We regard having a cat flap as an essential part of being a cat owner. While some people prefer to keep their cat indoors, that won’t suit every cat. Which is where a cat flap comes in.
Cat flaps are a window to the world for our feline friends. Cats are naturally drawn to the outdoors (when it suits them) and some will spend the majority of their time in the garden or roaming your neighbourhood.
Cats in the wild live outdoors and even our domesticated friends will still have that instinct.
That’s obviously not true for all cats as some just love to lay on a windowsill or sleep in our bed all day long.
But the majority will like to spend time outside roaming the garden, standing in alleyways or monitoring their territory from a shed or garage roof.
There is a downside to all this though.
Why do cats come calling when you have a cat flap?
As cats like to roam and are naturally curious creatures, they do have a tendency to go ‘visiting’.
As anyone with a cat flap will tell you, there will be occasions when you receive visitors.
The majority of these visitors will take a quick look around and then leave. Not all will though.
Cats that come in and eat your cat’s food, spray in your rooms to mark ‘their’ new territory or worse, fight your cat for dominance of that territory.
Cats tend to visit to look for food, to look around, because they want attention or because they want to claim territory.
None of those reasons is conducive to a happy cat or a good night’s sleep!
Nocturnal visitors are the worst as we’re sure you appreciate.
They are also the hardest to police or prevent without the right approach.
How to prevent unwanted feline visitors
There are a few ways to prevent unwanted visitors of the feline kind. Some require behavioural changes but are free. The most effective costs a little money, but delivers the security you and your cat needs.
First let’s cover those behavioural changes.
Lock the cat flap at night
If your visitors are usually nocturnal, shutting your own cat in at night can help. You can lock or block the cat flap and hopefully, keep other cats out of your property.
The upside is that it’s free and easily achieved. The downside is that it’s an extra task for your evening routine and restricts your own cats’ freedom.
If your own cat enjoys wandering at night, this can impact their own happiness and sense of wellbeing.
Move food or put it away at night
If you have cats, chances are you’re already in the habit of not leaving food unattended. Turn this into a strict habit overnight and you remove one of the primary reasons cats come calling.
If you don’t want to put it away, move it upstairs or to another room.
We found great success with this method for our own cats. They ate only dry food so we used to leave it out in the kitchen all night as our cats liked to graze.
Neighbourhood cats would visit at night to snack on the food, which would wake us up and annoy our own cats.
By simply moving their food bowl to the hall upstairs, we were able to let our cats graze contentedly, while also removing temptation from neighbouring cats.
Don’t treat or fuss neighbouring cats
A less than ideal, but an effective way to minimise cat visitors is to not make friends with them.
The more they get to know you and the fact you’re not a threat, the more likely they are to come visiting.
This isn’t going to work for everybody as it means not making a fuss when other cats strike the pose or when they rub themselves up against your leg.
However, remaining aloof and an unknown quantity will make all but the bravest cats consider very carefully whether to come calling or not.
Use an automatic cat flap
Using an automatic cat flap is the simplest way to prevent cat visitors, but will cost a little money. We say a little as they really aren’t expensive, but money is money.
An automatic cat flap uses an intelligent locking mechanism that recognises a token you attach to your cat’s collar.
As your cat approaches the cat flap, it unlocks and allows your cat to come and go as it wants. If another cat tries to enter, the flap will stay locked, barring entry.
This solution has obvious benefits. It doesn’t compromise your cat’s freedom, you don’t have to hide food or move it or restrict your cat in any way.
If you have multiple cats or even a small dog, each can have their own token that allows entry and can come and go as they please.
Of all these approaches, we think the automatic cat flap works best. It provides the protection your car needs to feel secure without impacting their freedom.
It also means you can allow your cat (or dog) to come and go as they please while still getting a good night’s sleep. That has to be worth the investment!