Microchip Cat Flaps might be relatively new to the market – but caring cat owners are quickly realising they are the way forward to keep their favourite feline friends happy, healthy and safe! Originally designed to stop cats other than your own entering your home, microchip cat flaps now include features so ingenious that you’ll wonder how you ever lived without one!
All cat owners will be aware of the constant battle of trying to keep their beloved pets safe! We want our cats to be happy and able to roam free like their great ancestors, but we also want them to be able to come home whenever they choose to enjoy the home comforts that we have provided for them. However. this is easier said than done without a microchip cat flap. Having a traditional cat flap means that ANY cat can come into your home, potentially bringing unwanted “gifts”, stealing your own cats food and even fighting your cat in what is supposed to be their safe place. Equally, having no cat flap, and choosing when your cat can come in and out of the house by opening a door or window can lead to some tense hours trying to find your cat when you want to go to bed, and a very unhappy kitty being locked in or out of the house at all hours of the day.
By considering the features of microchip cat flaps, their selling points and providing you with vital information, this Buyers Guide will help to make your purchase simple and stress free – meaning you can get back to spending time with your four-legged friend!
Only got 5 minutes?
For those of you that want the best for your cat, without having to spend hours trawling the internet for information, this section is for you. You don’t have to be the most technically or DIY minded to find a microchip cat flap that is right for you – just read on to get all the help you need.
There are many benefits to allowing your cat to roam free outside. The chance to explore allows the cats to express their natural behaviour which can help to reduce any “negative” behaviours occurring in the house and regular access to an outdoor environment gives them more opportunity to exercise so they can be both physically and mentally well. Domesticated cats can walk up around 850 meters in one day – a feat that would be difficult to achieve as an indoor cat.
However, there are a number of problems with having a cat flap that allows your cat unrestricted access to the outside:
- Difficulty when trying to monitor how much/what your cat is eating
Stopping your cat from going outside when unwell/injured.
- Increased amount of time spent looking for you cat and trying to control its movements when you have an upcoming vet visit or trip away.
- Other unwanted cats coming into your home – this can cause multiple problems in itself such as eating your cats food, damaging your home and stopping your cat from seeing its home as a “safe space”. This could result in your cat coming home to see you less and less!
Believe it or not, microchip cat flaps can resolve ALL of these problems! Designed to recognise your cat’s (or cats’) microchip, the cat flap will only open when it recognises one of your furry friends. This means that they can come and go as they please (or as you please!) without allowing other cats in and out. Many models now offer additional features such as selective exit as well as selective entry, locked mode so that you can keep your cat in (or out!), and individual settings for individual cats, so that you can customise your microchip cat flap to meet the needs of all of your cats! More details about these features are provided below – so if you need any more information, keep reading!
Although microchip cat flaps will require some tools to fit, such as a drill and a jigsaw blade, they are designed to be as easy as possible to fit and require no more work than fitting a standard cat flap, just with significantly more benefits! They are also incredibly easy to programme, you don’t even need to know your cat’s microchip number, just hold your cat close to the cat flap when programming and it will store the microchip number and be ready for your cat’s future adventures.
Microchip Cat Flap Features
There are many different features that you need to know about before purchasing a microchip cat flap. Read on for more information to see how they might impact upon the microchip cat flap that you decide to invest in.
Selective Entry and Selective Exit (plus other ways to control the comings and goings through your cat flap)
Selective Entry is the technical term for the feature that should be provided with all microchip cat flaps. This means that your cat flap will only allow cats that you choose (and programme into the system) into your home and will prevent other cats from sneaking in by remaining locked if they come to the cat flap.
Selective Exit is not found on all microchip cat flaps but can be a useful feature if you have more than one cat. Selective Exit will allow you to programme not just which cats can come into your home, but also which cats can go outside in the first place. This is perfect if you have young/older cats that need restricted outside time, or if one of your cats becomes unwell or injured and needs some TLC indoors before being allowed to get back exploring outside!
Most microchip cat flaps also come with four settings ‘Out Only’. ‘In Only’, ‘Open Both Ways’ and ‘Shut’. To flip between these settings, simply press a button on your cat flap and control when your cats can go out or come in. This is perfect for if you want you cat to be inside over night, or stay outside while you are at work. (Please note: it is always advisable to ensure your cat has some type of shelter and fresh water if being locked out of your home for a longer period of time).
Microchip cat flaps range in size from around 120mm x 142mm to 170mm x 178mm, although you will find that most will be big enough for your cat to fit through with ease. However if you have particularly large cat, or are possibly wanting to use your cat flap for a small dog as well, it is important to check the measurements of the different microchip cat flaps available to you.
Most microchip cat flaps run on AA batteries, which give enough power for your cat flap to function for between 6-12 months before they need replacing. Some are mains powered, which avoids the worry of your cat flap running out of power while you aren’t around, but adds complications when fitting. If choosing a battery powered model we would recommend opting for one with a low battery indicator light, to avoid the issue of your cat being stuck in or out of your home unexpectedly.
Additional features to look out for
There are many additional features that can be found with microchip cat flaps that are worth considering to ensure that you purchase the right cat flap for you, your cat and your home:
- Cat flaps with RFID Tags (a tag that can be secured onto your cats collar in place of a microchip if your cat is not microchipped).
- Microchip cat flaps vary with the number of cats that can be programmed – ranging from 25 to 40 cats. Although this will be more than enough for most households it is worth checking each model.
- Timer control – some models can be set so that they change between entry options depending on the time of day. This saves you having to manually change the setting on your cat flap every day if you have set times your cat can come in and out.
- Draft excluders – certain models offer a specially designed flap that seals when closed to avoid any unwanted drafts
- ‘Night Mode’ – a light sensor which stops your cats from leaving the house when it goes dark and then automatically resets to allow exit in the morning when the sun rises again
- Cat tracking technology – This feature uses your cat’s microchip to record when they come in/out of the cat flap, allowing you to track when each cat comes and goes from your home.
How to fit and use a Microchip Cat Flap
Possibly the most difficult part about investing in a microchip cat flap is the fitting – however this is no more complicated than fitting a traditional cat flap, and the benefits once fitted far outweigh the effort required when fitting. All good quality microchip cat flaps will come with installation guides to follow, and most also offer high quality customer service support lines if required.
The first thing to consider is where you are going to put your cat flap, most microchip cat flaps will come with everything that you need to fit the cat flap into a door. If you are wanting to fit your cat flap into glass or a wall it is important to check before purchasing your microchip cat flap, as you may need to purchase additional parts to make this possible.
- Take the time to consider where on the door your cat flip will work best – too low could cause problems with the function of the door but too high could be difficult for smaller/older cats.
- If you think your door could have a steel panel on the inside, put a magnet up to the door. If the magnet is attracted to the door then you have a steel panel – which will need to be avoided when fitting.
Once you have found the perfect place to fit your cat flap, line up the outer panel on the door and draw around this with a pencil (make sure to also draw where the screw holes will be). Then use tools (we recommend a power drill and an electric jigsaw) to cut out space for the flap and for the screws. Once this hard part is done simply fit your cat flap following the individual instructions.
Programming your cat flap can be done with the push of a button – literally. Holding down the programming button while your cat is by the cat flap will store your cat’s microchip in the device – then repeat for as many cats as you want coming in and out of your new cat flap! Once this is done you can relax in the knowledge that your cat will be happy and safe coming in and out of your home – with no more unwanted visitors!
Frequently Asked Questions?
In almost all cases, providing your cat is microchipped, the microchip cat flap will work for you and your cat. Cats that are microchipped will have a 9, 10 or 15 digit code. Some microchip cat flaps only work with 15 digit codes, so this is the only thing that you need to check before purchasing your microchip cat flap.
If you are not sure of your cat’s microchip number then this is something that can be checked easily with your vet – although you do not need the specific number to be able to programme your cat flap.
Some cats may take a few attempts to get used to their new cat flap – especially as most make a clicking sound when recognising your cat and unlocking the cat flap for them. We would recommend leaving the cat flap set to ‘Always Open’ for your cats first couple of attempts going in and out of the cat flap. For more hesitant cats, a helping hand and a reward on either side of the cat flap will quickly help them to realise what they have to do!
No, the microchip cat flaps work solely on your cat’s microchip, which means there is no need for sleepless nights worrying about lost collars and sensors and your cat not being able to get back into the house.