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Thursday

Got a Cat ~ Get a Catflap!


I had decided that if Littley was to stay – a catflap was a must.
 



So, armed with an electric drill and a jigsaw (believe me, if I can do this, Anyone can!) I marked up the square area needed with a fibre-tipped pen and drilled four holes, one in each corner, to take the jigsaw blade. I was amused to see that Littley had heard the drilling and was now sitting beside me with his tail neatly wrapped around his feet. The look of intense concentration on his face, showed no signs of fear at the din my inexact labours were causing.

The noise was even louder when I started the jigsaw…



….I was worried that the blade might break and fly off and hurt him – so I ran the saw before cutting into the door and gestured him to back off – I was amused to see that he did just that, and sat in safety at
the end of the kitchen whilst I toiled on…



The square (well almost a square……sort of) was cut remarkably quickly and I rationalised that the imperfections and inexactness of my ‘square’ would be covered by the frame of the cat-flap…and they were – Just.
Impatience has it’s own penalty.
As soon as the drill stopped, Littley approached and sat down beside me. I had intentionally left the slightest cut short, so that I could punch the centre square of wood, out and onto the garden path – Littely was fascinated by the square hole – so I made a cup of  tea and watched the ‘into the kitchen – out of the kitchen’ game develop.

                                   Cats are fun!







I was more careful when fitting the flap itself and made sure that the screws and screw-holes lined up perfectly whilst I was drilling.  In all, I tried two flaps, before my final ‘Sureflap’ microchip  one.

The first one I fitted, was a simple ‘in out both ways’ flap, that would give Littley free access to come and go as he pleased – However I soon realised that it would also give the entire cat-population of my neighbourhood the same rights of access! 

l  later used it on an inside door to the bedrooms, which at least cut down on the cold drafts of winter.

In an attempt to teach ‘The Little Prince’, I made the mistake of showing Littley how to operate the flap, by pushing it open with my hand – he then spent ages, trying to push it open with his paw!  I was explaining this to Liz, my ex-wife and she reckoned I should have strapped a tennis ball onto the top of my head and got down on all-fours to butt the door!!
The thing was, it was all great fun that weekend. I sensed that, most importantly, the little cat understood I was doing it for him and that it was to be his home as well as mine.
In case you’re wondering - I did get down on my hands and knees and butted the cat-flap – but not with a tennis ball strapped to my head! 


In all, it took around two days, before he got the hang of it, but once he did, there was no stopping his constant comings and goings.
If you’re of a certain age, you’ll probably remember a rock ‘n’ roll song called “Yakety yak (don't talk back)” by The Coasters,  and the line “Bring in the dog and put out the cat” Well, cat and dog life in my neighbourhood is still like that – 
Poor things (the animals that is).

I watch the local cats sheltering under cars in the rain and snow during the day, or howling and fighting at night, with no way of getting to safety and warmth themselves, unless a door is opened for them – which it usually isn’t.

Littley will go out late, for about 15mins and then pour himself back in through the flap– half an hour later he’s out again…then back in. Probably the longest he’s out is around an hour…then at about 4am he’ll jump on my bed for a cuddle until daybreak, when he’s either out again, or on top of a mattress base, scrutinising the world and the comings and goings outside the spare-room window.

(I wanted to be rid of that mattress, but ‘TLP’ would never forgive me)



In the afternoons he’s asleep, sometimes on his radiator bed, but most often in the archive receipt box he slept in the first night he came to stay...... 



……then at between 6pm and 7pm his ‘day’ re-commences with a stroll around the garden followed by repeated in’s and out’s throughout the evening - just as he wishes.
The next cat-flap was a magnetic one, which worked well, allowing only The Little Prince entry, whilst keeping the Bash Street Kids Cats out.  It was only the fact that I was away for several days at a time and the nagging worry that he might get the collar he needed to wear for the magnet, caught on something…or that someone would take the collar off and leave him locked out of the house for days, that made me look for another solution.

I talked to Camilla, one of the dancers in our show who had a cat named ‘Mungo Jerry’ and she reckoned a microchip cat-flap might be best – I’d never heard of one before, but as the weeks were passing and I was going to be away a lot, I thought it was time to register Littley and have him fitted with a microchip - not only for the cat flap, but for identification purposes should he get lost.

I also got him insured

It was the vet who did the microchip procedure who suggested the Sureflap version – It’s great, looks good and works perfectly after 18months constant use by ‘TLP’,  who exits and enters, over 50 times a day! (at the very least!).

I am not an ‘outdoor cat only’ advocate and if a cat has never lived outside, I guess an indoor life is much safer. Littley was an almost-feral stray and the the outside life is part of who he is.

Thanks to a microchip and a little door, he has the best of both.


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Item Reviewed: Got a Cat ~ Get a Catflap! Description: Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Henry Metcalfe
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