or Connect
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Behavior › Any suggestions on electro-magnetic cat-flap problems?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

Any suggestions on electro-magnetic cat-flap problems?

post #1 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hi there all you knowledgeable cat-lovers!
This one has really stumped us, and you guys have come thru' for us and our cats before so I'm hoping.
First off, some background:
We have three cats: Tigger, a male who was neutered at 6 months (before he became fully functional as a male,) and his sister, Blizzard, and mother, Molli, who were both spayed just a couple of months back at 4 years and 6 years respectively.
Because of where we are (in the foothills of the Himalayas) where cats are seen as bad luck, there are no vets around with cat experience. Mostly we have managed to blunder thru' on our own, and one of the local dog vets has helped out as much as poss - finally managing to arrange a vet visiting at the local university to do our females' operations.
We have had an on-going problem with feral cats - in fact the mother cat, Molli, was feral herself, and we rescued her as a starving kitten - only a few months old. Her two 'kittens' have grown up to be bigger than her, but not as tough!
Anyway, one of the local male ferals has been coming in the catflaps both upstairs and downstairs and finishing any dry food that is around - which usually means a full bowl. He has learned to time it when no-one is around (no human I mean.) Lately he has used his very strong-smelling spray just outside the catflap and on the stairs leading to Tigger (and Lake's) room, to really frighten our little boy cat who has just recently started spraying - I guess in response - mostly outdoors but sometimes inside.
After trying a few other things, we bit the bullet and got some pretty expensive Cat Mate brand electro-magnetic cat-flaps sent out to us thru' the Internet (go the Net!).
They look fabulous installed, and make a great seal which is nice in the winter, but.... and it's a BIG but... they have a "feature" which is a "flaw" for us.
To avoid having any other animal follow your magnet-wearing cat thru' the flap, it clicks up to unlock and then clicks down again pretty quickly after. If your cat hasn't come in during that period, it has to move its head back again to reactivate the magnetic lock.
If your cat just barrels straight in it would be no problem, but if your cat (like Tigger, our male) stops to check out the clicking noise, or tries to open the flap with his paw... you are stuffed.
I think the clicking noise makes him think of prey - it is just the sort of tiny noise that interactive cat toys make in imitation of mice/birds.... and it is hard for him to ignore.
Because our old manual cat-flaps used to have a swivel lock on them - mostly for keeping cats inside for vet visits or outside if they had a rat in their mouth, Tigger has been trained to assume that if the door doesn't open it's because it's locked. He used to go away and try again later, or call at a door.... both of which would work for him.
If you were really smart, like Molli (his mum) you could turn the swivel screw with your paw. So that is worth a try too, he figures.
But the electro-magnetic cat-flap doesn't work that way!
He is starting to get pissed off with it too - we have tried leaving it open for a couple of days (and only locking at nite when Mr Wild Cat is around) so he can get used to it, and hopefully become confident enough to hurry in.
My daughter and I have hung out on both sides of the flap with pieces of boneless chicken... Tigger's favourite, coaxing him back and forth... nothing doing.
My daughter - Lake - has adjusted the height of the approach so his body is at optimal position... rather than simply "in the range".
To get to the question .... does anyone know if the cat-flap can be adjusted to re-lock a little slower? (We have a very handyman who could do it if it could be done....)
Or, any other suggestions on how to get Tigger to ignore the very quiet clicking sound the door makes and simply come on down?
Hoping for some helpful suggestions, and thanx for taking the time to read this post.... you guys are great. I really enjoy an occasional contact with the cat-loving world, and tho' I only log on with problems, I often come for a look at the beautiful cats (and, I must admit, to laugh at some of the silly-cat photos and captions too!)
Best wishes to all, from Felicity.
post #2 of 4
It does sound like a training issue. Maybe you could try putting the cat through the opening several times yourself, to teach him that he can go through when it's clicking. You've tried some training things already... maybe it just needs more repetition? It could take a few months for him to learn. I wonder if maybe you could smear a little chicken (or catnip or whatever he likes) on each side of the door in order to make him want to rub against it with his head.

Otherwise it seems like you might have to try a different kind of door. There are also kinds that work via infrared instead of magnets... I don't know what kind of noise they make. And there's the expense of a new door.
post #3 of 4
Thread Starter 
Hi there, and thanks for your tips with training. I realised it wasn't too clear in my first post (that's what happens when I'm online at 4 am ) but when we tempt him with chicken pieces Tigger is keen enough to go through, he just hasn't managed to open the cat-door without help.
The way it works, you can come out without having to activate the magnet so he gets his piece of chicken for going out with no problem. But going in... he'll poke and prod at the door until Lake has pity on him and manually unlocks it and then he'll hurry thru' and have chicken on that side too.
Of course, this only teaches him that there is something that Lake can do with her (human) paws, that makes the door open... a little bit counter-productive, but on the other hand (or paw) if we don't let him in manually there is only so long he will do it for.
Lake has tried pushing the cat-flap a little towards him from the inside also, to make him move back and have another try. She has got the approach level perfected so that should help.
Anyway, today Lake was in her bedroom and heard Tigger approaching the door and the magnet clicking up and then down and then while she was hurrying over to help, she heard it click up again. Yeah! he happened to fluke it - I think for the first time unassisted. So hopefully he will get it more often, and practice will make perfect. Also I guess the clicking sound will become more familiar and less intriguing.
Tomorrow we plan to activate the downstairs cat-flap which is used mainly by Blizzard, but also maybe a couple of times a day by Tigger, and rarely by Molli (who can open the human door into the kitchen where chicken is stored.... and doesn't bother with any long way around).
The downstairs cat-flap has been installed but not operating with the magnet - i.e. just left unlocked - for 10 days.... we're hoping that will be long enough for everyone to have got used to it, and to be ready to hurry through in the way that seems to work best.
I guess we can only persevere for now, and hope that their cat brains come to the rescue! These three are pretty clever in general, and I think Molli is the cleverest cat I have ever known in my life... and that's a lot of cats.
Thanx again!
post #4 of 4
Originally Posted by Felicity View Post
Yeah! he happened to fluke it - I think for the first time unassisted.
He probably just needs a little time to adjust to the new clicking noise. Hopefully now he's gone though he'll soon catch on.

Good luck
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Cat Behavior
TheCatSite.com › Forums › Our Feline Companions › Cat Behavior › Any suggestions on electro-magnetic cat-flap problems?