Sliding glass "cat-io" door?
October 5, 2007 10:22 AM   Subscribe

Want to install a cat flap in a sliding glass 'patio' door. Your experiences?

Have spoiled the cat by keeping door wide open during warm months.
Now it's a trade off between freezing and relentless meowing to get out.

It's a rental, so I won't be cutting up any of the doors.
But I figure something like this thing will do the trick.

Any MeFites have one? Built one?
Your experiences, caveats, horror/funny stories, product recommendations, etc. would be much appreciated.
posted by bartleby to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Used to have one of these in our last house (I think we bought it from PetSmart).

It was virtually idiot-proof to put in, but left a lot to be desired when it came to the middle of winter as the howling, freezing wind would come through it. Other than that, it worked and didn't involve any cutting etc.

When we had it, it beat the crap out of having to get up 6 times a night to let the dog in and out (no Tivo in those days to pause live TV!).
posted by worker_bee at 10:38 AM on October 5, 2007

I had had one of these when I used to live in an apartment. It had a thick vinyl flap. I was on the third floor, so I never installed the locking hardware. One cat loved it, the other cat never got used to the thick flap pressing on his forehead, but he never really liked the porch anyway. I liked not having to open and close the door twenty times a day. The flap can get pretty gunky from cat snot and hair so you will want to clean it every once in a while.
posted by studentbaker at 11:03 AM on October 5, 2007

What's the security like on these things? I'd be worried about burglers.
posted by agregoli at 11:12 AM on October 5, 2007

I am sitting in my parents' kitchen right now looking at ours. The cats love it and so far no other critters have figured out how to get in. Probably helps that it leads out to a screened porch.
posted by ch1x0r at 11:15 AM on October 5, 2007

you could weatherstrip the top part of it, if the wind coming through is a problem. a little draft will probably still come through the flap- maybe felt strips around the edges will help seal it? or a teeny fabric curtain?
posted by twistofrhyme at 12:20 PM on October 5, 2007

If you're concerned about raccoons or other critters coming in, get the electronic version at the bottom of the page you linked. Raccoons can't get in unless they swallow the electronic collar key your cat is supposed to wear.
posted by beagle at 12:23 PM on October 5, 2007

We've got one on the screen for our dog (this is in the Bay Area), and I've never thought much about it - it works great. They all seem to have a little magnet at the bottom of the hefty flap so that it stays shut to be as insulating as possible, and with plenty of raccoons and opossums wandering around our neighborhood, never once has one tried to come in.

I think putting it at the level of the screen has been key - we can close the panel is glass, but we can actually close our sliding glass doors for security or when we just don't want the dog to go out/come in. If weather permits, I'd recommend going that way.
posted by coolhappysteve at 12:42 PM on October 5, 2007

Everyone hates an editor: "been key: the panel is glass, but we..."
posted by coolhappysteve at 12:43 PM on October 5, 2007

We've had a couple of these in a couple of sliders, including ordering one from the place you've linked. Piece of cake.

Just position it into the door opening -- the top part is spring-loaded, so it will adjust. Tighten the little knobs to keep it in place, you're done. You can screw it into the frame, but since you're in a rental, you probably won't want to.

The door's previous lock will no longer work, so you will have to either install the lock that comes with it (you'll have to drill) or use something that prevents the door from opening. Patio door bars can be found near the locks in home improvement centers, that would work great. If you use something like a block of wood, find a way to secure it near the top of the door, so a burglar can't reach in through the cat door to remove it.

Get some weatherstripping too, there will be at least some gaps and drafts. There's a cover for the flap, but on really cold days, you might want to just take the whole thing out (just takes a couple of seconds if you didn't screw it into the door frame). I didn't see any huge improvement with the double-paned model. We aren't in a really, really cold climate, so we do okay on all but the coldest days. I'm not sure I'd have one of these in a place where there's a wind-driven blizzard every three days.

The screen-type model coolhappysteve mentions works great while you are at home. When you're away, you will either have to leave the door open or lock your pet in or out. If you're doing that anyway, that might not be an issue.

We've never had strange critters come in, but I guess it's always a possibility.
posted by sageleaf at 2:47 PM on October 5, 2007

Works great, but it'll reduce how much you can open the door, which was a problem for me because the patio door _was_ the best way to bring furniture in and out.

Also the cats found it very useful when they wanted to bring gifts in, like mice (live and dead) and one time, a dead rabbit. So beware if your cat is still a young hunter.
posted by DoingMyBest at 5:50 PM on October 5, 2007

Forgot to mention, there's quite a bit of variability in patio doors. Open your door a bit and take a look at the back edge of the open door. If there's a really big gap between the doors, you might be kludging up a lot of weatherstipping.

Oh, I just saw coolhappysteve's addendum and realized he isn't talking about the kind where there's actually a hole in the screen. There is something about AskMe that reduces my reading comprehension skills. It isn't just this thread, believe me.
posted by sageleaf at 6:22 PM on October 5, 2007

About the electronic ones that supposedly lock out creatures without the collar. I have a Staywell door that I bought to keep an aggressive cat out and let the timid one in. A week after the timid one figured out the door the bully had too. All she had to do was hit it repeatedly till the little latch dropped open.
posted by pointilist at 7:32 AM on October 6, 2007

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