Cat Flaps – and Why I Hate Them by Andy Sutton

 

I’ll admit it upfront, to your face and with more than a hint of passion; I really hate cat flaps.

We have had cats for as long as I can remember and in the main they’ve brought happiness, warmth and familiarity to our pet filled world. Moggies with names such as Meuw, Maddy, Willow and Smudge have been a part of our lives and part of who we are. Independent, loving and enduringly loyal, cats bring so much to the table (as well as the occasional field mouse). Of course, we’ve had the odd exception and the recent re-naming of lovely ‘Lola’ to lively ‘Lucifer’ provides a telling clue as to the worst offender. Despite her evil traits, we still love Lucifer.

Our cats have always enjoyed the best of both worlds; lazy hours in the home and intrepid adventures in the big wide world. Cats are independent beings and God only knows what they get up to. Many years ago, much younger and certainly less wiser, we installed a cat flap in our back door. It was our first house, a brand new semi, complete with its’ own back garden. Without delay, we bought a cat flap and set about installing it, the perfect solution for our much-loved cats; or so we thought.

My pain started immediately. There I stood, hacksaw in hand about to butcher my own, brand new back door! Was I really about to do this? Had I gone mad? I convinced myself it was a necessary sacrifice taken for the well being of the cat as I semi-destroyed a perfectly good new door. Fitting a plastic and perspex cat flap hardly did anything to improve the outward appearance, let alone my muddled mood.

Door destroyed, cat flap installed, things could only get better, couldn’t they? Well, if you’re a dog lover you will understand the challenges of K9 training and the particular difficulty of getting Rover to do something that he doesn’t really want to. Now, multiply that challenge ten fold and try your hand at getting Tibbles to open a miniature perspex door and squeeze through a little hole; extremely difficult even with some gentle encouragement being offered by a pair of Size 9’s. No amount of milk chocolate buttoned bribery wears down the resistance of an animal that strictly does things on her terms.     

Eventually, a combination of starvation, perseverance and encouragement broke the stalemate and the cat flap served its purpose. Our cats could move freely in and out of the house at their leisure but what we hadn’t reckoned for was the apparent fame of our moggies in the local cat community. It wasn’t long before a cacophony of their friends, enemies, strays and Toms made quick work of the cat flap, entering the kitchen and paying little respect to normal house rules, food bowls and litter trays. I remember returning home on one occasion to disrupt a raging cat party; the emergency exit feature of the cat flap came fully into use as a stream of flustered cats quickly departed.

They won’t get the better of me, I thought, so undeterred I sought a replacement cat flap. This time I aimed higher, did my research and bought a ridiculously expensive high-tech door lock activated by a micro-chipped collar worn by the cat. I thought I’d found the solution even though, deep down, I associated a collar with a dog; I’m pretty sure the cats felt the same? Nevertheless, we persevered and the new device worked like a dream, for a while, before it broke and broke again.

And then, the coup de grâce. We arrived home late one evening to discover an attempted burglary, through our backdoor. The chancer either had an equivalent hatred for cat flaps or thought that a butchered back door was a weak spot for entry into our home. Either way, the cat flap was destroyed in a million pieces as the door was compromised. Thankfully, a damaged door was the only inconvenience of that episode and if I’m honest, part of me wanted to thank the perpetrator for finally consigning that awful cat flap to the local scrap heap. Needless to say, we replaced the back door but didn’t replace the cat flap.

So, that’s my story and that’s why I hate cat flaps. I’m sure I can’t be the only one?


 
Joseph Sutton