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Cats make excellent companions, and as cat owners, we want the best lives for our cats. Many cat owners will consider whether or not to buy a cat door, so their cat can experience life outside of the house, but before installing a cat door, they will find out first if cat doors are safe.
No, cat doors are not safe. Despite the benefits of cat doors, many risks make cat doors unsafe. Animals such as feral cats, raccoons, and snakes can enter houses through cat doors. There is a risk that your cat will disrupt the local ecosystem, be hit by an automobile, or drink tainted water.
Cat doors touch on many vital subjects regarding cats. Read on to hear more about cat doors and the alternatives!
What are Cat Doors?
Cat doors are cat flaps or more structured small door contraptions for cats that are installed at the bottom of the door. They allow cats to make their way outside and come back inside at their own will. If you are a cat owner that prefers the idea of letting your cat experience life outdoors on their own, cat doors are a good option to do this so that you don’t always need to open the door for the cat.
There are different options for cat doors, including spring-loaded cat doors and electronic cat doors.
Safety Concerns of Cat Doors
Cat doors come with their own safety concerns. Many cat owners tend to worry about their cat going out at night, and for good reason. If you do get a cat door, you should consider closing it at night.
If you leave your cat door open at night, it is not unusual to hear stories about feral cats fighting with the resident cat.Cats will also sometimes fight outside with raccoons and there are even stories of raccoons entering houses through the cat door. We talk more about whether cats and raccoons will get along in our article on the subject.
You may be concerned about your cat strolling on the road and being involved in a tragic accident. Considering you cannot monitor your cat well while she is outside, she may eat or drink something unsanitary that later causes inevitable health issues.
If your cat is not used to being out for long, it may not be familiar with the neighborhood and lose its way. If your cat does get lost, you should ensure your identification is on her collar. You should also ensure that your cat is microchipped and that the microchip works.
However, there are some ways you can avoid certain situations. Magnet cat doors will only prop open if your cat is wearing a collar with a magnet attached, which can help prevent strays from getting in.
If you want to keep your cat inside at night to prevent any mishaps, it is advisable to have amusing cat toys appealing to your cat’s innate playfulness.
Should You Monitor Your Cat’s Behavior?
You may have gotten the cat door attached, but if you try to ensure that nothing goes awry, you should think about getting a GPS tracking collar for your cat. This will allow you to see how far your cat is traveling and if she is going into any bad areas.
However, this won’t really give you an insight into what your cat is eating or drinking. It is not unheard of for a cat to drink contaminated water out of a puddle with oil or antifreeze or some other terrible contaminant in it.
Are Cat Doors Necessary for Cats?
Some owners prefer having cat doors because their cats get too bored with staying indoors. They will note that their cats will try to sneak out of the house or will spend hours watching everything going on outside through the windows.
Not everyone feels like cats need to go out to be happy. If you would rather keep your cat inside, there are several ways to do so. You could play with her to keep her busy and buy a ready-made cat condo or cat tree, so she does not need to go out to satisfy her urge to climb.
Having a window perch near a wide window can let her sunbathe lazily and feel content. However, if you do want to go for a cat door, you could install a screened porch so she can explore while being safe.
Make sure your garden has no toxic plants that can cause harm if ingested as well to ensure your cat’s protection. If your cat does like to eat greens outside, you may want to provide her with cat grass inside.
What Are the Benefits to Cat Doors?
Cat doors, though, may be a source of concern, but they do have plenty of benefits that you should consider before getting them installed.
Scores of people claim that their cats live a more enriched life by having a healthy balance between staying indoors and exploring outdoors. This allows them not to feel cooped up and tired of the limited things to do indoors. It can allow them to interact with other felines and be playful with them.
Connecting with Nature
Their natural instincts would help protect them as they explore the great world beyond. Some people feel that animals should not be kept inside against their will and should be given a chance to connect with nature, as is their right.
They can laze around and feed on delicious treats inside and head out to play in the yard as per their will. This is an admirable way of letting them have the best of both worlds. They may feel more at ease in their natural element by hunting outdoors for their own food.
Being Safe and Entertained:
Cats being allowed to go outside at their leisure would create an environment where your cat would not have a reason to be fussy or be loud about what they want as they can go outside themselves.
Additionally, having a cat door could save your walls from being marred with scratches gouged into them. You probably wouldn’t need ever to worry if your cat was getting enough exercise as she is probably walking all over the neighborhood.
What are the Drawbacks to Cat Doors?
Imbalance In The Local Wildlife:
The first thing to give a good amount of thought to is the wildlife. If cats are kept inside, they rely on the food you provide them.
What is usually not included is the local wildlife they may start preying on if they are let outside. This could include lizards, birds as well as mice that you may doubt that your cat will have a significant effect on, but the reality is that one cat can severely affect the local populations of small animals.
A common fear while letting cats out is that it may weaken your bond. This is a natural concern since your cat will be out and about among other felines and getting its exercise all on her own. You may feel like you are not doing your part by partaking in enough activities with her.
Indeed, many cat owners have cats because they love that deep bond that they have. I know that I have a deep bond with my cat, Charlotte. We spend A LOT of time together and if that changed, I would probably miss that bond that we have now.
As I type this, she is lying on the floor two feet away from me. She almost always keeps me nearby.
Strays Might Slink In
If your cat has the wit to use the cat door to come and go as she pleases, how long do you think it might take other animals to figure out the same? Feral cats and raccoons are cunning.
They may sneak inside without you even suspecting it and get your house messy. Another reason to be alert is they might attack your cat after entering, and if they have thrived on the streets, they will undoubtedly have the upper hand and maul your pet.
It can also be dangerous for a human to step in and interrupt these fights, putting you in a very tough position.
Even your cat figures out how to work its way around the cat door and does not end up lost, she will likely become much more exposed to many of the common cat diseases, such as worms and rabies.
Should I Shut My Cat Door at Night?
Yes, you should shut your cat door at night. A lot of the risk around cat doors happens at night, so it makes a lot of sense to keep them shut at night. At night it is more likely a stray creature may venture into the house. It is also more likely that if your cat goes outside at night that they will have a dangerous encounter with another animal. You should probably keep your cat door shut from sunset until sunrise.
Alternatives to Cat Doors
A few good alternatives to cat doors are cat backpacks, cat strollers, and cat harnesses.
Cat backpacks allow you to go on walks with your furry friend in a well-ventilated backpack that she can see out of. We wrote an article about the usefulness of cat backpacks.
Cat strollers provide a way for you to walk your cat around the neighborhood without having to sling her over your back.
Cat harnesses allow you to walk your cat, just like you would a dog, although it will be much different. You will want to allow your cat the free reign to walk around the front or back yard while you keep an excellent hold on the leash. Check out our article on the safety of cat harnesses.
As good owners, we want to allow our awesome cat friends to have their best lives! This could mean allowing your cat free reign in and out of the house through a cat door.
My recommendation is to use a cat backpack, cat stroller, or cat harness instead of a cat door. There is just too much risk to your cat’s life and to the security of your home if you use a cat door. Additionally, this will help keep the small organism ecosystem (birds, mice, lizards, etc.) around your house healthy too.