‘I am the cat who walks by himself, and all places are alike to me.’
The Just So Stories, by Rudyard Kipling.
It’s a pleasing thought, the independently wandering cat, and it speaks to what feels like their fundamental nature – going here, going there, unhindered by the world, and in control of their own destiny.
Except of course, doors are usually designed for use by humans, with their opposable thumbs and vertical spines. In the modern world, where most people work, the cat trying to walk by himself faces a straightforward challenge in the common-or-garden door.
‘I am the cat who walks by himself, and I’m going to scratch the living daylights out of that idiot ape when they get home…’ might be more appropriate these days.
The cat flap then is any cat-level gap that allows the cat to have control over their inside/outside destiny.
But of course, it’s not that simple. Where cats can go, other things can follow. Rats. Smaller dogs. Neighbouring or even feral cats. The ball of sound and fury that is an urban fox. All of them could bring pests and chaos into your living space if you had just a standard cat-sized hole carved into your door.
Clearly, there has to be a better solution.
And now there is.
Proving there’s no problem so mundane that humans won’t tech it up, the microchip cat flap has become more and more a reality over the last couple of decades. Cat flaps more or less controlled uniquely by your cat, the cat you want coming and going, with access denied to everything else on the basis that they lack the right bit of kit.
There are, though, now a multitude of microchip-controlled cat flaps on the market – partly because anyone who knows cats understands they’re discriminating creatures who like a choice, and partly because the number of functions that can be built into a microchip cat flap is enough to keep research engineers happy for years.
So how do you find the one that’s right for you and your cat?
Step this way and mind your head – we’ve collected the best microchip cat flaps on the market for your – and your cat’s – consideration.
One of the biggest factors that has powered the development of microchip cat flaps is the fact that domestic cats are now usually microchipped anyway – it’s not yet mandatory as it is with dogs, but it’s always been seen as a good idea, and so most if not all household cats will carry a chip.
That allows the basis for an electronic architecture to be built around the chips they have.
The SureFlap Microchip Cat Flap is one of the most popular microchip cat flaps, and part of its success is due to the fact that it does precisely that – it builds its cat flap solution around the identification chip your cat probably already carries. Just as in hotels, your particular key card opens your particular door because the door’s been told to respond to the magnetic information on your particular card, so the SureFlat responds to the information on your cat’s particular chip.
Boom. Job done. Your cat can come and go. All others wait outside.
Another key benefit of the SureFlap is that it’s so straightforward – it does the basics of what you need it to do, but it does them reliably and well. Any animal of the right size, chipped or not, will be able to get out through the SureFlap. But only your cat, with the unique code on their microchip, will activate the door to get in.
Yes – this is a flap that can accommodate small to medium-sized cats. Bigger cats will probably need bigger cat flaps.
But for kittens and most regular-sized cats, the SureFlap does everything you need it to do to train your cat in the discipline of independence. Freedom to come and go also boosts their energy levels and rewards their natural curiosity about the world while you’re out at work, or come to that, while you’re asleep and the nocturnal world of cats wakes up.
No more scratching to go out at 3AM. Do your own thing, Chip-Cat – and once they’ve got the hang of the technology, they absolutely will.
The cat flap itself is a fairly standard size, so you won’t need to cut additional holes in your door or wall if you’ve had a standard cat flap before, and – bonus – it stores up to 32 chip-identities, so even the most enthusiastic cat-fan probably won’t need more than one. Every cat that’s supposed to be allowed in will be recognized by the chip reader. Every cat – or any other unwanted guest – that isn’t, won’t.
Plenty of microchip cat flaps depend for additional bells-and-whistles functionality on a particular additional chip embedded in a collar. The SureFlap though is a minimum-effort solution to the problem of your cat having access to your home without letting anything unwanted in too.
Collars can come loose or be lost, and chips on collars can detach, especially in the life of an extra-curious cat, so by using the ID chip beneath the skin of your cat, there’s a minimum of fuss and bother, and a maximum of certainty without any additional work on your part.
The SureFlap also comes with a 3-year manufacturer’s warranty to underline your peace of mind when using it.
That combination of simplicity, effectiveness, minimum effort and a healthily low price point, backed by a strong warranty, is what makes the SureFlap our top pick for microchip cat flaps currently on the market.
Works with your cat’s existing microchip to let them, and only them, in
No collar or tag is needed, so no extra risk of data loss is involved
Stores up to 32 pet identities
Includes four-way manual lock so you retain ultimate control 3-year warranty
Basic compared to some microchip cat flaps on the market
The Ferplast Swing Cat Flap is a cat flap that does more or less what the SureFlap does – uses your cat’s existing subcutaneous ID chip as a data-key to unlock the cat flap, meaning only those with chips whose data is recorded in its memory banks will be allowed in.
It does have a couple of extra bells and at least one whistle on top of the SureFlap’s entry-level capabilities, but it will also cost you about 50% extra for the privilege, which is why there’s not more of a catfight for top spot.
The add-ons include a wind-stopper system, to stop the cat flap being a constant source of chilly breezes, which is handy on those winter nights. They also include a last passage direction indicator, meaning if you come home and you can’t find your cat, it will tell you whether they’re out terrorizing the local sparrows, or curled up somewhere high and warm, ready to pounce and scare the living gods out of you when you’re least expecting it.
Like the SureFlap, the Ferplast can be programmed with up to 32 different chip-identities at a time, and can be easily installed without major building work. And, where it scores over the SureFlap is that if you happen to have a cat that’s not currently chipped, the Ferplast can be used with a nylon collar and a chip which comes as part of the package.
That combination of simplicity of operation plus a couple of useful extras and some additional thought for the non-chipped cat pushes the Ferplast up into second place. Its price, nearly 50% on top of the standard SureFlap cost, is what keeps it firmly in that second position, rather than making more of a fight for first place.
Up to 32 chip-identities can be stored
Wind-stopper system and last direction indicator
Nylon collar with microchip also included
System can be configured for exit-only, entry-only, entry and exit, or locked options
Price – you have to decide whether the add-ons are worth the cost increase from the SureFlap
The Cat Mate 360W Microchip Cat Flap is similar to the SureFlap that leads our list, but is slightly cheaper and comes with a solution for non-chipped cats in the provision of additional discs that can be attached to a collar and used to open the flap.
Perhaps oddly, when you consider the 32-identity standard set by the first two flaps, the Cat Mate allows only 30, but then if you have 30 potential users of the cat flat, you’re almost into cat sanctuary or cat café territory, and a second cat flap would probably be a good idea anyway, because cats don’t queue.
The Cat Mate has a four-way lock which means you can determine access through the flap – whether it’s exit-only, entrance-only, neither or both.
Like the Ferplast, there’s a draftproofing and weatherproofing seal on the Cat Mate, and the flap comes with an indicator light for when the AA batteries that power its electronics are due for replacement. You’re probably looking at around a year’s service from four batteries, so it’s not a bank-breaker, but you never want a cat flap that won’t open to your cat’s command, because ohhhh, the looks.
The Cat Mate will give you a similar service to either of the two first cat flaps, though the disc system is different to either of the first two as a work-around for non-chipped cats. It does come with a 3-year guarantee though, so you’ve very little to lose trying out the Cat Mate, especially if, for instance, it’s your first microchip cat flap.
Up to 30 chip-identities available
Four-way lock to control access
Covered by a comprehensive 3-year guarantee.
As a follow-on cat flap, it can be slightly bigger than you’re used to, and so might require adjustments to the available space.
We’re back to SureFlap for our fourth flap – the Dual Scan flap.
What’s a dual scan flap when it’s attached to your home?
It’s clever, that’s what. With the dual scan flap, if you have one older cat who’s free to go investigating the wider world, and say a younger kitten who’s chipped but who’s not yet ready for the mysteries of the outside world, the dual scan cat flap acts like both doorman and security guard, happily letting out the cat who’s allowed to go, and keeping the youngster or the less experienced cat inside.
That allows your cats time to come to terms with the world, and eases them into going outside when they’re ready, while making it seem like a natural, instinctive process to use the microchip cat flap, rather than learning habits of calling to be let in and out.
Works with your cat’s existing microchip or a simple RFID tag
Keep indoor cats indoors while letting outdoor cats free to roam
You can use it in ‘safety learn’ mode, so if indoor cats escape through a window, they can still get back in
Works with all the common microchips
Can be programmed for up to 32 cats
Set permission levels for each cat to deliver the level of freedom that’s safe for them
Not a flap you need to invest in if you’re a one-cat family – and as such, not worth paying the extra for
The PetSafe flap is another flap that uses the pre-existing ID chip as the key to unlock the flap for the cat or cats of your choice.
As with most of the best flaps, it comes with a four-way locking system to give you control over what pets are allowed through the flap and in which directions, but the PetSafe system doubles down on the number of permissible cats, giving you the opportunity to allow up to 40 pets in and out. That means if you’re a full-on round the clock cat household, it could be worth splashing out for the extra ID-recognitions.
It’s also worth noting though that the PetSafe system doesn’t currently allow non-chipped cats to use the flap, that it’s not compatible with chips with 10 digits or lettered characters and that, perhaps most of all, PetSafe makes you buy installation kits separately on top of the price of the cat flap. That’s one of the reasons it’s so low down our list – but of course, in a crowded market, it’s important that it still makes it onto our list as one of the best microchip cat flaps available, and like several others, it comes with a three-year manufacturer’s guarantee.
Flap can recognise up to 40 chip-identities
Four-way manual lock
Three-year manufacturer’s warranty
No option for non-chipped cats
Not currently compatible with 10-digit ID chips
Installation accessories sold separately, adding to the cost
When buying a microchip cat flap, it pays to keep a couple of things in mind before you buy.
What Kind Of Cat-Slave Are You?
How many cats do you have? Just the one? A handful? 30? 40?
That will actually be a factor because flaps exist that cater best to various numbers and types of cats. If you just have the one, you don’t need to overspend on the cat flap because it doesn’t need to do anything extra clever. If you have more than one and they’re at different ages or stages of investigation, be aware of the cleverness in things like the Dual Scan, which can cater for multiple levels of investigative development. If you’re joyously overrun with furry assassins, you’re going to want to go for a cat flap with a higher number of chip-ID recognitions. Assess your needs, and let those needs drive your purchasing decisions.
To Chip Or Not To Chip
Honestly, probably, it’s wise to get your cat chipped – it’s not law yet that you have to, but it looks like it’s on the horizon for cats to be mandatorily chipped, so why wait? This should also guide your decisions – some flaps don’t work for non-chipped cats, and some aren’t compatible with different kinds of chips. Check out your chips before you splash out on a flap.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why do I want a microchip cat flap, rather than a manual one?
Mostly because it’s far less hassle for you, and far more instinctive for your cat, to make use of the available technological options. It’s also worth remembering that with less high-tech cat flaps, you’re far more open to system fallibility, meaning unwanted guests can use the flap, steal food from your cat, and bring pests and/or disease into your living space. With a microchip cat flap, you control the direction of travel, and you control which animals are able to use the flap.
What features are best to have in a microchip cat flap?
Ultimately that’ll depend on your lifestyle, how many cats you have and the like. But you want something that will only allow the cats you want through the flap. You want something that allows you to set and control direction of travel – exit-only, entrance-only, both or neither. Ideally you want a guard against breezes coming through the cat flap. And you want something appropriate to the number and age of cats you have, and that won’t break the bank. Whether you then choose to go super high-tech with app technology and the like will depend on what such elements genuinely bring to your cat-owning life.
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