Kitty Doors: Access to the Outside

At one time or another, some cat owners have wondered what joys a pet door could bring. Imagine sitting down to your breakfast or dinner without keeping an eye cocked at the door, in case he needs to answer nature's call. Or how much happier the cat would be if she wanted to expend some of her energy in the safety of the yard, able to come back to the house at will.

Ah yes, there are many advantages to a pet door – if the right one is selected and installed properly, and you use it the right way. It goes without saying that a pet door should only lead out to a securely fenced yard, but this point is so important, we're going to say it anyway. The fence should be secure enough to prevent your cat from leaping over it. For your typical agile feline, this is often quite difficult to do. The fence should also be locked from the inside.

With that said, there's another important point to know about pet doors: it's no excuse to leave your pet alone for long periods. In fact, a pet door should be closed and locked when you're gone for many reasons:

Finally, your cat will still miss you like mad. These aren't points against installing pet doors, just aspects to consider on choosing and using them. On the plus side, your cat will be able to relieve himself at will, and he can amuse himself indoors or out when you're busy around the house

Doors range in styles, features and of course cost. They run anywhere between $25 to almost $1,000. Typically, small cat doors are on the inexpensive side.

Technology has helped solve the problem of unwanted animal intruders. Electronic and electromagnetic doors, which only open in response to a "key" on your pet's collar, are now available. These doors are locked until your pet comes within a few inches of the door. The "key," attached to your pet's collar, sends a signal to unlatch the door. The pet can then walk through the door, which falls back into place and locks.

The cost of these doors is surprisingly low – between $60 and $100 for certain models designed for cats. The cost goes up with the size of the door – larger dogs may cost several hundred to $1,000.

Note: Remember to buy a door for the size of your cat as an adult to save money and labor. The width of the opening should be a little wider than the widest part of your pet, and the height should be measured from the top of the shoulders to the chest, just behind the front legs.

A final note about cats: As mentioned earlier, cats are generally safer and healthier indoors. Even a fenced-in yard may contain dangers to your cat. You might consider a pet door that leads out to a screened-in patio, for her safety.