Cat owners are all-too-aware that our feline friends love their independence. However, dealing with standard cat flaps can be a nightmare. Waking up to the neighbour’s cat in your house isn’t an uncommon occurrence.
A microchip cat flap is a great solution. They’re small, weatherproof and have a technological barrier to prevent unwanted cats from entering your home.
There are a lot of different features to look out for, so check out the following advice to help you choose a new cat flap for your home:
Where to Install Your Cat Flap
The conventional place to install a cat flap is in a door. But new cat flaps are designed in a way that makes them suitable for windows and walls too.
Make sure you purchase a cat flap that can be installed in the material of your chosen area. For example, if you want the cat flap in your conservatory, ensure the model can be installed in glass. The same goes for brick walls and PVC, metal and wooden doors.
Some microchip cat doors must be purchased with additional adaptors if you want to install them in different materials (such as glass). These adaptors will be an extra cost, so its worth pre-planning to avoid any unnecessary complications.
Prepare Your Budget
Whilst conventional cat flaps generally cost between £10 and £15, microchip cat flaps are more expensive because of the technology they contain. Microchip cat flaps can vary in price depending on their features. If you choose one with a four-way lock and good weatherproofing, expect to be spend at least £40. Certain features can double this figure.
Different Control Settings
The best microchip cat flaps enable you to lock out unwanted furry visitors without taking away your pet’s freedom. The cat flap will recognise your cat’s chip and unlock the flap for them.
This is the most basic setting; however, these cat flaps can get a lot more technical. For example:
- Some microchip cat flaps can be programmed to allow entry, but not exit. This lets you lock the flap at night – so once your cat’s in, they can’t wander off again. Other settings include completely locked, completely unlocked, and allowing exit but not entrance.
- Advanced microchip cat flaps have timer settings. These enable you to pre-set a 24-hour schedule. For example, if you don’t want your cats out at night you can set it to ‘entrance only’ between 9pm and 6am.
Most products will be labelled as weatherproof, but the best way to gauge this is by looking at customer feedback. You don’t want the cat flap to let all the heating out.
Some cat flaps have magnetic strips which secure the flap when it’s not in use. This is a good protective measure against wind.
Certain cat flaps have an energy efficiency rating. This is a good measure of how weatherproof they are. The better the weatherproofing, the less money you’ll spend on heating bills!
Battery Life and Power Leads
While battery-powered microchip cat flaps are the most common, some pet doors connect to the mains. The majority of microchip cat flaps take AA batteries; however, make sure to buy the best quality batteries you can. You might grow tired of frequently rebuying new batteries depending on how energy efficient your cat flap is.
Some cat flaps have the option of being plugged into a power socket. This is a great option if you don’t want to be buying batteries again and again over its lifespan. However, as cat flaps are often installed in doors, power leads need to be set up safely. Make sure you leave enough slack for the cord, so when the door is opened and closed the cord isn’t strained or broken.
The Size of Your Cat Flap
Standard sized cat flaps measure around 15 x 15 cm, with the entire frame measuring about 21 x 21 cm.
If you have bigger cats, or even want to buy a flap for a small dog, you may need to look for a larger size. Certain cats can be fearful of getting stuck in the pet door, so it’s better to go slightly bigger rather than waste money on something they won’t use.
Some microchip cat flaps on the market offer sizes large enough to fit a Labrador! The most important thing is to measure your pet before purchasing.
Installing a Microchip Cat Flap
Not all cat flaps are the same, so make sure to check your product’s instructions before beginning. Installation generally follows these steps:
1. Measure the distance between your cat’s belly and the floor. This is the height of your cat flap. Mark a line on the door or wall at the same distance from the floor.
2. Hold up the cat flap to your chosen surface. Align the bottom of the frame with the line you have drawn. Use a spirit level to ensure the frame is straight.
3. Using a pencil, mark the shape of the inside of the frame onto your wall or door. Some cat flaps will come with installation kits including a cutting template, so you don’t have to work this bit out yourself.
4. Put aside the frame and drill holes – one in each corner of the shape you have pencilled.
5. Cut into the outlined shape using a jigsaw. This step can vary depending on the material you are working with.
6. Push the tunnel of the cat flap through the hole you’ve created. Ensure the correct side is facing inwards.
7. Swapping to the outside of your house, place the external frame onto the flap. Using a pencil, mark the spots where you’ll need to drill.
8. Remove the tunnel of the cat flap. Drill holes in the required area, ensuring you don’t go through your door all the way.
9. Place the cat flap and tunnel into position. Using a screwdriver, screw in the nails provided and place on any screw caps if included.
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