How to Choose the Best Cat Flap and Train Your Cat to Use It
24 Feb 2023.
Spending time outdoors can be great both mentally and physically for your kitty. Installing a cat flap so your cat can access a garden, patio, or other outdoor space can also have the benefit of allowing your furry friend to feel in control of when they come and go. Not sure which cat flap to choose or if your kitty will even use it? Below, Cat in a Flat dives into which ones work best and how to train your cat to use a cat flap.
Why does my cat need a cat flap?
Access to an outdoor space can be very stimulating for your feline. Your kitty can climb and scratch trees, watch birds, and do many other things they enjoy. They’ll be able to stay physically fit and mentally active. Having a cat flap also allows your cat the freedom to access their outdoor space whenever they like.
All kitty parents know that our felines are notorious for being fickle and indecisive! A cat flap frees you from constantly opening or closing doors to let your cat in and out. Hence, installing one is a way to be a great paw parent to your kitty.
Best cat flaps for your cat
Manual cat flaps
These are the most basic type of cat flap. With a manual cat door, your cat must push against it in order to open it. The major con with these is that you can’t control who comes in and out. This means other cats or small animals can enter your home. If you live in an area with a lot of cats, this may not be the best option for you.
Magnetic cat flaps
Magnetic cat doors react to a magnet on your cat’s collar. Basically, when the collar is within reading distance this will trigger the flap to open. These are more secure than manual cat flaps as they prevent unwanted animals from simply pushing the flap open. However, if another feline has a similar device in their collar, they may be able to trigger the pet door and enter.
Microchip cat flaps
This type of cat flap will react to your feline’s microchip, triggering it to open. If you have a multi-cat household, you can program the pet door so it allows access to multiple kitties. This is one of the best methods for preventing unwanted cats from entering your home as the cat flap will only react to the pre-programmed microchips. For this reason, microchip cat flaps are also the most expensive.
Electronic cat flaps
Electronic cat flaps function in a similar fashion to microchip ones, but instead of using microchips they employ RFID technology. This type of pet door will react to an electronic collar or a RFID collar key that your cat wears. This is the most secure type of cat flap as only your specific kitty’s collar can trigger it. However, like microchip cat flaps, they are also in the high price range.
Infrared cat flaps
An infrared cat flap requires that you attach an infrared key to your cat’s collar. This ‘key’ will trigger the sensors, causing the flap to open. They are more secure than manual ones and also cost less than electronic and microchip pet doors! This is a good option for paw parents looking for security at a reasonable price.
Can I train my cat to use a cat flap?
Cats are rarely as eager to please their humans as dogs are, which often gives people the impression that felines are impossible to train! However, training your cat to use a cat flap actually isn’t all that difficult and can be a fun experience for the both of you. Here are a few tips to help you train your cat to use a cat flap:
- Wedge the flap in an open position using tape or clothespins. If you have a microchip pet door you will need to program it before your feline can use it.
- Place a few treats on the floor in front of the cat entrance. Repeat this several times until your kitty is comfortably eating their treats by the cat flap.
- Next, go outside, leaving your fur friend indoors. Place treats on the outside of the cat flap and call to your cat, encouraging them to step through. Make sure you sit slightly away so you’re not blocking your cat’s view through the cat flap.
- Once your cat steps through, reward them with a treat. Reverse the process by going inside and calling to your cat.
- After your cat has entered and exited a few times, leave them to explore it on their own. Simply keep the flap wedged open so your furry friend can experiment coming and going in their own time.
- Once you’ve noticed your cat is comfortably using the cat flap, you can lower the flap to its proper position.
Should I restrict how much my cat uses the cat flap?
Some paw parents prefer to lock the cat flap in the evening because they feel it’s safer to keep their kitty indoors overnight. However, some kitties may feel stressed if they feel their movements are restricted. Every cat is different and every cat breed has unique needs. Only you can judge whether it’s best for your kitty to stay indoors during the night. Cats also sleep at lot in the daytime and are most active at dawn and dusk. Hence, your feline may get upset if they can’t go out in the mornings or evenings.
If you’re not sure, here are some signs that your cat may not be coping well with restricted cat flap use:
- Vocal during the night, meowing and crying
- Moving around, pacing, and scratching during the night
- Pawing the cat flap door
- Some cats may also exhibit stress by peeing or pooping outside their litter box
How do I keep my cat entertained indoors?
Just because your cat is restless doesn’t necessarily mean you must let them wander around at night. Even if you’re not comfortable letting your cat have free use of a cat flap, or have a kitty who lives solely indoors, there are plenty of ways to keep your furry friend mentally occupied and active.
Note: While felines can gain huge benefits from being outdoors, this ultimately isn’t a requirement for your kitty’s happiness. There are many ways to keep your furry friend active, happy, and healthy while living entirely indoors. It’s also safer for your cat as there are many outdoor hazards which can pose a risk to felines.
Tips to keep your cat entertained:
- Play with your cat. The best way to keep your kitty happy is by playing with them every day. Not only does this help form a bond between the two of you, but it’s great for your and your feline’s mental health!
- Provide vertical space. Kitties love to climb, and having plenty of high vertical spaces around the home is a must for Mr Whiskers. This can include cat scratching trees, window perches, or wall-mounted cat-safe shelves.
- Bring the outdoors in. Having lots of plants around the home can offer a positive mental boost for both you and your feline. Dot your home with plenty of plants so your house tiger feel like they’re in the jungle! Be sure to do your research beforehand on cat-safe plants as some, like lilies, are very toxic to felines. You can also plant cat grass in indoor pots so Mr Whiskers can graze.
- Keep the litter boxes clean. Our fur friends are neat freaks and one way to make sure your kitty feels happy indoors is by cleaning their litter boxes every day. Learn more about the best litter boxes and litter for your cat.
- Provide independent entertainment. While playing with your kitty is important, it’s also good for felines to have ways to entertain themselves independently. Puzzle feeders and interactive toys like a circuit ball track can keep your kitty’s attention diverted for hours!
- Book a cat sitter. You will have to leave your cat alone at some point—whether because you’re going to work or heading off on a trip. One great way to keep your cat entertained while you’re away is by hiring a good cat sitter to come spend time with your kitty. If you’re at work all day, a cat sitter can pop in to feed and play with your cat. If you have a particularly active or anxious cat, you may need to consider hiring a cat sitter for twice daily visits whenever you’re on holiday. This way your kitty is sure to get the exercise and attention that they need.
Want to know more about caring for your cat? Check out our blog posts on what to do if your kitty is bored of their food and dangerous cat toys to avoid.
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