I’m not a handy person. Come the armageddon, I’ll be next to useless in whatever society crawls from the wreckage. Plumbing? Nope. Carpentry? Forget it. Mechanics? That’s what oily men are for. I can, however, build you a kick ass spreadsheet and I can even get it to talk nicely to a database backend. Come the armageddon, I don’t expect to be called into action immediately.

But, every dog has its day. When we got a cat, nearly seven years ago now, I successfully cut a hole into our kitchen door and filled that hole with a catflap. Not just any old catflap, you understand, but a magnetic catflap. For those not familiar with such things, this is a catflap that remains locked until a magnet comes into close proximity and then it unlocks. Affix magnet to cat’s collar and you’d think it would be plain sailing after that.

Not for our cat. She wasn’t used to having to press her head against a plastic flap to come and go. She much preferred to walk in and out of an open kitchen door and that’s what we humans were for. I tried to introduce her gently to the idea, then I tried a more direct approach. She protested vocally and violently. I eventually let her be and she wandered over to her food bowls to have a snack and forget about the whole nasty business. The food bowls were metal. She had a magnet round her neck. Once she was within six inches of her dinner, the bowl lept from the floor, clattered into her chin and sent her scampering for cover with a large metal medallion hanging from her collar. She’s only now getting over the experience. For fear of coming home one day and finding her clamped over a Chinese take away menu on our fridge door, we removed the magnet and “switched off” the catflap to freely allow comings and goings, Magnet Not Required. The cat, eventually, got used to the arrangement, but why the maker’s decided to use a NASA standard magnet in their product is anyone’s guess.

And all was well until recently, a fat moggy moved into the street. Fat moggy has no issue with using our catflap or eating our cat’s food or generally just bullying our cat. She’s a fragile wee thing, our cat, and we love her. So we — me and my missus, not me and the cat — decided to give this secure catflap business another go. Technology in the world of catflaps has come on leaps and bounds in the last seven years and you can now get one that’s driven by an infra-red beam … or frikkin lasers, as I like to think of it.

It’s the same size as the existing flap so I didn’t need to chance my arm with a jigsaw again. A little bead is attached to the cat’s collar to trigger a sensor on the catflap and at no point will this cause her any surprise when she feels peckish and, all going well, it will keep nasty fat moggy out of our house.

But … it’s noisy. When the cat moves within range, there’s a CLUNK! as it unlocks and a CLUNK! when she moves out of range and it locks again. Problem is, when she moves out of range and it CLUNKS!, she must think nasty fat moggy is trying to get in. So she moves back into range and CLUNK! it unlocks again. She has a little sniff around the plastic door and once she’s satisfied there’s no funny business, she wanders away … CLUNK! and like a shot, she’s back within range again to investigate the noise. And when she sits on her mat at the door, as she’s likely to do, it basically CLUNKS! on and off constantly. This carries on long into the night. I’m starting to think the manufacturer’s hate cats and their owners. I suspect the handiwork of one Jerry Mouse.

So far, though, there’s been no sign of fat moggy, but short of giving our cat her own set of keys, I’d be interested to know of any alternate ways to keep local strays out of our house and let our cat come and go as she pleases while keeping our sanity. Answers on a postcard, please.