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My Cat Opens Drawers; Here's How I'm Trying to Stop Him

Is your cat also too smart for his own good? These tips will help prevent accidents.

 |  Feb 7th 2014  |   13 Contributions


We adopted Norton, the adorable orange kitten, in August. Norton was orphaned at three weeks and lovingly fostered until adopted by me. (His two sibs were also fostered and found another home together.)

Norton is everything you'd want in a cat. He's confident without being too confident. He's loving. He's playful and has a constant good attitude. We can handle him and touch his belly. He loves being loved. He talks and vocalizes.

And he's very very smart.

He's sweet, and he looks so so innocent. Norton.

Norton is completely tuned into us and loves being the center of attention. He will do just about anything to get attention. Norton is fearless, and never lets the pleasure of a new experience stop him or bring him up short. I wrote about how Norton loves to climb screens. When he climbs a door screen and I'm on the other side of the door, I'm convinced he's doing his darned best to get me to pay attention to him. And the funny thing about Norton is that it's hard to get really really mad at him because he's so cute. Annoyed, yes. Mad, not for long.

Norton is the first cat I've had who has learned to open drawers.

Norton wraps his paws around a handle and pulls a door open.

Perhaps this is common, but I've never had an experience with a cat like this before. Norton knows how to hook his paws under a drawer handle and pull it open. At times, he'll suspend himself from the drawer handle. The weight of his body will pull the drawer open. Then, he's in.

What can I do? These are the solutions I am trying or that have gone through my mind. Maybe they will help you if you have a clever cat like Norton.

1. Get hardware that you install on the inside of drawers or cabinet doors

That being said, we're not going to do this. I don't know why; it's just not going to happen in this household. We don't have the patience to work with tiny hardware items. But don't let that stop you! You might have the patience.

Success!

2. Make sure that there's nothing harmful in any places that your cat can get into

If your cat loves to open drawers and cabinet doors, case out what's in those spaces and move or get rid of anything your cat could swallow, or anything potentially harmful or poisonous to your cat. Move cleaners, cleansers, small items, anything, to a safer and secure place.

3. If you must secure the doors, use strong tape on the outside

This looks obnoxious and tacky, but it can work temporarily until hopefully your cat finally (?) loses interest in opening drawers and doors. Duck tape is strong, and might work if the finish on your drawers can handle it.

"I'll hook my paws around this handle, and hang on it, until I get what I want!"

4. Now, wait it out

Your kitten will eventually get big enough that he won't be able to get into drawers, and that's a good thing. He may still try to open them, but hopefully, eventually, that kitten craziness will subside. Maybe there will come a day when drawers no longer look as fun as they once did.

5. Stimulate him!

Is the cat going after a drawer again? Get out a toy, quick. Redirect his attention and let him know that he's going to have a more interesting time playing with the toy you've offered than opening a drawer.

6. Figure out what he's REALLY asking for

Does he really want to get in those drawers or is he really looking for stimulation or love? Is he bored? It's up to us to provide alternatives. Play, cuddling, redirection -- these could all work, depending upon your cat. Norton is a cat who loves attention. So give your cat attention and show him that he can get attention without having to open drawers.

7. Provide him other spaces to get into

Cats love small secure-feeling spaces to hide in. Part of the fun of getting in a drawer is the feeling of enclosure, perhaps with soft stuff underneath. So can you simulate that in a safer, alternative way? For example, if I have a cat carrier out with something plushy on the bottom of it, I have a few cats that will get right in. They aren't scared by the carrier and they like the security. This is also good if you have a small open living space without a lot of places to hide.

Other alternatives include cat toys such as a nylon cat-sized tent -- very popular in our household. Boxes work well for a feeling of security and enclosure. And, of course, closets are good, taking care that they are safe and that your cat can get in and out as she needs.

Does your cat get into drawers or places that should be hard to access? How do you redirect the behavior? Share your thoughts in the comments!

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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of a short story collection about people and place. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city. 

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