Pet Door History

A pet door or pet flap (also known as cat flap, cat door, doggy door, or dog door) is a tiny portal in a wall, window, or human door to enable pets to get in and out of the house on their own. This eliminates the need for a person to open the door manually and gives your pet more freedom.

In the beginning, pet doors were simple holes, but now, the modern form is a hinged and often spring-loaded panel or flexible flap. Some doors are even electronically controlled. Here is a full account of the pet door’s evolution.

What Is A Pet Door?

A pet door is the ultimate convenience for both pet owners and animals. It allows pets to enter and leave as they please and minimizes the need for pet-owners like you to let the pet outside manually. It also reduces unwanted behavior such as barking when left outside and scratching on doors. In the case of a bad weather, a pet door also helps guarantee that your pet outside will safely get back in the house.

Common Features of Pet Doors

The simplest form of pet doors is bottom-weighted flaps dangling from the top of the opening. This swings shut on their own but may be spring-loaded to enhance wind resistance. These flaps have magnets built around the edges to keep the door closed even with the strongest wind and harsh weather.

Some pet doors have side-mounted hinges to mimic the operation of a saloon door. They are spring loaded to assure closure after the pet has passed through. For weather protection, the flaps are often hollow and fitted with weather strips.

Most doors also have a locking mechanism that closes of by sliding a hard plate into parallel rails.

The flaps are often made with soft vinyl that doesn’t harm the animal. Cheap plastic pet doors may not always be strong enough for large pets. There are also pet doors perfect for sliding glass doors.

Early History

In rural areas, cat doors have often been simple holes in the walls, doors or even roofs of grain and flour storage rooms. They have long been utilized to welcome wild cats to hunt rodent pests that feed on these stores. The semi-domestication of wildcats has existed in 7,500 BC in Cyprus and the domestic cat became a part of daily life in ancient Egypt in 6,000 BC. Today, this function is mostly forgotten but in some rural areas, like Spain and France, farm cat doors and holes are still used.

In the late 14th century, a simple cat hole was described in the "Miller’s Tale” by English writer Geoffrey Chaucer. In the story, a servant peeked through the cat door when his knocks went unanswered.

Urban legend says that Isaac Newton invented the pet door. In an anonymous story published in 1893, Newton thoughtlessly created a large hole for his old cat and a small one for her kittens, not knowing the kittens would follow their mother through the large hole. Yet more than 60 years earlier, a member of his alma mater reported the same story about two holes for Newton’s respective cat and kittens. Anyway, the holes were covered by Newton to keep excess light from penetrating into his experiments. This would have been the antecedent of the modern cat flap.

Regardless of the veracity of the story, it is true to say that a kitten can use a cat door and a cat can use a dog door. We have customers with 8 lb cats using the same door as their Great Dane brothers or sisters.

Modern Pet Doors

Modern cat flaps are famous in some nations even in urban areas. In the United Kingdom, it’s estimated that about 74% of cats have entry to the outdoors. Dog doors are popular in suburban North America, where they mostly head to fenced-in yards. They’re also popular between suburban houses and their connected garages so that pet-related mess (litter box, pet food, etc,) can be stored in the garage with pets having free entry.

Several forms of pet doors that allow selective entry is gaining popularity. The benefits of this form of pet door over simpler models have enhanced weather resistance and home security against stray or wild animals. Some use a fixed magnet mounted on the pet’s collar to activate an electromagnetic mechanism that unlocks the door panel when it senses the magnetic on your pet’s collar.

There are even pet doors with radio frequency identification (RFID) locks to open only when a collar-mounted device conveys the right code to the latch’s receiver. This allows the owners to have numerous flaps that various pets can use. Some of the newest models utilize radio-frequency identification to read a pet’s microchip implant.

High Tech Electronic Dog Door

While electromagnetic doors use magnets, High Tech electronic doors use ultrasound. Imagine the mechanism of a garage door opener. This recent technology is usually more expensive than electromagnetic doors because they’re more effective at keeping unwanted animals outside. The range of the smart-key reaches up to three feet, but you can adjust the distance whatever you want. The keys do not dangle from your pet’s collar and the MS-5 version is water proof. 

The Future: Facial Recognition Extends To Pet Doors

Yes, you read that right. Pet doors have got so modern that facial recognition has been built to prevent criminals from entering your home. Microsoft uses a webcam, a motion sensor, servo motors, and OpenCV facial recognition to let your cat into the house.

When your pet walks up to your door, it triggers the motion sensor and activates the mounted webcam that captures your pet’s face by a few frames. The OpenCV classifier then either permits or denies access to the pet wanting to enter. Of course, facial recognition has a past of being deceived.

Static images are simple to copy by holding up a 2D picture to a camera. There’s plenty of cat pictures that can be searched online, along with latitude and longitude coordinates lodged in the pictures’ metadata.

Microsoft asserts that its facial recognition cat flap takes only a couple of seconds to recognize or deny an animal, ensuring a smooth approach. We anxiously await this product hitting the market.

Other Related Ideas Of Pet Doors

Pet doors aren’t the only ways to let animals come and go...

Dog Stiles

In areas with a huge number of livestock fences and walls, dog stiles are made. These stiles are made with wooden, lift-up dog hatchways next to them. Dogs often have a hard time climbing at these stile steps and are too heavy to lift.

Pet Gates

A pet gate is essentially the opposite of the pet door. This is a portal that keeps animals inside and stops their attempts to open it. For example, a thumb-operated switch is built to keep the animals from opening the door themselves. Styles may vary but commonly they’re made of metal or wooden bars.

These gates have adjustable widths so that they can be used to traverse random entrances or hallways. Typically, pet gates are used to keep pets inside while the room is ventilated by opening an unscreened door. The gates are also commonly used to keep the pets away from the dining area or baby’s room.

Pet Barriers

Pet barriers are normally created of fabric and are specifically used to secure staircases. They’re portable and customizable according to your needs. Often, they’re available in wall-to-banister and banister-to-banister options.