Friday, February 18, 2011

Raccoons: Access Denied

Last month we wrote a post (Masked bandit comes for dinnerabout a raccoon coming into our house through the cat door and raiding the cat's food dishes.  We caught him on our motion sensor camera.   Brian suggested we buy an electronic cat door to prevent the raccoons from entering.  We did, and it seems to be working.

This new cat door has a sensor that detects magnets, and it comes with 2 magnets to put on your cats' collars.  As the cat approaches the door, the sensor detects the magnet on the cat's collar and unlatches the door so the cat can enter.  If the sensor does not detect a magnet, the door stays latched shut.

We were not sure it would work when we bought it.  First, our large cat, Paloosh, had never worn a collar and we wondered if he would object to wearing one.  This turned out to be a non-problem.  We bought a cat collar, put it on him, and he pretty much ignored it was there.  Second, the whole thing sounded a bit 'hocus-pocus' or 'smoke and mirrors', but it is now installed and it does work.

Ninja, with magnet and blue bell on her collar
It did take some adjustment for the cats.  Ninja had the most trouble at first.  She would hear the door latch click as she approached and this would startle her, she would pause, and then the door would re-latch.   She would poke at it with her paw to no avail.  We forced open the latch and unplugged the battery for a few days until she was confident to go right through it.  When we re-installed the battery she went through it with no problem.

The door does have some side benefits as well.  We realize that it will keep out the neighborhood cats, as long as their owners do not have magnets on their collars.  And it keeps the wind out, the old cat door was commonly blown open by the wind, letting cold air into the house.  This one stays shut and that should help our heating bills.

Now the questions is, how long will it be before the raccoons acquire a magnet and learn how to unlatch this new cat door?

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