I recently received an email from a reader whose cat had suddenly stopped entering her bedroom. This was odd because the cat used to love curling up on her bed and taking naps with her. Naturally, she began to wonder what could be causing this sudden change in behavior.
Based on my own research and experience with my cats' behavior, I've compiled a list of several reasons why cats might avoid certain rooms in the house. If you're experiencing a similar situation with your cat, continue reading to discover what might be going on and how you can help your feline friend feel more comfortable in your space again.
Why is my cat afraid to enter my room?
If your cat is suddenly afraid to go into your room, it may be for one or more of the following reasons:
Your cat has had a bad experience in the room
The room is too noisy or has strange noises
There is an unpleasant smell
The room is too hot or too cold
There are too many rooms in the room
There is a change in the routine or position of the furniture
Now let us go into detail about why your cat might be afraid to enter your room.
Health Issues and Mobility Concerns
Before we start making any suggestion, it's crucial to consider the possibility that your cat might be experiencing health issues or injuries, which could affect their mobility and willingness to enter certain rooms. Cats are known for their ability to mask pain or discomfort, so it may not be immediately apparent if something is amiss.
Arthritis: Older cats, in particular, can suffer from arthritis, making it difficult for them to move around comfortably. If the room has slippery floors or requires jumping onto furniture, they may avoid it due to discomfort.
Injuries: A recent injury could make your cat hesitant to go into a room where they previously had an accident. They might associate the room with pain and prefer to stay away.
Illnesses: Some illnesses can cause cats to become more sensitive to their surroundings or experience disorientation. This could lead them to avoid specific rooms they once enjoyed.
If you suspect that health issues or injuries are affecting your cat's mobility, consult your veterinarian for a thorough checkup and advice on how to address these concerns. Making necessary adjustments in the room – such as providing non-slip mats or easy-to-access perches – can help encourage your cat to feel more comfortable entering the space again.
Your cat is already scared before
According to cat behavior expert, Ingrid Johnson, cat fear and anxiety can be the cause of a cat’s timid behavior.
The most likely reason why your cat may suddenly not want to enter a room is because of an association with unpleasant experiences. One of the most common experiences could be that your cat was frightened by something. This causes them to remember it and not enter the room for fear of the same horrible experience.
Other professionals also stated that “the long-term memories that “stick” most strongly with pets have to do with very positive or very negative events.”
Some examples could be your cat entering the room and getting their claws caught in a piece of furniture, falling from a great height, or being startled by a noise outside. All of these negative events can cause your cat to remember when he walks by the room and avoid it altogether.
The room is marked by other cats
If you have other cats or just got a new cat, the new cat may have marked the room as their territory, causing your cat to avoid the room. This is not uncommon in a household with many cats, as some cats have their own territories and do not allow other cats to disturb them.
The temperature of the room is too hot or too cold
If you have read some of our posts, we like to refer to cats as kings and queens because they know how to enjoy themselves. Why would they willingly suffer in a room that is too cold or too hot when they have other options?
A good temperature is between 86 and 97 degrees Fahrenheit (30-36 Celcius). It is obvious that cats prefer to sleep in a warm place in cold weather and in a cool place in hot weather. So if the room is not the right temperature they prefer, they will look for another place. It’s as simple as this.
The room is too bright
Cats are masters of coziness and love to sleep in darker places. Unless they are craving sunlight, they are unlikely to enter a brightly lit room, especially if they just want to rest and take a nap. Is your room too bright with lamps? That could be the reason.
Your cat could be locked in there previously
Another example of an unpleasant experience is that your cat might have been locked in a room before. It happened once when our cat was locked in a room without us knowing. We closed the door and did not hear him scratching at the door and yelling for us to let him out.
He has some bad associations, but they did not last long. He stayed out of the room for about a day, but after that I do not think he felt it was a threat and went in and out as usual.
Your cat simply prefers other rooms
Do not overthink it and give your cat some time. They may simply prefer other rooms or be used to other rooms than your room. Try applying some of the tips mentioned later in the article to encourage your cat to enter your room. In short, make them feel comfortable there.
The room might be too noisy or have other strange noises
If loud music is always on in your room, you can not blame your cat if they prefer to rest elsewhere. Cats do not like loud noises, especially vacuum cleaners, hair dryers, firecrackers, baby crying, and etc.
Like dogs and other animals, cats have a very good sense of hearing. They can hear the flap of a bug’s wings, so loud noises are a nuisance to them. They can even be frightening to them! It’s possible that they get stressed and prefer to stay away from the room.
There are too many open spaces
This is not the same for every cat. I know my cats do well with wide, open spaces because they love to chase each other around. However, some cats prefer to hide and feel stressed if there is too much space. This is especially true if you have a new cat that is not yet familiar with your home.
Your cat may then prefer a room that is more cluttered or the living room where he can hide behind the sofa or sleep in the corner of a shelf. Cats are predators, but as long as they know they are safe, they will happily come out of hiding and feel comfortable in open spaces.
So give them some time if you are concerned.
Your cat associates it with punishment
Do you happen to scold or accidentally hit your cat in your room? This is an absolute no-no and could be the reason why they associate your room with punishment. Once they feel fear, they associate it with everything that surrounds them – the person, the smell, and the environment.
As a side note, never intentionally hit your cat to punish them. They will not understand and will only cause unnecessary stress and anxiety. If they bite you, you can let them know by saying ‘Ouch!’ loudly and stop petting or playing with them. Do not EVER hit them back.
Your cat may be bullied in the room
If you have more than one cat, is there a chance your cat had a conflict with other cats or pets in the room? While many pets get along well and can play together, some prefer to be alone and might fight your cat to drive it out of the room.
Fearing the more dominant pet, your cat may retreat and avoid the room for fear of getting into another fight.
Cats love routines, and they do not like changes to them. Think about your routine in the last few days when your cat stopped coming into your room. Have you changed any routine, especially one that involves your cat? Maybe you stopped playing with them after you entered the room, whereas you used to do that every day at a certain time? Maybe you came back late from work and forgot about their dinner?
All of these changes in routine can cause anxiety and make your cat feel uncomfortable in certain rooms. Other changes may include an addition to the family, moving, vacation, new furniture, etc.
There is something unfamiliar in the room
Maybe you just put a new TV in the room? Or did you have a new baby in the family? Or did you switch your mattress? Similar to the previous point about cats loving routine, cats remember everything in the house and do not like it when they see something new!
Unfamiliar items can cause your cat to look at the room suspiciously until they have a chance to explore. Once they explore and become accustomed to the room, your cat should be fine and should enter the room as usual.
A strange and unfamiliar smell is present
Like their hearing, cats have an excellent sense of smell. Their sense of smell is 14 times better than humans.
When they smell something unfamiliar, they might take it as a threat and stay away from your room. It could be a new perfume, essential oils or candles. Or that new air freshener or detergent you are using. They do not like it because it is something new and unfamiliar to them.
Cats also do not like the smell of citrus. So if you have an orange-flavored air freshener, maybe that explains why they do not come into your room.
How to encourage your cat into the room
Now that you have some idea why your cat avoids a certain room, what can you do to encourage them to enter? Of course, all of the tips below take time, and you should NEVER force your cat into a room they do not want to be in.
Encourage them, never use force.
Remove any new odors that may be harmful
As mentioned earlier, many essential oils are harmful to cats, and you should try to avoid using them. Remove them from the room, open the window and ventilate the room. Let the smell of the room return to normal.
Turn up the heat or air conditioning
Find out where your cat prefers to sleep and make her as comfortable as possible in your room. If it’s cold outside, turn on the heat and chances are she’ll go into your room. If it’s hot outside, they’ll appreciate the air conditioning!
Turn off any loud or high-pitched sounds/music
Lower the volume of your music or TV if you want to encourage your cat to enter your room. Also, no sudden noises.
Try to feed them in the room
To make them feel comfortable in your room, try to feed them in your room. Cats have a good sense of association. This helps them associate your room as a safe place, and they will stay in your room more often.
Put a comfortable cat bed in your room
A comfortable cat bed in your room can encourage your cat to sleep in it. Place it in a corner that is not so bright and lead your cat to the bed before bedtime. Do this a few times and see if they associate the bed with a place where she can safely sleep.
Put some toys in the room and play with them
Playing with your cat in the room can also help them associate that space with something fun and safe. They love spending time with you. Since you are in the room, play with them and let them get used to running around the room and feeling safe.
Install window perches or wall shelves
They can also play on their own if you install wall shelves or a cat tree in your room. This will encourage them to visit the room more often to climb and jump. A window perch is a nice idea if they love to watch birds like ours.
Familiarise them with certain sounds
If your cat gets scared of loud noises like the vacuum cleaner, it’s always good to get them used to the sound of it from a young age. However, do not force them to be in the same room when you vacuum. You can give them a treat if they do not run away when you make the noise, so they slowly stop perceiving that noise as a danger.
Give them time
The most important thing is to give them time. If you find that they are avoiding your room, give them more time to get used to it. Be patient and give them the space to explore freely.
– Cats are easily frightened, and if your cats suddenly stop going to a certain room, it’s likely that something has stressed them out and scared them. Find out the reason, give them time, and try some of the tips above to encourage them
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