Door darting is a potentially dangerous behavior for a cat and it can have very bad consequences— particularly for indoor cats not used to the outdoors. It is basically when a cat escapes the moment you open the door. It’s probably too exciting for the cat when they sense all the smells that enter through the door when it is opened.
But most indoor cats are at risk of being hit by a car, attacked by another animal, getting lost or poisoned. So it is a behavior that needs to be corrected.
There are many tips out there for solving door darting using positive reinforcement and through clicker training. Tips like making the door a place where you always ignore your cat, or give him a treat every time you enter but far away from the door, or to train your cat to come when you call him / her. You should always be careful when you open the door, maybe using obstacles or a double-entry system can help and you should have your cat micro-chipped , just in case.
It is also suggested to keep a squirt bottle outside in case your cat is at a potentially dangerous situation and you must scare him for going out. But only do this in emergency situations and directing the water to the chest (never the face). Don’t enter the house immediately so your cat doesn’t associate the bad experience with you, but with the door.
Making the door scary and unappealing is also a common suggestion, but Ben Millan took this to a whole different level. You probably remember him for building a very cool feeding machine that he taught Monkey the cat to use, to get his own food by finding some balls and throwing them inside the machine.
Monkey is a 100% indoor cat that started escaping as a kitten and for Millan, this was serious problem that needed fixing. His solution includes a Yoda mask and a remote control car. The result was “Yoda the Cat Boogeyman“ which was placed outside, behind a semi-opened door. Ben Millan sat on the couch with Yoda’s trigger and waited for Monkey’s impulses.
Of course the moment Monkey felt like escaping, Yoda was waiting for him behind the door. Ben Millan says: “Monkey was crouch-crawling around the house for two hours. It was the first time the safety of his new home had been threatened, and I honestly felt bad. However, he hasn’t attempted escape since“.