commented Oct 1, 2016 at 6:59

2 Answers 2


The only real way to change your cat's (fixed) idea is to either disprove it, or put the cat in a situation where it will prefer to use the door without guidance.

Don't starve, force or hurt your cat.

Sorry about the bolded text, but this is essential. The solutions I'm listing are not intended to mistreat the cat in any way. However, when taken to the extreme, these approaches may become harmful to either the cat or the cat's opinion of you.
Always take a measured approach and use your common sense. Never lose your cool or try to punish the cat. She's only doing what she thinks is right, she's not trying to be a nuisance.

The idea is to inconvenience the cat. It's important that she makes the decision. You can't make the decision for her.
Essentially, you want your cat to think that you're oblivious to the fact that she finds your behavior inconvenient. You play dumb, so that the onus is on your cat to change her situation into one that is not inconvenient to her.

The following are some ideas, not in any particular order.

  1. Treats in front of the door. You've already tried this, but have you tried sweetening the pot? Our cats used to be afraid to leave their room even though they had access to the whole house. One treat would not be enough to get them out the door, but five treats worked. I also noticed that it worked more often if you let the reward grow (treat by treat) instead of immediately giving a pile of treats.

    • Take a lesson from Scooby Doo (and Shaggy), who usually haggled for more snacks before they would do what the gang asked of them.

    • Some cats are clever enough to milk it and never come in until they get their bargained amount. If that is the case, once in a while, add a "kill-counter" to your process. Set a limit (e.g. 4 snacks). When that limit is reached and the cat is not cooperating, remove the snacks and walk away. She will learn (after a few times) that she missed out on some snacks by trying to milk it for all she could.

    • Instead of walking away, when you reach the "kill-counter", you could also simply let her inside without treats. It teaches them the same lesson, they miss out. I think they'll learn faster if you just walk away, but you may prefer a softer approach.

  2. An undesirable guidance from the human. When your cat waits for your assistance, provide assistance in the least helpful way, without scaring or scarring the cat. It's a matter of inconvenience. If you consistently provide assistance in a way that the cat would rather avoid your inconvenient assistance, then she might decide to walk through the door to avoid your unwanted assistance.
    In essence, you're trying to convince the cat that it's nicer for her to let herself in, than it is to have you let her in.

    • If your cat hates being picked up, pick her up before you walk her through the door.
    • If your cat dislikes a certain room of the house, pick her up and take her to that room whenever she needs you to let her in. Be consistent.
    • Go sit behind your cat and push her in. Try pushing in a way that's annoying but doesn't hurt the cat (e.g. pushing with one finger = hard poke)
  3. If she's a playful cat, try to see if she breaks her own rules while playing. Get a laser pointer (or any toy she likes). Have her chase it outside, and then have the laser go closer and closer to the door until it's inside. She may be caught up in her hunting instinct that she forgets her own cognitive rules (instincts tends to override cognitive thoughts)

  4. Close the door. Your cat may be indecisive about coming inside (both cats and dogs exhibit such behavior). By limiting the availability of the open doorway, you manipulate your cat into being more decisive.

    • This is a common marketing technique. Pretend like there's only a few items in stock, and people will be urged to buy one while they still can.

    • We used to have a cat who would sit by the sliding door, but when we opened it to let her in, she did not move. My mother would leave the door open so she could come in when she wanted. When I was home alone for two weeks, I would give her 10 seconds, then I would close the door and ignore her for the next 10-15 minutes. No eye contact, no interaction. She never really lingered in the open doorway after a few weeks.

    • The same cat was also indecisive to go outside. She would stand in the doorway, sniffing. I applied the same tactic, the door would only be open for a limited time.

  5. See who's more stubborn, the cat or you? If you never show up to guide your cat, will she stay outside forever? Test it. See how long she's willing to sit by the door. You can remotely interact with her (calling her to you etc.) if you want, but ignore her request for assistance. Play dumb and oblivious.

    • Try to see if weather conditions make a difference (rain, cold, ...)
    • Don't feel guilty about ignoring the cat. She's in front of an open door, refusing to come inside. Unless she has mental issues (e.g. pathologically fearful) or a bad house situation (e.g. afraid to come inside because of another pet in your house), you can expect your cat to be responsible for its own wellbeing. If it wants to be inside, it should just come inside. Staying outside is a choice that your cat is actively making, and she should bear the consequences of her decision.


Do not hurt your cat. None of these ideas are intended to harm or terrify your cat. The goal of the exercise is to inconvenience the cat, nothing more.
Hurting your cat will make her fear you or become hostile to you, which is not what you're trying to achieve.

Do not force your cat. If your cat fights you in any way, let it do what it wants. Even in the worst case, she'll simply go back to sitting outside and waiting by the door, which puts her back at square one.
Forcing your cat will make her dislike you, which is not what you're trying to achieve.

Do not starve your cat. It's acceptable to let her be hungry (e.g. miss a meal). It's not okay to repeatedly make her miss meals to a point of starvation. If your cat remains outside when she's hungry to an unhealthy degree, this suggests that the cat is adamant about not coming inside, and instead of letting her starve, you should investigate why she is so adamant about not coming inside.

  • brilliant answer. i tried the bit about the kill-count treats on my own indecisive cat and it worked in a weeks Commented Sep 17, 2021 at 18:14

Like Flater said she may be indecisive, but she might be doing that only because she knows you'll come to her when you see her there meowing at that certain spot. If not, if she's really waiting for your permission, or can't figure out that she's able to go alone, you can put her some treats in the space between the inside and the outside (it would be beside the door this way) and put her some more to the outside and just watch her go straight out and vise versa.

As I said before it may be just to call you out of bed or where ever you are and come straight towards her. My cat does this at the bathroom door that has the litterbox in it. And sense we come every time to let her to her litterbox, she started meowing there only to hide in and try ambushing our hands that would be still on the door.

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