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collor on cat
Infrared Collar on Cat

Review summary: This is a well built unit and has been completely reliable.  I recommended the Staywell Infrared door, model 500, so long as you don't have a raccoon problem.


Staywell Infrared Pet Door

Model 500 (reviewed), Model 871 for dogs (see notes)
Manufacturer: Staywell (Reilor Holdings)
List price: $130 (model 500), $275 (model 861)

Editor's Rating:
4 stars

Pros: Hard plastic door, excellent collar, keyed locking design, good seal

Cons: Collar key plastic is soft and can be chewed, raccoons can get in


The Staywell Infrared door is one of the best doors for the money. It uses a small infrared key that hangs from the collar (included). As the pet approaches the door from the outside, it unlocks and the pet can push the door open. The electric lock only works when coming in. The pet can always go out, although there is a knob that can prevent the flap from opening inward, outward or completely locked.

The door is made of clear hard-plastic and seems to hold up well to abuse. It's also easy to remove and clean. A small magnet helps keep the door in the down position. The rest of the body consists of hard plastic and is well made. There is a plastic knob that mechanically fully locks the door, locks it in one direction, or leaves it open for the automatic locking method.

Because the door does not automatically lock in the outgoing direction, those smart raccoons are able to lift the door up from the outside and crawl in. No cat or dog should be able to figure this out, so it's fine at keeping most other animals out.

You can program the release time from 2 to 20 seconds. This is the time that once detected the door will remain unlocked. If your pet moves close to the door (and it unlocks), but then fails to go through, it will relock after this period. It's not a big deal, but I've seen a few times where my pet couldn't get through because it relocked. 4-6 seconds seemed to work reasonably well.

The unit also has a beeper and blinking LED to notify you when the battery gets low, but they hide the LED behind the battery cover, which is dumb. They also have a manual mode to leave the door unlocked (good for training), but you have to open the battery cover to get to it, a minor annoyance. I drilled a small hole in the battery cover so I could toggle the manual/automatic mode using a small rod. It would have been nicer if they put the button on the outside.

The unit runs on batteries, and the manual claims you can attach and power it from an AC adapter. The unit I bought had a hole for an AC adapter, but no actual connector! I suspect they no longer support AC adapters. I found when using cheap alkaline batteries (4 AA cells) they lasted about 6 months. It should last longer with better batteries.

The collar key uses two small hearing aid size batteries and also lasts about 6-12 months when using the better (i.e. more expensive) silver-oxide type. It's poorly marked as to the direction you install the batteries, and it gets real-hot quickly if you put them in backwards. Doesn't seem to harm the unit though, but the batteries were mostly drained before I got them back out. The key comes in four key codes (by color), which indicates the key that will work. This means if your neighbor uses a blue key, and you have your door set to work with the yellow key, the neighbors pets will not get in. A nice feature I've not seen in any other products. You must be sure to order the same color key for multiple pets.

The key is made up of two plastic shells, which one is clear-hard plastic, and the other appears a bit softer opaque plastic. In my case, the cat destroyed the first key in about 3 days, as she chewed on it. After purchasing another couple more keys (at $23 each), I ran duct tape around the key once. This seemed to reduce the chewing and greatly improved its survival rate. I expect a dog would not have the dexterity to chew on the key.

The key includes a very well designed collar, that is adjustable, has an easy to remove the collar clasp, and an elastic section to prevent the pet from being strangled if it catches on something (recommended for cats who like to climb).

There are two sizes available. The model 861 is for dogs 15 to 100 pounds, and the model 500 for cats and small dogs. Each unit includes one key and collar, but the keys are different between these two models, so be sure to order the correct type as well as same color as comes with the unit. There is an optional tunnel available if you want to install the model 500 unit in a wall. The model 861 is only for door mounts.

Note that many users have reported the 861 (not tested) did not work reliably and was quite loud when it closed (often scarring the pet). I did not see these issues with the model 500.


Where to buy

  Model 500 (cats) Amazon.com PetSafe Staywell Infrared 4-Way Locking Cat Flap
  Model 861 (dogs) discontinued

Details - Staywell Infrared Pet Door model 500

  Door opening 5 3/4" wide by 5 1/2" high
  Pet Weight up to 15 pounds (cats), up to 7 pounds (dogs)
  Thickness range 1/4" to 1 3/4", optional tunnel extensions available
  Cutout opening 6 1/2 " wide by 6 3/4 " high (confirm with manual before cutting)
  Total Size 9 1/2" wide by 9 7/8" high
  Flap material Hard clear plastic
  Enclosure material Plastic
  Enclosure color White; Wood grain available in UK (model 520)
  Warranty 3 years

Details - Staywell Infrared Pet Door model 861

  Door opening 10 5/8" wide by 16" high (estimated)
  Pet Weight up to 100 pounds
  Thickness range 1/4" to 1 3/4 " maximum
  Cutout opening 11 1/2 " wide by 16 7/8 " high (confirm with manual before cutting)
  Total Size 17 1/2" wide by 22 1/2" high
  Flap material Hard clear plastic
  Enclosure material Plastic
  Enclosure color Dark gray
  Warranty 3 years
Note: Reviews are conducted by our editorial staff and are the result of at least 3 months of real-world use.
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