Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: January 25, 2023 by Crystal Uys


I love fresh air, and so does Allegra, and we both love having the breeze come in through the open screened windows. Unfortunately, window screens can be an invitation for disaster if they’re not secure enough to prevent your indoor cat from getting out. Even worse, if you live on a higher floor, falls through screens can cause serious injury and even death.

Keeping your cats safe while they can still enjoy fresh air only takes a little bit of forethought and maybe some modifications to your existing screens.

How to Have Cat-Safe Windows & Screens:

Your screens are only as safe as their frames

Go around your house and check all your screens. Are the frames seated properly? Are there any large gaps that a kitty might be able to work a paw through to loosen a screen?

Test all of your screens by pushing hard against them. You might be surprised how easily some screens pop out. Even if there’s just some slight give, they’re probably not secure enough to prevent a spooked or enthusiastic kitty from busting through it. It doesn’t take much to startle or excite some cats: a sudden noise from inside or outside the house, a bird or squirrel, or another cat in the home trying to displace the window watcher. I’ve heard of cats who were startled by something and pushed out the screen while launching themselves off the window sill into the room.

Consider pet safe screens

If your screens seem flimsy to you, they probably are. Consider getting sturdier, pet safe screens. Many of these can be custom cut and installed without having to modify your existing windows or screens. For detailed suggestions, read Bernadette Kazmarski’s comprehensive article Windows, Screens and Cats.

Don’t open your windows all the way

The easiest solution, and the one I chose, is to just not open your windows more than a couple of inches. It limits air flow, so this may not be an option for everyone, especially if you don’t have air conditioning. If your windows allow, open them from the top rather than the bottom so your cats can’t easily get to the opening, but make sure the windows are locked into position so they can’t accidentally close if your cat manages to get her head or a paw through the opening.

If you have any tips for safe screens, share them in a comment.

Image: Pixabay

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18 Comments on Are Your Window Screens Cat Safe?

  1. I did that and an indoor cat that I had that was waiting for adoption just pushed through both the adjustable screen and the window screen. He is a very docile lap cat and I don’t know what prompted him to do this! I am praying he comes back tonight.

  2. Way back when we first had Mr Buttons move in he was a Window Whiffer Extraordinaire and also liked to play with the blind ropes. Dad took care of the blind ropes so there was no danger but then, one day, the screen was gone. So was Mr Buttons right down 2 stories to what was then Moms doggie pen. Dad looked, his sister looked, our friends looked but no Mr Buttons. For two days we called and looked 4 houses down and 4 houses up the street and all in the back (we have 2 acres.) Then on the third day, what? A meow, but where? We all looked and looked and finally while being really quiet and listening we saw Mr B. Where? Up a tall tree. 40 feet up a sheer tree to the first branch. He was looking sad and Dads friend put up our longest ladder way farther than it should have been extended and with heavy gloves grabbed Mr B. He jumped the final 10 feet but was shaken up and we got him. After that the screens were screwed in. We suggest that for anyone with screens to screw them in tight. Mr B spent many more years Whiffing in Safety

  3. I’ve solved this problem in my own home by buying adjustable window screens (easily found at places like Home Depot) and, upon opening the windows, placing them in front of the screens already installed. That way, I can open the windows widely and my cats can sit in the windowsill and enjoy the outdoor smells with an extra barrier between them and a potential fall.

  4. This is an old house and the windows had cranks. Within a year of moving in our screens which were sturdy enough to stay put, had claw holes which let the insects in. Last fall we had to replace the windows. We put in sliding windows that open from the bottom, and we now have air conditioning. The windows are only opened a small amount for a bit of air circulation and opened wider only if we are there to supervise. So far that is working. This article is a good reminder for keeping the fur kids safe. Thank you:)

  5. Clean them! Both sides. Screens trap pollen. And they can mildew, which sometimes is not visible in certain lights. And your kitty might be sitting on a sill or napping in a window pouch right next to the screen and breathing all this in. Cleaning also extends the life of the screen. And you will be able to clean inside the whole window frame while the screens are off and check the hardware. Depends on where you live. Do this once a year in most places. Also, in a cold climate, unless you open/crack your windows in the winter, removing and storing the screens prolongs their life.
    New screen material is available to screen UVA/UVB. When we redid the screen in our pool cage, we got the new screen and it makes a noticeable improvement in filtering the sunlight on the patio. And if you have a screened-in patio and/or pool cage, you need to check all the bottom screens and the door screens to make sure there are no gaps that would let your cat out or wildlife in. Same here for keeping the screen clean of dust, pollen, mildew. My husband regularly hoses off the entire pool screen, once a week, and after a hard rain. People think of a rain as clean water, but it is carrying pollen, dust and other air particles, and sometimes, salt air from the Gulf, leaving it on the screens.
    Ingrid, this is another great topic. Thanks!

  6. Good summer time article. My boys love clawing the screens to get out. Live in an apartment.

  7. Thanks for the tip. I guess the good thing about where I live, is it isn’t safe to leave your windows open. I will only open the ones in a room where I am at the time. That way the girls can look out and I can keep an eye on them (and see if anyone comes up to my house).

  8. Through Etsy I ordered a window catio. It’s screened in on three sides and has a plexi glass front within opening and a flat door. It’s beautifully made him very safe and my baby loves it.

  9. Through Etsy I ordered a window catio. It’s screened in on three sides with a plexi glass fronts with a flat door for her to go in and out. She is outside but screens in safely while she watches the world go by.

  10. As for top-opening windows, please please be careful. If they’re not secured, kitties can easily get stuck, which will lead to a very painful death.

  11. A few years go, my human did a check of all the screens in the house – and hired a handyman to fix any that were not secure. And she periodically checks them to make sure they are still secure.

  12. I find that I avoid panic attacks (regarding this issue) by following the steps listed above, especially making sure that the window is open just enough for my sweeties can enjoy the outside views and fresh air while they are laying down, not leaving the window open enough for them to enjoy the views and fresh air from a sitting position.

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