Cat flaps come in a variety of shapes and styles, though mainly in just two colours, white or brown, although there are a few exceptions. They have a variety of features depending upon the type and cost. The basic feature that most cat flaps share is some form of manual locking. This may be a slide-in closing panel, two way locking (free access or locked), or four way locking (free access, in-only, out-only, locked). The manual locking is generally operated via sliding or rotating catches. Top of the range models are entering the market with automated controls operated by timers

If you are looking for a cheaper option then look at manual cat flaps. The next price range up are the magnetic and infra-red types which I advise you to avoid due to the common loss of collar attachments. If however you choose to use these types, then please be aware of their limitations. This leaves the microchip models which cost substantially more but give secure entry, can differentiate between your pets if you wish to restrict individual access and egress, and can contain timers to do all of this automatically

The four types of cat flap are:

  1. Manual cat flap

    The basic manual cat flap which is popular and widely installed

    Pros: cheap, no batteries, simple manual controls

    Cons: there is a risk that other cats or wild animals may enter your home. You will also have to remember to set the access on the flap to suit the time of day to keep your cat(s) in at night and allow them to go out in the morning

    For further details see the Manual Cat Flaps page

  2. Magnetic cat flap

    Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this type of cat flap, the big problem is your pet losing the collar attachment which activates the flap. They can be replaced, but in the meantime your pet will be locked out or the cat flap will have to be placed in manual mode. I can install this type of flap but I recommend that you consider either the manual or microchip types

    Pros: the flap is unlocked by the magnet carried by the cat on a collar around its neck. This prevents other cats (or foxes) coming in

    Cons: there is a risk that the cat will lose its collar and find itself shut out. Also, neighbouring cats may be equipped with identical magnetic collars which will admit them to your home. These are not generally suitable for fitting to doors containing metal and, be aware, some uPVC doors contain a sheet of reinforcing metal

    For further details see the Magnetic Cat Flaps page

  3. Infra-red cat flap

    Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this type of cat flap, the big problem is your pet losing the collar attachment which activates the flap. They can be replaced, but in the meantime your pet will be locked out or the cat flap will have to be placed in manual mode. I can install this type of flap but I recommend that you consider either the manual or microchip types

    Pros: the flap is unlocked by an infra-red key uniquely coded to your cat flap, so preventing any unwelcome intrusion

    Cons: the key is again carried on a collar so risks being lost. Both the cat flap and infra-red key use batteries. It is possible for your cat to be locked out when the batteries are running low. In practice there may be as few as four unique key codes for a particular model of infra-red cat flap. This means it is still possible, although unlikely, that a neighbour's cat carries an identically coded key giving them ready access to your home

    For further details see the Infra-red Cat Flaps page

  4. Microchip cat flap

    Pros: the most secure type of cat flap, it recognises your cat’s unique microchip implant. In fact, it will recognise as many cats as you have, or may get in the future (up to around 30 pets at any one time). Some of these also have a ‘curfew mode’, enabling you to program the door to lock and unlock at specified times or when it gets dark. The latest model can be programmed to restrict some pets to indoors-only, while others are allowed outside and back in again

    Cons: not generally available from pet shops but can be ordered direct from manufacturers or I can supply them at a generous discount. The presence of metal in doors could potentially interfere with the microchip reader, but this can be overcome by cutting an oversize hole through the door. Your cat will also have to be microchipped which some owners may be uncomfortable with

    For further details see the Microchip Cat Flaps page