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For her entire life, my cat has been indoors and as best I can tell has no desire to go outside. However, she still regularly wants to go to certain parts of the house, which could potentially be dangerous to her from an environmental perspective.

Specifically, she likes to follow me into the laundry room and garage. Assuming the temperature outside is 32°F (0°C), then the laundry room might be only 50°F (10°C). Or worse, she follows me into the garage which might be only 37°F (3°C).

I have attempted to bodyblock her from even entering these areas, but this isn't always feasible when carrying things. Furthermore, if I attempt to pick her up and put her back into the house proper, she will occasionally run away from me and hide somewhere that's risky to try and get her from (i.e. I don't want her running across the tool bench in the garage and potentially knocking things down). She's not averse to being picked up, so I take the fleeing to mean that she really wants to explore the area and don't bother chasing.

Given the aforementioned temperatures, the doors to these rooms generally remain closed (if relevant, we keep the thermostat set around 62°F (17°C) at night). So far, my methods have been to leave her be out there until she starts meowing at the door to come inside. My hope being that she'd realize that whenever she goes out here, she gets stuck in place without heat, food, water, companionship, or a place to poop. However, after 2 years living in this house, her desire to be in these places hasn't dissipated.

Given the risk of injury due to exposure, is there a better way to persuade her to stay inside?

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    She's not going to develop exposure from a 50 degree room, or a 37 degree garage. – Allison C Jan 25 at 22:01
  • @AllisonC the temperatures provided are strictly for comparison purposes as it relates to the outside. My garage is better than being outside, but if it's 0°F outside then the garage is still dangerously cold. – Pyrotechnical Jan 25 at 23:19
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    Unless she's a Sphinx cat (no fur at all) I think you underestimate her ability to keep herself warm enough. As long as you don't lock her in those rooms for several days, I don't see any harm. She's probably happy to explore those rooms and that you let her back into the house when she meows. – Elmy Jan 26 at 7:35
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    I would add comments if the temperature was stated in a more reasonable unit :) – C.Koca Jan 26 at 10:10
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    I don't think leaving the cat in there to make it feel trapped will work as a disincentive. It might even make the problem worse as the cat will have more time to establish these rooms as part of its territory, and then it will have more expectation of going back in there. – Kai Jan 26 at 16:39
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I understand your concern for your cat, but as stated in the comments cats can keep warm quite well unless they are a breed without fur.

The cat should not be in there at all

If you still do not want to let your cat go into these rooms the only way is to close the door right behind you every time you go in or out. This can be relatively hard when carrying things, but to my experience it is the only way. The rooms you do not want your cats to be are the rooms they are most keen to get into.

The cat can go in but what if she can not come back?

If you are simply worried your cat might stay in these rooms for too long and you might not hear her trying to get back out, installing a cat flap in those doors can be an option. With a little bit of training she will be able to come back whenever she feels like it. There are also flaps that you can lock so they only open one way or not at all. Some things to keep in mind though:

  • These cat flaps wont be the best at insulating so the area around them in the house might get cooler
  • It is complicated to install them in e.g. a glass door

But it would allow your cat to go in or out (depending on how you set the flap) without you needing to worry about temperature, hunger or cuddle needs.

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Well fed cats can survive for extended periods at temperature greater than the freezing point of water, as long as there is no draft.

Cats actually thrive at 10°C, which is the temperature of your laundry room, as long as it contains corners where he can avoid any possible draft. He can stay there indefinitely without any problems whatsoever.

The garage can be a bit colder (3°C), but still he would not live through any problems, as long as he is not trapped there for a few days. Cats rely on their fat as well as their fur to stay warm and if these two are not enough, they start vibrating (shivering) to generate more heat. This process converts calories to heat, so the cat must be well fed to protect himself.

A good solution might be to put a box with a blanket, or an old cat house, in the garage just in case he is trapped there. As long as it is around 3°C, he will be alright. Many stray cats in Turkey survive the winter (5°C to -10°C) in small, usually uninsulated cat houses by cuddling together.

There might be other reasons to prevent him from going to the laundry room. I don't have an allocated laundry room but I don't allow my cat to spend time in the room I do laundry, because I don't want him to shed hair close to my clean clothing. If you really want to prevent him from going into the laundry room, body blocking is definitely not a good way. Your body is just another obstacle and cats love obstacles as long as they can pass by them.

There is a hierarchy of steps to take when he tries to do something he is not supposed to do.

  • Blow on his face.
  • Spray water on his face.
  • Scare him (for example with a vacuum cleaner)
  • Chase him (again with a vacuum cleaner)

If he is one of the cats that is not afraid of the vacuum, you can use some other thing to cause unexpected sound to scare him. Hitting on the ground in a close vicinity of the cat (like 1 meter, or 3 feet) with a club would also scare him away.

Keeping a water sprayer in the laundry room might help you to spray him whenever he gets in. This is also what I did to prevent my cat from jumping on the dinner table or kitchen counter.

Just keep in mind that unlike dogs, cats do not feel like they have to make you happy, so they don't associate discipline after the deed is done. You have to discipline them as the deed is progressing. They assume that disciplining actions are consequences of doing the deed, they don't think that they receive this treatment because you are upset.

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Psychological solution

So far, my methods have been to leave her be out there until she starts meowing at the door to come inside.

She knows that you will immediately let her out so she has no concern about being stuck in there. If you want her to become discouraged, don't let her out immediately. Use a timer (e.g. on your phone) and gradually increase the time before you release her - ignore the waling. Eventually the penny will drop - depending on how bright the cat is.

Reverse psychology (the quick fix)

Reverse psychology works very well on cats! Keep grabbing her, putting her in there and shutting the door. A few days of this and whenever you go near the place she will head in the opposite direction and hide!

and/or

Whenever you need to do something like giving a pill, putting her in a basket to go to the vet, or anything else she doesn't like, make sure to do it in the forbidden areas. She will grow to hate them.

Practical solutions

  1. Combining what others have said: Give yourself peace of mind by providing water and a warm bed/box in the relevant rooms.

  2. Carry a water pistol and chase her around the forbidden areas until she leaves! Eventually she won't want to be in there when you are. Of course she may sneak in when you aren't looking.

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