Everything You Need to Know About Flexible vs Rigid Door Flaps

Every pet owner wants what’s best for their furry best friend. You want your dog and cat to be able to come and go as they please, and you want to pick the best dog door out there that will fit their needs and lifestyle. You’ve also done your research. You know you need to measure your dog to have a properly fitting dog flap and that you need to buy the best pet door for your climate. But have you thought about the difference between flexible and rigid door flaps?

The bendability of your dog or cat flap might seem like a small detail, but it can make a big difference in your pet’s day to day life. What’s the difference between the two? Which type will be best for your pet? Let’s find out!

A group of dogs gathered around a clear pet door flap-- what is the best pet door for your pet?

What Are Flexible Flaps?

When we talk about flexible cat and dog door flaps, you probably already have a good picture of them in your mind. It’s the traditional pet door flap that can bend and curve to your pet’s back as they go through their dog door. The flaps can be made from a variety of materials, including plastic, vinyl, and rubber.

Flexible door flaps are designed to be easily pushed open. However, this can be hard if the door flap has a magnetic seal around it and door frame. Airtight magnetic seals are great for energy efficient dog doors, and they are an essential part of any well-insulated pet door flap. But some pets, such as smaller dogs and cats, can struggle to push the magnets apart.

Often, these magnets are removable, but that will compromise your energy-efficient dog door. Some pet owners have also found the magnets to be noisome, and the sound of them clicking back together can frighten timid pets.

Flexible dog and cat flaps are also considered to be safer than rigid flaps in that they do not run the risk of pinching your pet’s skin. However, they cannot be locked the same way rigid door flaps can be. Flexible flaps are too flimsy to be locked in place (which also means you won’t find an electronic cat door with a flexible flap).

If you want to lock up your door at night, you would need a locking pet door cover or, in some cases, a temporary sliding glass dog door insert you can uninstall at night.

If you’re interested in a flexible door flap, here are our recommendations:

Ideal "Fast Fit" Patio Pet Door

ideal fast fit patio pet door

Liberty Pet Doors for Doors

The liberty pet door for doors is one of the best pet doors with a flexible flap for those on a budget.

Hale Pet Doors for Walls

The Hale Pet Door for walls is a double flap pet door whose magnetic seal make it a great weatherproof dog door.

What Are Rigid Door Flaps?

Rigid door flaps are exactly what the name implies. The flaps are often made from plastic and do not bend to the shape of your pet as they pass through. You will often find flaps like these on electronic cat doors and cat flaps. Unlike flexible flaps, rigid cat door flaps will not warp under the sun, and they can be harder for dogs to chew apart.

Rigid door flaps are sturdy enough that they can lock into place without the need for a locking pet door cover. Because of this, rigid door flaps are perfect for electronic cat doors. They provide for a much larger selection of locking systems, including:

  • 4-way locking systems, which sets your door to completely open, completely locked, inside-access only, or outside-access only.
  • Microchip cat doors that will unlock when the sensors detect your cat’s unique microchip number.
  • Collar key pet doors detect a key that is attached to your cat’s collar. The type of collar key changes between brands and includes RFID, magnetic, and more.

While electronic pet doors are convenient and can be installed directly into walls and doors or in removable door and window cat door panels, they are available in a limited set of sizes. The majority of them are made exclusively for cats, while a few models can accommodate small dogs. This means that rigid cat flaps are not good for households where dogs and cats will need to share.

Another drawback to electronic cat doors is that they can be noisy, which can frighten timid pets. It is still possible to train your pet to use a rigid pet door, but the training hurdle will be much higher. If you have a timid cat, you will also need to keep in mind that some pets do not like having rigid flaps drag along their backs as they go through the door.

Of course, rigid flaps can also pinch your pet as they pass through. The chances of this happening are slim and, along with the other possible drawbacks of a rigid flap pet door, can be prevented with proper pet door training.

Finally, the electronic doors that typically use rigid door flaps are not always weatherproof dog doors. If your door is not being used exclusively inside, you may need to install a door awning over the electronic cat door to protect it.

The Endura Flap pet door is one of the few rigid flap pet doors that will not only accommodate large dogs but is also energy efficient. Not only do the door flaps have a magnetic seal, but many of their doors are available as double flap dog doors.

Double flap dog doors provide, as you may guess, double the insulation protection against cold drafts, which make them great for extreme climates. Like the magnetic seal insulated pet door flap, these cold-weather dog door flaps can be difficult for some pets to navigate.

If you are interested in a rigid flap pet door, here are our recommendations:

Endura Flap Dog Doors for Walls

The Endura Flap double flap pet door has an insulated pet door flap, making it perfect for extreme climates.

Ideal "Cat Sash" Cat Doors for Sash Windows

The Ideal Cat Sash is a window cat door with a rigid, locking pet door flap.

Your dog and cat will use their pet door every day, so it is important to take every aspect of it into consideration. Flexible and rigid flaps each have their own pluses and minuses, but between both categories, there is a pet door out there that is right for you. 

Want to learn more about pet doors? Check out these other posts:

Replacement Flap Vs. New Door: Is it Time to Upgrade?

French Door vs Wall Mount Pet Doors

Bug Off vs PetSafe: What is the Best Pet Screen Door?

Mia Daniele

Written by

Mia Daniele

Copy Editor

Pets: I have a fluffy, 14 year old chow-collie mix with red fur named Rosso. He's very stubborn and has the standoffish personality of a cat.
Fun stuff: I am a hot chocolate connoisseur.

Copy Editor

Pets: I have a fluffy, 14 year old chow-collie mix with red fur named Rosso. He's very stubborn and has the standoffish personality of a cat.
Fun stuff: I am a hot chocolate connoisseur.

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