solution: pet doorprice: $10 - 100
Meet Milo. Milo is our three-year-old Domestic Shorthair (I usually call him our "cat").
While Milo looks pretty calm in that photo and spends most of his day doing this ...
... the truth with Milo is that he loves to run around. And he loves to be mischievous:
Case in point: My wife and I often need to run down to the basement of our home, for laundry and house supplies. Milo, would immediately sprint down the stairs each and every time we went down there. Why? We don't really know (we think he just liked going down there because he usually couldn't, since the door was always closed).
The trouble with that for us is that the door leading to our cold basement is located directly across the hallway from our thermostat, which would set off the boiler, even if the rest of the house was warm enough. This means that each cold day Milo ran down into the basement we had to chase him back upstairs or bribe him with a cat treat to come back up. It really got to be a pain in the neck, otherwise we just left the door open (if we didn't have the energy to chase him around) and waited for him to come back upstairs before closing the door.
We never stopped him from going into the basement because he seemingly loved it. He would run around and hide in corners and behind the laundry machines. But knowing we were burning oil (and money) unnecessarily, we knew we had to do something to solve the problem.
So I searched Amazon.com and found this, for about $15:
This is a PetSafe magnetic cat flap, and it has saved us time, money, and stress.
The money savings, of course, are a result of not having our thermostat go off every time we have to leave the basement door open, to allow Milo time to come back upstairs, on his schedule. The time savings are a result of not needing to waste time trying to find Milo in the basement, which, of course, is a lot less stressful for us.
This was pretty easy to install, too.
We took the basement door off its hinges and used the included pattern to trace the outline of the flap on the door. Then, using a drill and jigsaw, we cut out the hole for the flap and screwed it into place. A little caulking sealed up the gaps and we were done. No big deal, and here was the result:
The flap is great because Milo can go into the basement whenever he wants. As a result of his mobility, we were also able to move his litter box into the basement (a big deal in our small ranch house), freeing up some floor space and fresh air :) in our office.
The door is magnetic, so it snaps into place after he goes through the door, preventing cold air from flowing through. And, for times I'm doing work in the basement for which it wouldn't be great for Milo to be around (such as painting, sanding, etc.), there is a lock, to prevent him from going through the door (yeah, he doesn't like that, but it keeps him from pawing through wet paint).
There are several brands and types of pet doors out there. I read through many product reviews and found PetSafe to be the best value. They make flaps for cats and dogs, and different types, including secure flaps which can be used to let a pet outside. This is the one we purchased, and if you click the link to the left you can see images of cats going through the door (sorry I couldn't goad Milo to go through for you) and other details: