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Sneaky cat flap shenanigans

(26 Posts)
givemushypeasachance Tue 28-Oct-14 23:17:37

I have just discovered that Rolo can open the cat flap from the inside when it's set to entry only; he hooks the rubber edge with his claws and lifts the flap inwards, then squeezes through the gap. The sneaky little bugger! I've seen him pawing at it before but just thought he was being a bit stupid and forgetting how to use it properly...

When both boys are in for the night I put a box in front of the flap so they don't bash at it, but Rolo came in first tonight after 'cat curfew' before Monty, then five minutes later was back out again. This explains why my cat sitting friends thought he'd gone missing after not seeing him for several days the other week - they couldn't block the flap up from the inside, so setting the flap to entry only when they visited kept Monty in but not the smaller, sneakier one.

This is just a basic four way entry standard flap - I can see I may need to invest in something a bit more hardcore or high-tech to defeat his tricksy ways. Has anyone else found a way around this?

RubbishMantra Wed 29-Oct-14 14:42:43

I have the same problem, MKitten does exactly the same sneaky thing when the flap's set to "in" only.

The only solution I can think of is a Sureflap.

Archfarchnad Wed 29-Oct-14 17:36:00

Rubbish, how would a Sureflap stop that happening, if it was set to 'in only'? The only advantage of a Sureflap over other flaps is that it won't let in random invaders. Or would the chip simply not be activated if the cat tried to open it with a claw the wrong way round (because the head isn't far enough into the flap), thus keeping the flap locked? We have a Sureflap but fortunately our lad is a bit too thick to work out the 'claw hooking' technique.

The only solution I can think of is that you pay close attention the moment he comes in and flip it immediately to 'lock both ways'. Ah, but then your other cat can't get in afterwards, bugger. Mmm, would a Sureflap Dualscan possibly be the answer? I know you can programme that one separately for individual cats according to their chip number. You could maybe try posting something on the Sureflap Facebook page asking if their flap would stop this kind of sneakiness.

Spooklingbrook Wed 29-Oct-14 17:41:33

We discovered my neighbour's cat can do this at the weekend. DH had to go out at 4.30am and said neighbour's cat was out at that time.

Turns out the cat can put a claw under the flap when it's set to 'in only' and get out. Sneaky.

RubbishMantra Wed 29-Oct-14 19:49:25

Oh bugger.

Cats really are smarter than us!

If they get the opposable thumbs, we are doomed to a life of servitude. oh wait, we already are

givemushypeasachance Wed 29-Oct-14 21:00:59

Most of the time they'll either both come in when I call at bedtime, or I'm downstairs so when I see the second one has strolled in I can go straight over and block the flap up, but it's just now and then when perhaps Rolo has come in at 10pm but Monty is still out and not responding to being called - I can't now trust that Rolo won't wander out again while waiting for Monty to come back as well. It's not the end of the world - like last night when he demonstrated this skill to me and then ran off for late night playtime, he still came back in at 2am. I'd rather they were in overnight but the odd dirty stop out midnight adventure may just have to happen! It's when friends are cat sitting I'd like them to be able to at least see both cats once a day at breakfast time - him doing this, as we know now he can, meant they didn't see him at all for five days because he could just come and go as he pleased. While shut-in-overnight Monty probably fumed with jealousy! grin

I've heard that the microchip ones only activate when they put their heads in the tunnel outside to come in, and default to allowing any cat out - so if your cat has one of these, when they leave the house it doesn't do the little unlocking click until they're through and their head is the other side of the flap? So e.g. it doesn't click once they're within six inches of it on the inside?

givemushypeasachance Wed 29-Oct-14 21:18:19

Just seen that Sureflap claim their doors are "claw-proof" as well, so I've emailed them describing the problem and asked what they think.

Archfarchnad Thu 30-Oct-14 17:31:10

I'd be really interested in the answer you get from Sureflap, give. I want to know if we've got anything to be worried about grin. There was a BBC programme recently called something like Cat Wars which actually showed an intruder cat doing the 'hooking' trick to get in - you couldn't see precisely, but I thought that flap looked like a Sureflap. Perhaps it wasn't, couldn't be sure.

The Sureflap does default to letting any cat out, the justification being that if a strange cat should get in by accident (ie the thing they claim shouldn't be possible), at least it can get out again easily rather than panicking in your house and causing mayhem. However, if you've got the 4-way setting on 'in only', that obviously stops any cat as well as your own from getting out. But you're right, it means that when the door is set to open, actually the microchip is only needed for a cat coming in, and the sensor for that is in the middle of the tunnel, just before the door itself.

givemushypeasachance Thu 30-Oct-14 20:07:29

Hi Archfarchnad - I got this response back this morning, very prompt:

"Our standard cat flap also has a four-way manual locking system, however, we have also heard of another clever cat who was able to do the same thing as your cat! We believe it is only very intelligent cats who have figured this out! Our design team have developed a solution to this which we would be happy to make for you.

This would cost you the same as our standard cat flap, yet our engineer will have to modify this for you and we will ship it to you via FedEx. You won't be able to order this directly from our website.

Please note, that this upgrade is hand made by our engineers and can take up to 2 weeks to be made."

I like the buttering up of them suggesting Rolo is super-intelligent for figuring the trick out, even if from googling it doesn't seem to be quite as unique as they'd suggest! The standard flaps direct from them are £80 so not sure it's a big enough problem for me to want to fork out that much to try to solve it, but I'll keep it in mind for if he's regularly staying out longer than I'd like due to sneaking out while I'm waiting for Monty to come in, or if it causes cat sitting problems. Or indeed if I start getting intruder cats or anything like that where a sureflap would help. Certainly looks like they have good customer service though.

RubbishMantra Fri 31-Oct-14 01:55:40

Oh but i want to believe their schmultz about intelligent/clever cats! <preens>

But... I read it that this modified super-dooper Cat-flap of Awesomeness wouldn't cost you any more than the standard?

Archfarchnad Fri 31-Oct-14 11:57:05

<Arf> at the super-intelligent feline MENSA-candidate moggies! Get Rolo registered this minute! Of course there's more than one 'clever cat' who's figured it out, they just don't want to admit to a design flaw. It's also a question of motivation to go out in the evenings - Archcat so far has worked out that, for him, the best way of slipping out again is waiting until one of us opens the front door to put rubbish out etc and then he zooms out like a shot. He then wanders back in an hour later through the 'in only' flap. I think he finds it more fun to outwit us that way than fiddling around with clawing the flap open <trying to defend own cat's apparent stupidly>.

On the one hand it's good customer service to do a free 'upgrade' (ie making the product do what they claim it will do anyway), on the other hand it would be a major PITA for us to have to do that retrospectively, once the Sureflap is already installed in the wall. I'm not sure how easy it is to get taken out and be fitted back in again - we had to get a professional to instal it in the first place, and we live abroad so presumably the whole process would take ages. But if you haven't installed the flap yet, you just want to exchange it for another one, then yes, it's a great offer.

Having whinged about it, as owners staff of a mere normal cat, we're really happy with the Sureflap so far. It's always worked (in the five weeks we've been using it) and doesn't let in a draught. However, we haven't yet had any intruders try to get in at all, because Archcat has been so good about defending his garden that we haven't seen another mog here for weeks now.

givemushypeasachance Fri 31-Oct-14 14:33:22

Yes RubbishMantra - as I understand it I can ring them up and order a modified flap, and it'll cost the same as ordering the standard microchip Sureflap from their website. But their website has it for £80 when you can find them elsewhere like Zooplus for £60 - and the cheapy basic non-microchip flap I have at the moment was more like £15.

I was cheeky and asked if they could tell me what the fix was like, to see if it was something I could DIY on my basic flap but it appears to be specific to a Sureflap - they described it as "we attach a sort of hood over the grey catch, so that your cat cannot press down that grey catch anymore".

Still pondering! I suppose Monty cost me almost that much recently when I had to take him to the vets and get antibiotics for an abscess, so perhaps Rolo just wants to even the balance! I'll think about it, and maybe make Rolo-proofing his escape route their Christmas present. wink

Dinglethdragon Fri 31-Oct-14 14:38:44

I had one that did that - so I took to monitoring when she came in and then did the proper full lock, no way in or out.

She tore the entire cat flap to bits - broke the plastic shock. Admittedly it had been up a few years so the plastic might have been a bit brittle but it was still some feat.

stealthsquiggle Fri 31-Oct-14 14:43:05

Ours can pick the lock, too. I have given up, TBH.

Archfarchnad Fri 31-Oct-14 18:49:45

"we attach a sort of hood over the grey catch, so that your cat cannot press down that grey catch anymore".

Ah, OK, I've just had a look at the Sureflap and worked out how the cat is doing it. The grey catch is about a centimetre wide, in the centre on the inside and is presumably the part that gets activated by the microchip. When the flap's on 'in only' the cat would push down with a nose or one paw while using the other paw to do the hooking inwards, and then the flap is up like any other non-chipped flap. Very cunning. The adaptation presumably means that catch can't be operated manually by being pressed down.

stealth, is your cat outwitting a Sureflap too? Or a non-chip model?

'She tore the entire cat flap to bits - broke the plastic' Good grief...

stealthsquiggle Fri 31-Oct-14 18:52:52

She's picking the lock on a cheapy cat flap. She actually turns it round. Sometimes she gets it wrong and puts it on "out only" grin but mostly if you leave it on in only you will come back to find it fully open. angry

Archfarchnad Fri 31-Oct-14 18:54:47

So she's not doing the 'claw hook' technique, but actually turning the 4-way switch? That's a whole new level of cat evil genius. Does she do it with her mouth?

TheGMF Fri 31-Oct-14 19:57:58

We have a Sureflap and we experienced the exact same problem not long after installation. The cats (we suspect there was a ringleader but we're not sure who it was!) were holding the 'pin' down with one paw and pulling the flap towards them to open it and achieve unauthorised egress!

We contacted Sureflap and they sent us (and it arrived really quickly) the modified 'thumbproof' unit. I've attached a pic of the 'hood' - sorry if it's a bit grubby dark.

It certainly worked or at least the cats haven't figured a way round it yet!

INeedSomeHelp Fri 31-Oct-14 20:03:50

I once locked my cat out to try and discourage him from bringing home "presents". He basically just ram raided the cat flap until the whole thing broke and he got through into the house. It's easier just to deal with the presents.

stealthsquiggle Fri 31-Oct-14 20:17:22

With a claw, I think. She has extra toes, so is as close as cats get to having opposable thumbs. smile

givemushypeasachance Fri 31-Oct-14 20:59:17

Thanks for the photo TheGMF - I can't quite envisage how the hood doesn't get in the way when the flap opens inwards, but guess it moves or gets pushed down or something!

Currently since my flap is just a basic one Rolo hasn't had to contend with a grey catch at all, it's a regular flap and he's getting his claw in the edge of the seal around the flap, but I can see if I got a normal Sureflap he would probably figure out the switch depressing trick since he's used to manipulating the edge of the flap. Our felines are all very sneaky!

I'm still a bit agog that some cats can just bash their way through a fully locked flap - they're powerful and determined beasties when they want to be!

Pangurban Sat 01-Nov-14 00:07:27

oh yes Archfarchnad, I saw that programme 'Cat Wars' too. The intruder hooked the door and pulled it towards him and went into his rival's house. Thing is, that was a special (expensive) door that operated via the cats chip or was it a magnetic collar?

When we were watching this, my husband said 'there goes the sales for that flap'.

givemushypeasachance Mon 03-Nov-14 15:17:12

On Saturday morning the little bugger got a paw around the box I put in front of the locked flap at night and was ripping the rubber seal completely off the flap at 6:50am until I went downstairs to see what he was up to. I've also seen him pulling the flap towards him even when the flap is unlocked and he's walked through it normally earlier that day - so the habit is clearly becoming ingrained and not one I really want to encourage. So I've bitten the bullet and have ordered a customised Sureflap - should be about a week or so, and then we'll see just how Rolo is against Colditz-level escape prevention!

What will probably happen is that both boys will be a bit freaked by the clicking of the unlocking mechanism and I'll find myself with an escape-proof flap that both cats refuse to use at all! grin

givemushypeasachance Thu 06-Nov-14 10:37:39

Well Rolo's present arrived - very quick! The "thumbproof" label is brilliant. grin

The little hood over the grey tab seems very neat and clever - having had a play with it myself, I can't see how any cat could get to the tab to hold it down and pull open/rebound open the flap when it's set to entry only at at the same time. So hopefully sneaky cat has met his match.

I've left it out so they can get used to the smell of it, and will try installing it over the weekend so I can check they're willing to use it to come in despite the unlocking clicking noise. Pleased so far!

givemushypeasachance Thu 06-Nov-14 11:00:24

Just took another photo of the hooded bit from a different angle to TheGMF's picture, since I hadn't quite been able to work out how it all connected (in case there are other interested lurkers with cunning cats!).

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