Since raccoons are so incredibly dexterous with their paws, a lot of times, when we humans try to make arrangements to keep them out of places they shouldn’t be getting into – they outsmart us, and find a way in nonetheless.
This is pretty well near true most times you try to raccoon-proof things, from garbage bins to sheds. Even attics and basements raccoons seem to quite easily manage to get into.
It should come as no surprise, then, that a lot of cat products on the market that should work (theoretically) at keeping raccoons out, don’t actually do the trick. A regular cat door or a regular cat feeder – even one that’s darn good at preventing other animals like dogs from breaking in – is typically not anywhere near good enough to handle the prying hands of a raccoon on a mission.
Now, if you’re just trying to keep outdoor or feral cats fed, and you’re essentially on the market for a pet feeder that will do the trick of keeping prying raccoon hands away from these cats’ grub while they’re away from their food bowls – you have number of viable options. I’ve written an article on raccoon-proof pet feeders already so if you’re interested in having a peek at those options, hop on over there.
That being said, if you’re trying to keep a raccoon out of a cat shelter, a cat house, or even the front or back door to your own house – it’s pretty slim pickings. And by slim, in this case, I mean two – there are really only two viable options, one of which is distinctly more likely to work out.
Picture from post The Tale of the Much-Too-Curious Raccoon
The Best Raccoon-Proof Cat Doors Right Now
Yes, it’s a microchip cat door. Which means that you can use it only if the cat you’re letting into and out of a cat shelter or your house has a microchip or an RFID collar on (sorry for those who are trying to do this for un-chipped, un-collared feral/stray cats).
Yes, there are other options out there in the microchip pet door department (you can check out a bunch here), and while they may work out in your case, they sadly don’t seem to work anywhere near as reliably at keeping raccoons out as the SureFlap DualScan. Option #2 on this list is also viable, there are a few folks who’ve described it as raccoon-proof. That being said, the sheer number of people who have tried and tested option #2 in terms of keeping raccoons out of places is nothing compared to the masses of reviewers that tout the SureFlap DualScan is a great option for keeping out raccoons. You can browse through a slew of mixed reviews – both positive & negative – on the SureFlap DualScan right here, specifically written by reviewers looking to keep raccoons out.
Please note the word “DualScan” here is very important. There’s another model of microchip cat doors made by SureFlap, essentially the regular/standard one that’s simply called the “SureFlap Microchip Cat Door.” That one isn’t altogether raccoon proof. The DualScan one is much more raccoon-proof – thanks to the DualScan technology.
As I mentioned in my article about raccoon-proof pet feeders, the DualScan option is actually more expensive, but it’s a lot less likely to allow sticky-fingered intruders in. So while you may be tempted to buy the original SureFlap without the DualScan technology due to the original’s lower price, if you even for a moment think your raccoons are part of the upper echelon of sneak-thieving, you should almost certainly go with the DualScan straight off the bat instead, and save having to buy and refit a second product in case the first one doesn’t pan out.
What is DualScan techology? SureFlap describes it as: “a 4-way manual lock to enable locking to any combination of in/out and a central magnet on the door prevents it from flapping in the wind.”
What’s so special about the DualScan technology and what does it have to do with raccoons? This reviewer puts it quite nicely: “We didn’t need dual sided scanning, but the single sided one cannot keep other animals from entering. Animals can use their claws to pull the flap towards them and lift it. There are videos that demonstrate this. We needed to keep out the neighbour’s cats and also Raccoons. SureFlap isn’t very clear about this.” (Bold added by me).
It’s a shame this reviewer didn’t know the DualScan technology was important to keeping raccoons out, leading him to buy the original instead when what he needed was the DualScan version; but it’s also really nice of him to point out the importance of the feature for others in the same boat as him, so they don’t end up buying the wrong product for their needs as well.
Since the DualScan technology’s four way lock mechanism is what’s important to keep other animals out, it’s what makes the next option a viable one, even if it is far less tried and tested as the SureFlap DualScan at keeping raccoons out….
Now, I meant it when I said this product isn’t as frequently bought and reviewed as the last. In terms of reviewers who have mentioned the PetSafe 4 Way Locking Microchip Cat Door within the context of keeping out raccoons, there are much, much fewer. That said, the reviews that mention keeping out raccoons are positive, so it does seem a viable option that’s typically easier to find at a less expensive price.
In terms of this option versus the original SureFlap without the Dual Scan option, I’d go with this PetSafe Microchip Cat Door, as it has the 4 way locking that’s important for keeping prying raccoon hands unable to break through.
It’s still not my top choice, however, especially since it’s got dramatically less reviews overall, and one reviewer even said her cat needed a tail amputation because of a really bad accident with this thing: “UPDATE: As I mentioned our cat can flip the flap up and escape when it is set to “in only” but her tail then got pinned inside it and she damaged it so terribly we nearly needed to amputate it. Vet bill: 200$ and sad, painful times for kitty.” – eek!
This only seemed to happen because her cat was clever enough to figure out a way to get out when this microchip door was set to the “in only” setting. This likely wouldn’t apply to you at all if you weren’t planning on using it to keep your cat in at night – and even so, it’s probably still incredibly unlikely to happen to your pet. That being said, that story alone is personally enough to convince me to go for the SureFlap DualScan if I would even entertain keeping outdoor cats in at night (which I would if I had outdoor cats).
Picture from post Our New Cat Knew: Stick Around Long Enough, They’ll Let You In
One (Big) Potential Issue (+Fix) with Using Raccoon-Proof Cat Doors on Your House
I will point out that there’s one particularly bad outcome to using 4 way locking technology microchip cat doors to keep raccoons out. I found it in a response to this question about the SureFlap DualScan by a reviewer named “Mountain Man”:
I no longer use this dual scan model b/c my cat would hear raccoons trying to get in at night, and get real close to the door to find out what all the noises on the other side were about, and start hissing to protect his territory, and inadvertently, b/c the microchip that releases the door latch is in his neck, the dual scan door would become unlocked which would then allow the racoon to come inside the house. And here’s the critical piece: The racoon would then be trapped inside the house, unable to get out b/c the door will only open with the microchip’s presence from my cat. Serious danger here. My dual scan cat door is in my bedroom door, so I hear and see all this going on in middle of the night. And, it’s damn scary to imagine a racoon trapped inside my house. So, I decided this dual scan door is dangerous given how my cat behaves and goes up close to the door when he hears raccoons trying to enter. I eventually took the batteries out of the dual scan and taped down the small plastic pieces (at the base of the flap door) that allow the door to stay open or locked in each direction. Aside from this issue, the door works real well. If raccoons were not in my neighborhood, I’d keep using it. Personally, I’d buy the single scan pet door, b/c if a racoon did manage to cleverly unlock the latch with his paw nail, at least I’d know he could get back out. If you google on you tube, you will be able to find someone who posted a video of footage of a racoon coming thru this pet door (the single scan model).
That being said, this reviewer also formed a clever fix for this complex problem:
After doing lots and lots of research online about other pet owner’s experiences with pet doors and raccoons breaking in, I noticed that people said that raccoons are excellent climbers, but raccoons don’t seem to be able to jump or leap very well. So, I constructed an entrance to my cat door (using some 13 gallon size plastic trash cans, carefully cut and bolted together) and made it so that the ONLY way my cat could get in, was if he leaped up into the tunnel, about 18″ in the air. I’ll attach photos when I get a chance. The idea is that this setup and design has to be such that only leaping or jumping will allow the pet entry entry, not climbing (which the raccoons do very well). I tested my design for a year, and in fact it works very well. No more raccoons attempting to enter my house.
If you or your husband, or hire a skilled handyman, create a platform or tunnel that is at least 18-24″ in the air, which leads to entry to the pet door (using wood, plastic, metal, or whatever works well in your situation) you will then have a solution. After this is done, the single or dual scan pet door will serve the a primary function to keep cats in or out, or allow some of your cats in and out, and not others. Example, if you have one cat that is indoor only, and one cat that is indoor/outdoor. It would be easy to construct the design I’m speaking of if the cat door is placed higher up in a window, or in the house door you are installing it into. Once you understand the basic requirements of the design I’m using here, a clever handy person can build what you need. The key criteria is that it must be a design that cannot be climbed into by those crafty raccoons. Whoever builds your solution should personally read and clearly understand what I’ve written here. I’ll post pix of my design soon. Hope this helps.
One pet parent pointed out: “the dual scan works better b/c some raccoons can eventually learn to slip their paw nail under the pet door (the single scan model) and lift the door open. Whereas they cannot do that with this dual scan model.”
There is a case where the DualScan pet door would do more harm than good, however. The same pet parent went on to say in her response to whether this would prevent raccoons from entering, that in particular cases, it did not and actually created a really frightening situation: “I no longer use this dual scan model b/c my cat would hear raccoons trying to get in at night, and get real close to the door to find out what all the noises on the other side were about, and start hissing to protect his territory, and inadvertently, b/c the microchip that releases the door latch is in his neck, the dual scan door would become unlocked which would then allow the raccoon to come inside the house. And here’s the critical piece: The raccoon would then be trapped inside the house, unable to get out b/c the door will only open with the microchip’s presence from my cat. Serious danger here.” This situation certainly doesn’t appear to be common, but be aware it has happened before.
Very cool fix! And maybe this whole raccoons-can’t-jump-high technique to solving the problem could be useful information for creating a DIY raccoon-proof cat shelter & cat house in the right hands.
Options for Stray/Feral Cats Who Are Not Chipped or Collared
In terms of protecting a stray/feral cat shelter outside from raccoons if you can’t chip or collar those cats, unless you can invent a raccoon-proof cat house idea that somehow integrates jumping with no ability to climb into the entrance, I’d say your best bet is to invest in a raccoon-proof pet feeder, then have the shelter completely free of food. That way it’s much less likely to have any non-feline intruders in, as the yummy grub won’t be present to generate interest.
If you can successfully trap and microchip the cats you’re trying to look after, all the more power to you, as that’s solved the problem as well, enabling you to use a microchip cat door quite easily on the front of cat shelters/cat homes to keep raccoons out. This would work especially well if you have ferals/strays you look after who are pretty well near outdoor cats to you, that come by incredibly frequently and treat you as their main food source.
Your Thoughts on Raccoon-Proof Cat Doors?
Have you ever had problems with raccoons getting into cat shelters, cat homes – even your own home? Did you fix this problem? If so, how?
Ever tried a cat door to prevent raccoons from entry? Which did you try? How did you like it?
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts, experiences, and stories about raccoons & cats in the comments down below!