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Installing a Cat Door in Your Home

Do you own a curious cat? Or one who loves the outdoors as much as they love the plush sofa inside? Does your cat enjoy basking in the sunshine outside, or roaming the neighborhood to socialize with their fellow felines? With pets like these, it’s easy to start feeling like a doorman letting them in and out constantly.

What about the times you aren’t home? Then you can’t figure out if you want to let them in or keep them out. Many pet owners are caught in the same dilemma. Moreover, the problem persists when the feisty feline starts bumping and scratching doors in order to be let out. What is a cat owner to do? Hire a cat sitter? In this economy! We have got to be joking right? Well, we are. That is because we have a better solution at our disposal. Instead of operating as a doorman for years to come, pick up some tools and flex your handyman skills for the day to install a cat door!

Does that sound like a tough task to pull off? Cat flap installation is actually pretty simple! We will show you that with the right tools and proper guidelines, installing cat doors for interior doors or exterior doors is easy! In fact, you will hardly break a sweat when you fix up a solid cat door for your pet if you follow our lead. Cat flap doors can be installed in all sorts of places! Maybe you want one on your garage door, laundry room door or closet door to give them access to their cat food or litter box (or to keep the dog out of the cat's food and the cat's litter box). Or maybe you have an indoor cat and want one on your bedroom door to let them in without having to open and close the door constantly. 

Wondering how to install a cat door in a hollow core door? Hollow core door installation requires framing the inside of the door (similar to installing a pet door in a wall). We’ll talk a little later on about how to cut a hollow door to install cat door with a simple DIY framing technique. Let’s get started!

The Prep:  What Do You Need Before You Start Installation?

Here are a few pre-installation tips that will make your job easier:

Measure Your Pet

A word to the wise, you should never buy a cat door for doors (or elsewhere) without measuring your pet. Otherwise, you might wind up with a flap too small for your cat. And if it is too big then it acts as an open invitation to big stray cats and dogs into your home.

So as a precautionary measure, measure your cat. This way, whether you have small or large cats, you will end up with the right size door for them. Take measurements from the cat’s feet to their shoulders. Apart from the height, try to gauge other factors like the width and the distance between the cat’s under-bellies to the head before you dive into learning how to install a cat door. You can use a cardboard cutout in the dimensions you think to visualize whether or not they will work for your cat.

Pro-tip: Keep the opening width two-inches wider than the widest part of your pet. Same goes for the height.  

Our tip comes in handy in two ways. Firstly, your pet won’t get stuck if your measurements were incorrect. Secondly, a slightly bigger pet door means that you won’t face any problems if your cat gets bigger as they age. This way you won't have to waste money replacing a pricey, high quality door just because your cat no longer fits through. 

The Door

After noting the measurements, it’s time to shop! You will be happy to know that there is a wide variety of pet doors out there. Like double-flapped, single-flapped, self-framed and frameless. You can have an interior door with a cat door, or an exterior door, or a cat door for interior walls…and the list goes on. You can even keep wildlife and strays out of your home with a door like the SureFlap Microchip Pet Door, which has a four-way lock that open only for your cat's unique, vet-implanted microchip or RFID collar key. The PetSafe Electronic Smart DoorCat Mate Elite Electronic door, and Ideal Pet Products E-Cat Door are some more options featuring an electronic door lock to keep critters out. One thing to to keep in mind with microchip cat doors is that due to limited frequency range, they won't work with large dogs (but are a great home improvement option for your cats!).  

The trick to choose the best door is keeping in mind:

  • Your pet measurements
  • The thickness of your doors
  • Feasibility
  • Durability

Pro-tip:  Most interior doors have hollow cores. This is why we advise you to purchase a hassle-free self-frame door. Not only will they cut-down the installation process, but they will also protect the hollow core of the door from weather and water damage. Plus, they provide a smoother, neater finish!

Plus, they give your DIY-project a smoother, neater finish!

The Location

Done with the shopping? Now, all you have to do is to select where you want to place your cat door. You can have one cat door for the main door of your house. Then if you are feeling generous, you may also install cat doors for interior doors leading to rooms your cat frequents (e.g. the kitchen!). This allows your precious pet to have easy access inside and outside the house.

The Tools

Here is a list of the tools you will need:

  • Measuring tape
  • Pencil
  • Ruler
  • Drill
  • Drill bits
  • Earmuffs or earplugs
  • Dust mask
  • Jigsaw
  • Safety glasses
  • Screwdriver
  • Utility knife
  • Workbench (optional)
  • Pet door kit
  • Masking tape

The Guide: Step-by-Step Guide to Installing Your Cat Door

Step-1: Purr-fect Position

Use a pencil and ruler to properly mark the area where the door has to be installed. Make sure that the marking is leveled. The pet door will be approximately 10-12 inches above the floor.

Many pet door kits include a template that will help you draw the borders.  

Pro tip: Take out your door from the hinges before you start the installation.

Step-2: Drill Away

Next, as a safety measure, you should place a masking tape around the corners of the template you drew.  Then drill four holes in each edge of the drawn pattern these work as the access points for your jigsaw.

Step-3: Start Cutting

Now, comes the tricky part. You will have to insert the jigsaw into one of the drill holes, and then steadily cut according to the template line you had drawn. The template allows you to cut an accurate opening to fix your cat door.

Step-4: Attachment

Did you buy a self-framing door? That’s great!

Because all you have to do is attach the pet door to properly place the pet door into the hole you just cut. Remember to secure both sides of the door with screws.

Have a Hollow Core Door but bought a Frameless Door?

You can’t attach the pet door without making your frame. So what do you do?

Frame It Out Yourself!

Here is what you will have to do:

  • Measure the interior dimensions of the cat door hole you have cut.
  • Then cut 4 pieces of wooden plank according to those calculations.
  • Apply glue to the planks to create a framework.
  • Clamp those planks.
  • Let it dry!
  • Then fix it inside the hollow wooden door. Make sure that your homemade frame aligns perfectly with the hole.

Done? Now, please go to step 4 and attach your pet door.

What’s Next?

Once your cat door has been installed, it is time to train your furry feline. Remember, it might take a few attempts and some time to make it used to the door. But once your cat gets used to its customized door, it will be flapping in and out like a pro!

So are you ready to drop your doorman duty?

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