So having decided we had to keep Sooty in permanently … the saga of Sooty’s girlfriend changes to the saga of the cat flap.
We’ve had a standard pet porte microchip cat flap since before we started cat rescue and loved it, but dreamed of the day when microchip flaps could offer selective exit as well as entry. By chance we checked their website recently … and there it was!!!! A stunning, all singing, all dancing cat flap, that would allow you to set individual programs of in and out for 30 odd cats. Not only that, it would allow a longer relatch time for our timid Amber, sound a different tone for each chipped cat who approached it, keep records of when each cat went in and out, and had a USB connection so we could easily delete adopted rescue cats from the memory thereby avoiding every filling it to capacity. Ok, so it didn’t empty the litter trays, do the shopping, and cook dinner, but it looked good – a real Swiss army knife of a cat flap.
Of course it was ridiculously expensive ….. at that point (only a few weeks ago) …… £300+ ……… but then the price started plummeting …… and we picked one up on another website for just over £100. Sadly when it arrived it was a huge disappointment ……. HUGE being the operative word! It turned out to be several inches too tall to fit into the door panel in the photo above. Honey and Amber could have left the house in tandem with Flipper diving over the top of them and there still would have been room.
Thankfully returning it wasn’t an issue, other than we were left with the original dilemma of how to manage Sooty staying home whilst the others went out. A second look at the Sureflap competition looked promising. Initially we’d dismissed it because it seemed that there was no setting for “indoor cats” to be able to get back in if they happened to get out. However further investigation revealed a safety mode which allowed this. It wasn’t all singing and dancing like the pet porte option, but it looked like it could just about hold a tune whilst it shuffled across the kitchen floor.
We had a bit of a Goldilocks moment when it arrived as this one seemed to be too small! A bit of careful fitting by local handyman sorted that out. All we had to do then was get everyone scanned in … ahem .
Honey grumbled a bit but complied, Flipper wriggled and giggled but the job was done, Jango more or less slept through the process. Sooty got a little confused about being taken to the flap when we’ve spent the last few weeks keeping him away from it … whilst we got a little confused about how to set it for him to be “in only”. As expected, Amber was the challenge. Having got hold of Amber only once in the years she’s lived here (a necessary but not to be repeated nightmare to get her chipped), picking her up and pushing her through the flap was not an option. Sureflap gives you rather longer than Petporte to get them to the flap after pressing the “learn” buttons …. but doesn’t disperse the eager group of cats who would be happy to be “re-learned” if it means they can pick up the treat left out to entice Amber near to the flap. Finally, smearing the outside of the flap with tuna oil whilst the other cats were indoors proved to be effective.
Unfortunately that’s still not the end of it – they have to learn how to use it. Trying to stay calm whilst my annoyance with the girlfriend rises over this. If only she hadn’t got involved. In the last 48 hours I’ve been met by a barrage of complaints – it smells different to the old one, it sounds different, it needs a different angle of approach to get your microchip to trigger it to open. Amber has managed to use it to get out, but is too scared to use it to come in. Honey seems able to get in, but it won’t pick up her chip when she’s trying to get out. Sooty is furious that he can’t use it at all. Jango seems to have lumbered in and out once or twice … he’s more interested in snoozing in the box it was delivered in. Flipper seems to have got the hang of it, to the point of being able to manoeuvre a struggling rodent through it this afternoon.
It’s been a weekend of experimenting with different methods. Taping the flap open so they can just get used to the feel of it and the different noises it makes (though this means Sooty has to be shut in the bedroom) seems to help. Having the flap closed whilst serving delicious treats on the other side of it also helps a bit. Almost as heart breaking as Sooty hammering on the flap wanting to go out, is Amber silent meowing to me on the patio because she wants to come in. Neither can understand why their little furry worlds have been so cruelly disrupted. I silently fantasise cruelly disrupting the girlfriend’s world. Does she have any idea how much stress and distress she’s caused?