Is your cat in a flap about making an entrance?
A door for cats was, according to popular legend, invented by none other than Sir Isaac Newton. The story goes that this 18th century boffin was fed up that his scientific experiments into understanding the laws of gravity were constantly interrupted by his pet cats scratching at the door, asking to be let in or out. He apparently summoned a local carpenter to drill two holes in it – a larger one for his cat and a smaller one for her kittens, instantly solving his feline access problem.
Whether or not this intriguing tale is true, cat flaps have become a must-have accessory, giving independent felines the option to come and go as they please rather than always having to ‘ask’ their human to let them in or out.
And, while most cats cotton on to how cat flaps work with minimal fuss, some felines are rather more suspicious of these curious contraptions and need a little help from their human to show them what to do.
Before you introduce your cat to the cat flap it’s important to make sure that your cat is settled into your home and has been introduced to the outside.
Pet rehoming charity Battersea has these top tips:
- Start by fixing the cat flap in an ‘open’ position using clothes pegs or something similar that can be clipped to the side of the flap to wedge it open. If you have a microchip cat flap, you’ll need to programme it before your cat can use it.
- Next, stand by the cat flap and encourage your cat to come to you and offer them one of their favourite treats. Place a few of their treats on the floor, directly in front of the cat flap. Do this a few times and once your cat is readily eating the treats you can then place a few on the bottom edge of the cat flap itself. Again, repeat this several times.
- Once your cat seems comfortable, move outside leaving your cat indoors. Once you’re outside, place treats on the floor near to the outside of the cat flap, as well as a few more on the bottom edge of the cat flap as before.
- As you sit outside, gently call your cat in an encouraging way. Make sure you sit slightly away from the cat flap so that you’re not blocking your cat’s view of the outside.
- If your cat comes through the cat flap out in to the garden, reward them with another treat.
- Once your cat is outside, reverse the process by sitting inside the house and gently calling them to come to you through the cat flap.
- If your cat is shy or nervous, they may want to get used to the cat flap in their own time. If this is the case, simply leave the cat flap wedged open as above and let your cat explore/use it when they are ready. If you’re worried about unwanted cats coming in to the house if the flap is left open, you may want to avoid using treats and keep a close eye on the area to make sure other cats aren’t trying to enter.
- Once your cat is going in and out through the cat flap comfortably, you can remove the peg so the flap is back in the closed position.
Never be tempted to physically pick up your cat and put them through the cat flap as they may find this stressful or unpleasant and then form a negative association with it.
Which type of cat flap should you choose?
There are several types available including:
MANUALLY OPERATED CAT FLAP
The most basic type of cat flap that opens when your cat pushes against it. However, this type of flap offers access to all cats that try to use it. This can make it difficult to stop other cats from coming in to your home, so may not be ideal if you live in an area with lots of neighbouring cats.
MAGNET AND INFRA-RED OPERATED CAT FLAP
This type of cat flap is operated via a magnet or infrared device attached to your cat’s collar. When the collar is within reading distance of the cat flap, the device will unlock the flap, allowing your cat access. These cat flaps may help to deter unwanted cats from getting in, however, if your neighbour also uses a magnet operated flap for their cat, they may also be able to enter your feline’s flap too, which could cause all kind of confusion...
MICROCHIP OPERATED CAT FLAP
This type of cat flap is operated by your cat's microchip and is also suitable for multi-cat homes as, once programmed, can remember several different microchips. These cat flaps are the best method of preventing other cats from entering your home as the reader will only respond to microchips that have been pre-programmed.
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