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Cat doors can be used in two ways: indoor or outdoor. While outdoor gives your cat some freedom and fresh air, the downside is it’s just plain dangerous for all concerned. A cat in the yard is seen as prey by an owl, hawk, or coyote. Depending on the part of the country, poisonous frogs and snakes are another worry.
The cat himself is a danger to birds, butterflies, mice and lizards found in the yard. Don’t forget, the door will allow him to bring them inside too.
Does Kitty Get His Own Key?
An outside door can allow other animals to come in. Janet feeds feral cats. “They got used to coming in and out. I noticed they were eating a lot more than usual,” she said. “Then one day I forgot to put eggs in the fridge. From the mess left, I think a raccoon was visiting.”
Other owners have reported finding a neighbor’s dog or a stray cat in the kitchen, for a drink or snack. Possums like cat food too.
For cats who really want to be outdoors, install an outdoor cat flap but let it lead to a cat pen outside. The cat gets fresh air and a feeling of freedom and you know he’s safe from harm. In Beverly Hills, California, Susan Gottleib has five such exits for her house. The exits feed into a half-mile long cat run that winds along the fence, up and over the roof and back again. On the roof, the run extends to a play area with cat furniture for scratching and relaxing.
Cat Flaps on Interior Doors
Why bother having a cat door on an interior door? Cats like their privacy. If there are dogs or small children in residence, it’s safer to keep the cat food and litter box behind a closed door. Cat food is too rich for dogs to eat on a regular basis. Snacking from the litter box is not only gross but dangerous because of the clumping properties of the newer litters.
A door to the basement or laundry room can get pushed shut by a cat or kid and that keeps a cat away from his litter box. He can’t be blamed for making a mess but cleaning it up is no fun.
If you need to be selective with who or what comes in and out, consider the cat flap below that works with the cat’s collar. A small box on the collar activates the flap to open when the cat approaches while preventing other cats or critters from using it.
SureFlap – Sure Petcare Microchip Cat Flap
How to install a cat door
Doors come in several sizes. If your cat is a Maine Coon or other larger breed, get the largest size. Some doors come with a locking mechanism for days when you’ve just mopped the floor or are folding warm clothes from the dryer and don’t want feline help.
Installing a door isn’t that hard although you will need a drill and a jigsaw. There is a template so you know the size of the hole needed. Tape it to the door where you’ve decided the cat door should be—not too high or too close to the edge of the door. Draw an outline around the template. Remove the template and tape. Drill a hole through the door at each of the four corners of your outline. To remove the middle and make the hole, use a jigsaw to cut around the outline. Installing the door itself is the easiest part.
Teach a cat to use the cat door
It helps if the kitty likes treats. Raise the flap and show him how to go through to reach treats on the other side of the door. Give him a boost through the opening.
Canned food is an incentive for many cats. Cindy’s dog discovered the cat door. “It’s weird to see Frankie’s body on this side of the door but her head’s through the cat door, trying to reach their food. We had to move the food farther away to keep Frankie from getting stuck.”
Where to find a cat door
Cat doors are found in pet supply stores and online. If you’re using one yourself, we’d also love to see your review of it in our Cat Flaps threads.
*Cat runs pictures courtesy of Susan Gottleib
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