The new SureFlap Pet Door is tested by the craftiest of ‘wannabe’ intruders
Raccoons entering homes through unsecure pet doors are a major cause of concern for cat owners in the USA. However, the raccoons at Shepreth Wildlife Park have tried and failed to break into the new SureFlap microchip-operated pet door, which has innovative security features designed to stop even the craftiest of intruders from breaking into the flap.
Alex Perry, Head of Section, explains the product testing she and the raccoons have been doing with SureFlap: “Raccoons are highly dextrous, and have incredible problem-solving abilities, so we were intrigued to see what they would make of the flap.
“SureFlap made us a big feeding box, which the raccoons could enter via the pet door. At first we deactivated the door so they could come and go as they pleased. We put some of their favourite food items inside the box so they could get used to the flap. As soon as they realised there were eggs inside they were in there like a shot!
“We then activated the SureFlap Pet Door to see if the raccoons would be able to break open the flap. Neither of our raccoons could manage to force the flap open, after many attempts!”
The SureFlap Pet Door will only unlock if it reads a resident pet’s microchip, therefore an owner’s cat can gain access, while other animals – in this case racoons – are kept out.
Dr Nick Hill, inventor and founder of SureFlap says “we wanted to put the pet door up to the ultimate test and see how it fared. In the USA, raccoons break into cat flaps to steal food and are a real problem for cat owners. Raccoons are wild animals, and can seriously injure resident cats if they try to defend their territory.
“These incidents really demonstrate the importance of making sure your home can’t be subject to home invasions. We have had reports of all sorts of animals coming in through non-secure cat flaps – from raccoons and pine martens to chickens!
Home invasions are something Nick is only too familiar with, and was part of the inspiration behind the SureFlap Cat Flap. When his cat Flipper was being terrorised by neighbourhood cats coming through his cat flap, Nick realised the potential of using Flipper’s microchip to operate his cat flap.
The new pet door has been built with a curved polycarbonate door and strong hinges to withstand the attentions of the most persistent would-be intruder. Two independently sprung locks prevent the door twisting even when an intruder pushes hard against one corner, which is a common tactic, and double magnets hold the door securely in place. During the tests the pet door’s enhanced security mode was activated, which provides even greater security against intruder animals.
Recent research commissioned by SureFlap has investigated the severity of home invasions in the UK. Jon Bowen, lead researcher for the Neighbourhood Cat Campaign and animal behaviour consultant at the Royal Veterinary College comments:
“51.1% of households with an unsecured cat flap experienced some kind of feline home invasion. For the resident cat this will be extremely stressful – a common trigger for behavioural problems and health issues such as cystitis and skin conditions.
“When owners are aware of the link between intrusion and stress-related problems there are many measures they can take. The most obvious is installing a secure cat flap so that only the resident pet can access the house.”
Nick adds that “by having a secure cat flap, owners are able to give their cat somewhere safe and free from invasion. Not only is this of great benefit to the wellbeing of pets, it also gives owners the peace of mind that their feline companions are not at risk in their home.
Alex says the raccoons at the wildlife park have gained from the testing too:
“Enrichment is integral to the work we do here and we are always looking for original ways to stimulate our animals. We were keen to be involved with SureFlap as their pet door has given us some ‘out of the box’ enrichment, really testing our raccoons’ cognitive skills.”
To see a YouTube video of the raccoons in action go to http://bit.ly/10igG2s