Top tips on cat flaps

Installing a cat flap provides freedom for your cat to exercise and explore outside, helping to increase their health and well-being.

Tips on cat flap choices, installation, and how to train your cat to use the cat flap.

Cat crawling out of a Cat Flap

If you’re a cat carer, you know that your cat has an insatiable desire for exploration and an innate curiosity about the outside world. Cats adore the excitement and stimulation which they find in the great outdoors, and installing a cat flap is an excellent way to give them the freedom they crave.

Access to the outside environment keeps cats’ minds alert, encourages good behaviour, and increases exercise to keep them fit and well. By installing a cat flap you can provide your cat with the freedom, exercise, and stimulation they need. We look at the myriad of cat flaps available, exploring their history, benefits, types, installation, and the best tips for getting the most out of this feline-friendly invention.

The Evolution of Cat Flaps:

The idea of cats enjoying easy access to and from indoors and outdoors dates back to ancient times, with the first cat flap patented in the early twentieth century. These were initially based on quite a basic design, with a hole cut in a door and a hinged flap allowing cats to come and go as they wished. 

Technological advances have seen the humble cat flap evolve into the wide variety of choices available today, including manual and automatic options from simple magnetic locking systems to revolutionary microchip cat flaps.  Various options are available for the installation of cat flaps in a range of places – from PVC panels and walls to glazed doors and windows.

The Many Benefits of Cat Flaps:

a) Independence and Freedom: Cats are renowned for being free spirits, loving nothing more than exploring at will. Cat flaps give them freedom to the exciting outside world, stimulating their senses, reducing boredom, and keeping stress at bay.

b) Exercise: Outdoor exploration helps cats engage in their instinctual hunting behaviour, avoid obesity and stay fit and healthy.

c) Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Stress and behavioural problems often arise when cats are confined indoors for extended periods.  Cats often become bored when owners are working long hours outside the home.

d) Territorial Instincts: As your cat explores their outside territory, it may feel threatened or overwhelmed by neighbourhood cats or by traffic.  Cat flaps enable them to return swiftly to familiar territory.

e) Convenience for Everyone: You and your family no longer have to provide constant ‘door duty’ for your cat. The flexibility and convenience of a cat flap is ideal when weather conditions are unpredictable, preventing your cat being caught outside.

Wide Variety of Cat Flaps:

Cat flaps are available to suit every need and preference:

a) Manual Cat Flaps: Basic models with a flap that swings in both directions letting your cat in or out.

b) Today’s revolutionary Magnetic, Microchip, and SmartKey-activated cat flaps reduce the risk of ‘unwanted visitors’ using your cat flap, to keep other neighbourhood cats out of your home.

i) Magnetic Cat Flaps:  Activated by a magnetic collar key, for access to your cat alone. In a multi-cat household, you may consider a cat flap that can accommodate different microchip registrations to grant access to each cat individually.

ii) Microchip-Activated Cat Flaps: These open only for cats that have a registered microchip implanted. As your cat approaches the sensor activates, opening only for your cat. 

iii) InfraRed Cat Flaps: Activated with an infra-red collar key.

c) Selective Entry/Exit Cat Flaps: These allow access in one direction only, giving you better control over your cat’s comings and goings. You may wish to keep your cat indoors at a specific time, such as at night or during feeding time.

d) Manual Locking Cat Flaps: These can be set to be open, closed, or to allow entry or exit only.

Tips on Choosing and Installing a Cat Flap

When picking a cat flap, keep your cat’s size in mind – the flap needs to be big enough for it to fit through comfortably and safely.

An ample range of materials is available to choose from. Plastic flaps are budget-friendly, but they might not be the most durable. Metal flaps are tougher to last longer, but can be too heavy and might not be the best choice for a smaller cat.

Installation of the Cat Flap:

The best spot for your cat flap is at ground level, leading to a safe outdoor area.  Modern cat flaps offer easy installation with accessories for doors, windows, walls, glass, UPVC, and wood.  Cat flaps are also available to install in internal doors, sheds, and cages.

How to Train Your Cat to Use the Cat Flap:

A good tip to begin with is to prop the flap open, so your cat gets used to the idea of moving in and out from one area to another.  Place some treats around the exit as a lure, while gently encouraging them to step through and collect their reward.

With positive reinforcement and patience, your cat will become more confident and associate the flap with going outside.

Top tips on cat flaps when using the cat flap:

a) Safety: When first training your cat to use the cat flap, make sure the is flap closed when you’re away or during the night.

b) Maintenance: Keep the cat flap clean and lubricated with olive oil to ensure smooth operation.

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