Installing a cat door can an ideal solution when you want to provide your feline friend with access to another room or the outside without having to open the door every time they want in or out. Many exterior doors are classified as metal, constructed using a sheet of metal, usually steel, secured to an insulating core.
Dealing with metal makes the installation of a cat door more challenging but not impossible, as long as you have the right tools. Here’s what you need to do.
Review The Fitting Instructions
Your cat door kit will have fitting instructions that tell you how large the hole in the door needs to be for it to be installed successfully. Additionally, it should let you know how far up the door the hole should be located, using the bottom edge of the door as a reference point.
Review the fitting instructions to make sure you have the right measurements, and then proceed to the next step.
Find The Center
Most people want their cat door installed at the horizontal center of the door. Using the tape measure, measure the width of the door along the lower edge. Divide the total width by two to identify the center measurement.
Using the tape measure, find the center point along the lower edge and mark it with a pencil.
Once you know how high from the bottom of the door the cat door needs to be, take your tape measure, align it to the center mark along the lower edge, and measure up to that height. Use a pencil to mark the point on the door’s surface.
Mark The Lower Guide Line
Refer to the fitting instructions to identify the width of the hole required to install the cat door. Then, using the tape measure and the mark from the previous step, mark the endpoints for the lower guideline line.
You should now have three points marked on the door’s surface. Take the level and, using the center mark as a guide, draw a straight, level line based on the needed width, using the outer two pencil marks as a reference.
Add The Vertical Guide Lines
Take a look at your fitting instructions to determine how tall the hole needs to be. Then, take your set square and align one side of the 90-degree angle with the lower guide line from the previous step.
Use the built-in ruler on the square to draw a vertical line to the proper height, then repeat the process for the other vertical guide line.
If your square doesn’t have a ruler on one edge or isn’t long enough based on the required height, use your tape measure to find the proper height, marking it with a pencil. Then, use your square to draw the initial segment of the line at the appropriate angle. Next, move the square up the door, keeping the vertical edge aligned with the vertical guide line, and complete the line up to the height mark. Repeat the process to draw the second vertical guide line.
Complete Upper Guide Lines
Using the level, add the upper guide line by using the tops of the two vertical guide lines as reference.
Drill Starter Holes
Now that you have the opening marked, you need to drill starter holes. Use a drill bit that will create a hole large enough for your metal cutting blade to fit through to create one hole at each corner of the opening. Make sure the hole goes all the way through the door.
Cut Out The Hole
Insert the metal blade into one of the starter holes and cut out the opening, using the guide lines to keep your cuts straight.
Make sure to keep the jig saw blade at a 90-degree angle to the door at all times, or the blade may snap. Additionally, make sure you are cutting all of the way through the door.
Once you cut all four sides of the hole, the piece of the door should be able to be pushed out.
Refine The Edges
Even if the edges of the hole won’t be exposed, it’s wise to take a moment to remove any burrs and refine the cuts. This may require sandpaper or another pass of the saw, depending on how close you stayed to the guide lines.
Fit The Door
Once the hole is complete, you can begin fitting the door.
Refer to the cat door manufacturer’s instructions to complete the process, as different cat doors may have varying requirements to ensure the frame is secure.
If you purchased a self-framing cat door, the process will likely be pretty simple. Typically, you’ll place the inner and outer sides of the frame against their respective sides of the door and use the provided screws to secure the two pieces together.
If you bought a standard frame cat door, you’ll need to refer to the instructions as the process can differ from one manufacturer to the next.
Test The Cat Door
Now that you’ve finished fitting the cat door, you can test it. Using your hand, make sure that the attached cat door flap swings properly by testing it from both the interior and exterior sides.
If your cat door comes with a security door closure, usually a slide-in metal panel that effectively closes the opening, you can insert and remove it to make sure it slides and latches correctly.
Once you’ve tested the door, the process is complete.
Now, you should have a properly installed cat door, allowing your cat to exit or enter a space without your assistance. Generally, cat doors require little if any maintenance. Just refer to the manufacturer’s instructions regarding any maintenance requirements and follow their guidelines to keep your cat door in tip-top shape.