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Cat has taken a dislike to new cat flap - what should I do?

(31 Posts)
Petal02 Wed 16-Oct-13 14:45:49

Help! My 4 yr old female cat has happily used a ‘normal’ cat flap all her life. However next door’s cat has started coming in, so we’ve bought a microchip cat flap (Sureflap).

For the first week after installation, we used it without batteries, just to ensure she was happy using it as a ‘normal’ cat flap. This was fine, and on Sunday we set it up properly, to only recognise her microchip.

It all worked OK for the first 24 hours. Then she suddenly decided she didn’t want to use it any more. My first thought was “is the cat flap still working OK” and it’s actually very hard to check this without getting hold of the cat, and posting her through the flap to check that the catch opens. So I’ve taken the batteries out again, just in case of malfunction, but even though we’re now back to manual operation, she simply won’t use it. I got home last night to find her staring at me through the cat flap. I called to her, she miaowed in response, but she didn’t attempt to push through the flap. And I’ve checked, the flap moves freely in both directions now the batteries are out. She didn’t attempt to go out at all last night, which is very unusual.

This morning she ate breakfast, then sat staring at the cat flap, whereas normally she’d be straight out. So I opened it for her, and eventually she went out. I wedged it half open before going to work. I went home at lunch time to find her in the garden, and she shot into the house when I opened the back door (this isn’t unusual, but I would have liked to see her use the cat flap instead).

So I can’t work out what’s going wrong; it’s like she spent 24 hours quite happy with the flap on selective mode, then decided not to use it anymore, and even though we’re now in manual mode it’s like she’s developed Cat Flap Phobia. I wish I’d never considered changing the Cat Flap, she was always quite happy with the old one !!!

Do you think a little tough love (which I find VERY difficult with pets) might help, ie assume she’ll re-start using the cat flat when she’s hungry? Hubby thinks she’s being a bit of a diva (she's always been a drama queen!) and that I’m panicking unnecessarily. I should add that after my last two pets passed away, I’m horrendously over-protective with our present cat, and am scared that she might give up on us if I don’t let her in through the door. Which I realise is a bit irrational, we’ve had her for four years, and she’s a happy, healthy well-loved kitty.

Or do I simply tape the cat flap open and start training from scratch again?

Petal02 Wed 16-Oct-13 14:55:11

I should add that I can't go home every lunch time to let her in - but as it's raining heavily today I didn't have heart to leave her outside all day (even though she could have used the half-open cat flap ......) !!

thecatneuterer Wed 16-Oct-13 15:02:27

oh dear I really don't know. I'm tempted to say 'tough love' as well, but then I don't have to look at a desperate little furry face pushed up against the patio doors (or whatever) in the rain.

I think even though I would probably advise someone else to try the tough love approach if it were me then I'd probably tape it up and start from scratch again.

Not much help really am I?

Petal02 Wed 16-Oct-13 15:14:11

I've just been reading reviews for Sureflap on Amazon (this product gets rave reviews, I'm sure its just our moggie who's being a bit high maintenance) - and one person whose cat didn't like the 'click' when the catch opens, suggested that you tape it open for a while, but leave the batteries in, so that it still clicks when the cat passes through, which helps the cat get used to the noise before they need to do any pushing.

It doesn't help that I'm at work Mon-Fri, so I can't do any real 'training' til the weekend. But I think I may need to tape the flap open during the evenings til I get to the weekend.

thecatneuterer Wed 16-Oct-13 15:19:08

That's sounds like a very good idea. Good luck with it.

Lovethesea Wed 16-Oct-13 17:49:01

We did that, just taped over and open so they passed through hearing the click til its normal. Didn't take long with dreamies dropped in the tunnel :-)

plantsitter Wed 16-Oct-13 17:52:48

Our cats hated it at first. I'm afraid I used tough love. grin. I reckon it's less stressful for them to get used to the cat flap than to have some other moggy nicking their food!

Lovethesea Wed 16-Oct-13 18:15:49

Sometimes now when Huntercat can't decide whether he wants to come in or not I just hear the click as he leans forward. Then click as he leans back. Then forward. And back.

He is currently unimpressed with the rain.

Petal02 Wed 16-Oct-13 18:21:58

Lovethesea - roughly how long did you need to keep the flap taped open for, before they got the hang of it?

Plantsitter - by 'tough love', do you mean you crossed your fingers and left your cats to work it out for themselves?

I know I'm too soft on our cat, and certainly can't come home every lunch time!

So now I'm in for the evening, the flap is propped open, in the "going out" position, as Cat is currently inside. If she goes out, I'll reverse this. And then when I'm at work tomorrow, and won't be around to keep moving pegs, I'll have to tape it open, so that she can come and go. I'll do what was suggested, and engage the catch so that she gets used to the noise. This is not good for my nerves!

Lovethesea Wed 16-Oct-13 19:05:33

I just used masking tape to pull the door up inside and tape it to the inside of our back door. The catch goes up and down still as they click through so they hear the noise.

I think it took 2 or 3 days at most.

I did sprinkle dreamies inside too so they stuck their heads in to get those which seemed to get them past their initial dislike of the click sound!

plantsitter Thu 17-Oct-13 12:22:02

Oh sorry - the cat's probably got used to it by now! I just made sure they knew what it was and their scent was on it by letting them go through it on open mode for a day or so, and then I locked it and just let them get on with it. Obviously they were a bit annoyed and waited for me to open the door for a bit, but I just left them to it and when the got hungry/needed a wee enough, they did it themselves.

SO glad we got it now, even though it was $$$ as there are loads of aggressive cats round here and saunter in and eat the food if you leave the door open - and our cats are a teeny bit wussy!

Petal02 Thu 17-Oct-13 13:05:54

Update: after dashing home in my lunch hour yesterday, to ensure Cat didn’t spend all afternoon outside the rain …….

She was asleep in her bed when I got home in the evening, I didn’t think she’s ventured out during the afternoon. She her dinner and then sat with me and hubby in the lounge, as normal. At around 8.30pm (which is her usual evening stroll time) she loitered near the cat flap (I had it half-open in the going-out position) and when I opened it a little further, she ventured out. At approx. 10.45pm (her usual coming back in time) I went to the back door to see if she was trying to get in via the cat flap. She was looking at me through the flap, but not trying to come back in, so I opened it slightly for her, and she came back in. So she’d been through the flap, in both directions, with encouragement, during the evening.

I don’t think she went out at all last night, and after breakfast didn’t attempt to go out. So as I had to leave to go to work, and wouldn’t be around to keep pegging the flap in “coming in or going out” direction, I had to tape the flap in the ‘open’ position - so she shouldn’t have any problems at all (and neither should next door’s cat, if he fancies a snackette …….)

So when I get home tonight, I’ll keep the flap taped open, I’ll re-engage the catch so that it clicks as she goes through. One step at a time !!!

Petal02 Thu 17-Oct-13 13:08:07

Plantsitter apologies, I posted before I'd read your latest comment! I might have to do the same as you, and once I've done all the obvious things, leave her to get on with it. I'm just terrified that if she can't/won't get into the house for any reason, that she'll wonder off and come to harm. I'm burning off lots of calories with all this stress!

sittingpretty25 Thu 17-Oct-13 14:08:10

Just out of interest how much did you pay for the flap? We need to get one as there are so many cats around here and my cats are ninnys who just sit and watch as next doors cat tucks in ...

Petal02 Thu 17-Oct-13 14:26:23

It was approx £70 from Amazon. Its smart and robust, and I'm praying Cat gets used to it, as we need to keep other cats out !!!

sittingpretty25 Thu 17-Oct-13 19:56:22

Petal02 thank you smile I'm sure she will with time - as much as I love my cats sometimes it is good to remind them they are the pets and we are in charge!! smile

Petal02 Thu 17-Oct-13 20:12:21

When I got home tonight, having left the cat flap taped open all day, Cat seemed quite happy popping in and out. So at least she still remembers what the cat flap is for! In the last hour I've just re-engaged the lock/catch, but left the flap taped up, so that she gets used to the clicking noise. She came back in about 10 mins ago with no problems. I'll continue this for another 24 hrs, and will then lower flap slightly so that she needs to give it a bit of push, whilst still hearing the click.

Fingers crossed!

ratbagcatbag Thu 17-Oct-13 20:19:16

We've just changed ours to this too, our cat is not best impressed but tough love has worked, she flattens her ears everytime it clicks, but its either that or no cat flap as I am not coming home everyday to tomcat spray in the house. We're now three weeks in, she's ok with it, if we're in the kitchen she prefers we let her out but she does use it all day and night now. smile

Petal02 Thu 17-Oct-13 20:57:40

Ratbag - that's good news! I'm glad it's worked out for you and your cat. I'm pretty sure Cat will get the hang of it soon, it doesn't help that I'm far too soft with her and find tough love very difficult!

Lovethesea Thu 17-Oct-13 21:13:31

You can always coat it in cream or butter, I'm sure she'd get over the click sound quite quickly!

Sounds like she's sorted it really. Just being a cat about it all.

Petal02 Thu 17-Oct-13 21:38:57

Yep, definitely a Diva Fever moment! Hopefully we'll have it cracked in a couple of days!

Petal02 Fri 18-Oct-13 09:58:24

Last night Cat continued to be quite happy with a taped open cat flap, that was making clicking noises. In fact when the flap's taped open, the clicking didn't seem to bother her at all. However we need make progress (it's damn cold with the cat flap taped open!), so this evening I'll use pegs to make the flap half open in whichever direction she'll be heading in next, so that she'll have to give it a bit of a push, and hear the click. Then if this progresses well, we'll try closing the flap fully on Sunday, when I'm around all day to supervise. And it may be that a little tough love is required, rather than me panicking and opening the back door at the first sign of her not wanting to push the flap.

It's not easy doing this when I'm out at work all week !!!

moonbells Fri 18-Oct-13 14:25:03

My Mooncat scrabbles at it until the flap moves a bit. She was fine to begin with (when she was still a recently-spayed half-starved just-had-a-litter stray) but has now decided she can't be bothered and waits to be let in if she sees us in the kitchen. However if we're not there, she does use it! Cheeky whatsit. She is rather large now (we are trying to remedy the situation - too much high-cal kitten food we think!) and that doesn't help as Sureflaps are quite a squeeze for big cats.

Petal02 Fri 18-Oct-13 14:32:21

Ah, so Mooncat is quite capable of using Sureflap when it suits ?? Interesting ...... !! How long did it take her to get the hang of it, and was she spooked by the clicking sound?

Thankfully our cat is quite small-ish, so size isn't an issue.

Fluffycloudland77 Fri 18-Oct-13 15:20:58

Our cat used to stand by the door looking winsome and pathetically miaow at the door when pil came round, he could use the flap but getting the staff to do its more fun isn't it? Breaks the day up a bit.

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