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Cat Door Advise
Old 08-14-2016, 03:17 PM   #1
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Cat Door Advise

Have done some research on cat doors and their installation. Cat does a good job of letting himself in when we leave our desk door cracked but never has seemed to figure out how to shut. We think we are ready to proceed to install an exterior wall door but not really sure how 'fancy" to get.
Knowing there are a number of pet parents on the Forum, I would be most appreciative of any recommendations/learnings regarding cat door selection.
We live in a university town with lots of wild life (coyotes and raccoons) as well as a transient (every year new students in area) neighbor cat population with pretty severe weather. We are thinking of an exterior wall installation off our deck. The cat is chipped but the price of chip doors seems pretty pricey but we like the idea of not allowing the raccoons to have access. Our cat likes to work the brush between lots and he has lost his share of collars (always safe release), so not sure how long he keep a magnet on a collar.
Suggestions??
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Old 08-14-2016, 03:22 PM   #2
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We have a cat door to the garage where the litter box is. Keeps the litter box outside of the house without granting access to the house from outside.
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Old 08-14-2016, 04:16 PM   #3
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By all means get the kind that can be closed completely when needed (like at night). Beyond that, in any place I've lived you have to be willing to accept the occasional incursion during the day when you're home. Raccoons are as likely to enter through the cat door as any random neighborhood cats. Once we had a skunk, but you really don't want to hear about that episode.
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Old 08-14-2016, 04:30 PM   #4
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I think these days you can get your cat flap coded to only open for your cat - via your cat's ID microchip. That way they don't let the whole neighborhood in.
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Old 08-14-2016, 04:36 PM   #5
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Have no idea what a chip recognition door costs, but if you ever get a skunk in I'm sure it would look like an incredible bargain in hindsight! For that matter a squirrel or raccoon might make it seem worthwhile!
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:28 PM   #6
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Squirrels just chew through the screen.... they didn't bother with the cat door.

Only our cat for us. The bear was way too big for the cat door.
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Old 08-14-2016, 06:42 PM   #7
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Given that you "...live in a university town with lots of wild life (coyotes and raccoons) as well as a transient (every year new students in area) neighbor cat population with pretty severe weather.", the responsible thing to do is to not let your cat outdoors at all. I work with a cat shelter and we see every day the risks run by outdoor cats, especially from wildlife, cars and cruel humans. The average lifespan of an indoor-outdoor cat is on the order of three years, whereas for indoor-only cats it's in excess of eleven years. Our shelter requires adopters to sign a contract promising they will not let the cat outside.

Most cats can adapt readily to an indoor life. Please consider this as an alternative to a cat door.
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Old 08-14-2016, 07:59 PM   #8
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Given that you "...live in a university town with lots of wild life (coyotes and raccoons) as well as a transient (every year new students in area) neighbor cat population with pretty severe weather.", the responsible thing to do is to not let your cat outdoors at all. I work with a cat shelter and we see every day the risks run by outdoor cats, especially from wildlife, cars and cruel humans. The average lifespan of an indoor-outdoor cat is on the order of three years, whereas for indoor-only cats it's in excess of eleven years. Our shelter requires adopters to sign a contract promising they will not let the cat outside.

Most cats can adapt readily to an indoor life. Please consider this as an alternative to a cat door.
Believe me we tried. He is a rescue from a shelter from an even more rural area than us--basically a farm cat. We learned you can take the cat from the farm but not the farm from the cat.
There is an article in the current WSJ on can you train a cat---lots of comments regarding allowing your cat outside--one guy who has a farm and his have lived 20 years including one that made 27!
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Old 08-14-2016, 08:02 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by jonat View Post
Given that you "...live in a university town with lots of wild life (coyotes and raccoons) as well as a transient (every year new students in area) neighbor cat population with pretty severe weather.", the responsible thing to do is to not let your cat outdoors at all. I work with a cat shelter and we see every day the risks run by outdoor cats, especially from wildlife, cars and cruel humans. The average lifespan of an indoor-outdoor cat is on the order of three years, whereas for indoor-only cats it's in excess of eleven years. Our shelter requires adopters to sign a contract promising they will not let the cat outside.

Most cats can adapt readily to an indoor life. Please consider this as an alternative to a cat door.
I would add another reason to consider keeping your cat inside is that cats kill birds and other local wildlife. Some studies have suggested cats may kill billions of birds a year:

"It's hard to know," Dr. Peter Marra, research scientist at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute and co-author of the study, told ABC News. "We think there are 15 to 20 billion adult land birds in the U.S. If we are suggesting 2.3 billion are killed annually, that means 1 in 10 birds are taken by cats every year."

Source:
Cats Kill Billions of Animals Annually, Study Finds - ABC News
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Old 08-14-2016, 08:10 PM   #10
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Mine just used the dog door. Yup, ate a few birds but was a living terror on gophers and mice. Good cat -
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Old 08-14-2016, 08:39 PM   #11
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Mine just used the dog door. Yup, ate a few birds but was a living terror on gophers and mice. Good cat -
Of course at least some dogs (such as my sisters) also like to kill and eat birds but then he was feral for a while and likley learned the technique while feral. Recall that dogs are basically wolves and wolves do eat birds.
Several posts suggest that if not in a pack a wolf will eat birds, but a pack enables going after bigger prey.
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Old 08-14-2016, 08:45 PM   #12
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I just have a simple "plastic flap" dog door. No magnets or microchips needed. The cat went out the same door as the dog and peed and crapped outside. Used to sleep a couple of feet away from a gopher hole and just wait...

Patience is a cat thing -

The cat killed the mice, gophers and birds, not the dog.
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Old 08-14-2016, 10:09 PM   #13
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I had a cat door put in the wall years ago with double flaps for insulation. I got tired of single flaps in doors that allowed cold winter air to enter the home. Also a plexiglass cover that can be used at night or when I don't want to let the cats out or other critters in. More than 20 years ago, I tried the magnet collar but it never worked that well. But technology has probably improved since then.
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Old 08-14-2016, 10:14 PM   #14
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I want to hear more about the skunks that came in. That really sounds like kitty needs a key.

I do understand the cat's desire. We adopted a cat from the vet, he'd been raised poorly, an outdoor cat someone de-clawed. He choose to live on the deck, hated the indoors. Though there were coyotes around they had too much easy picking in the very rural area we lived in.
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Old 08-14-2016, 10:19 PM   #15
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The number of birds killed by cats is likely much lower than the Audubon folks would like you to believe. The quoted number is based on extrapolation not on scientific observation. A recent study of the contents of cat stomachs revealed they largely eat things on the ground - mice and other small rodents, lizards, and insects. My crew would get a couple of birds a year when they were young, but I saw far more lizard pieces and mouse guts in the yard than feathers, which seems to back up the study.
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Old 08-14-2016, 11:04 PM   #16
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I would think you can get an RFID chip implanted into the cat itself, then you don't need to worry about the collar.
A man injected himself (its done with a needle) a RFID chip so that he would be "recognized" by his door, etc to automate everything as he approached.

Otherwise you will have raccoons come in as they are incredibly intelligent and persistent. Raccoons do travel in packs, once I had about 6 in my cabin, I woke up when one of them opened the refrigerator and dropped a coke can that rolled into a bunch of recycle glass bottles that fell over. They came back every night for a week.
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Old 08-15-2016, 05:48 AM   #17
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Absolutely, your cat should be microchipped. Your vet can do this. Even indoor cats should have this done in case they escape. But a collar is also important to alert people that the cat has a home and is not feral.
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Old 08-15-2016, 03:58 PM   #18
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Chip activated doors put everything else in the shade. Just replace batteries on a schedule.
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Old 08-15-2016, 05:37 PM   #19
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If you must allow your cat to go outside, then the chip activated doors are a must. No raccoons, but a possum did get in once many years ago before chip activated doors. It did not end well for the possum nor for my then $450. relatively new sofa after the two cats and the dog got done with the possum. I was at work at the time. First human on the scene was the dog walker along with her six yr old daughter..the poor things at first thought I had been robbed by someone who thought there had been valuables kept in the sofa.

However, I add to the chorus urging you to reconsider letting your cat out. Not because of birds, either, habitat loss due to human encroachment has a lot more of an effect on birds than pet cats do. But, because of the risks to your cat, injury or death from wild animals, risk of feline AIDs or FeLV from fights with infected cats, etc. Cats can be trained to walk on leash (tho they rather than you will mostly define where you walk) relatively easily. four of my five do routinely One even walked right along with the dog until the dog became too old for walks. Also, there are outdoor enclosures, some that can attach to the house (could use door for this purpose) or standalone versions.
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Old 08-15-2016, 05:51 PM   #20
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Our cats used the same door as the dogs, a flap version we built into the wall next to our back sliding glass doors. With so many, no way was I going to do a chip version.

However all that came to an end the night one of the dogs brought in a slightly mangled and yet very angry possum and deposited it on the kitchen floor. We were traveling at the time, but I assure you that our roommate put a hasty end to the ingress point that night. Now we play doorman to them, at least for the foreseeable future.

We chose where we now live with the idea that it would be safe for our cats to explore outside. All of them come in at night, but are free to wander the yard otherwise.

Our cats are lizard killers, the dead birds are usually the work of the dogs. I don't feed birds, and do my best to discourage them setting up shop here. We did have a cardinal way up in a tree this year that I watched from our bathroom window every day until they fledged. Very cool!
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