I am not a burglar! Just playing. Photo by Adam Melancon (Flickr)
Cat flaps can undermine the security of your home. I am not saving that they are a critical factor in making your home less secure against burglars but there is no doubt that they are a weakness and we should do all we can to strengthen security particularly at times of financial hardship, such as during a depression or recession, as this is when burglaries tend to increase.
It appears that cat doors in the US are generally larger than those in Europe or at least the UK. A dog flap or door or a multipurpose one is certainly larger.
They may be large enough for a thin or small person to crawl through. Generally they will be far too small for that but they still present a security risk.
Let's take what might be a typical scenario. You have a cat flap (called "cat doors" in the US) in the back door of your home. The back door is not overlooked but there is fairly easy access to it from the street.
You tend to come into your home through the back door. You put your keys down on a counter top and forget about them. The keys are say 7 feet from the back door. Not problem you think. You aren't even thinking about security because you have never been burgled.
You go to bed. A burglar can put his arm through the cat door and using a long thin stick he or she can fish the keys off the counter top to steal the keys. He or she may come back weeks later and enter your property when you are away.
Even if the door has bolts on it the burglar can still get in by using a pole to release the bolts.
Keys should be placed well away from cat flaps and pet doors. And cat or dog doors should be small enough to prevent small people crawling through them.
In the following video two burglars entered through a "pet door".
This must have been a very large pet door! What is interesting is that the owner had internal security cameras (hence the video) and the images where transmitted to her work place. She saw it happen and called the police. The burglars were caught apparently.
This seems a bit odd to me because she had great internal security and systems but a wide open entrance to the property. It is far better to prevent criminal behavior than to have systems that allow you to catch criminals.
Anyone who has suffered a burglary, and I have (at night), will know how it affects you. Police under rate its impact on the home owner's mental state. The experience can stay with you for years and affect sleep for years. It can make you feel insecure and it might force a house sale.
Cat flaps or cat doors are extremely useful and commonplace but they pose a potential security risk. We should always be vigilant and present simple barriers to the casual burglar.