Can Cats Open Doors? What You Need To Know

While dogs are often credited with being intelligent, our feline companions may also be quite astute.

Most cats are intelligent enough to perform amazing feats, but can they open doors?

Yes! While not every cat will figure it out, with a little perseverance, many cats can open doors. Cats find it easier to open doors with lever handles, however some felines can also spin doorknobs.

Let’s take a deeper look at our resourceful felines and how they unlock doors! But first, let’s address a critical question…

Do Cats Know How Doors Work?

can cats open doors

We all know cats can open doors, but do they really understand what they’re doing and what’s on the other side?

Yes, in the vast majority of cases!

While cats can’t give you a diagram of a doorknob, they do understand that the door handle is the key to unlocking the door. Cats are aware of what is on the other side of the door because they have basic object permanence.

But What Exactly Is Object Permanence?

The ability to grasp that items and things exist even when they are out of sight is known as object permanence. Of course, humans take this for granted, but not all animals are capable of doing this feat. This concept is not only understood by our canine and feline companions, but also by some birds!

Consider the last time your cat’s favorite toy fell beneath the couch as an illustration of this in action. Your cat knew that the toy was still there, hidden behind the couch, even if they couldn’t see it. They either sat and stared at the couch, pondering their next move, or they tried to pull it out from under them. Scientists have gone even farther, doing multiple investigations to examine the boundaries of a cat’s ability to understand item permanence, which you can read about here.

What Does This Have To Do With Doors?

During my research for this essay, I came across several people who claimed that cats had little to no understanding of what’s on the other side of a door. Not only does that not seem right, but everyone who owns a cat can come up with a thousand scenarios to disprove it!

Cats appear to recognize the door as a gateway to another part of the house or the world. Some cats may become confused if there are numerous doors leading to the same destination, but based on several studies of object permanence in cats, it’s safe to believe that they’ll be able to understand the concept of multiple doors leading to the same spot.

Do Cats Understand How Doorknobs Work?

Cats are capable of comprehending that engaging with a doorknob is required to open it, but they are unlikely to comprehend much more. In other words, cats are unlikely to comprehend how turning or tugging the doorknob opens the door; all they know is that it does.

Cats gradually discover that engaging with the handle is what controls the door after witnessing their human friends interact with it hundreds of times. They then leap, paw, and bat at the doorknob until it finally unlocks.

Why Do Cats Open Doors At All?

Why do cats bother to open doors at all? Just that cats can accomplish something doesn’t explain why they do it.

The solution may appear clear at first, and you may suppose that cats just want to go to the other side. But, as everyone who has a cat knows, this isn’t always the case!

We’ve all seen cats pleading for a door to be opened, only to walk away once they’ve gotten what they want. I’ve published a complete post about why cats despise locked doors, which addresses a lot of the reasons why cats desire to open doors.

It’s possible that it has something to do with territory, but cats often appear to be so fascinated that they can’t stop themselves. They just want to know what’s going on behind that closed door!

Is It Normal For Cats To Open Doors?

can cats open doors

Normal, after all, is a subjective term.

Is it as common to open doors as it is to use the litter box? Not at all!

Over the years, I’ve lived with hundreds of cats, from fosters to my own feline family members, and none of them has ever unlocked a door. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a cat try to open a door. Of course, a few hundred cats is a small sample size when compared to the total number of cats on the planet, but it still indicates that the habit isn’t widespread.

While it is not uncommon for cats to open doors, it is not a very frequent behavior, and most cats will not be able to or even attempt to open doors.

Is My Cat Smart If They Can Open Doors?

Is it possible that your feline buddy has above-average intellect if they can unlock doors, given how uncommon it is for cats to do so?

If your cat can open doors, he or she isn’t stupid by cat standards, and it’s safe to say your feline pal is a whiz. However, because doors vary so much, many cats can rapidly find out how to open doors with lever handles. If your cat can open doors with circular doorknobs, they’re far ahead of the pack in terms of intelligence.

It’s not only intelligence that matters; cats who are more determined than others are more likely to figure out how to open a door, even if they aren’t as bright.

Let’s take a closer look at what can make it easier or harder for your cat to open doors, so you can see how smart your cat really is.

How Big Is Your Cat?

Adult people rarely have to question if they have the strength to push or pull a door open…but your cat does. If your cat is a larger feline, such as a Maine Coon or something even fancier, such as a Norwegian Forest Cat, they’ll be able to push through the door with a lot more force.

They are heavier and have larger paws, making it easier to apply greater force to the handle or knob. That implies they’re considerably more likely to solve the doorknob problem quickly, making them appear more intelligent.

What Kind Of Door Handle Is It?

Most cats can figure out how to open a lever door handle if they set their minds to it. There’s enough of surface area for cats to hold onto with a long narrow handle, and there’s not much precision required.

If your cat, on the other hand, is opening a typical circular doorknob, you may be dealing with a kitty Einstein!

Do Polydactyl Cats Have An Advantage?

Is your cat a polydactyl, meaning he or she has a lot of additional toes? If this is the case, they may have a slight advantage when it comes to opening doors because they have a larger paw to deal with.

Even the most intelligent cats don’t open doors with much accuracy, and in most circumstances, they simply hit the door with their paw till it opens. This will be easier with a larger paw.

Many people refer to a polydactyl’s extra toes as “thumbs,” although these fingers don’t truly work like a human thumb; instead, they simply make it easier for these cats to apply the necessary force to the doorknob.

Can Cats Turn Doorknobs?

can cats open doors

Yes, while most cats can figure out how to open lever doors, some cats can also figure out how to open a door by turning a circular doorknob. Not only does this necessitate intelligence, but it also necessitates tenacity on the part of the cat.

Are you still dubious that a feline could pull this off?

Check out this video of a ninja-cat turning the knob to unlock a door:

Can Cats Open Screen Doors?

Yes, cats are capable of doing this as well.

A cat’s claws will easily cling to the screen and allow them to pull it to the side, making accessing a screen door easier than opening a standard door. Because sliding screen doors can open in stages, cats can see how far they’ve come and can be a little more persistent.

In the video below, you can see this in action. While this doesn’t appear to be the first time this cat has done something like this, take note of how she is able to slowly open the door little by bit:

Can You Train A Cat To Open Doors?

Yes, but be cautious with your wishes!

You can teach a cat to open doors, but once they’ve mastered the technique, you won’t be able to “untrain” them. Positive reinforcement training is the finest method for teaching your cat any trick or behavior.

If you have a lever handle, the method is rather simple; all you need to do now is teach your cat to grip the door handle. If your cat is driven by food, you can put a treat on the handle to encourage them to jump up and reach it. As they try to get to the treat, your cat will open the door.

If food isn’t your cat’s thing, a favorite toy can suffice. However, you’ll need something to encourage your cat to grab the doorknob.

It’ll probably take a few tries, but they’ll ultimately get it together and link the door handle to the door opening.

Place goodies on the other side of the door, shake a bag of food on the other side of the door, or do anything else that will persuade your feline friend to open up! Give your cat plenty of praise and positive reinforcement as soon as they open the door on their own.

You’ve got your job cut out for you when it comes to round doorknobs. The procedure is the same, but you’ll need a lot more patience to teach your cat how to use a round doorknob.

How Do You Stop A Cat From Opening Doors?

It’s almost always cute, pleasant, and even a little exciting when a cat opens a door for the first time. You may even try to videotape your perceptive feline unlocking a door.

However, after the thousandth time, your cat opens a door that you’d rather remain shut…

It starts to feel a little less thrilling.

Having no control over doors can be harmful if you have young children in the house.

So let’s have a look at a couple options for keeping your doors under control.

1. Try A Cat-Friendly Latch

Adding a latch or other locking mechanism to the door will make it nearly impossible for your cat to open it. Especially if the latch is located above and out of reach of the doorknob.

However, your cat will still want to open the door. That means meowing, pawing, and scratching at the entrance, so a pet-friendly latch is a good idea. It keeps the door open enough for cats to enter and go but closed enough to keep dogs and youngsters out.

The most common alternative for this is the Door Buddy, which lets you to keep your door safe while still allowing your feline companion to access to where they “need” to go. On their Amazon page, you can see a video of how it works.

2. Child Proof the Door

Adding a childproof feature to the door might help you keep it completely closed at all times. They make spherical doorknob alternatives as well as simple add-ons for lever door handles, which you can find on Amazon.

These will prevent your cat from opening the door, allowing you to keep it shut safely.

3. Ditch The Lever Doorknob

Some cats can genuinely turn a round doorknob, as we’ve already discussed, but those felines are few and far between. In most circumstances, cats are able to open the door using a lever handle, and changing the type of knob might make it much more difficult for cats to do so.

You may make it nearly difficult by picking up a heavier doorknob.

Don’t worry if you’re not particularly handy; replacing the doorknob is more easy than it appears.

4. Use A Deterrent

You can try placing a deterrent near the door handle to make it far less appealing for your cat to try to open it. Double-sided tape is usually used to keep cats from clawing items they shouldn’t, but it can also be used to keep cats from scratching doors.

You can get some cat-safe (but still cat-annoying) tape from Amazon and attach it to the door. It will be inconvenient since you will have to step over the tape, but your cat will quickly learn that grabbing the doorknob is no longer pleasant.

5. Lock The Door

This is my least favorite choice because I’m absolutely certain I’d lock myself out at some time if I attempted it myself. Then I’d desire for my cat to be able to open the door.

While keeping a key in a safe place could work, most people will find this to be the least convenient choice. It is, however, an option, and it may be a good one if you have another reason for locking the door.

How Do I Stop My Cat From Opening The Lever Door

If your cat has worked out how to paw the door open, having a lever door might be quite frustrating. This can be annoying, and there may be occasions when you need your cat to leave a room. If the door locks, you might want to keep it locked while you’re inside. However, if you have lever doors throughout your home or can’t keep them closed, this may not always be an option.

If that’s the case, consider your other choices. If you own your property, you might want to consider replacing the lever doors with knob-style handles. Knobs are significantly more difficult for a cat to grasp, and cats are less likely to open the door regularly.

If you rent your property or don’t want to change the knobs, the best choice is to install an additional type of external lock that goes around the doors.

Can Polydactyl Cats Open Doors

Polydactyl cats can open cabinets and doors with ease. Each paw of a polydactyl cat has an additional toe that acts as a thumb. These extra toes provide them the leverage they need to hold knobs in the same manner a human would!

Polydactyl cats are far more inclined than “normal” cats with four toes on each paw to get into mischief as a result of their additional toes. Your polydactyl cat may turn on lights, open drawers, and engage in a variety of other actions that you would not expect from a cat.

5 Tips To Stop Cats From Opening Doors

After you’ve recovered from the shock of realizing that your cat has learned to open doors all over your house, the next step is to figure out how to stop this behavior when it’s not wanted. Here are some suggestions for preventing your cat from opening doors on its own:

When it’s not required, don’t keep doors shut. Your cat will be less interested in the doors if they are not tempted by a closed door.

Invest in a door latch that is mounted on the outside of the door. These are normally made of a plastic glue that adheres to a door and must be unlocked by pressing a button. To outsmart your cat and solve the situation, try this! These are also useful if you have little children at home.

Work on behavioral training with your cat to teach him that jumping to open doors is not a good thing to do. When you witness your cat opening a door, scold them and tell them this is inappropriate behavior, just like you would with other disciplinary training.

Attach a bell or something else to your door handle that will make a loud noise. Loud and sudden noises irritate cats, and this should deter them from tampering with the doors.

Use a fragrance that your cat dislikes to spray around your door handle. Bitter apple, lavender, and peppermint are all odors that cats loathe. The spray should dissuade them from approaching the door too closely in the future.

Finding out your cat can open doors can seem like a huge problem at first, but there’s no need to be concerned. You can halt their door-opening activities, just like a cat can learn a new behavior. At the absolute least, consider yourself fortunate that your cat will go to such efforts to be in the same room as you!


Cats can open doors, despite the fact that most people don’t believe they can. Although not every cat possesses the intelligence, perseverance, or incentive to do it, almost any cat can open a lever-style door handle if they so desire.

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