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Installing a Cat Door in Your Home

Does your cat enjoy basking in the sunshine outside, or roaming the neighborhood to socialize with their fellow felines? Maybe you have a cat who loves your plush sofa as much as your backyard bushes. With active pets like these, it’s easy to start feeling like a doorman having to constantly let your cat in and out of the house. 

Benefits of Installing a Cat Door:

  • Give cats the freedom to come and go safely 
  • You no longer have to play 'doorman' to your cat
  • Enjoy a range of installation styles from manual to electronic 

If you're constantly having to let your cat in and out, it might be time to invest in a quality cat door

Why Get a Cat Door?

Like many loving cat owners, you probably get caught in the same dilemma whenever you want to leave the house. Do you leave your feisty feline inside where they can bump against your furniture and scratch your doors? Or do you lock them outside where they can get hurt? What is a cat owner to do?

Of course, every pet parent wants to be able to afford a cat sitter. But have you seen this economy? We have got to be joking! 

Well, we are.

Instead of hiring a pricey pet sitter or officially becoming your cat's professional doorman, purchase a cat door. Cat doors are great investments that give your cat the freedom to come and go as they please while keeping your house safe. 

Installing a cat door isn't even that hard. And we'll show you that, with the right tools and proper guidelines, your brand new exterior door cat door will be ready to use in no time. 

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 keep your feline friends from fighting over the cat food or 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. 

Whatever door you want, this guide will help you install it. Without further ado, let’s get started!

cat walking through cat flap that can be installed into walls and doors

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. The same goes for 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. 

Diasgram showing how to measure your pet door for your pet and your pet's step-over height

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 opens 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 part? 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

instructions for how to install cat door for door

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

measuring the position of the Endura pet door flap for an in-wall installation

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.

Some doors have paper guides that show you where you will need to drill to install your cat door

Step-2: Drill Away

Next, as a safety measure, you should place 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.

Carefully cut into your wall or door with a jigsaw in order to install your cat door

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.

A self-framing cat door can just be placed directly into your door or wall without any additional construction.

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?

A frame for your door can be made either from wood or metal

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? If so, check out some of our cat door recommendations:

The Endura Flap Cat Door for Doors with a tan screen and energy-efficient flap
Hale Cat Door for Doors
Stephen Daily

Written by

Stephen Daily

The PetDoors.com Team is dedicated to providing the highest quality pet doors. As dog and cat lovers ourselves, we aim to write about the topics that matter the most to you and your furry friend. If you have any questions, please contact our customer service team. 🐶🐱

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