Thursday, December 26, 2013

Cat door.

From the day Tina and Charlie were allowed outside, they were using a small kitchen window as their way in and out, which got a bit cold during the winter. We decided to look into a cat flap to be fitted in the back door, especially since they are allowed out at night now too. The only place suitable for a cat flap is the back door. Like the front door, it is a UPVC door so I had to take that in account.
I had heard about cat flaps that work with the microchip as a key, which means that neighbouring cats can’t come in. So I had a look on the Zooplus website and saw that they sold Sureflap microchip cat flaps. The only thing was that the opening is rather small with 14x12 cm. Further research showed that they also made a bigger version called a pet door, which can also be used for small dogs. The opening of that one is 18x17 cm, much better for fully-grown cats and also available at Zooplus. We decided to buy the bigger one.

About three months ago, we had the Sureflap microchip pet door installed in the UPVC backdoor by a local carpenter. The pet door comes complete with screws of different lengths to fit different types of doors. Batteries are not included. It can also be installed in a glass door, or even through a wall - for which you have to buy a few extra bits and pieces.

Programming in your pets' microchips is a breeze. You push a button on the pet door to set it to read and then bring the first cat through it or place its head in the entrance. The chip number is then automatically stored. If you have more cats or small dogs, you simply repeat the procedure. The door can store up to 32 microchips. They can also be easily erased if necessary. You don’t have to use the door with the microchips. It will work as a normal cat door too. You can also set it in a way that cats can come in but can’t go out again, which is handy if you have to keep them in to go to the vet. You can even set a timer for opening and closing hours. It also has other features that you can programme in, like the time it stays open after it reads the microchip. When you use it with the microchip feature, the door makes a fairly loud clicking sound when it unlocks. Some cats could hesitate when this happens and then you can set the locking time to an interval of a couple of seconds (up to ten seconds) to give your cat time to get through, which is absolutely brilliant. To get cats familiar with using the cat door, you can use it as a normal cat door first so it won’t click to lock and unlock.

As soon as the door was installed I programmed in Tina and Charlie’s microchips by pushing them through the door, paws first. We set it as an ordinary cat flap without the microchip unlock feature. Then, during the day, we had the window closed and every time they wanted to go in or out, we helped them through the cat door. We still have it set as an ordinary cat flap so there is no clicking sound from the lock. It took them about a week to get the hang of it and now they use it all the time. Because of the design of the door we couldn’t put the flap as low as we wanted, so we put a little step-up in place.

All in all, it was a lot less hassle than I thought it would be. Cats are creatures of habit and they were so used to going in and out through a window that I thought we might have a problem there. I underestimated the intelligence and flexibility of our two felines. I can certainly recommend this pet door to anyone. It is not the cheapest one around but the extra features, especially the microchip option, the larger size and sturdy design makes it well worth the investment. 

Tina peeping in through the pet door. Paw prints show it's being used.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Natural Born Killers

Cats never fully domesticated. They still have very strong hunting instincts. People with indoor cats will have to give their cats plenty of play time, preferably in a semi-dark room. (Curtains drawn with just enough light to see what you’re doing to mimic night hunting. Cats love it.)

We live in the countryside and our cats can go out to hunt. They’re allowed out at night now too, as they’re fully grown and don’t have to fear foxes or other night hunters. They can come in and out as they please.

Charlie and Tina are great hunters. They often catch shrews, mice, rats and sometimes birds. Charlie came home with a rabbit once. I was highly impressed. Every now and again I rescue a poor rodent that is still very much alive but is being tossed around by one of them.

People who don’t like cats often say that cats are cruel. They “play” with their prey for quite a while before killing it. These people project human qualities on cats. Cats don’t do cruel. What you see is not play, but pure self-preservation.

Rodents can give nasty bites, so cats wear out their prey before the kill, to prevent being bitten. Cats are solitary hunters, so any wound could jeopardise their hunting abilities and thus their survival. That’s why cats don’t fight when it isn’t absolutely necessary. Territorial disputes with other cats often consist of a stand-off with a lot of hissing and growling until one of them backs down.

Cats that are allowed outside often bring back “presents” for their humans. It is the biggest compliment a cat can give you. He sees you as family. So when you find a dead rodent or bird on the floor, try and remain calm, praise your cat and give him or her some nice food. While your cat is not looking, discretely get rid of the dead critter. Sometimes they bring in prey that they eat themselves. Your cat might then even growl at you when you come near. It’s his/her food and there’s no sharing this time.

Because of our cats and them bringing in prey, we have a lot of anti-bacterial cleaning agents in the house. Floor wash, surface cleaner, hand wash, and even our washing-up liquid is anti-bacterial. There’s always a bottle of Milton handy and we have a steam cleaner that we can use on carpets, beds and upholstery. I also have a pair of gardening gloves handy because every now and then they bring in prey that is still alive. They might think of us as family members who still need to work on their hunting skills. It’s what they do with kittens too. They bring them partly pacified prey to practise on. So far I managed to get whatever they brought in out of the house again. I’m well trained at this stage. When I hear certain noises, I know I have to investigate quickly. Once I established the fact of a live rodent in the house, I close all the doors to the rooms, except the one the rodent is in and open the front door. Then I get the gardening gloves and either try and catch it or get it to move towards the open front door. With the gardening gloves on, I prevent getting bitten.

They normally leave the rodent in the hall so it’s not that much work. You don’t want to be squeamish though. Charlie brought in a fairly big rat twice. It would make a great entry in funniest home video to see me chasing a rat while the cats are looking. They must think I’m a very bad hunter to let it get away again. After the rodent is gone, I spray the areas with antibacterial cleaner.

Sometimes it’s like living in a Tarantino movie or, referring to the title, an Oliver Stone movie. Every day I go around the house and often I have to clear away bodies of rodents Tina and Charlie didn’t eat. They won’t run out of prey that easily because there are wheat fields to the back and one side of our house and farms nearby with cattle and horse feed, so mice and rats in abundance.

Anyway, just remember that when you see cats tossing around a mouse, they’re not being cruel, they’re just being careful.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Saturday, June 29, 2013

One year adoption anniversary.

The 5th of June was the 1st adoption anniversary of Tina and Charlie.
They have us well trained by now. One of us gets up around 3.30 am to open the window so they can get out. Then, often, one or two hours later one of them is back for food so one of us gets up to feed them.
These two are spoiled rotten but they deserve it. They are two great cats and we love them to bits. Let’s hope we will share many more anniversaries together.
Click on the photos to see a larger version.


Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Cat heroes.

Cats are said to be independent, selfish and only use humans to get food and shelter. People who prefer dogs over cats often state that dogs have a special bond with humans and cats don’t. The picture of a dog pining on the owner’s grave comes to mind. There are also lots of stories of dogs saving their owners’ lives.
Of course, there are some incredible true stories out there with dogs as the heroes, but if you care to look, you can find similar stories about cats.

There was this cat that raised the alarm when the carbon monoxide levels in the house got too high and saved a family. Another cat saved an owner by alerting his wife when he was having a heart attack. There are cats that can predict epileptic seizures just before they happen and give their owners time to react. There is this cat that saved an owner when she was having a diabetic seizure in her sleep at night. There are cats that have protected their owners from attacks, etc. It proves that cats also have this special bond with humans, be it in a slightly different way than dogs.
Here are some links to incredible cat stories.

Monday, April 1, 2013

A call for help from the Limerick Animal Welfare Sanctuary

Limerick Animal Welfare is a registered charity, caring for abandoned & neglected animals. The sanctuary has a no-kill policy.
They desperately need money and volunteers. You can donate through the links below this story. You don’t have to live in Limerick or Ireland to donate.

“The Sanctuary is full to overflowing this weekend. The phones are ringing continually with requests to take in more dogs, cats and horses. We are doing our best to cope with emergencies. We were very short of volunteers to-day. Sundays are always difficult especially during holiday week-ends. Funds are at an all-time low. This afternoon we have just looked at the accounts for first three months of 2013 and our expenditure has greatly exceeded our income. We will have to try and cut back for the second quarter to ensure that we can keep the Sanctuary open. We appreciate all the help we get from the public and volunteers during these difficult economic times.

We fundraise all the time and our 3 Charity Shops are our main source of income. However, our Public Donations went from 25,000 in 2011 down to 11,000 in 2012. Our permits for street collections have also been cut back and Dunnes are not allowing Animal Welfare Charities to collect in their stores any more. We must raise a minimum of 40,000 each month to keep the Sanctuary open. This does not include much needed maintenance. At present the cost of extra hay has put an additional burden on finances and the need to provide a new shelter for the horses.”

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We are appealing to our supporters to set up a monthly standing order to help us cope with our every increasing bills. Did you know that as little as 5.00 euro a month can help us greatly in our efforts to help the growing number of animals in our care? No amount is too small. We need your help today. For a standing order form, please email us at

Our Bank Account Details:

Name of Account          LIMERICK ANIMAL WELFARE
Account Number 89515042
Sort Code   90-43-09
Address      Bank of Ireland, 125 O'Connell Street, Limerick