Cats are funny things at times. One moment squaring up to next door’s mastiff, the next getting scared by a leaf, and many find a catflap almost as intimidating as falling foliage!
The good news is that eventually, pretty much all cats, no matter how skittish, can learn to use a pet flap.
Will Cats Use Cat Doors?
The short answer is “yes”, however even if your pet has used cat flaps previously, it might be suspicious of a new one. The good news is that you can successfully train most cats to use a cat flap, even if they have never seen one previously.
What to Do if Your Cat Won’t Use Microchip Cat Flap
You should be more patient. While they are outside, keep some food and treats inside the house. When they become hungry enough, they will go through the cat flap.
You will have to remain strong and not give in to their meowing. A little tough love will eventually do the trick. They will test your resilience so you should remain steadfast. If you let them in through the main door, the entire exercise may be rendered futile. Your cats will get the wrong message that they can keep imploring till you relent. So be smart and don’t give in.
How Do I Train My Cat to Use the Door?
With the steps outlined below, you too can easily learn how to train your cat to use their new cat flap.
Ensure That the Cat Flap Is Big Enough
First and foremost, you should make sure that the door is big enough for your cat. This may sound obvious, but plenty of pet parents have discovered to their dismay that their expensive cat flap is not big enough for their pets.
Some cat breeds are quite big. Many cats are overweight as well and may face trouble with smaller cat flaps. If you have a medium-sized or large cat, you should be careful in this respect. There is no point in training your cat to pass through the flap if it is too constricted.
Smaller cats will probably have no problems even with the smallest cat flaps.
Most catflaps will give you an approximate weight of cat they will work with.
If you are not sure or on the cusp, carefully note the dimensions of the cat flap that you intend to purchase. Then draw the exact dimensions on a clean white sheet of paper.
This will give you an accurate idea of the size, which you can hold up to your cat. You can even cut the hole into a piece of card and see if you can tempt your cat through it.
Pre-Installation Training – Introduce the New Cat Flap to Your Feline Friend before its Installation
Prior to installation, you need to cut out a hole in your door or wall to install the cat flap. This can be a pretty drastic step if you are not sure if your cat will use it!
So, before you install the new cat flap, you should give your pet cat the opportunity to inspect it thoroughly. Allow your cat to look at it and smell it. Your pet will become more familiar with it and less apprehensive.
The new cat flap might smell rather odd and unusual to your cat. Your cat will feel more comfortable if you include a scent which it recognizes and your cats own scent is the best option. You can simply wipe your cat’s back gently a couple of times with a clean cloth and then rub the cat flap with it. Your cat may then be more willing to use the cat flap if it smells familiar.
This is also the perfect time to program the new cat flap with your cat’s own microchip. You should do so at the earliest opportunity, so that the curious cat from the neighbourhood does not program it by mistake with its own microchip.
Next step is to secure your catflap in the open position and tempt your cat to pass through the hole. If your cat likes playing with objects attached to a string, you can use it to train your cat.
Go to the side of the hole opposite to where your cat is. Put the object through the hole and when your cat reaches for it, pull it sharply with the string through the hole. Your cat will eventually scamper through the hole and go past the cloth to chase the object.
Once they are happy with this, close the flap and get them to push the flap open. I found putting treats in a box that they can only reach through the flap worked well. This will help them to learn the workings of the flap
Decide Where To Install Your Catflap
To maximize your chances of success, you should try to shelter the cat flap. Your cat will feel much safer while entering and exiting into sheltered space hidden from plain view. If the cat flap leads to an open space, your cat might consider itself vulnerable to an ambush. Your cat will definitely be more willing to use the cat flap if it affords a sense of safety while being utilized.
If the cat flap leads to free space, then you should try to obscure it from open view by covering it with a bench or plant pots. By making the entrance feel unexposed and safe, your cat will be far more likely to use it
Take care to follow all the instructions on height etc. However, do not yet install the flap.
Introduce the New Entry/Exit Point To Your Cat
Next, you can make the hole in the door, wall or window where you plan to mount the flap. However, do not expect your cat to start using the door right away. Don’t make the mistake of forcing your cat through the door. This may frighten your cat further and will probably be counterproductive.
Instead, hang a small cloth on the hole and encourage your cat to go through. This will serve as a good prelude to using the actual cat flap – for nervous cats, use a small cloth and gradually increase the size.
Now entice your cat to come through the hole. Anything your cat likes playing with or eating can be placed on the other side to tempt them through. To maximize your chances of success use treats when your cat is hungry.
Do be careful with treats if the vet has recommended dietary restrictions for your cat. Try using small sizes if you decide to go for treats. I would always suggest using toys in place of food initially to avoid using treats.
Keep It Open Initially
An open cat flap will appear more inviting to your pet cat. So use tape or a peg to keep the flap open if yours does not have an option to do this automatically.
With the flap in open position, encourage your cat to explore it. Your cat should enter and exit the flap without too many problems if you gently persuade and encourage it.
If your cat is still afraid, try luring it with toys or its favourite treats on the other side. You may have to keep the cat flap open for some time.
This may give an opportunity to other cats and animals to use it. But this transient inconvenience may be insignificant compared to benefits in the long run.
Once your cat has become accustomed to using the open door, you should train it to nudge the flap open.
Hold the Cat Flap with Your Hand to Keep It Partially Open
Place treats or toys on the other side while holding the flap partially open with your hand. During the first try, keep the flap open as far as possible so that there is minimal contact between the cat’s body and the flap. The cat’s body should gently brush the flap during the first attempt.
During successive attempts, you should hold the cat flap lower with your hand so that your pet has to exert more force while passing through the cat door.
In the final stage, you should not touch the cat flap at all. If all has gone well so far, you will only need to keep treats or toys on the other side and gently motivate your cat. Your cat will eventually learn to use the cat flap on its own. If it still hesitates, gently nudge the cat flap open a number of times and gently encourage your cat to do the same.
During this time, you should be careful about one thing. Don’t let the flap fall down and hit your cat. This might scare your cat and ruin your hard work.
Be aware that it can take a few days or even a couple of weeks for your cat to become fully comfortable with the new cat flap. You will have to remain patient during this time. Don’t be frustrated if your cat is suspicious of the new device. With a little persistence, you will gradually succeed. The previously outlined tips will eventually bear fruit, with the passage of time. Just imagine how proud you will be when your cat starts using the cat flap freely.
During this training phase, you should take care of one important matter. No matter how long it takes, never allow them to use the main door to enter or leave the house. Doing so will undo all of your hard work. Even if your cat implores you to open the door, you should remain steadfast and not relent.
By not opening the door in spite of its entreaties, you will make it quite clear to your cat that the cat flap is its only option. Your pet will learn soon enough.
Another point to remember is that if the weather is too cold (or hot), then your cat may be reluctant to go outside. Training your cat under such circumstances may be more challenging than usual. With bad weather, you can try the techniques outlined above, but you must be more patient.
There is a good probability that your cat will go through. But if your cat is adamant, you may have to wait till the weather improves. It does not make sense trying to force your cat outside if it is unwilling to go. During this time, your cat may even get curious at some point and start probing the cat flap. When you find that it wants to go outside, then use the aforementioned tips to train it.
How Do You Train a Kitten to Use a Cat Flap?
Kittens can be incredibly gung-ho and will escape before you know it. However, some are rather timid and meek little creatures. They may not have the courage to paw and force their way outside through the cat flap.
If your is one of the more timid kittens, use the steps outlined above but you may need to give them a bit more encouragement and time.
Also, they will probably not understand the outdoors as well as an adult cat, so trying to introduce them to the outside and a catflap may be a big ask – so let them out through a door initially and only go to the flap when they are actively asking to go out.
They may also need to have a step on either side of the flap as there is no point installing a catflap the right height for a kitten if they will outgrow it in a few months!
Take very gradual steps and minimize the stress on your cat and ease the learning process as well.
How Do You Train an Old Cat to Use a Cat Flap?
Old cats are rather reserved in their behaviour. This demeanour can prevent them from using the cat flap. But with the steps outlined above, even an old cat will eventually learn. Older cats can take more time to learn but your perseverance will ultimately pay off.
Just remember to follow steps in the order given. Take care of the precautions as well.
The methods described above will help your cat to learn to use a cat flap. These methods are purely motivational and are designed to minimize stress on your cat as it becomes accustomed to the new cat flap.
- 1 Will Cats Use Cat Doors?
- 2 What to Do if Your Cat Won’t Use Microchip Cat Flap
- 3 How Do I Train My Cat to Use the Door?
- 3.1 Ensure That the Cat Flap Is Big Enough
- 3.2 Pre-Installation Training – Introduce the New Cat Flap to Your Feline Friend before its Installation
- 3.3 Decide Where To Install Your Catflap
- 3.4 Introduce the New Entry/Exit Point To Your Cat
- 3.5 Keep It Open Initially
- 3.6 Hold the Cat Flap with Your Hand to Keep It Partially Open
- 3.7 Remain Patient
- 3.8 Remain Firm
- 3.9 Weather
- 4 How Do You Train a Kitten to Use a Cat Flap?
- 5 How Do You Train an Old Cat to Use a Cat Flap?
- 6 In Summary