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Roomate is prey for a darn cat
Dear Dr. Spiegel, Wes, short for Wesley, is my roommate’s cat. He’s 3 years old, and he has the ability to open doors in our apartment, every one except the ones leading outside. I keep my bedroom door shut, as I'm allergic & also, simply, do not want him in there. He opens my door by jumping on it & sliding down from the doorknob, other times by running full force into it. I have told my roommate that I do not want the cat in there, but I come home & my door is open, roommate’s doing nothing. The cat now likes to get in my room at 5-6AM! And that is aggravating. I've tried a spray bottle & water, which just initiates a chase around my room. I've tried a bop on the nose & he continues. Any suggestions? The owner gets him out of my room by calling him to come get a treat, which to me is positively reinforcing the negative act. I'm really mad at this cat & could use some help & some sleep! -D.G. Tufts University
Dear D.G., Before long, I hope your anger will subside as you come to see what I see and I’m sure other readers see as well. And when you see what I see you’ll find yourself doing what I’m doing now, ....and that’s laughing and smiling.... Thank you. What I hope you’ll soon appreciate are the conflicting perspectives that are operating here. To Wes, this is all simply fun and games. He’s a young, outgoing, and talented feline. He gets rewarded all the way around. He gets to exercise his skills on your closed door. He gets to raise some excitement in his life by toying with you. He gets to play chase and is proud to always outwit you. And of course your roommate caps it off with a tasty treat! To you, its a whole different picture. You don’t want cat fur and dander (the tiny particles of animal skin that cause allergic reactions) in your room. And yet, this cat keeps busting into your room. And now your cherished early morning sleep is being trampled upon as well. Aaarrgghhh! But does Wesley care about this? Obviously not! To him it’s great fun. The really fascinating point is that he probably continues to pursue you largely because he may have never known a human that hasn’t greeted him as have all other humans... with petting. With your allergies, I’m sure you’ve never petted him. And he’s all too curious about you as a result. You have become a particularly novel and interesting focus for his attention. He’s getting a real kick out of his interactions with you and all the stuff in your room. I can almost see your nose starting to get twitchy and itchy just thinking about it. And what about your roommate? I suspect that your allergy-free roommate simply doesn’t appreciate the real problems this is creating for you. Without that empathy, no initiative is being taken to control Wes.... And that can appear a whole lot like a simple lack of respect for you. Since controlling Wes seems to be falling on you, whether you like it or not.... The last thing you want to do is to make any more fur fly in your room. Go to your favorite hardware store and have someone direct you to hook and eyes, or dead bolts, or any number of other possible locking devices that you can install or get a handy friend to install. It should be high enough on the door that he can’t jump to it. Having it on both the outside and inside of your door will enable you to lock the little dickens out whether you are in your room or not. He will bang on your door for awhile, but if you completely ignore him, his attempts should diminish and cease within a week, two at most. And encourage your roommate to give Wes two 15-20 minute active play sessions each day to keep him from getting bored and seeking you out as the most lively plaything around.