When we were looking for a new home with our feline family member, people were recommending us houses with cat flaps. Now, I’m not the biggest fan of these tiny doors, but when we found our new home with a garden we thought: mèh, maybe there’s something to it. This way we don’t have to act like Saint Peter fifty times a day and Lewis won’t wake us up early in the morning for a pee because he can go out himself. Now one week later, the cat flap has been sealed shut as Lewis is recovering from his rendez-vous with the squirrel-cat (looked like a massive squirrel, turned out to be a cat; also known as a squat).
Cat flaps have been a blessing for people getting tired of their second job as a doorman. Many cat homes have a draughty hole in the door/wall. However, the value is debatable. Yes, your cat can go in and out whenever she wants, but so can another cat! Plus, fitting through that narrow hole takes the cat some effort and time; time she’s not paying attention with guarding her back (literally). If you do have a menacing neighbour cat from hell, or perhaps just two siblings who like to diss each other, you’ll end up with (a) stressed cat(s). She’ll never know what, or rather who, is on the other side of the door (also read about similar problems with litter box doors in this blog)!
If your cat is prone to stress, the cat-flap will increase her feelings of being unsafe.
Lewis used to be that menace to my parents’ cats when he occasionally stayed over. Waiting on the other side of the flap to BOOP the queen of the house. Now, he experiences the other side of the revolving door.
One week after moving into our new home, he prefers to use the front door instead of the cat flap on the garden side. We didn’t understand it as Lewis used to love using the cat flap at my parents’ house. Before, he would only go on his litter box after an hour of unsuccessful early-morning wining to let him out. Now, he he comes back in to wee!
But then, yesterday evening, he started screaming at the cat flap, or rather, the figure behind it. A huge brown paw came through (the rest of its body didn’t fit) and Lewis had to attack back. The ‘squat’ was startled when I opened the human door and he ran away, but Lewis was alert the rest of the evening; perhaps the squat was coming back… (he did, in the morning). He was only reassured that he was safe when I took him upstairs and closed the door of the bedroom.
I hear you thinking: What about a cat-flap which only opens for a cat with a specific chip number or special collar around her neck? Well, that might help in keeping the other cats out (although I have heard stories of large cats just busting through the weak system), but your cat doesn’t know that the door is only for her. The only thing she sees is a hole in the door, open to everybody who wants to come in.
So, just try it: Physically block (or remove) the cat-flap in such a way, kitty thinks it’s not there anymore, e.g. by taping it closed or putting something in front of it. An invisible cat-flap equals no cat-flap which equals a safe home. You’ll soon notice that your furry friend starts feeling more at ease. Just don't forget to open the door when she wants to come in or go out...
Simon's Cat: Let me in!