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I have two cats (one female and one male) that get along very well and are very personable. They love being around people especially my boyfriend and I which is not ever a problem besides when we go to bed. We lock them out of our bedroom at night and have tried very hard to classically condition them to be okay with this but they keep acting out. The male cat will scratch (putting his nails on the door to make a noise - not ruining the door at all) and the other cat will cry outside the door because they want to have access to the bedroom.

I tried for months to spray them with a squirt bottle the second they start doing the negative behavior but they still do it. The female cat will just sit and get sprayed with the water till she is soaking wet and the male cat hears me getting out of bed and runs and hides under the coffee table where I can't spray him as well.

We have now resorted to locking them in the spare bedroom at night but that involves moving the liter box every single night which is a hassle. I'd like them to have access to the living room and spare bedroom at night (where ever they sleep they always have access to their food, water, and liter box so that is not the problem) but I can't take getting woken up at various hours of the night or 6am because they want in our bedroom.

Any suggestions as to how I could train them to be okay with not sleeping in the bedroom without locking them in the spare room?

  • Do they scratch when they are in the spare bedroom? – James Jenkins Jun 2 '15 at 17:21
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    They're busy trying go condition you. As long as you respond in any way they'll keep trying. I recommend earplugs for a few weeks. – keshlam Jun 2 '15 at 21:00
  • I don't want them in the bedroom because my boyfriend is allergic and while he is getting over the allergy it wouldn't help his cause if they slept with us all night. They do scratch on the spare bedroom door sometimes but it is further away so we can't hear them and they give up eventually (something they never seemed to do when it's my bedroom door). – Katie Hurley Jun 3 '15 at 16:14
  • Two years ago a stray decided to move into my flat. Never having had a cat of my own before, I let him in every time he meowed at my door for some months. He then started to extend that towards a point where he would wake me many times a night so I started ignoring him and simply not let him into my flat for some days (he had done well without me before and is a fatty). He often meowed four half an hour at my door which was very bad - no cats allowed here. I really needed to stop him. Emptying pans of water over him when outside and throwing cushions when inside pretty much did the job... – kaiya Mar 8 at 22:11
  • But that took some months for him to understand and I also had to reinforce good behaviour with immediate rewards (being quite all night - being very nice to cat and giving extra feed whereas a noisy cat may not enter the next day and needs to collect his food (I know a neighbor who feeds so I do know he doesn't need to hunger) at some other place. It's hard, but I had to fight for my own sleep (and for not getting thrown out of the flat) – kaiya Mar 8 at 22:14
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The first goal should be to make some place (not your bedroom) a much more entertaining place to be than with you. Set up some toys in your living room or some other place like a puzzle feeder, automatic wand toys, or other toys that they like. In the morning these toys should be put away to keep their interest level in them up.

Then, make your bedroom door as uninteresting as possible. You can use motion activated air sprayers at the doorway, but most importantly NEVER ANSWER THE DOOR MONSTER. My husband and I have been "trapped" in bed for up to an hour before because we didn't want to reinforce "cry at the door, get attention". It's super annoying, and you may need a white noise generator for awhile, but don't answer the door!

Last, take advantage of the cat's hunt, feed, groom, sleep cycle. Use an interactive toy for awhile right before bed, then give them some food. They should settle down pretty quickly after that and hopefully you'll be asleep before they get energy again (it works amazingly well on our youngest).

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