“ Brand: Staywell / Animals Equipment Type: Cats „
I bought my first Staywell electronic cat flap in 1983, to protect my cats from PsychoCat next door, and to keep out the Raccoons and Opposums and Skunks who wanted to eat the crunchy catfood too. There was a choice of three colors of collar keys, the collar keys were small and lightweight and did not require batteries. The cat door could detect the cat coming and click open in time for my cat to race through at full speed; the door would then instantly lock shut as PsychoCat slammed against it. I watched this action while outdoors gardening; it really worked! Every time I moved, I bought new Staywell electronic cat doors. Unfortunately my last purchase was after Staywell for some totally inexplicable reason completely changed their design. Now, in order to plug in the cat door, the customer has to do some fiddly self-assembly with small electrical parts, but the worst part of the new design is that the collar keys are much larger, very fragile, and each collar key requires two button batteries. This wouldn't be so bad if I still lived in the United States, but I am now living in the Boonies where batteries are very expensive and where I have kindly adopted a sizable number of feral cats. Trying to keep their collar keys working is next to impossible. The collar keys fall apart, dangle in the cat water, get smeared with mouse innards, and need frequent, costly replacement. The new design for the cat door is also far less sensitive to the collar key, and the cats have to jump up and down for quite a while until the door finally clicks open. The cats end up deeply confused since sometimes the door opens and sometimes (because of door failure or collar key failure) the door does not open. I have to wonder, why on earth did Staywell drop their original design which was so wonderful?
Ten out of ten to Staywell for tenacity, but I can't say I'm happy with the cat flap. We cut the hole in the door, put in the flap, programmed it up, and watched as the cat was stuck outside and unable to make the flap open. We put it on manual whilst trying to work out what was wrong, the cat coped fine with that. Staywell sent some tasteful green keys, and assured us that had been the problem. Result? Exactly the same problems. The keys worked fine manually, and on my wrist, but refused point blank to work on the cat. Cat flap back in manual mode. The latest attempt had Staywell sending 'super high power' red keys. Not one jot of difference. Staywell are now suggesting the fault could be that it's his RSPCA-fitted identichip interfering with it, that he's had a road accident and pins put in him and that's interfering (he hasn't), and seemed to be stopping just short of alien abductions or a fetish for eating nails as a reason for it not working. The result is still a non-working cat flap left in manual with a local cat coming still to visit in the night. Staywell insist there is nothing wrong with the flap, and are now sending some special black keys, but something tells me it'll make not one jot of difference. Anyone know if the magnetic ones work any better?
This cat flap, whilst no doubt being excellent value for the less-timid cat, may be found ineffective if your cat is either of the Manx variety, or of a timid disposition. In operation the flap mechanism gives a loud click as the lever mechanism is operated by the magnet. Even after a month, our cat is very nervous of this, and will make several approaches (this morning 11) before finally braving a push to open the flap. On re-entry, the cat moves so slowly that the flap closes (gently) on the tail. As the cat moves forward, the tail clears the flap, but by then the flap has lost the momentum required to overcome the flap catch - and remains open to intruders. I spoke to Staywell, whose advice was a) to attach a coin to the flap to give additional closing force (this does not work) and b) to take the flap mechanism to pieces and to adjust the flap spring in whatever manner looked like being successful (if this is a recognised user-adjustment, there should be provision for it without having to dismantle the unit). Conclusion - fine for temerous/Manx cats. Not really suitable for timid cats.
After 5 happy years with a CatMate magnetic cat flap, we were taking my cat away from her home to pastures new. Our new house was already equipped with a non-magnetic (free-for-all) CatMate cat flap, in a slightly awkward elevated back door, but although our nine-year-old British Short Hair (prone to largeness - it's in the breed) is getting on, we thought there would be no problems. More fool us! We thought we would simply fit our magnetic flap in place of the existing one, and all would be fine. Until that smell... Of course, our new neighbourhood held a surprise in the shape of a large, lithe male equipped with a magnetic key on his collar, and a potent marking spray to the rear. Panic! We thought "there must be something on the market to positively identify our girl, and keep chancers out". Several hours of internet searching turned up one manufacturer: Staywell (AKA Reilor). Several web sites offered "deals", but the best was from Staywell direct. I ordered a number 31 (no rice/noodles), at £57.49 including delivery and VAT, for next day delivery. The sales person was happy to chat and advise, and knew his stuff! (Unusual in these days of huge call centres). Amazingly 22 hours later we held the item. Well, fitting it was fairly straightforward, (despite what my husband said! - joke). The only problem is one of girth. My girl has been on a diet for over a year, but cannot shed the weight. This cat flap is shaped narrower at the bottom, and shorter than the big square CatMate. Additionally, she has to wave the key around a bit to make the door open - quite amusing! The small doorway makes it a tight squeeze getting through the door, and for a while she was reluctant to try. We were even afraid she would push the flap out of its door housing, but it held fast, and seems quite well constructed! We got around the problem by training her in one -way journies - putting her out through the front door and letting her know we would not re-open it for her. She had no choice but to learn to grin and bear it. And cut back on the tuna... And wonderfully - not a hint of cat sprays from rogue males in the house!
We bought a Staywell 30 to replace an earlier model which we left behind when we moved house. The old unit had worked flawlessly for years, so we chose to stick with Staywell. Problems began from day one. First, we have four cats which means we couldn't use the 2 standard keys that are supplied with the unit. We had to ring Staywell to request special keys suitable for 3+ cat families. Fair enough, the helpline operator dealt with our enquiry quickly and the new keys arrived soon after. Once the flap was programmed and the cats all sporting their stylish new orange collar keys (these are about 3x1x1cm, fairly cumbersome and they do nothing for the street cred) the catflap refused to let them in. For Baggins, this was most definitely a good thing, but the others looked a bit miserable sat outside. We called the helpline again, and were told that we had to switch all our electrical appliances off while programming. This we duly did, but it had no effect so we were sent a replacement flap. To cut a long story short, we got 8 catflaps before we got one that worked and had to try the following bizarre procedures: 1. We were sent a little cardboard template to use when programming the keys to make sure they were the correct distance from the flap. 2. We were told that our cats weren't using it properly and we had to train them in proper catflap usage (ha ha!) 3. We were sent one supposedly pre-programmed. 4. We were sent a simple magnetic flap to try, but the cats kept getting cutlery, dustbins, skips and old Morris Minors stuck to their collars. 5. A Staywell engineer visited and noticed that we were on the flightpath for Manchester Airport which could affect it (quite what we were supposed to do about it I don't know). 6. BT sent us a letter recommending that we add Staywell to our "Friends and Family". What's more, when we finally did get a working flap, we had a sheepish phone c all from Staywell asking to borrow it as it was the only working model they had! I have to say that despite this I would recommend Staywell as they really bent over backwards to try and help us. We were never dismissed or ignored until we were happy that the problem was resolved. Catflap number 8 is still in situ, and working fine except that it sometimes unlocks with no cats nearby. Anyone want to buy 7 almost new catflaps??
If like us you have cats who want to come and go throughout the day the answer is clearly a cat flap (or a maid but cat flaps are usually cheaper!). A 'normal' cat flap lets every cat in the neighbourhood enter your house, which can be alarming at 6 in the morning, and if many others in the area have encountered this problem they'll be lots of cats with the more secure magnetic cat flaps and consequently every cat with a magnetic 'cat flap key' will be able to get through your magnetic cat flap. So for everyone up to their knees in neighbours cats/cat spray/having to take out a second mortgage to pay for the cat food the answer may be the 'Staywell 31' battery powered cat flap. Like the magnetic cat flap your cat will have to wear a slightly cumbersome 'key' so smaller cats and kittens may not find it as suitable, but if your cats are tipping the scales at over a stone like ours they shouldn't suffer any problems. However we did suffer some teething problems with the cat flap. Firstly, the flap is fitted with a 'beeper' that will sound if the batteries are running out. Our first flap came complete with a fault, which meant the beeper sounded constantly, for 2 months until we were sent a replacement. Secondly, the replacement didn't work. The flap is unsuitable to be too close to appliances and every time the washing machine went onto spin it locked. Thirdly (and very weird) its on the same frequency as some 1980's arcade machines which my boyfriend happens to collect and went off every time he switched it on, locking the cats in or out. Lastly, we moved onto our third cat flap, still no good with batteries but we purchased a electric power supply and (cross fingers) its been working for the past year. Now the memories are fading of the beeping and constant clicking its actually very good and solved our house invasion problems . I have no complaints with Staywell who provided a constant steam of replacements apologised profusely and supplied us with free replacement collar keys. I would recommend anyone with patience and 100's of batteries to spare to give it a go, hopefully you'll have more luck than we did!