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We needed a small cat door so our cat could go in and out of our basement while keeping the (human) door closed so our kids wouldn't fall down the stairs (they are clumsier than the cat).

I looked into pet doors that you install into existing doors, but they seemed a bit over kill for an interior door and none of them would have looked very nice in our woods doors.

We have 6 panel solid wood doors and the thought occurred to me, why not just cut out one of the lower panels and use it as a swinging pet door?

The current version is kind of a beta project just to check if it was possible and that the cat would actually use it. It is possible and the cat does use it. I'll update this instructable or create a new one with any changes. This is my first instructable so I'm not really sure what is appropriate.

Step 1: Assess Your Door Situation

First, you should think about if this is the right solution for you.

  1. The door we are working on is an interior door. This is important because this door modification does leave a small gap between the swinging pet door section and the main door that could allow air flow through the door.
  2. Your door material and construction - The door we are using is solid wood so cutting out a section will give us a solid swinging "flap". It is theoretically possible to do this with a hollow core door, but I would (wood?) expect some extra steps are required.
  3. "Flap" location - We cut out a panel because it just made sense for our door layout. The panel is thinner than the overall door so there is less swinging weight and we didn't have to worry about rounding edges to compensate for a thick section swinging. This was just lucky for us. If you do not have a panel or you do have panels but they are too high for your pet, it may still be doable but it may require a little extra thought.
  4. Appearance - I'm going to be honest here... this is a basement door, I didn't give much care to how the inside of the pet door looked. It looks good from the outside of the basement, but the hinge is kind of experimental on the inside. This is something I hope to work on but for now if you need a work of art on both sides, then this instructable is just a start for you. Please please please share if you make any improvements on this.
  5. Before making any modifications this door was structurally solid and in working order. If you are taking out a section of a door that has any sort of give or wobble to it, you are probably going to make it worse. I'd suggest that if you really want to do this to an iffy door then you should really reinforce it and make sure it operates perfectly as an unmodified door first.
<p>superb! Oh, how I wish I'd done this. I am in the dog-house with my girlfriend for having cut holes in my period doors to allow the cat freedom of the house. </p>
<p>This is a beautiful solution, but, having been a very small child and having had small children, I would have gone right through that door, no problem. It would have been an invitation to try.</p>
Yes, I can clearly see this as a concern, however I can say that we have been living with it without any kid issues for about a year.<br><br>Obviously all living arrangements and kid personalities are unique, but we have 2 little kids, the youngest being a crawler and crazy nut case at the time of putting this in. He is walking now but he is still a crazy nut case and small enough that he may be able to go through the opening. Actually the elder child could probably make it through the door but she has never shown any interest in it at all. He has gone for the door a few times but the door is in a place where he was always supervised and after making it clear that it was off limits he really just ignores it. Besides, a traditional pet door would offer the same invitation, it would just be a clearer invitation because it wouldn't blend while not in use.<br><br>You may ask, if it is always supervised why not just keep the door open? Two reasons: 1) there are stairs on the other side and if there were no door in the way then there is no guarantee we'd make it over in time to stop a child from falling down the stairs 2) I thought it would look really cool and impress people.<br><br>But like I said all kids are different, plus no matter how cool something looks, if there is concern for child safety it is not worth it.
<p>This is fab! I was always thinking about an alternative to a cat flap, here it is. You might add a &quot;flap stopper&quot;, to make it so there is always a small gap between the flap and the hole, as a cat's paw might stuck when the cat puts the paw into the hole and tries to remove the paw straight away, without going through the hole. I saw that happening with a cat flap. Cats get scared and might injure their front paws.</p><p>Great job! xx Nat</p>
<p>Thanks Nat!</p><p>I like the &quot;flap stopper&quot; idea. I just have to ponder the best way to do it and what kind of material to use. Right now our cat jumps through it way too fast for any paws to get stuck, but cats are always a little quirky so you never know. She does like batting at the door too.</p>
<p>My kids/grandkids would have gone through it FIRST. My son sawed a door in half (Dutch style) the cats jump over to go to and from the basement; and the childproof latch was unreachable until they were old enough to use the stairs alone.</p>
<p>Hahaha, it is pretty narrow for any of our kids. The half door is certainly easier, but there isn't much of a landing behind the door so I was afraid the cat would tumble a bit... or a lot.</p>
<p>Building code specifies a distance between spindles in a stair rail. This distance is calculated to prevent precocious tykes from possibly deadly hazards. Cats are more nimble than most of us expect.</p>
<p>This is really creative! You just need to be sure that the cat doesn't run into the wrong side of the door!</p>
Hahaha that hasn't been a problem... yet. But that is another good reason to ease your cats into it by keeping it unbalanced for a little while.
<p>As I was reading through I kept saying to myself "it's going to be crooked!" the counterweights are brilliant! I also love the advice of only cutting through most of the door. Makes life so simple! </p>
Thanks tomatoskins! <br><br>Yeah, I was surprised no one believed me when I said it was going to be crooked. If the panel was thicker I think I would have tried coming up with a way of putting the dowel dead center. Plus I think this method is a bit easier for most people to reproduce or improve on their own doors no matter the shape and size.<br><br>Plus, because I left it unbalanced at first the cat didn't need any encouragement to start using it. She just started hopping through right away.

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Bio: I've got a passion to create and some may call my ideas a little crazy, but crazy is just one part of the grand ...
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