Cats, Home Projects

Cat Integration: Indoor vs Indoor/Outdoor

One of the most important decisions a cat owner has to make is choosing whether their feline friends will live indoors or have the freedom to explore the outside world.  For both cats and their owners, each choice has advantages and disadvantages ranging from safety and health to simplicity and quality of life.  As you can imagine, trying to mix cats who are used to different domains would be a challenge.  Well, guess what?  That’s exactly what we’re going to do!

Mika and Mochi have lived their lives exclusively indoors for many good reasons.  Historically, Kimmy has lived too near to busy streets for cats to explore outside safely.  Add to that the fact that Bengals are rare, exotic-looking beasts who might tempt the sticky fingers of an ill-intentioned cat thief and, well, it’s too horrible to speculate.  Kimmy has kept her girls safe and sound in their home and knows just how to make a fun and cozy cat environment.  We take them for outings on their leashes as often as possible but after seven years of indoor life it’s safer to assume they don’t have the necessary street smarts for free roaming outdoor access.  Mika and Mochi will retain their indoor cat status.

My Maine Coon kitties, Chaos and Calamity, have always been allowed the freedom to come and go from their home as they please.  Our quiet suburban neighborhood is a playground for dozens of outdoor pets, so conditions are fairly safe for outdoor cats.  Being outside is their primary source of entertainment so switching them to an indoor lifestyle would likely drive them stir crazy.  Plus, they’ll probably want the option to escape their new roommates from time to time.  Chaos and Calamity will continue to have free access to the outside world.

Chaos and Calamity are able to leave the house and return through a series of two cat doors joining the kitchen to the garage, then the garage to the outside.  In order to keep Mika and Mochi from being able to use the doors, we turned to the SureFlap line of microchip pet doors.  These doors can read a pet’s implanted microchip and will only unlock when authorized pets are near.

Access Granted! Chaos entering the kitchen through the SureFlap Cat Door.

We purchased and installed two doors.  The first, between the kitchen and the garage, is the SureFlap Cat Door which allows free access in one direction and only allows authorized cats through in the other.  This should keep Mika and Mochi from being able to enter the garage, but just in case they do, they can get back into the house without issue.  The second, between the garage and the outside world, is the SureFlap DualScan Cat Door which requires cats to be authorized in both directions.  This door has a lot of responsibilities:

  1. Allowing Chaos and Calamity in and out
  2. Keeping Mika and Mochi from escaping the garage
  3. Allowing Mika and Mochi to reenter just in case they somehow manage to get outside
  4. Keeping foreign creatures like skunks, raccoons, and other cats out

The cat door installation was painless and simple, partly due to there already being holes cut in the doors for previous cat doors.  For the garage-to-outside door, we needed to use the SureFlap Cat Door Mounting Adapter to help cover the existing hole which was too big.  We applied some clear weatherproof sealant around the perimeter for sturdiness and protection from the elements.

The SureFlap DualScan Cat Door installed with the adapter, as seen from the outside.

Chaos was able to use the doors right away.  It took him a few tries to get used to the audible click sound of the door unlocking as it read his microchip, but now he’s a pro.  Not bad for the scaredy-cat!

Calamity, however, was a bit more challenging.  Unfortunately, her microchip was implanted further back than normal and sits over the top of her shoulder blade.  This made it very difficult for her to trigger the microchip readers.  She was convinced she was locked out for a while, which resulted in a lot of frustrated meowing.  I decided to purchase the SureFlap RFID Collar Tags and equip her with one as a backup.  She had never worn a collar before and, much to my surprise, she accepted it like a thoughtful gift.  She is now double-authorized and using the doors successfully.

Calamity sporting her microchip collar tag.

The true test of the new doors’ effectiveness will be after Kimmy’s kitties move in. Hopefully there won’t be any sneaky Bengal tailgating issues. We’ll let you know how it goes once we’ve reached that point.

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