After giving our cat door its regular check (no squeaky stuff, no breakages by Silver) I began to think, how useful it is, where would the cats be without it?
I got curious and researched more deeply into the history of the cat flap. Where did it come from, why did people need to give the domestic cat instant access somewhere? With the Dash Kitten Crew I found some weird and wonderful cat flap tales, to share and some stunning high tech developments you wouldn’t have dreamed of a couple of years ago. Let me tell you about them.
Table of contents
- Did You Know? Cat Door Fun Facts
- Cats, Mice and Nursery Rhymes
- Sir Isaac Newton Takes Cat Doors to Another Level
- The Modern Cat Flap
- Catio Access Through Cat Doors
- Meet the Microchip Pet Door Connect
- A Cat Door For The Modern Pet Parent
- Would the Petcube and a cat door like the Connect work together?
- Any time is catio time
Did You Know? Cat Door Fun Facts
There are so many different types of cat doors these days. There are wall cat flaps, window cat doors and amazing electronic wizardry that seem almost to have a mind of its own. But, I am getting ahead of myself here. Let’s step back in time into Medieval English history, a long time ago.
In late C14th England, Geoffrey Chaucer wrote his collection of stories of a pilgrimage to a religious shrine, the Canterbury Tales. We spot what must be one of the earliest mentions of a cat being allowed access to buildings ‘officially’. Cats were an important part of life then although not the domestic cats we know today. They performed a valuable service hunting rats and mice in the barns that stored crops.
The hard-working feline in Chaucer’s The Miller’s Tale
A servant goes to find his master. He knocks at the door but gets no reply. Being a sensible servant he uses the cat flap to look into the room. Here’s what happens. It is in Olde English but you should be able to work out how the servant manages!
An hole he foond ful low upon a bire
There as the cat was wont in for to crepe,
And at the hole he looked in ful depe,
And at the last he hadde of hym a sighte.
I was delighted to find some evidence of a cat door so long ago in history. Decidedly low tech but very practical, and acknowledging the cat’s help to humans so long ago.
Cats, Mice and Nursery Rhymes
Nursery rhymes also provide us with odd cat door facts. Most readers know the rhyme ‘Hickory Dickory Dock. The Mouse Ran Up the Clock‘. The rhyme is thought to be based on Exeter Cathedral (England). The clock tower ropes were plagued with constant nibbling mouse damage. A cat door was included as part of the tower door in the C17th, to combat the rodent problem, and the aperture can still be seen today.
Sir Isaac Newton Takes Cat Doors to Another Level
Not only was Newton a theologian, philosopher and physicist, and recognised as one of the world’s most influential scientists. He is also rumoured to have made the very first cat flap.
This story of ancestor to the modern electronic cat door seems fanciful, but it has a thread of sense that grounds it in reality.
Newton had a cat called Spithead. She had a habit of nudging open her master’s laboratory door. This was frustrating for the scientist when the room was darkened for his experiments.
Although he loved his cat, Newton was not happy with the disruption to his work. So he called in a local carpenter and asked the man to saw two holes in the door for Spithead to access the laboratory. Then he covered the holes with flaps of black velvet to keep out the light!
The Modern Cat Flap
Compared to the door in Exeter Cathedral, contemporary cat flaps are much easier for a human to install. From the simple swing door to a state of the art microchip operation, most outdoor and inside cat doors can be installed with ease.a
Old style magnetic swing doors are being replaced by more robust models with improved weatherproofing, microchip activation, and better security against unwelcome visitors.
Here are some fun cat door facts to surprise you:
- Did you know there are wall extenders that allow a catio or garden owner to place a cat tunnel through a wall? Just because your safe garden area faces a wall doesn’t mean you can’t have a cat flap.
- Cat doors now come in a range of sizes. A petite calico will need a smaller cat flap than the bigger built Maine Coon. A large cat will happily slip in through the larger pet doors built for small dog breeds.
- A qualified glazier will be able to install a cat flap in most glass doors and windows as well as many high-density plastic windows. [Do not attempt to do this yourself!]
- You can, however, often install your own cat flap in a plain wooden external (or internal) door. As long as you have the correct tools, and have checked the manufacturer’s instructions. I installed a basic swing cat door when we lived in the U.K.
Catio Access Through Cat Doors
The increasing popularity of the enclosed outside cat play area is known as a ‘catio‘ is a source of important sensory engagement and stimulation for indoor cats.
More cats now enjoy a lot more fresh air and bird tv that they did in the past, with the added bonus of birds surround sound! The catio cat will need regular access to their play area (depending on the season) and this gives rise to monitoring concerns for pet parents, even if they do install a flap.
Cat owners who prefer to have complete control over access to a catio or garden will be interested in the latest developments from Sure Petcare. We came across this smartphone App operated model at a pet expo late in 2017. The company is working to keep up with demand as the cat door ‘Connect”s popularity is off the scale. It is easy to see why when we tell you more.
- NOTE: We are not affiliates but love Sure Petcare after reviewing their Surefeed cat feeder.
Meet the Microchip Pet Door Connect
The ‘Connect’ is a cat door linked to your smartphone via an App. The App is downloadable from Google Play and the App Store and it gives you, the cat owner, access to a range of controls that will put even the most anxious pet parent at ease.
- You receive notifications when a cat leaves or enters the catio or garden.
- It is easy to create a schedule for catio or garden access. You can also control this manually if you prefer.
- You can monitor your cat’s activity. Reassuring if you want to know if a cat is staying active or spending too long snoozing and needs more enrichment time from you.
- Anxious pat parents can receive alerts to show you when a neighbourhood pet is trying (and failing) to get into the house from your garden!
- You can share the fun friends and family to see what the cats are up to as well. Security and access are yours to control at all times.
Need any more persuasion? Check out the super cute ‘hub’ that transmits cat door data to your phone. With this kind of attention to design detail, we know you will appreciate such a quality company. We hope to buy our own own new Connect soon.
A Cat Door For The Modern Pet Parent
Cat doors are keeping up with the demands and concerns of the modern cat family. Cat tech is providing more ways to monitoring our cats’ activity, health and wellbeing. A top quality cat flap like the ‘Connect’, or similar, will work alongside a cat monitor like the Petcube in keeping a feline family safe and at the end of your wi-fi network whenever you need to check.
Would the Petcube and a cat door like the Connect work together?
In our view yes. Although on separate networks we anticipate using devices like this in tandem. They will be part of a secure cat monitoring program that we aim to use this coming year at the Dash Kitten Crew HQ. A cat flap like Connect will allow us to monitor and control cat traffic into and out of the back garden area, and the Petcube, being mobile, will be positioned at points within the house we want to watch. Both are accessed via an App on our smartphones.
Any time is catio time
The smartphone we carry can now help us keep an eye on cat health and mobility which is a weight from the minds of many cat parents. Future developments thanks to the ‘internet of things’* mean that Google Assistant or Alexa may be able to let your feline out for some catio fun if they think the weather looks good on the catio!
Maybe it’s quite a way off due to major worldwide security concerns and recent developments in the USA world of the internet, but it will come and the world’s felines maybe a paw step closer to world domination while we think we are watching them……..
This is the interconnection via the Internet of computing devices embedded in everyday objects, enabling them to send and receive data.
Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can create impressive cat photographs and fun movies with the camera they carry.
She is a Professional Member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.