Cat Care

Using a Cat Flap or Cat Door

Cat Care > Cat Training > Using a Cat Flap or Cat Door

Using a Cat Flap or Cat Door

A cat door or flap is a very useful device that allows a cat freedom to come and go more or less as it pleases. It consists of a small opening, about 15 centimeters square, set low down in an external door of the house, usually a back one that opens into the garden. The opening is guarded by some sort of hinged flap, which is pushed by the cat using its head and drops back into position once the animal has passed through. The manner in which the flap is opened varies, depending upon the type of cat door. The simplest type is hinged at the top and can be pushed from both sides. Another kind can be pushed open only from the inside and to re-enter the cat has to learn how to raise the flap with a paw. An even more sophisticated type is usually locked but the flap is released by a magnetized device attached to the cat's collar.

Some cats readily learn to use a cat flap while others need a little more persuasion. The best age to introduce the kitten to this is when it has gained in confidence and is sure of its surroundings, i.e. at about three months old.

At first the flap can be fixed open permanently and a game played in which the cat is persuaded to chase a toy through the hole. Or it can be coaxed through by its owner holding a favorite titbit on the other side of the opening. Once the cat is passing in and out quite happily, the flap can be gradually lowered until it has to push to create a large enough space through which to pass. As long as it is not frightened and no force is used, the cat can be shown how to push the flap with its head.

There were design problems with some of the earlier types of cat flap, which were inclined to rattle and to let in draughts and rain in windy, wet weather. Many of these problems have now been removed, although it is advantageous if a cat flap can be fitted on a door in a fairly sheltered position. One other disadvantage is that stray or neighboring cats have been known to use cat doors and to enter a house uninvited. The most sophisticated type, which is activated by a device on the resident cat's collar, usually solves this problem.