Article at a glance…
- The best cat doors I’ve found are Cat Mate (opens with magnet on cat’s collar), Sure Flap (opens with your cat’s microchip), Ruff-Weather door (cold climates), Cat Mate (interior walls & garage doors) and Cat Mate (windows)
- There are a lot of variations in cat door design, so make sure you get the correct one for your cat’s and the area where you’ll be installing it.
- Installing cat doors can be difficult so if you’re not comfortable with DIY, get a professional to do it.
If you have an outdoor cat, installing a cat door is probably a good move for you and your pet. My first cat constantly meowed at ridiculous hours of the morning to be let inside. She often couldn’t make her mind up, going in and out several times within minutes. I suppose she was just checking the weather!
A cat door will give your pet the freedom to come and go as she pleases. The added bonus is that it will also keep her from bothering you to open the door. It’s a win-win for everyone. There are a few safety, security and design points to consider when choosing a cat door for your home.
How to choose a cat door
When I first started looking into cat doors, I thought the choice would be pretty straightforward. A door’s a door, right? But that’s actually not the case. There are numerous types of cat door available. Your choice depends on the cat’s size, whether you’re installing on an interior or exterior wall and security features required. Let’s take a look at the most common variables when deciding on a cat door.
How big is your cat?
The most obvious point when choosing a cat door is to make sure that your cat will fit through! Most average-sized cats won’t have a problem. However bigger breeds and chubbier pets might need a larger door.
Always check the measurements before making a purchase just to be sure. On the flipside – if you have a young cat, he may not be able to push the door open. Especially if the door is heavy or if a magnet closure is used. Most brands will specify a maximum and minimum weight for users of their cat doors.
Where do you plan to install the cat door?
Are you planning to install the cat door in an interior or exterior wall/door? Cat doors designed for interior walls and doors don’t necessarily need a flap, although they can be useful when cordoning off a litterbox. An important factor when installing a cat door is the depth of the wall or door in which you’re installing it. Deeper walls usually require purchase of an extra wall liner or “tunnel”.
Do you need an insulated cat door?
So We spend so much money heating and cooling our homes, sticking a big hole in your front door could mean that’s all going to waste. Luckily, cat door manufacturers have thought of this and doors with double flaps and inches of insulating air are readily available.
Keeping out wild animals
If you have a lot of wild animals such as raccoons, possums or feral cats in your neighborhood, a regular cat door will probably result in a number of uninvited guests at your cat’s dinner bowl! Not to worry, there are quite a few solutions to this problem. You can get electromagnetic doors which only unlock when they come into contact with a magnet attached to your cat’s collar. Even more high-tech are cat doors that read your pet’s microchip. If you want to keep your cat inside at night, locking models are available.
Will a noisy cat flap bother you?
Although it’s not a problem with most modern designs – if you’re a super light sleeper and have the cat door in room near your bedroom, a silent cat door is probably a good idea. Many designs feature a brush strip around the edge of the entry to muffle any banging the flap would otherwise cause.
With all that in mind, let’s take a look at my cat door reviews.
Keep out raccoons and wild animals
When you install a cat door on an external wall or door, you’re creating an entrance that’s open to all and sundry. Even if you’ve installed a cat door for exterior walls, if it doesn’t have a lock, anything can pass through. Luckily most cat doors are too tiny for a human to fit, so you don’t have to worry about burglaries via the cat door. However, there are some animal intruders that you should watch out for.
Take a look at this video – it’s hilarious but I would be a bit freaked out if it happened in my home:
If you want to avoid the situation above, you’re going to need either a magnetic cat door or an electronic cat door activated by your cat’s microchip. The latter works a lot better than the former but let’s take a look at both.
The best magnetic cat door
Magnetic or electromagnetic cat doors use a locking system regulated by a circuit (battery required). The door can only unlock when it comes into contact with a magnet (included) which you attach to the cat’s collar.
The electromagnetic cat flap from Cat Mate is one of the best magnetic cat door brands. It’s lockable and features a brush strip for silent entry and exit. Two magnets are included, perfect for households with multiple pets or just in case one gets lost. The only problem is that some raccoons have figured out how to open this door. It will probably keep neighbors’ cats and feral cats out but if you have a determined raccoon, I suggest looking at the next section for a microchip-activated door.
The best microchip cat door
Microchip cat doors work in a similar way to magnetic cat doors, however, they only open when they scan your cat’s microchip. If your cat hasn’t been microchipped, I do recommend getting it done at the vet’s office as it’s the best way to make him identifiable if he gets lost. However, you can buy RF tags to attach to your cat’s collar if microchipping isn’t an option. The cat door will read these in the same way.
The microchip cat door from SureFlap is one of the best electronic cat doors on the market. It’s pricey but that’s to be expected with a high tech, quality pet accessory such as this. Users report that it keeps out all but the most determined raccoons. And it’s nice to know that your cat won’t be stuck outside if he loses his collar because his “key” (microchip) is built-in.
Cat doors for cold weather
The Ruff-Weather pet door from Ideal Pet is one of the best insulated cat doors for those living in cold and windy climates. Low-quality or poorly-designed cat doors often leave a gap which allows a current of air to enter the house and heat to exit. This can cause your heating bill to skyrocket. The Ruff-Weather door uses two soft plastic flaps to create an insulating pocket of air up to three inches deep. It has a locking mechanism however some users have reported that the lock is not completely secure.
The best indoor cat door
At first I wondered why you’d need a cat door for an interior wall. After a bit of research, I realized how useful it can be. Lots of people keep their cat’s litter box in a utility room or spare bathroom (we use the latter). At present, we have to leave the door open at all times so that the kitties have access. This means that the smell can travel through the whole house. I clean it at least once a day, but it would be fresher if we could leave the door closed. A cat door does just this. It closes off an area while still allowing the cats access.
This cat door from Cat Mate is a good choice for an interior door or wall. It has a lockable flap so you can block access to the room when required. It’s ready to go for installation into a door but for a wall, you will most likely need to purchase an extra liner (or several) to enclose the inner “tunnel”.
Cat doors for garage doors
Many people want to put a cat door in their garage. If you want to install it into a thin metal garage door, you need a cat door designed especially for this purpose. Many cat doors are meant to sandwich a thick wall or door between two layers and will not fit a thin metal door. The Cat Mate product I mentioned earlier is suitable for thin screen and garage doors. It seals with a weak magnet to prevent draughts however it doesn’t prevent access to raccoon and wild animals.
Cat doors for windows
Installing a cat door into a window is serious business. Cutting glass is generally something you can’t do yourself – it’s best to have a professional remove and cut the pane. This is especially true for double and triple glazed windows. That said, it can be done and there’s a cat door for that particular purpose. Cat Mate’s door for installation into glass can be used on single or double glazed windows up to 1 and a quarter inches thick. It can be locked or set to only allow entrance or exit however, again, it doesn’t block out wild animals.
You can see now that cat doors are a much more complicated subject than you may initially have thought. Not only must you do some research, you’ll end up doing some DIY or getting a professional involved. Do you have any experience using cat doors? Have you installed one yourself or have any recommendations for good cat doors? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.