Typical meowing and scratching at door after I adopted her. I didn't want her in there because I tried it the first night and she stepped on my face at like 3 AM. Sleep is sacred.

It's been several weeks (past long enough according to most websites) and I have been steady in my resolve. Haven't acknowledged her (very insistent) meowing or scratching whether it's outside my closed bedroom door or outside my closed bathroom door. I wait for her to stop meowing before coming out so she doesn't get rewarded.

I eventually put tinfoil on the bedroom door. Helped a bit at first but now she's just clawing at that, which is even louder and making a mess. One night while I was showering, she reached under the door and pulled most of my clothes (strewn on the floor) under the door and out into the hallway.

She used to eat all her wet food right away in one go each morning. Now after I open the bedroom door, go out and give her wet food, she will leave wet food in the bowl and follow me about my morning routine. I think she is anxious that I will shut myself away from her again.

The behavior improves slightly when I play with her for awhile and then feed her immediately before bed, but there has never been a night without some meowing and scratching. And my schedule is variable, so while I aim to do these things, it is not feasible for me to have to follow that exact routine every night right before bed. Sometimes it needs to be earlier in the evening, or sometimes I don't have time to play.

It could be territorial. One time after shutting myself in the bathroom for some time, she immediately ran inside after and rubbed her chin all over the door before coming back out. This despite the fact that I was outside the bathroom at this point.

She doesn't seem distressed when I leave for work in the morning, nor when I come back from work. She will greet me right away, but isn't needy or anxious seeming during those times.

I really don't want to stress her out, and it seems that the "ignoring" method is not working. Should I leave the door open and just place her on the floor if she steps on my face at night? This method has seemed to work when she wants to sit on my laptop or notebook while I am working. After being physically removed a few times, she'll settle for curling up on the nearest piece of furniture.

  • 2
    Does this answer your question? How can I classically condition my two cats to not scratch on my bedroom door at night?
    – Allison C
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 18:47
  • No. I have seen that question. That question is about training the cat to stay out of the room. I'm asking whether I should be doing that in the first place. If I was sure locking her out of the room was okay for her, then I'd get some earplugs and wait it out, no harm done. As I have clearly stated in the question, I am concerned that my cat is becoming anxious due to being locked out and is not responding in a normal or healthy way.
    – ribs2spare
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 18:52
  • 1
    Actually, this question that you've answered is much more helpful (as well as this one that specifically addresses separation anxiety), and I've only now just seen it. I might try having her in the room with me. What if she needs the litterbox? Is it wise to lock her in?
    – ribs2spare
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 18:53
  • 1
    I keep a litterbox in the bedroom; properly maintained, it's not going to be a stinky mess that will make the bedroom unpleasant (and by putting it there instead of "out of sight, out of mind" it'll make you more diligent in proper maintenance). Mine get that, water, and a few quiet toys, and spend most of the night on my bed asleep.
    – Allison C
    Commented Mar 3, 2020 at 19:08
  • 3
    The cat might just miss you during the night. It might want some social interaction. Especially since you have just adopted her? Commented Mar 4, 2020 at 12:46

1 Answer 1


This looks like separation anxiety.

Separation anxiety manifests itself more in adopted animals and kittens who are separated from their mother prematurely. The more attached the cat to you, the more separation anxiety they will suffer. So, you need to solve the underlying issue by being more available to your cat.

Note that cats plan their days very well, even better than us. They like to play at the same time each day, eat at the same time each day, sleep, cuddle even go to bathroom at the same time each day. If her current playtime is 3 AM, she will force you to play at 3 AM. Even if you don't participate, she will play herself and cause a ruckus.

To change her cycle, tire your cat before you go to bed by playing with her. After playtime, offer her soothing scratches by lightly caressing her fur. Now, even if she comes to your room, it will be for sleeping. She will eventually get used to your sleep cycle. You can choose to play with her feeding time as well. I noticed that for me to go to bed at 00.00, I need to feed my cat at 9.00 PM. He goes out to pee around 10.00 PM and is back around 11.00-11.30 PM. Other time periods didn't work for me as my cat would be sleeping earlier than I do and wake up around 3.30 AM and disturb my sleep.

Even if your schedule is variable, the cat will stick to her schedule. Even if you let the door open, she will probably play herself as long as she knows that you are in her reach. This reduces the chances of having a paw in your mouth at 3 AM.

There is also another way: If ignoring doesn't work. Do the opposite. As soon as the cat starts meowing, cuddle her until she works hard to squirm out of your arms. This is an invasive but non-violent method of negative feedback and it worked for me.

About territorial issues

Cats don't like closed doors. Not only they limit their movement, they also prevent them from observing possible threats. It is better to leave all doors open as much as possible. Note that average roaming distance of a tracked house cat is 40-200 metres, so even the full size of your house is much smaller than the turf of a regular cat. This is one reason why they want to expand it as much as possible.

Of course, some people keep their kitchen or bedroom cat free, but this might require a different and not very pleasant way of training. The methods I outlined here works for your situation as well with slight adjustments.

  • 3
    Thanks. This ended up working pretty well. I feed her right before bed and started letting her sleep with me. After a few days she was able to sleep quietly in bed with me without disturbing me. If I rest on my back before waking up, she will form a loaf on my chest, but that is the worst of the disturbance and it's kind of cute.
    – ribs2spare
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 18:04
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    @ribs2spare I'd give anything to have my cat do that. He never climbs on my chest, he crawls between my legs. I know it is more than many cat owners get but still, I wish he was a cuddler :)
    – ck1987pd
    Commented Oct 19, 2020 at 19:52

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