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.

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