The 6 Common Reasons Why Your Cat Guards Your Door

Lifestyle


Cats come with all kinds of cute quirks, including their guarding behaviors. As aloof or indifferent as our cats can often appear, it’s always amusing to find them standing sentry at our bathroom or bedroom door.

But why do cats guard our doors? Are they protective, possessive, or uncertain of what’s on the other side? We’ll help you understand your cat’s behavior with this look at six reasons your cat stands guard around your doorways.

The 6 Common Reasons Why Your Cat Guards Your Door

1. Your Cat Wants Your Attention

Although it may look like your cat is guarding the door, their persistent presence is often a simple call for attention. If your cat is meowing loudly or pawing at the opposite side of the door, it’s safe to assume they want you.

cat going outside using cat door
Image Credit: DextairPhotography, Shutterstock

2. Your Cat Is Curious

Cats are naturally inquisitive, a trait that helps them thrive in the wild. By understanding more about their world, they can take better stock of their resources, assess threats and safe spots, and feel certain in their space.

Closed doors are a mystery worth investigating. If your cat is trying to become acquainted with the room, they might linger outside a door until they can gain access. Outdoor cats, in particular, may have a stronger urge to explore when inside and could show more stress behaviors when they can’t get relief.


3. Your Cat Is Protecting You

Cats are often considered solitary creatures, but they’re perfectly willing and capable of cooperating with others when mutually beneficial. As part of a cohesive group, you have particular value to cats that they need to preserve.

Many owners feel their cats are protective, using their vocalizations as the primary sign of them being on the alert for intruders and other threats. Guarding your door could be your cat’s attempt at keeping you safe and maintaining their group of trusted companions.

an old cat at the front door
Image Credit: stock1000, Shutterstock

4. It’s a Habit

If your cat sits there long enough, they may grow accustomed to guarding your door. Using the bathroom at the same time every day or going to bed with the same ritual every night could cause your cat to develop a habit of staying outside the door.

Once it’s part of the routine, they’ll keep with it because they enjoy the familiarity and predictability.


5. Your Cat Is Attached to You

As with dogs, cats may develop affectional bonds with owners. Their attachment offers security and comfort. We often compare these relationships to an infant and its mother. The caregiver is a haven in times of danger and a secure base that allows their dependents to explore their world healthily.

A central facet of attachment styles is proximity, the desire to be close to the owner. As studies have shown, cat-owner relationships can be complex and somewhat dissimilar to dog-owner dynamics.

Depending on the owner’s emotional investment in the cat and the environment, cats may show more or less need to be close to their owner, which might explain why some tend to guard the door more than others.

blue tabby maine coon looking at the cat door
Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

Although individual differences exist at a high level between cats, those with highly emotionally invested owners have a greater need to stay close to them and are less accepting of others. Relationships like these are generally co-dependent and involve less outdoor time and fewer individuals in the home.

As with dogs, cats could be less likely to stay close or show separation-related stress if they don’t view their person as a secure base. Their owner may be aloof or inconsistent in how they interact with their cat, causing the cat to either distrust them or not rely on them as a dependable source of comfort.

Thankfully, this doesn’t imply that your cat doesn’t trust you because they aren’t pining for you at the bedroom door every night. Cats with less need for proximity may also have “friendship” attachments to owners.

They often have more cats and people in the house with whom they can interact, and their owners, though present, aren’t engaged with them as often, particularly during play and feeding time. Cats in these situations can have positive relationships with their owners while still enjoying enough independence to shirk constant contact.


6. Your Cat Is Territorial

Cats are territorial creatures and exhibit aggressive behaviors when they feel threatened. Introducing new cats to the house can often trigger this, as they may create competition over resources.

In these instances, your cat may block access to food bowls, sleeping spots, or litter boxes. If there’s a door separating your cats from something they want, one might take up a habit of guarding it to keep others out.


Do I Need to Stop My Cat From Guarding My Door?

cats in front and behind the cat door
Image Credit: Monika Wisniewska, Shutterstock

If your cat isn’t hurting anyone or anything by guarding the door, there’s little reason to discourage the behavior. It may be part of the routine now, giving your cat comfort. When your cat is guarding the door because of separation stress, you can help them relax by providing cozy spots to rest and hide alongside a healthy assortment of toys and other enrichment devices.

As long as you aren’t keeping them from anything else, your cat can decide to spend their time as they want. Scratching at the door and destruction aren’t allowed, and you don’t want to risk someone walking out of the room and accidentally stepping on them. Otherwise, hanging out next to the door might be a harmless habit of a healthy cat.

A cat legitimately guarding the door to keep others away is one situation you’ll need to address. Resource guarding is damaging to the relationship between your pets and dangerous to the one that your cat is trying to keep out of the room. In these instances, providing plenty of additional litter boxes, cat trees, hiding spots, and other essential features around the home will help keep your cats from feeling territorial.

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Conclusion

Door-guarding arises from several places, but a few situational cues can reveal why your cat posts up outside the room. There could be conflict between cats, or your cat might be wondering what’s going on in this unexplored area. You may also be fostering their closeness with your attachment style.

Whatever the reason, a cat guarding the door is one of the many idiosyncrasies that make them fun to have in the home. Until it becomes problematic, you can embrace it as another reason to love your cat as an individual.


Featured Image Credit: PongsakA, Shutterstock



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