Cat Flap Training: The 101

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By Life With Cats

If you are a cat parent, you must know how much they cannot get enough of the outdoors. You might want to give your feline buddy freedom to experience the outdoors at their discretion. If that’s the case, installing a cat flap is a no-brainer. A cat flap allows your kitty to walk in and out of the house anytime without your help.

But not all cats learn how to use the cat flap quickly. Even some kittens have a hard time getting the hang of it. If that’s your fur baby, do not worry. Here’s what you need to know and do to help the kitty learn to operate the cat flap

Is it the first time? Ensure it is the right fit and at a correct position

If it’s the first time, ask a friend or an expert to help you pick the right size cat flap, and install it at a comfortable height and conducive environment.

Training your kitty to use the cat flap will be an uphill task if the opening is too small or installed at an uncomfortable height. Also, ensure the flap does not lead to open space. Such a position would make the cat feel like vulnerable prey.

Familiarize the kitty with the flap

Familiarize your kitty with the cat flap and how it works before installing it.

Show your cat the new fixture, rub some of its scents on it, and demonstrate how it works. Introducing your cat to the opening will go a long way in helping them learn to use it. Cats learn by watching, so whether it’s a traditional manual, a magnetic, or a smart cat flap, familiar scents and sights will help them overcome the fear.

Teach the kitty they have only one way

Perhaps you got used to the attention-seeking meows next to the door or window whenever your cat wanted to step out. Installing a cat flap does not mean this will stop. You must develop thick skin.

If your cat calls and wants to use a window or another opening to step outside, don’t allow it. Let them get used to using the specific door which you will install the cat flap. Make this door the only path to the outdoors, and be patient while your feline buddy gets the hang of it. After they get accustomed, you can start teaching them to use the cat flap. 

The following tips will help your cat learn quickly.

Rub their scent on it

The flap might seem like a port opening to another dimension (scary) to the cat. Try rubbing a cloth on the cat (or pick one from the sleeping area) and rub it on the flap. When the flap gets the familiar scent, your kitty will be less scared of it. 

Prop the cat flap door open

Take advantage of the cat’s curiosity. Prop the cat flap open using a string or improvise some other way, especially when your cat is investigating the opening. Once the kitty sees its doorway to the beloved outdoors, it will get the urge to investigate further.

You could consider leaving the cat flap open for a few days so that the kitty will start to use it to get in and out of the house. When they do, you can let it down, and the sounds of the outdoors and warmth of the indoors will be sufficient.

Use treats and praise

If your cat does not take the step, it could be scared. Maybe they have more reason to stay put. 

You could be getting desperate, but don’t fret. Your kitty needs some extra motivation.

Treats and praise are excellent rewards and can help you a great deal when training your kitty how to use the pet door. Place some treats on the other side of the cat flap. Allow the kitty to see/smell the niceties. Then let them take the next natural step – walking through the flap. 

If your cat is still hesitant, hold a treat and put your hand through the flap and partially open it. This will teach the kitty to push it open. If they get to the other side successfully, give them the treat and praise them hysterically.

Repeat this often, until the kitty learns to jump in and out of the house through the cat flap.

A final word; it’s a warning

If you have tried and the kitty is still hesitant, we urge you to be patient and ask for help. No matter how desperate you may get, do not shove your cat’s head through the pet door. Not only could your cat fight back and hurt you, but it could also make them fear you, and they could reject the flap. Apply the above tips with patience, persistence, and consistency, and your cat will eventually feel comfortable using the cat flap, especially during their cat zoomies when they have tons of extra energy to expend. 

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