Cat flap options
A cat flap, or 'pet door' gives your cat complete freedom to come and go as it pleases and there are cat flap products to cover all needs
Why have a cat flap?
Having to open doors whenever your cat wants to go out, and continually checking to see if your cat is ready to come back in is a pain, and leaving windows open for your cat is a security risk. For your cat, having to rely on door opening means there is no way of getting back in quickly in the event of danger and having to sit meowing at the door for ages to be let back in (which might annoy neighbors). A cat flap is a good solution to these problems and most of the issues to do with hunting or other cats getting in can be solved by other means.
Cat flap essentials
There are many modifications and clever functions on modern cat flaps but it is important to look at the basics of what a good, solid cat flap should be able to do:
- Allow your cat to come and go, without having to have doors opened
- Allow rapid entry in case of fright
- Have a clear door so your cat can see through
- Have solid hinges made from non-corrosive materials to avoid rusting or corrosion
Where to place a cat flap
It is normally best to place a cat flap on the door which leads into the garden area, or the area you want your pet to be in. Make sure you position the flap in a location where a theives arms cannot get inside and reach for the inside handle, or get keys with a long pole.
Basic cat flaps
The very simplest form of cat flap is an opening with a hanging piece of semi rigid clear plastic sheet to act as the 'flap'. These are very inexpensive but may let in wind and rain, have no protection against other animals coming in or out, and may not last.
Without a cat flap, there are few options for your cat
Lockable cat flaps
Slightly more advanced cat flaps come with more rigid flaps and solid covers which protect against bad weather. There are normally options to lock the flap into a one way position, which may be useful if you want your cat indoors at night.
Magnetic and infrared cat flaps
A magnetic cat flap contains an electromagnetic latch which opens when your cat comes close by and is wearing a specially designed magnet on its collar. These devices work well although any other pet with a similar collar may also be able to get in. Infrared cat flaps work on a similar principle except instead of a magnet on the collar there is an infrared emitter, which sends a signal to the cat flap to open. Both magnetic and infrared cat flaps suffer from the same flaw which is that if your cat loses its collar, the cat flap stops working.
Microchip cat flaps
At the top end of the market are microchip cat flaps. These clever cat flaps continually scan for the microchips which are used in your cat for identification. Since you can program the cat flap to only open when your cats microchip is identified, you can be sure that no other cats can get in. Most of these cat flaps will also work on multiple chips so if you have more than one cat, or even microchipped dogs, it will work on them all.
The problem of bringing home kills
A cat flap offers complete freedom for your cat, but if your cat is a keen hunter it also means you may get regular visits from mice, birds, or any other prey your cat has caught. Having a half-dead pigeon flapping around your living room with blood and feathers everywhere is not a fun occasion. To remedy this problem many cat owners attach their cat flap to a garage or utility room so that the cat has to call to be let into the main house. Another method is to attach a cage over the inside of the cat flap so that there is enough room for your cat to enter the cage and call to be let out into the house, at which point you can check for any prey.
No cat flap? Create a routine
If your cat does not have complete freedom to enter and leave the house via an open cat flap, being able to call your cat indoors or set specific outdoor times can help to ensure your pet's lifestyle fits in with your own. You can encourage this behaviour by sticking to rules such as only allowing your cat out at set times, or changing mealtimes to later in the evening so that your cat comes home for food. Associating a noise, such as tapping a food bowl with a spoon, with a treat is a tried and tested way of getting your cat to come in when called.
Cat bells and baby monitors
If your cat has to call to be let in, either from outside or from a separate room such as a garage or utility room, then a baby monitor or a 'cat bell' can help to alert you to your cats presence. Baby monitors simply transmit any noise, such as a meow, through a listening monitor to a speaker which can be moved around the house. A cat bell is a pressure sensitive pad which your cat can sit or stand on, causing a doorbell or similar noise to ring, letting you know your cat has come home.