Cat flap buying guide

Cat flaps can make pet owners’ lives a great deal easier, allowing your cat to come in and out of your house as it pleases, and leaving you without fear of being woken by scratching or mewing outside the back door!

This said, a conventional cat door can also end up letting in half the neighbourhood cats in as well as your own, so it’s important to look at different types of cat flap to determine what’s best for your home and your pet. Locking cat flaps provide extra security, but you might need to upgrade to a magnetic or infrared cat flap if you have unwanted visitors. You can also enlist microchip reading technology if you want to be doubly sure.

If you’re also concerned about cat flap mounting and even how to get your cat to use the pet door, we have also covered some tips on these below. So whether you’re looking for a high-tech microchip cat flap by PetSafe Staywell or a simple, secure flap to give your pet more independence, here’s all you need to know when looking for the right cat flap.

Types of cat flap

The classic cat flap is a simple, two-way pet door that lets your cat decide when it’s time to come in. If you don’t have a problem with neighbourhood cats getting in, this kind of conventional cat door is perfectly sufficient and comes at a lower cost, though it doesn’t have the control of a more high-tech cat flap and may not be as robust against weathering.

Lockable

This type of cat flap usually gives you options to set it as ‘in-only’ and ‘out-only’ if you want to make sure your cat stays where it is once it’s come in for the evening. Locking cat flaps usually come with some sort of security barrier or cover to keep out other animals at night, as well as protecting against bad weather.

Infrared

An infrared cat flap gives you a little more control over which animals use the door. These cat flaps come with an infrared key which matches a sensor on the door, so that when you attach the key to your pet’s collar, the pet door will only swing open for your cat. The keys come with a colour code, which stands for the infrared frequency it uses, so that you can check the colour of your neighbour’s cat flap and change the key if necessary. You can also buy extra keys in the same colour if you want family or friends’ cats to be able to access your home.

Magnetic

Magnetic cat flaps also allow you to give access to your pet alone, by way of a special collar or magnetic tag. The magnet unlocks the mechanism when your pet wants to go through. As with infrared cat flaps, be aware that the system can take a little time to recognise the cat, so this can cause a delay in entering and leaving. Neighbouring animals may also have the same magnetic device so could potentially still come in.

Microchip

Microchip cat flaps work by reading either an electronic tag on the cat’s collar or one which has been embedded under the skin by a vet. These are individually recognised and means that only your cat can enter - it also prevents other pets accessing by following just behind your cat. You can also program these pet doors to work with different animals in your household. However, all this makes them naturally more expensive than other cat flaps.

Materials

A classic cat flap is often made of plastic or UPVC as this makes lightweight and weather-proof pet doors. They’re generally white or transparent but there are also different colours like brown available to match with your décor.

You can buy more substantial types, made of metals like aluminium, as these are more suitable for larger, more active cats and dogs and can withstand a little more force.

Installing a cat flap

Cat flap mounting and fitting also needs some consideration. First, decide where you want to locate the flap – in the centre of the door is a common choice, although you should make sure that it’s far enough away from the door handle that this won’t be a security issue. Ideally, position the cat flap to one side, so that no one can reach through for access.

Next, measure from the floor to your cat’s belly and use this to determine the height of the pet door. Remember to note the thickness of the door as well – you might need an extra ‘cat flap tunnel’ or middle section to allow smooth passage for the cat.

If you have a wooden door, you can install a cat flap yourself. Most packs come with a template which you can line up on the door, mark with a pencil and drill at each corner with a power tool. Saw along the lines, sand off and fit the cat flap with the screws provided.

With glass and PVC doors, it may be safer to get a professional to fit the cat flap for you.

Getting used to the cat flap

Introducing a new cat flap can be daunting for your cat, but there are a few ways you can make it a bit easier.

If they’re not used to it, cats don’t always like the noise and feel of the cat flap, but you can encourage them step-by-step at first. Start by propping the door open - tape something like a pencil to the frame - and tempt them to come through with a treat. Try getting them to come from the outside into the house if you have a kitten or a new cat that’s nervous of unknown territory.

Once they’ve become more familiar with the cat flap, let it down and show your cat the treats, before moving to the other side and placing one there. Lift up the flap to encourage the cat to step through.

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