Fix-It Friday: Cat Door

I’ve had my oldest cat, Krashy, for almost 12 years now. In all that time, the cat litter box has always been somewhere fairly conspicuous — bathroom, bedroom, closet with the door cracked open, even in the dining room (away from the table, of course). So I’ve always wanted to be able to put the stinky box in the basement.

To that end, a friend suggested that I look into installing a cat flap on the basement door. “Sure, that seems like an easy idea!” I said to myself. “How hard could it be to cut a hole in a hollow interior door?”

First of all, I had to pick up a cat door. I headed to PetSmart and got a small cat-size door for $19.99, about the same it would have cost had I ordered it online and paid for shipping. It said it fit cats weighing 1-15 pounds. Our 2-year-old cat is 10 pounds, while Krashy is 15 pounds even. So it was a bit of a risk buying that size to begin with. The alternative was buying a doggie-size door, and I didn’t want anything larger.

Now, this is the same day I bought my new laptop computer. I arrive home with both the laptop and the cat door, and what do I do first? I grab my brother’s Sawszall, which is a motorized saw blade, and I also snag a very small hand saw used to cut sheetrock. Apparently, a shiny new gadget took a backseat to my need to install this new cat door.

After tracing around the frame of the cat door with a pencil, I power up the Sawszall, intending to just punch a hole through the door and use the little hand saw to precisely cut the rest of it. Punching through the one side of the door was a process, as the Sawszall kicked back on me a bit (my arms are super-weak). I then punched through the other side of the door. Using the little hand saw to cut the frame didn’t work at all, so I went back to the heavy machinery. It was messy, and I chipped the door up a bit, but I finally got the hole cut. The cat door has two parts — one for each side of the door, to cover the jagged edges. Here’s what it looked like with just one side of the cat door installed.

I pushed the other side of the cat door on with the flap, and secured it with the provided screws. The flap swings open in both directions. I figured the cats would find it familiar, since it’s the same idea as the flap on their cat litter box. 
I didn’t immediately put the litter box in the basement, as I wanted the cats to get used to it. The younger cat, Misfit, again proved how smart he is by taking to the cat flap immediately. Krashy, the older cat — not so much. I had to push him through the door a few times to give him the idea. And yes, even though he’s 15 pounds, the maximum size accommodated by the flap, he fits fine. Also, both cats love the basement — they’ll follow me down there every chance they get. 
So I finally moved the cat litter box downstairs yesterday. I brought both cats down there to show them the box, and they appeared to get the gist of what was going on. This morning, I was awakened by Krashy’s incessant meowing, which is funny, because he almost never makes a sound. I get up, take a shower and come downstairs, where I suddenly smell poop. And maybe pee. 
I look in the office room, where the litter box originally was, and the closet door has been opened. In the exact spot where the box had been is a cat-sized pile of poop. Oh, joy. I turn head, and I see the plastic bag of shredded paper I’d emptied from the shredder the other day, which I’d knotted closed. On top of the bag is a puddle of cat pee.
I have to give it to Krashy — he did attempt to do his business where he was comfortable.
Tonight, I wound up taking the flap off the door, thinking that Krashy didn’t like the opaqueness of the door. Now, he can at least see where he’s jumping into — there’s a little landing before the basement stairs start. I also wonder if his eyesight is so bad that he won’t go down there in the dark, so I might get a little battery-operated nightlight for the stairway.
So while installing the cat door wasn’t too bad, training Krashy to go downstairs will be another story.

NOTE: I did forget to mention that after I found the poop/pee this morning, I went down to the basement to check the litter box — and found that one of the cats left a big, gross puke/hairball in there. That may have put off Krashy from using the litter box properly. My poor cat can’t take all of the changes!

8 comments to Fix-It Friday: Cat Door

  • RainyDaySaver

    @Money Beagle: Welcome, and thanks for subscribing! I removed the flap from the cat door, and Krashy isn't having any problems any more, whew.

  • Money Beagle

    Cool write up….I just subscribed to your blog through my feed reader! I have two cats and we've been going through some changes as well since we also have a nine month old boy that's crawling and getting adventuresome. Luckily ours didn't involve moving the litter box, but that's always a fun thing to have to work with, so good luck!

  • RainyDaySaver

    @Georginia: It is fairly straight, but not quite centered in the middle of the door (it's a little more toward the right). I worked with the cats the same way, with the treats, holding the door open, etc. Misfit took to it immediately (without treats), but Krashy is a bit slow. I took the flap off and Krashy has been fine! I think he wasn't thrilled with the flap part. I'll eventually put the flap back on and see what happens. But I didn't think about leaving a small litter box in the old spot, d'oh!

  • Georginia

    Well, I'm glad it semi worked. At least your door looks relatively straight. Somehow I cut the hole slightly crooked for ours and it's pretty obvious lol.

    We had to spenD some time training the cats with treats to get them to use the doors. We'd be on eithe side with treats and shake the bag. We'd hold the cat door open at first until they understood they had to walk through to get the treats. Once that was accomplished we started closing the cat door little by little til they were pushing it open and walking through. Now they run through it (to the point the broke the flap and I have to replace it lol).

    When we moved the litter, we kept a small one in the original spot until we knew they understood where it moved to. Then we got rid of the second one.

    Hope Krashy takes to the new location and the cat door quickly 🙂

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