Saving Humpty and Dumpty from the inevitable.
December 20, 2010 11:37 AM   Subscribe

How can I keep my cats from falling out the window? I recently moved to a 24th story apartment with no screens on the windows. They basically open into a 300 foot abyss. Hence, opening these windows would mean my cats would fall to their death - obviously not good. Help me get some air circulation and keep my cats on the right side of these windows!

The difficulty here is I'm not allowed to attach anything to the outside of the building, otherwise traditional screens would be the solution here. I need a screen or something on the inside of the window, between the glass and the blinds, that will still allow me to open the sliding-to-the-left windows. There are two windows I need to fix - the second is slightly smaller than the one shown in the pic.

To make matters worse, the windows don't lock open either; opening them just a bit is just as bad as opening them all the way, because a paw could slide the window further left. I need to remedy this problem as well.

What is normally done is this situation? Because it's a rental, I can't make any permanent changes to the structure - ie no drilling into the window frame.

Any ideas?
posted by cgg to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
A potentially daft suggestion, but could you put in a wooden dowel or something, to prevent the window from being fully opened? Open the window about three inches, then measure the length left, then get a length of wood that's that length.
posted by XtinaS at 11:43 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Would an adjustable window screen work for you? You place it between the window and sill, or, in your case the window side and the right side of the frame.

BTW -- your link to the photo reports back as: Access Denied.
posted by ericb at 11:45 AM on December 20, 2010 [2 favorites]

Why not just window guards? NYC requires them in any apartment with children so they're quite common.
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:45 AM on December 20, 2010 [3 favorites]

Make a screen (make a frame out of wood, and stretch and glue screen-cloth to cover it) and then stick it to the edges of the opening with blue-tack? Or, alternately, use blue-tack (or thumbtacks if you think that'll be OK) to tack screencloth to the opening? I still wouldn't trust them with it when you're not there (all it would take is one of them clinging to the screen to pull it down) but it should be OK under supervision.
posted by The otter lady at 11:45 AM on December 20, 2010

Adjustable window screens. There are plenty more on Amazon. Many of them don't require drilling or anything - they just expand into the space. I've been using one for about a year (don't remember which exact model) and it has managed to keep my curious kitty from doing herself too much harm.
posted by CharlieSue at 11:45 AM on December 20, 2010

If it's a left/right window, you can always get a piece of wood and cut to the right size so that the window can't be opened beyond a certain limit.

But keep in mind that cats can pretty much put their body through anything they can fit their heads through, so you will want to keep the windows fairly well closed. (though I don't know if they would be dumb enough to actively try to squeeze through an opening like that ... but I wouldn't put anything past my cats! :)

You could also get baby gates and put them in the window. Not attractive, but it would sure keep them very far from the windows. Might make them a little crazy though, knowing there's a window open that they can't get anywhere near though.
posted by icebourg at 11:47 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

Can you find a way to secure child safety netting to the interior of your window frames? (google search for products). Will also keep birds out!
posted by crush-onastick at 11:48 AM on December 20, 2010

Nthing adjustable screens or window guards. In my apartment we use adjustable window screens for this very purpose. I believe I picked mine up at the neighborhood hardware store.
posted by Sara C. at 11:57 AM on December 20, 2010

Yup. Adjustable window screens, as suggested by ericb. I grew up on the 21st floor of a highrise building, and that's exactly what we did to keep the cats in.
posted by deadmessenger at 12:21 PM on December 20, 2010

A word of caution: a cat can get through any hole big enough for its head. This can be surprisingly small. The window guards linked above do not offer enough coverage to prevent a determined cat from going through them.
posted by bonehead at 12:22 PM on December 20, 2010 [4 favorites]

A screened in cat window box? They make clear plastic ones which sit like air conditioner units on the edge outside of a window but provide an enclosed window perch for kitties.
posted by ShadePlant at 12:39 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I was thinking of the adjustable window screen too. Make sure that it is very secure and your cats cannot hang on it (as mine are likely to do) and fall out or fall in. Some type of internal support to keep the screen very secure would be a good idea. Perhaps a lattice board put up in front of the opened window. I lived in a high rise with cats, it was nerve racking. One once got out and scaled the side of the building to get a pigeon. She made it back in with the bird and was convinced it was a great idea to keep trying.
posted by wandering_not_lost at 2:05 PM on December 20, 2010

You likely have neighbours with cats and the same window dilemma- maybe strike up some conversations with other residents and see what their solutions were. In the elevator or wherever, look for the people who have cat hair on their clothing.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 3:34 PM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would just add a little reassurance here. Cats are physically adept, and incredibly good balancers. They are highly unlikely to fall, even if they get onto your window ledge.
posted by Decani at 4:24 AM on December 21, 2010

Let me first say that I do not think that falling cats is a trivial matter, but I was fascinated by a recent Radiolab episode, in which they discuss a 1987 study regarding cats falling out of high rises. Good news that 90% of cats falling from 2-32 stories survived, but a curious finding was that the survival rate of cats falling from 6-32 stores was double that of those falling from 2-6 stories--the reason being that cats reach terminal velocity, regain their senses, and arrange for proper orientation upon impact.

This link has a roundup of the study with reference to the program.
posted by zachxman at 9:28 AM on December 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

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