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Electronic Pet Doors, Cat Doors, and Dog Doors FAQ

Figuring out what electronic pet door will be best for your situation can be confusing since there are so many types of electronic doors. Read our answers to commonly asked questions to help clarify your options and what will work best for you! Contact us at customerservice@petdoors.com or use the chat window below if you have any questions we didn't cover below.

Which type of collar key is best?

This is a difficult question to answer because different people have different needs and may not agree on what is “good” and what is “bad.” However, we’ll take a stab at it. Remember that the features of the pet door you want may be just as or more important than the characteristics of the type of collar key that is used.

The Vet-Implanted ID Microchip-

The Pros for this type of collar key are impressive. Most importantly, there’s no collar needed because the collar key is actually the ID chip that your vet implanted under the skin. The absence of the need for a collar has a number of very important advantages. Some cats won’t tolerate them at all. There’s always some danger of a cat accidentally getting his collar hung up on a branch or another object, which can have disastrous consequences. (Break-away collars avoid that danger, but if they break away, you’ve lost both the collar and the collar key possibly trapping the pet outside.) In addition, the implanted chip doesn’t add to the clutter if you’ve already got ID tags (you DO have an ID Tag, Right?) or a hidden fencing system receiver on the collar. These collar keys are the only ones that are never lost, and you don’t need to pay for spares “just in case.” Finally, no batteries are required for the collar key (the pet door will need power, though).

On the other hand there are a few disadvantages.  The largest pet door flap available with this technology is only 7”w x 7”h, this is the SureFlap Microchip Pet Door, which would not be suitable for larger pets. And most only control who comes in not who goes out, the exception is the Dual Scan, with a very limiting flap dimension of 5-¾”w x 4-¾”h.  These doors are compatible with almost every North American microchip, but it may be wise to check with your vet to be sure you’ve got one of the right ones and, make sure that the chip is still at the top of the neck where it belongs and hasn’t migrated somewhere else.  If the chip has migrated down the back it won’t be in the right spot to trigger the door consistently. You can also email us at customerservice@petdoors.com with the number on your chip, and we can double-check the compatibility. Finally, installation in a metal door can be tricky because a wood “collar” is needed for the door to keep it separate from the metal.

The Magnetic Collar Key-

There are two types: For the first, the magnet actually pulls a lever inside the cat door, which unlocks the door. In this case, the cat door doesn’t require any power, and there is no electronic circuitry to corrode or fail. For the second type, the magnetic field of the magnet is sensed by the pet door, and it unlocks in response. These Electromagnetic doors require power, in the form of a battery. In both cases, the collar key requires no power, as it is just a magnet. Magnetic collar keys are less expensive to replace and are waterproof.

On the other hand, the magnets used to pull an inside lever are relatively strong and more likely to pick up debris like nails and bottle caps. Since they’re stronger, they may exert more pull than is comfortable for a kitten, and at least one manufacturer recommends that they not be used until the cat is a little older. The positioning of the pet door is important as the magnetic collar key has to come extremely close or make contact with the bottom frame of the pet door. If mounted too high or too low, the key might not trigger the door as it never gets close enough. Some manufacturers recommend that installation in a ferrous metal door may require that a wooden collar be built to isolate the pet door from the door. An aluminum door would not present a problem. Finally, a magnet is a magnet; there is no way for the cat door to distinguish among your pets or between your cat and a neighbor’s cat that happens to also wear a magnetic collar key.

The Ultra-Sonic Collar Key-

High-frequency sound (much higher than can be heard by your pet) is not affected by sunlight (as were the infra-red type) or by the material that the electronic door is installed in or by the use of any other electronic like hidden fencing. The sensitivity of the microphones can be adjusted to allow the user to control the distance at which the electronic pet door activates.

But, batteries are required, so you’ll need to check them occasionally. The units are susceptible to damage from water. Even though there is a waterproof version, you shouldn’t use this for a pet that swims in a lake. Finally, a few (but not all) cat owners have felt that the unit was too large and uncomfortable for their pet.

The Radio-Frequency Chip-

The PetSafe Smart Door, a popular electronic dog door, uses a chip that emits a radio frequency signal. When the door reads that signal, it unlocks, and when it can longer read the signal, it locks again. The collar key can be programmed to emit a unique signal, and the door can recognize up to five different keys.

Of course, these keys require battery power, and, again, some have felt them be too large for their cats.

RFID Chip Collar Keys-

RFID technology is the latest to make its appearance in the collar key world and appears to have some strong advantages: They require no batteries, they are very durable and are waterproof.

While some, like for the Cat Mate Elite series, is perfectly appropriate for cats, others are larger, and you may not find them suitable for use by your cat specifically. Additionally, they tend to be on the more expensive side.

Some electronic pet doors control access from outside only, while others are controllable from both sides. What difference does this make?

In most cases, the outside access control only works just fine. Here are the situations in which access from both directions can be an advantage:

You want to keep an inside pet (or child) from going outside in addition to preventing strays and other animals from coming inside.

You are concerned about raccoons coming in through the pet door. At least some raccoons have figured out that a one-way control electronic pet door can be broken into by hooking the flap with a claw and pulling the flap toward the outside. Then they can come through the opening. No one knows if every raccoon can do this, but they are very clever. Two-way control prevents this.

 

Some electronic pet doors are motorized while others require the pet to push the flap after unlocking. What’s the difference?

Motorized electronic pet doors always control from both directions: non-motorized versions may be either one-way or two-way control.

A timid, arthritic, or injured pet may find it easier to use a motorized version since he doesn’t need to learn to push anything; the door simply opens in front of him. This is probably the most significant advantage of a motorized pet door.

We suspect that the motorized versions may be slightly less able to keep a second pet from following the first out. It’s true that the time the flap remains open can be made short. But it’s still open to all during that time. The must-push versions present a following pet with a flap swinging toward him as the leader clears the door. That would seem to be a more effective deterrent.

Manual versions may be used in a non-electronic mode; motorized pet doors cannot.

 

What are the different power requirements of electronic pet doors?

As we’ve seen above, some magnetically operated pet doors require no power source at all, neither for the door nor for the collar key. For the remaining electronic pet doors, there are four possibilities:

Some are operated by batteries only

Some may be operated with AC power thus requiring a nearby wall outlet.

At least one, the Hi-Tech Power Pet, can use AC Power with a battery backup in addition to the first two options.

With an electrician's help, you might be hardwired by the pet door.

 

What problems are there with electronic pet doors?

The first is reliability.  With electronic doors, there are more issues that are likely to occur. If a manual pet door works for you and your pet, we would definitely recommend the manual door as a better option. An electronic door can run into issues like a dead battery since there is no battery level indicator; this problem could occur unexpectedly and would hinder your pet from entering/exiting. On the other hand, the only time a manual pet door would stop your pet from entering/exiting is if you personally put the locking cover on.

Cost. Electronic pet doors, particularly the motorized versions, tend to be more expensive than manual pet doors. Lost collars and keys can add up, too. Although there certainly are some high-performance manual pet doors that are quite expensive as well.

Rigid Flaps. All electronic pet doors incorporate rigid flaps. However, some people prefer a flexible flap for reasons of safety and a softer surface for the pet to push. In this regard, it should be noted that the motorized pet doors do not offer the pinching danger of a normal rigid flap.

 

What does it mean to "control both ways?"

The option to control both ways allows the door to control which animals can enter and exit. This can prevent animals such as raccoons from getting inside, as well as keep your pet or even child inside when necessary. Access from both directions can be an advantage if you want to keep an inside pet (or child) from going outside while also preventing outside animals from getting inside without a collar key.

 

Which doors control access both ways?

The SureFlap Dual Scan, PetSafe Smart Door, High Tech, and Cat Mate 305/306 control access both ways.

 

I want my dog to be able to get in and out of the house, but not my cat, which pet door would work for that?

The PetSafe Electronic Smart Door would be a good choice that allows for this type of this functionality.

Smart doors uses collar keys for dogs to enter and exit while keeping the cat insideFor small dogs and cats in the same house, the passport can control which pets can go outside

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 PetSafe Electronic Smart Door             Passport Smart System

   

How is the PetSafe Electronic Smart Door powered?

This smart door is powered by "D" cell batteries, which are not included. There is no low battery indicator on the Electronic Smart Door, so it might be useful to keep a spare collar key nearby for testing purposes.

 

Can I get a microchip dog door for my Lab?

Unfortunately, there are currently no dog doors or large cat doors available that use microchip technology for a bigger animal like a Lab. There are microchip doors for smaller dogs and cats, however. 

 

What are the advantages to having an electronic pet door?

An electronic pet door allows you to have control over which pets are able to go in and out of your home, while also keeping wild animals or stray animals out of your home. Another advantage is that electronic doors are wind-proof.

 

Do magnetic locking pet doors require power?

Magnetic locking pet doors do not require power. However, Electromagnetic Pet Doors like the Cat Mate 254/256 and Ideal “E” Cat Door require batteries.

 

Why would you want the pet door to open without the pet pushing?

You will want a motorized door if your pet is timid, injured, older aged/arthritic, and unable to push on the flap of the door. A motorized pet door allows hassle-free entry and exit.

 

 

Are there any patio panel doors that control both ways?

Yes, the High Tech Power Pet Automatic Pet Door controls both ways.

 

Which electronic pet doors can have a rechargeable battery?

The High Tech Power Pet Door has a rechargeable battery.

 

Do all electronic pet doors have low battery indicator lights?

Not all electronic pet doors have low battery indicator lights. Typically, just the smaller cat doors offer this feature.

 

Do the rigid flaps of motorized pet doors create a danger for pets or children?

The rigid flaps of motorized pet doors do not typically create a danger for pets or children because the flap is retractable and will lift back open if it senses something is in the way.

Do all electronic pet doors have rigid flaps?

Yes, all electronic pet doors have rigid flaps.

Which electronic doors have timer controls?

Yes the SureFlap Microchip Pet Door and the Cat Mate 305 both have timer controls.

 

Do you have any electronic doors that are raccoon proof?

Yes, the SureFlap, Cat Mate 305/306, PetSafe Smart Door, and High Tech Power Pet Door are all raccoon proof.

 

Is there a microchip door for sliding doors?

With the SureFlap can I program both the implanted microchip and the collar key, that way if my cat loses their collar the chip will trigger the door?

No, the RFID collar key must be discontinued after chipping your pet because the two signals will confuse the pet door.

 

Which electronic doors have 4-way locks?

The SureFlap, Cat Mate 254 Electronic Cat Door, and High Tech offer the 4-way locking mechanism.

 

How many keys do each of the doors come with?

Do you have doors that will work off my cats microchip?

Yes, SureFlap and CatMate both make electronic doors that can be activated by your cat's microchip. (Sureflap Microchip Cat Door, Pet Door & SureFlap Dual Scan, also Cat Mate 355/356).  The microchip MUST be implanted by a vet. You cannot try to attach a microchip to the pet's existing collar or ID tag as it will not trigger the pet door properly.

 

Can I install the SureFlap in a metal door?

Yes, the SureFlap can be installed in a metal door. However, you'll want to put a border/adaptor around the frame before installation because the metal in the door can interfere with the signal if it is too close to the frame of the pet door. See installation video for more details.