VCA Animal Hospitals

How Can I Get My Cat to Use the Pet Door?

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Q. How can I get my cat to use the pet door? He doesn’t seem willing to push through it.

A. The easiest way for your pet to learn to use a pet door is to have another pet who's already using it. If you have another cat (or dog) in the home, it’s just a matter of time before they’re all using the flap. But if that's not an option, you certainly can train your cat to use the door eventually. Every animal learns at his or her own speed, and you may have to have a little patience — or a lot.

Start by taping the flap securely out of the way or removing it completely for the time being. (If you’re dealing with this in the dead of winter, you might want to save this project until the weather’s milder.) If you are going to tape the flap up, be sure you use enough tape to keep it from falling down. If a scaredy cat gets hit by the falling flap, good luck getting him anywhere near the door again.

Then begin training. Though dogs can often be coaxed through the opening with food and then rewarded with treats and praise, that might not work so well with your cat. If you are comfortable with clicker training, it’s pretty easy to build up to the behavior. Otherwise you’ll have to rely on offering yummy treats or just waiting until your cat figures out that the open flap is a great way to go where he wants, when he wants.

After he's going in and out with confidence, secure the flap halfway up so he can still see through the opening. Once that's working, you can put the flap all the way down. If your cat isn’t comfortable with the flap in the down position, you can put a little meat baby food on it to attract interest. When the flap moves as he nudges it, your cat should catch on pretty quickly.

A few things about pet doors to think about if you’re using them to provide access to the outside:

Consider the safety of your pet. If you’re allowing your cat access to the outdoors, you are putting him at risk. Though many people believe that cats need to roam free to be happy, it’s completely possible to keep your cat content inside your house. If you choose to do that, you will almost certainly be giving him a longer life. No longer exposed to the dangers of cars, coyotes, poisons (inadvertent and intentional), traps (ditto) and contagious disease, your indoor cat will likely live years longer than a cat who roams the neighborhood. If you still want an outdoor cat, make sure he's microchipped, so if he gets lost, he's more likely to be returned home.

Consider the safety of your home. Though it’s not as big a problem with a cat-size door, larger pet doors can provide easy access to your home by burglars. You can minimize the risk by making sure the door isn’t visible from the street or alley by anyone looking into your yard. You can also build an L-shaped chute to make it more difficult for a person to get to and through the pet door.

And finally, consider the safety of your energy budget. Make sure you choose a door that’s appropriate for your climate. There are doors that have tight-sealing double-flaps to minimize loss of heat or air-conditioning. And check the flaps every so often. When they no longer fit well, replace them to maintain peak energy efficiency.


General Practice

We have over 540 animal hospitals in 41 states that are staffed by more than 2,000 fully qualified, dedicated and compassionate veterinarians, with more than 200 being board-certified specialists. The nationwide VCA family of general practice hospitals give your pet the very best in medical care, providing a full range of general medical and surgical services as well as specialized treatments*: Wellness, Spay/neuter, Advanced diagnostic services (MRI/CT Scan), Internal medicine, Oncology, Ophthalmology, Dermatology, Cardiology, Neurology, Boarding, Grooming

*services may vary by location.

Our family of pet hospitals stands out by delivering the greatest resources in order provide the highest quality care available for your pets. By maintaining the highest standards of pet health care available anywhere, we emphasize prevention as well as healing. We provide continuing education programs to our doctors and staff and promote the open exchange of professional knowledge and expertise. And finally, we have established a consistent program of procedures and techniques, proven to be the most effective in keeping pets healthy.

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Specialty Care

Sometimes sick or injured pets need the care of a veterinary medical specialist. When that happens, VCA specialty hospitals work closely with the general practitioner veterinarians who refer cases to us in order to provide seamless veterinary care to your pet. When your pet is facing any kind of serious illness or injury, our specialty referral hospitals will provide the compassionate and expert care your beloved pet needs.

Our goal is to make sure that when you and your pet are in need that you have access to board certified specialists who are up to date on the very latest developments in their field. In our state of the art hospitals, our specialists also have access to the most sophisticated diagnostic and treatment tools and techniques from ultrasonography and endoscopy to CAT scans and even MRI.

We have twenty-eight specialty hospitals across the US so there may be one near you. Our specialized services include: cardiology, critical care, dentistry, dermatology, internal medicine, neurology, oncology, ophthalmology, radiology and surgery.

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Emergency Care

In case of emergency, please call us immediately. If it is after hours, check with a local animal hospital emergency clinic.