How to Keep a Cat Out of a Closet

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Cats enjoy hiding in close spaces like closets.
Cats enjoy hiding in close spaces like closets. (Image: Thinkstock/Comstock/Getty Images)

It’s not always easy to keep a cat from jumping into your closet and wreaking havoc on whatever lies in its dark, comfy depths. For those with broken closet doors, curtains as barriers or non-traditional closet space, it’s important to know simple deterrents to effectively keep a cat out of your closet and away from your nicest clothes and treasures.

Things You'll Need

  • Stick or PVC pipe
  • Water bottle
  • Lemons or oranges
  • Tinfoil
  • Pet repellents
  • Cat treats

Organize your closet. Most cats go into the closet to hide among the dark piles of goodies; removing the piles encourages them to find hiding spaces that provide more coverage.

Position a stick or a measured length of PVC pipe to hold the doors closed if they don't close well or the cat has found a way to muscle them open.

Spritz the cat in the face with water once or twice, lightly. This technique requires catching the cat in the act -- in the closet or about to go into the closet.

Distribute dried citrus peels in and around the closet. Cats dislike the smell of citrus, particularly oranges and lemons. Peel the fruit, and let the skins dry for a day or so before placing them in strategic areas near the entrance to the closet and within its depths. A few peels in each corner of the closet is a good start, as well as near clothing the cat may use as a bed within the closet.

Place tinfoil within the depths of the closet where the cat cannot see it directly and step around it. Cats dislike the feel, taste and smell of tin foil; pieces strategically placed in their favorite closet corners drive them to alternative napping spots.

Use pet repellents. Sprays and specially made mats sold in pet stores serve as deterrents to keep a cat out of the closet, but they may not work for every cat because they can be worked around.

Reward cats for simple positive behaviors, for instance, by supplying treats. Use clapping, hissing or other loud noises when you notice them in the closet or trying to enter the closet.

Tips & Warnings

  • Behavior modification is a bit more complex in terms of the attention and time required, but it works. Karen Sueda, veterinary behavior resident at the University of California at Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, suggests a well-timed process of rewards to change behavior. Yelling or being aggressive won’t help, especially after an accident in the closet, because cats won’t associate their behavior with the punishment.

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