A cat flap: cat-friendly or not?

A cat flap allows your cat to go outside and back in at will. It is basically a spare key for your cat: great when you are away for the whole day or for a longer period of time. But are cat flaps always cat-friendly? Here is what to keep in mind.

Different types of cat flaps

There are different types of cat flaps on the market. A lot of new varieties were introduced in recent years, ranging from very simple to super smart; from straightforward flaps installed in doors to cat flaps with a magnet, flaps that respond to an infrared key and those that work with a unique chip code. Cat flaps that respond to a magnet, infrared key or chip will not let any cats in except your own. Cat flaps also differ in size; pick the most suitable option based on the size of your cat and your own preference.

Pros of a cat flap

The biggest pro of a cat flap, and also the most cat-friendly aspect of it, is the fact that your cat is free to come and go as it pleases, absolving you from having to open and close the door every time. Your cat can even walk in and out while you are on a holiday without having to depend on the pet sitter. It goes without saying that you will need someone to feed your cat and provide it with fresh water and a clean litterbox while you are away. But with a cat flap, at least your cat is free to decide when it wants to be indoors and out. The benefit of a cat flap with magnet, infrared or chip functionality is that no other cats can enter your home, i.e. your cat’s territory. The downside of a cat flap with a magnet or infrared key is that your cat is required to wear a special collar. Chip-based cat flaps are the most cat-friendly.

Cons of a cat flap

You will need to make a hole in your door or wall to fit a cat flap. Not necessarily a problem, but do keep this in mind if you are renting. Make sure to get your landlord’s approval in advance. Another downside of a cat flap is that it may open the door for other cats. Your cat may get stressed and no longer feel safe as a result; this is definitely a less cat-friendly aspect of cat flaps. As mentioned above, this problem is easy to fix with a ‘smart’ cat flap. In addition to cats, burglars enjoy cat flaps as a convenient way of letting themselves in too. Make sure you always buy a burglar-proof cat flap and place it in a location that makes it impossible to reach a door/lock or opening (e.g. with an arm or a stick) in your home.

Habituating your cat to a cat flap

Some cats will approach the novelty with curiosity while others may find it scary and stressful. Each in their own way, all cats have to get used to the fact that they are now free to come and go using a cat flap. Did you have a cat flap from the start? Make sure your cat learns how to use it as early on as possible. If you’ve got a good and convenient cat flap and your cat is used to it, a cat flap is certainly cat-friendly.

Steps for getting your cat accustomed to a cat flap

• Open and close the flap while your cat is watching.
• Place a snack or toy on the other side of the flap and see how your cat responds.
• Too scared to go through? Take a seat on the other side of the flap and try to lure your cat with food or a toy.
• A wide view may feel threatening to your cat once it sticks its head through the flap. Smoothen the transition by placing outdoor barriers on both sides of the flap to block the view.

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