Without question, the most common cat behavior problem I am consulted for is cat on cat aggression. Many times, resolving conflict between cats requires doing a long process called a reintroduction where the cats are slowly introduced to each other a second time. One of the key steps to both an initial introduction between cats and a reintroduction involves separating them and then slowly having them meet again.
Usually, we use a baby gate or pet gate to have the cats meet. Unfortunately, cats can jump as high as nine times their height and may be able to clear a regular baby gate. There are a few solutions to this that I use with clients, but one of the easiest solutions is getting a really tall pet gate. As of writing, the gate I’ve tended to recommend to clients is the Richell Cat Safety Gate as it is able to fit the full length of a door and cats would have a really hard time clearing it.
Thankfully for you, I recently introduced my two cats, Poutine and Prozac, and decided to give the tall pet gate a try. The Richell Cat Safety Gate isn’t exactly inexpensive so you’ll want to be confident in your choice before purchasing one and I figured I could share my experience to help you decide if it’s the correct choice. This post isn’t sponsored so I am receiving nothing directly from the company to write it. Actually, I paid for the gate myself! I just want to help you decide if it’s worth the cost or if you’d be better off going with another method.
Why Use A Tall Pet Gate To Introduce Cats?
While I have a whole guide on introducing cats that goes into more detail, I want to touch briefly on why having a tall pet gate like the Richell Cat Safety Gate is helpful for introducing cats. Cats need to be introduced slowly or you may end up with stressed-out fighting cats. Cats can jump really high and many standard pet gates or baby gates are insufficient for keeping particularly acrobatic cats contained. The gate is an important part of letting the cats meet visually, but not risking them getting into an altercation.
A tall pet gate has an extra advantage in that you can divide your space if needed to give the cats more room. You just need to make sure that the cats are totally separated and can’t see each other at all. However, as you’ll be using the gate to separate the cats and as part of the introduction process, you want to easily make sure you can either open it or convert it so the cats can see each other eventually.
Why I Decided To Get A Tall Gate
Poutine came home second after Prozac had been with me for a few months so I wanted to make sure they had the best chance of getting along. I set up a safe room in my bedroom with a litter box, cat tree, and all the other supplies cats need. I also used an under-the-door draft stopper to prevent curious cats from playing with each other or harassing each other under the door.
Originally, I had gotten a slightly taller baby gate as, with the way my apartment is laid out, I figured I’d just keep my bedroom door closed and when the cats met visually, I’d have them come out. No need for a tall pet gate and definitely not a full door height one! As I progressed along with my introduction, Prozac seemed to not care much about the gate but Poutine tried to get through a few times. I added a pool noodle to the gate to block a gap he could squeeze through and that helped for a while.
One night, however, I had the (covered) gate up and door open. I had gone to grab some treats in my bedroom to do some clicker training with the dudes while they met. I opened my drawer, grabbed the treats, and turned around to discover both Prozac and Poutine sitting behind me! Poutine should have been in my main living space so he definitely should not have been there. Thankfully, they were mostly focused on the treats, but it was a close call.
I had a few other instances where Poutine jumped on top of the gate to attempt to get on the other side, but I was able to intercept them. Thankfully, the dudes’ introduction progressed, though Prozac seemed displeased about Poutine. I discovered that Poutine had giardia and once that was addressed, their relationship improved for a while.
However, Prozac started showing signs of territoriality and the dudes began having rougher play that was bordering on fighting. Not wanting to risk either cat getting injured or being stressed, I decided it was time to back up a bit. As the low pet gate required constant supervision and I couldn’t even step away to grab a different toy to play with the guys or one might leap it, I decided it was time to go for something taller.
Arrival and Assembly
I ordered the Richell Cat Safety Gate and it took a few extra days to arrive. Once it did, it was clear why: the box was huge and not exactly light, but I was able to carry it up from the mail room unassisted. I let the dudes have some time together while I got it prepared and they did their due diligence in inspecting the new, mysterious object that had entered their space.
The gate was within a second box inside which I actually appreciated as I could use the cardboard to create a visual barrier or as a tool to break up a cat fight if needed. Inside the second box everything was packed very efficiently and there was instructions included on how to assemble the gate.
Assembling The Gate
Unfortunately, there were a few complications when I began to assemble the gate. You have to assemble an inner and outer frame and then install the bars into the inner frame. When I went to screw the top and bottom pieces of the outer frame together, no matter how I manipulated the frame, I couldn’t get the screws to line up. It was also a bit hard to figure out which direction was the front and back of the gate so I accidentally assembled the outer frame with the front of the top and bottom halves facing different directions. Whoops.
Me being me, I decided I was had bigger things to be concerned about. They didn’t wiggle despite missing two screws somewhere so… whatever. Instead, I moved onto the next phase which was assembling the side tension rods and adding the bars to the side of the gate. As my plan was to put it in my hall, I had to do the most steps to fit my opening. Sigh.
There were a lot of steps involved in assembly and assembling the tall pet gate was more frustrating than I had expected. I ended up taking a few days off as I kept running into problems like screws not fitting and not being able to tell which side is the front or back. Even had I done it in one night, it would have taken me way longer than I had expected. I also was assembling it alone and the directions suggest two people so having a second person might made it less scream inducing.
Installing The Gate
Once I finished assembling the gate, I moved it into place in my hallway. It comes with rubber covered pads to protect your walls and while the top rods were easy to adjust to the correct tension, the bottom ones were not. Again, a second person may have been able to hold the gate up a bit off the ground to help with this part so it may have been me being stubbornly independent.
Once it was installed… I realized I had the door on upside down. Sigh. Thankfully, it was easy to lift off and install correctly. Finally, a working barrier for my cats!
Using The Richell Cat Safety Gate
The door is very easy to open and quiet. My only minor complaint is that it won’t stay open on its own. While that may be a good feature if you’re forgetful, it does concern me a little that a particularly wild kitty could get stuck in it if closed. Conveniently, I have a really fun cat door stopper I bought over the summer when my bedroom door would get blown shut when the windows were open that I decided to use. I plopped it by the gate when I needed to keep it open.
Otherwise, going in and out was so easy. It was so much easier than using a traditional baby gate. Plus, Poutine couldn’t jump over it like he did before. I caught him sizing it up a few times, but he ultimately decided against even trying.
The RIchell Pet Safety gate was an excellent choice for my cats’ introduction. I wish I would have just used it from the beginning, honestly. While assembly made me want to pull my hair out, once it was up life was good. I could keep the dudes separated when I needed to while not having to close my bedroom door. This allowed better airflow and kept my room a bit warmer.
While I ended up not needing it my purposes as the dudes responded very quickly to brief separations combed with clicker training and play with the Cat Dancer, one bonus that came with the tall pet gate was the box itself. The Richell Pet Safety Gate’s box can be used to block off views of the cats or, once you’re at the point where the cats can be in the same room as each other, you can use it to break up a cat fight.
My Favorite Feature
My favorite part of the gate is actually a bit of a silly one. While it helps with keeping the gate close, that’s not why I like the lock so much. The lock is shaped like a little cat arm. When you have it closed, there’s a cat arm holding the gate closed. This small detail definitely made my day.
Final Verdict: Is It Worth It?
After testing the RIchell Cat Safety Gate with my own dudes, would I do it again? Is it worth the hefty price tag?
Overall, holy heck yes. Don’t get me wrong, the assembly was very frustrating. I hated it it. It filled me with rage and I am not a very angry person usually. However, once it was assembled, it made life so much easier than a traditional baby gate. I absolutely recommend getting a second person to help install and assemble it, but you technically can do it yourself.
As for the price tag, to me it was well worth it to not have to keep as close of an eye on the cats once they were a little more calm with each other. I could be nearby, but not standing right by the gate. I realize the price may be the biggest barrier to some people accessing the Richell Cat Safety Gate which is unfortunate as it is a REALLY useful tool for reintroductions. I’m planning on renting mine out to clients once I’m done and hopefully at some point I can get more for clients to use. It really was an excellent purchase!