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Monday, July 27, 2009

How To: Install a pet door

As you know I installed a gate on my back patio last summer so my cat could go out on the patio to get some fresh air and have staring contests with the squirrels and rabbits in my 'hood. In order for her to get outside I just propped open the storm door so she could go in/out as she pleased. This didn't work for many reasons, but mostly because my home was being invaded by insects. I priced storm doors that had pet doors installed in them but they were upwards of $200 and would require removing the old door and installing a new one - something I didn't want to do.

My solution was to buy a PetSafe plastic pet door that I could install in my storm door. They come in four sizes (small, medium, large, extra large). You would think that a cat would need the small size (1-15 lbs) but not my butterball. I had to get the medium door since she carries a little extra junk in her trunk (she's 13 lbs but wider than the 6" small pet door). Here are the steps I did...not exactly following the manufacturer steps.
  1. Cut out correct template size.

  2. You can remove the door from the frame but I opted to install the pet door with my storm door still hanging since, well, I'll be honest - I couldn't get the stupid thing off the wall.

  3. Hold the template up, making sure there is roughly the recommended 3" from the bottom of the door while making sure it isn't too high for your pet to get through.

  4. Trace around template. Remove template.

  5. Drill 3/8" holes in corners.

  6. Cut between holes using a jigsaw. If you do not have a jigsaw, sweet talk your boyfriend into coming over and cutting out the hole for you. Works every time.

  7. Measure the thickness of the door.

  8. Cut the plastic inserts to equal the thickness of the door + 6/8." This will go inside the door to protect your beloved pet from getting scratched.

  9. Place inserts into the inside frame.

  10. Fit the inside frame in the cut-out opening. Fit the outside frame over the inserts.

  11. Thread plastic screws through holes in frame and secure with hex nuts. Cut off excess screw with wire cutter.

  12. Coax your pet to go through the door with treats. In my snack-loving butterball's case, it took four times before she'd go through the door on her own.
What is a project without pictures?
Before (inside):
Before (outside):
After (inside):
After (outside):
Sami not quite sure what she thinks of the door:

She now goes back and forth repeatedly - mostly to see where the rabbit is and to lie in the sun. She's still hesitant to go through the first time each night but once she goes through it once it's like she remembers that the little plastic door gives her freedom. I did have to raise the flap slightly since it closes with a magnetic piece at the bottom and the magnet was a little too strong for her to push through. The flap still closes with the magnet, just not as tightly. The pet door also comes with a cover so I can put that on in the winter to help with heating.

So for a $45 cat door and an hour of my time I saved myself at least $155.

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