Cat Proof Window Screens: A Guide
As the weather in the Northern Hemisphere is getting nicer, you may want to start leaving your windows open. But this can worry Ragdoll cat owners since cats can jump or fall out of windows – like Charlie and Trigg did when a screen failed.
Many cat owners ask about solutions to this problem, and there are quite a few things you can do too. But, unfortunately, cat window guards don’t necessarily make for the most elegant home décor.
It’s also good to keep in mind that some cats might scratch their way through screens, whereas others might be able to actually push through the screen with their body weight, so you have to either proof your window for both or keep in mind what your cat is capable of.
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Here are some of the top suggestions for cat proofing windows:
- Putting double stick tape on the windowsill to deter cats from jumping up.
- Steel Pet Grille – This article explains the importance – Metal grids or grill guards
- Reinforcing screens from the outside with duct tape, screws, or nails
- Clips or window locks you can attach – you can use the same kind available for child safety.
- Metal latches – Choosing a durable metal for your window latches rather than vinyl can improve the lock’s strength. These fit inside the window frame and prevent the window from being opened too far unless you purposefully press the latches in, something a cat couldn’t do
- Magnetic window screens – there is a company in New Zealand called MagicSeal that one reader recommended, or you can try to DIY
- Replacing or doubling your window screen with heavy mesh or pet screens, which you can cut and fit into a screen frame or simply tape to your regular screen. Here are a few suggestions for different kinds of screen guards for pets:
- New York Wire Saint Gobain Adfors Screen Wire
- Phifer Pet Screens this mesh screen can be installed easily in the window track and is made from a rigid vinyl plastic resistant to tearing. Customer reviews mention it’s sturdy enough to withstand some cats charging at speed without coming loose.
- Fence wire
- Hardware cloth
- Tension bars are designed to keep bottles and items secure in RV refrigerators but can fit into window tracks. Add a couple to your open window, and you can block your cat from fitting through the gaps, and because they’re made of metal, they’re tougher than screens.
- Flat Cats – This UK company creates custom-sized netting for your windows, made from the same kind of material as mosquito nets, that’s tough enough to stop your cat from scratching through it. It’s designed to be fixed to your window frames using velcro, so there’s no drilling needed. They ship worldwide, and they have a lot of positive reviews.
Again, the solutions could be more beautiful, but there are many options if your cat’s safety is a concern.
Note of Caution
Scratch Damage vs. Cat Safety Note that sometimes screens advertised as pet safe just guard against scratching damage rather than effectively keeping a cat from getting out a window.
Designated Outdoor Area You may also want to consider designing an outdoor area for your Ragdoll kitties. For example, letting them out occasionally so they will be less tempted by the call of the outdoors. But this involves a separate set of considerations (i.e., beware of fleas).
A DIY Option
A Reader’s Suggestion: After this post was published, one of our readers, Lynn, was kind enough to share what she does: “I put 15 inches high extension window screens on all my windows. They were used years ago before screens came with windows. They slide to make them wide enough to fit the window. The wooden frame fits in the grove just after the window slides down. They come in different sizes. “
Photos of Lynn’s pet-proof screen setup:
Davidia wrote, “I saw your video about keeping the screens secure. We put a round metal washer above the triangular clasp so they can’t flip it off the stem that goes into the windowsill. I wanted to share if you have this kind of window. It’s worked so far. We also had a kitty fall out of the second-story window. He was okay, but this is why we devised this method.
So, I have an arrow pointing to the round metal washer that sits over the triangular clip. The screw itself has a bit of a slight edge around it (lighter in color than the washer).
We attached the triangular clip to the bottom of the screen, placed the triangular clip down first, then the washer on top of the clip, and then the screw through the washer and clip into the window sill. The washer prevents the cats from flipping the triangular clip up over the screw head; the washer holds the triangular clip down. If there was just the triangular clip and the screw, our cats would flip the triangular clip over the screw and would be able to push the screen out from the bottom.
The top of the screen fits into a groove in the windowsill, so they can’t push that out. Our house is an old Spanish colonial revival built in the early 1930s, so your window setup might be much different. Many of the older California homes have this setup. When we ordered new screens, we asked the screen company to do this setup, and they were very accommodating. See photo.”
What tips do you have for cat-proofing window screens?
I live in a 3rd floor apartment that has a nice 10ft X 10ft deck. My Aengus loves to watch the birds so I put out feeders to entice the little flyers. Aengus got strong enough to jump as high as the railing so I had to come up with a “safety net.” I found “Cover-Alls” online and ordered a mesh tarp the size of the opening. They make them very strong, with folded hems on all sides and “D” rings along all edges that work to secure the tarp to the deck. Aengus can still watch his birds, and when he jumps up to “catch” them, the tarp keeps everyone safe!
That’s cool – I can post a photo with your comment, if you want to send me a photo via email =)
I tried looking up Cover-alls on the internet. All I find are the coveralls for people to wear.
My rag doll walks on the edge of 2nd floor porch
Is this considered dangerous. Would a cat jump off?
My first cat. Not sure about some things
It can be – I wouldn’t allow it if he were mine. He’s unlikely to fall, but it’s just unsafe if he did.
My cats have ruined every screen I own and unless the spot is too small or there is a glass barrier they will stop at nothing to try and get out. I put a baby gate up in one window and they kept trying to jump over it. They pulled the screen through it, chewed through it and destroyed the screen. Fiesty little brats I tell you. I love fresh, open air. I suppose I’m going to have to put lattice from top to bottom from the overhang to my porch so they can go in and out without escaping. There are no alternatives for these stinkies. Their mother was the same way. Bless her soul, wherever she ran off to.
good luck and please let us know what ends up working out for you guys.
I realized the windows in my apartment on the third floor are potentially dangerous too Jenny. My cats will race around and crash into things with abandon. I found these expandable refrigerator bars meant for RVs and they have worked well. They do have a limit as to width – so can’t do large windows. My windows have a side well where the window slides up and down-not sure if all windows have that feature, but placing the ends of the bars there helps with stability. (So, they are like a tension rod for the shower used in a window. ) I do check them when I open the window. I feel they will prevent my cats from tumbling out. I like the visual for the cats of the bars as well. A DIY solution
A cat can squeeze through that set up. Dangerous.
There is also a traditional screen on the window in addition to the bars.
Debra, this is brilliant! I am going to use these to keep my cat from even jumping on the sill (4th floor). Thank you.
I have two sliding screen doors that can be separated if “nosed” properly. I put a sticky piece of Velcro on each side and then joined the doors with two more pieces in a crosshatch configuration. Humans can still open the doors from each side by pushing but the Velcro is a little to tight for Winston to get through. I also Velcroed all of the sliding window screens. I have had enough of seeing him walk across the roof!
Oh man – I would die if I saw mine walking across the roof!
Another fabulously pawesome & very vital repost, Jenny honey! TYSVM! Such great info in this post, as usual! I know folks will find this very relevant and super helpfu! 🙂 <3
Big hugs & lots of love & purrs! 🙂 <3
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3 <3 <3
Very good topic, Jenny! I am so very sorry that Charlie & Chiggy fell/jumped out of that second story window back in 2012! My goodness! How scary for you when you saw the blood on Chiggy’s chin. Glad that incident had a happy ending with both kittehs being okay and also it resulting in a great discussion about this issue among cat owners. 🙂
For us, it’s not an issue as we don’t open the windows or sliding glass door in our apartment that often. Usually, by the time the warmer months are here it’s air conditioning time for me (my heat intolerance is so crazy and cannot be explained by medical science so far…all tests come back normal…hmph). On the rare occasion when we have had our sliding glass door open, we are always in the living room to keep an eye on Miss PSB. She’s stretched out again the screen a few times and we have the claw marks to show for it on the screen. Another reason we don’t open that sliding door too often.
Lots of good ideas offerred and I’m sure that this information will be very helpful and foster great discussions in the comments.
Big hugs & lots of love!
Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3
Thanks, Patti – “my heat intolerance is so crazy and cannot be explained by medical science so far” – we seriously need to switch bodies at certain times of year.
lol…. 🙂 <3
I have the Phifer Pet Safe Screening in the 4 windows I leave open in the nice weather (never when I am not home) and I also have it in the sliding door onto my upper deck. It is stretchy and has some give to it, so when the cats claw it, it doesn’t get damaged or torn like regular screening. Of course, the screen could still fall out if pushed on as yours did, but I always check (did it this weekend) to make sure the plastic ‘shims’ that hold the screen in place have not loosened or cracked over the winter. So glad your cats are safe, and that you noticed them outside right away.
I have a cat cat that keeps scratching the screen when she wants to come in, what can I do about that?
Keep her in. Much safer.
Thank you for such an informative post. Yes, this always worries me and I make sure that the screens are securely affixed by clips every year. it would be horrible if one of my babies fell out!
Thank you for bringing this to our attentn as the warmer weather is on its way!