Choosing a keyed cat door for His Highness
Choosing a keyed cat door for His Highness . Our cat, Ghanji, has a boxing buddy who is so brave that he comes in through the cat door and helps himself to some snacks. He also sprays his scent around the house to annoy the master of the house and us. We couldn’t tell if this was a neighbor’s cat or something wild, so we went to the local animal shelter for help. They gave us a cage so we could catch the bad guy, have surgery to change his behavior, and then let him back into the neighborhood. Well, when Ghanji saw the cage in the garage with some of his food in it and realized what was going on, he gave a disgusted twitch of his tail as if to say, “Who did I think would be dumb enough to fall for this?” He was right; there was no prize after three weeks. So much for the safari plan.
With spring in the air, we found that a skunk had also found its way into our garage through the small door. He or she moved on to another area before finding the second door that led inside. Soon after that, I saw that the garage door looked like it had been hit by a bunch of leprechauns with tiny water balloons, and then the smell grabbed me by the hairs on the back of my nose. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. It was a lot of fun to talk with Ghanji about what we could do to his sparring partner if we caught him. Then I heard a faint whisper that reminded me that I like to let people live their own lives. Yes, I have no problem with this guy doing his “cat thing” outside.
Okay, so how can our king come and go whenever he wants, but keep the lowlifes out? I had heard of electronic pet doors, and so had most of the store owners in my area, but no one sold them. Here we come, Internet. If you know what you want, it seems like all you have to do to find a keyed entry door is shop around for size and price. We didn’t find any basic instructions on how to choose between magnetic keys and infrared keys, or between magnetic mechanisms, electronic release mechanisms, and motorized doors. This isn’t a recommendation for one type over another. It’s just a quick summary of the differences we found, which may give you some information that the marketing people left out.
The size of the door is the most obvious thing to think about first. It needs to be big enough for your pet. Next, decide where the door will go and look at the “construction site” to see if there are any special things you may need to do to install the door. This will also help you decide between different models and their options. Some can handle the weather better than others, for example. If the door will be in the sun, make sure the door and its mountings can stand up to the sun. Will you be cutting into wood, glass, metal, or just the screen in the screen door? Or are you putting the door in a window? A lot of choices.
Magnetic key vs. Infrared key
When the battery dies, it’s easy to see what the problems are with battery power. It might be interesting to catch Fluffy banging her head against a locked door on a hidden camera, especially if it’s a “I’ve got to go” moment. None of the electronic keys I looked for could withstand rain or snow. No matter what the weather is like, our cat likes to go outside, so a key that could break if it got wet was not good for him. The best thing about an electronic collar is that it is different. So, if a neighbor’s pet has a key on its collar, it probably won’t work on your door. One more benefit of an electronic key is that it works from farther away, sometimes far enough for a pet to get in on the run. This seems to matter more for dogs than for cats.
The fact that a magnetic key can pick up metal is not a good thing. You might want to get an electronic key if your pet likes to go to places with loose nails, bottle caps, etc. and roll around in the dirt. Ghanji told me one day that a magnetic key has to be in the right place on the collar, which is very important. If the collar is too loose, your upset friend can push on the door all day and it will stay locked, unless the key happens to swing forward just enough to open the door.
There are three types of doors:
With a magnetic key, you can open a magnetic lock. This type is completely mechanical and doesn’t need any kind of maintenance. That is, it doesn’t need batteries or anything electrical.
A magnetic key or an electronic key can open an electronic release mechanism. Some doors are powered by batteries, while others can be plugged into an outlet. There are enough options in this category to meet a wide range of needs.
The key is electronic and the door is powered. The one I found in this category has a motor that makes the door open and shut like a guillotine. This looks like a great idea for bigger pets, especially dogs that like to come in without much hesitation. You might have some other special need for your pet that would make this type perfect.
We liked that it had a 4-way locking system, which let us set it to “in only.” So, if the boss has a late meeting or is having so much fun with the mouse that he loses track of time, he can sneak in without us having to go lock the door. There are coyotes that roam around here at night, so we have a curfew that we feel more comfortable enforcing than letting everyone do whatever they want.
The most important thing about this whole process was being able to talk to Ghanji freely. We told him what the problem was and why we were going to change his door and, by extension, his routine. The tricky part was getting him to agree that carrying his own key on his collar would be a good idea. The last person who took care of him made him a bell, which he didn’t like. We told him that this collar had nothing to do with chasing birds or mice or changing his image, but that he was really special and was now the only cat in the neighborhood with his own key, which was pretty cool. Some people might think it’s silly to talk to animals. If that’s what you think, that’s fine. For the rest of us who know that our furry friends have feelings, feel free to enrich your life.
When the time came for Ghanji to change his private entrance, he was very excited. After watching the new door being put in, he wanted to see for himself what was different. He was interested in the key as I showed him how the door was locked, but when I moved the key to the door’s entry, the door opened. Since he learns quickly, the collar was the next step. We decided to give it a try for a while to see if I was telling the truth after he had one last panic attack about losing his freedom. I told him several times that this was a very special thing for him and that we thought he was “big enough” to have his own key and that a collar made sense since he didn’t have pockets. Now, his food lasts A LOT longer, the house smells like people, and Ghanji thinks he’s the best-fed cat in the neighborhood. He’s very proud to put on his key and go out to wake up the birds and check on his domain first thing in the morning.
P.S. If you are worried about losing your status, Ghanji still prefers his “servants” to open the big door when we are around. So, his door gave him more freedom, but we still have our place serving him, which means we have a job.