I've just installed a cat door in our basement, to let the cats get into a room that we've been using for storage. Ultimately, we intend to move the cats' litter boxes into that storage room, which is why we installed the cat door.

None of our cats have ever used a cat door before. What is the best way to teach them how to use it?

We want to ensure that they have no difficulty accessing the area where we'll be moving the litter to.

up vote 10 down vote accepted

What I would do is that I would first move the door flaps up and hold them up with tape.

Once both the flaps are open call your cat through the door and present it to a nice treat, I'm sure he'll make it through the door very when he smells what he can get on the other side.

One your cats go through the door without any issues you may remove the tapped door flaps in order to take them on to the next level which is just to simply push forward and passing through to get the treat.

Like any other training, it just takes patience, don't get frustrated if they don't do it right away and do it in small lapses of 10 to 20 mins for 2 to 3 times per day. You'll see this resolved in a matter of a few days.

Don't worry if they don't do it right away, don't be too pushy with the training, I happen to know that cats are extremely curious in their nature and I'm sure you won't have any trouble with the cat door training.

Sulfureous's answer is very similar to the way I've taught cats to use a cat door.

To some extent it depends on the cat: some of the cats I've lived with figure out with little more than me pushing the flap that they can go through it; others need the stage of having the flaps taped up (or removed) first.

Once the flaps are down, I put something they really like and can smell on my side of the door and the cat on the other side, then call the cat through. Some cats need extra hints here and can need the extra reinforcement of me pushing the flap to show them that it can move.

If I'm trying to move their litter to the other side of the door, I'll also move their food there - preferably in a location where they have to go past the litter box to get to the food.

The biggest problem I've had so far is with a very timid cat who's afraid of the basement. That one hasn't been resolved yet because we're keeping a litter box upstairs for the 18+ year old cat whose arthritis makes her reluctant to use stairs at all (We're also feeding upstairs because of this). When she passes, we'll be needing to get the fraidy-cat comfortable with the basement so we can move all the kitty litter and food downstairs.

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