Window Covering for (windows of) human and feline dwellers
January 9, 2006 4:05 AM   Subscribe

I have 3 indoor-only cats, a large floor to (almost) ceiling window, a need to cover said window for privacy and an aversion to vertical blinds (which seem to be the only solution but they're ugly, have no insulating properties and have gaps). The cats would definitely try to climb any cloth drape (I know, I know) and their hair hangs off the bottom of fabric like fringe.

I've Googled, checked design sites, animal companion, pet-friendly product sites but haven't found anything. Any ideas? [or should I just get some new verticals and find something worthwhile to work on?...]
posted by lois1950 to Home & Garden (38 answers total)
Declaw them. It will solve a whole host of issues. It will hurt for a few days, but from then on you will not have to worry about the drapes, the furniture, your speaker grills, etc.
posted by caddis at 4:52 AM on January 9, 2006

posted by essexjan at 4:56 AM on January 9, 2006

Please don't listen to caddis.

What about double-paned windows with the blinds enclosed between the glass? I've seen this done with all styles of shades and blinds and it can look pretty cool. The added benefit is that they won't get dusty. 8-)
posted by tastybrains at 5:03 AM on January 9, 2006

Velvet, cats do not like to claw velvet for some reason, and comes in really nice non-tacky long lasting textures, and is not necessarily expensive. I agree shutters can be really nice too. We have horizontal bamboo blinds the cats don't bother with, which look really nice.

Declawing is a serious mutilation, even if there are a lot of vets who think nothing of performing the procedure (just because they're vets, doesn't mean they're ethical or know best). Just because you have indoor cats does not mean they will not get outdoors one day, and their claws are their main defense against predators.
posted by zarah at 5:15 AM on January 9, 2006

Don't declaw your cats, unless you're ok with the idea of cutting off the first digit of your own hands. It's cruel, and it's even worse for older cats, who take longer to recover and who will probably develop problems that you would not like in response to the declawing.

A solution to all sorts of clawing problems are Soft Claws (paired with the ever-useful Klaw Kontrol Bag which makes the whole process less stressful and more safe for everyone). This will solve the drape-climbing so long as you keep up with them.

As far as window treatments, if you can afford to replace the window with the kind with the blinds in between, that is a great solution that will leave you and the cats happy. I have also seen electronically controlled "black out shades" that may or may not fit your specifications re: size. Other than that, you're down to cloth drapes. That's really your most versatile option -- were it me, I would pair those with the soft claws and if you don't have a kitty tree/palace for your little climbers, I might invest in one of those, as well. Good luck
posted by Medieval Maven at 5:37 AM on January 9, 2006

Another thing you could try would be those bamboo shades - they come in huge sizes, and are really inexpensive. My cat used to climb my drapes and still paws at verticle blinds, but all he ever did to the bamboo was squeeze his body between it and the window so he could see outside. Even if your cat ended up destroying it, I think they only cost like $20-30.
posted by gatorae at 6:17 AM on January 9, 2006

I have vinyl pull down shades on my windows. Of course, I keep them behind curtains because they're ugly, which means they might not work for you. But they aren't vertical and they aren't cloth, so I thought I'd throw them out there, just in case they're something you haven't considered.

Possibly also those rolling bamboo blinds? Again, in my opinion, ugly, but not vertical and not cloth.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:20 AM on January 9, 2006

You can get normal (not vertical) blinds custom-cut to darn near any length down at Lowes or Home Despot. We have 7-foot-tall windows in our home and want that route. You can most likely get insulated blinds cut to fit.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:11 AM on January 9, 2006

Just popping in to disrecommend the velvet mentioned above. The only window covering my cats have ever tried to climb was a huge sheet of velvet.

I'd suggest matchstick blinds or bamboo blinds.
posted by majick at 7:12 AM on January 9, 2006

I wouldn't declaw an adult cat, but we had our first cat declawed as a kitten, and it was great overall.

Yes, I felt terrible for the poor kitty the first couple of days. But he was back to his normal crazy self after that and is perfectly well adjusted now. We adopted another adult cat who had been declawed years earlier and they are both fine.

I live in a high rise apartment building, so they can't get out. I wouldn't have a declawed cat anywhere where they could escape outside, though.

Back on topic, I'd recommend the vertical blinds, combined with inexpensive sheer drapes you can replace if they get too clawed up. Cats probably won't climb soft, thin, sheer drapes. Also, fur doesn't stick to them as well. The vertical blinds (while ugly) can be pulled back at all times unless you need total privacy, or darkness. Pulled back completely, you can barely notice them.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 7:45 AM on January 9, 2006

As Medieval Maven said, "Soft Claws/Paws" is a much better solution the cat claw problems, but I have a few words of advice - In my experience, buy these off the internet. I got severely ripped off at the local vets when I purchased from them.

Also, if you have hardwood floors, or anything to that effect, these things will alert you to your cats precise location any time they move. If your cats are young and chase each other around, or are particularly active at night in an area where you'd be able to hear them on hardwood floors, this may not be the best idea.

The actual plastic ends, not the tips, can get caught on something lacy, or similar (small holes a plastically enlarged cat claw could get into).

We found all this out the hard way.
posted by jcruden at 7:51 AM on January 9, 2006

Get some cat scratching posts and pads (laced with catnip) and place them around your home in places where you cats like to stretch and claw things. Some playful encouragement from you will distract the cats from your curtains/blinds. Spend time playing with your cats, toys don't have to be expensive or elaborate, scrunched up paper on string is perfect. Maybe consider getting a cat tower, to allow the cats to spend time by the window with a good view.

On no account consider getting your cats declawed. The operation is a mutilation and extremely painful. Gradually vets in the US are coming around to the idea that this barbaric practice is unnecessary.

Caddis appears not to understand that without claws, a cat is unable to stretch, balance and defend itself effectively. For cats, stretching is an important way of maintaining muscle tone.
posted by Arqa at 7:53 AM on January 9, 2006

Another vote against declawing. It really is a horrible thing to do to a cat. That said, those Soft Claw things are hilarious.
posted by Faint of Butt at 8:26 AM on January 9, 2006

You might be able to train them not to climb a cloth drape. When we put up cloth drapes, our cats made one or two attempts to claw them, but because I was slipshod in hanging them, this resulted in the entire drape and metal hangers and everything coming crashing down on the cat with a lot of noise. The cat wasn't hurt, but it sure was scared, and since then it has been very ginger around the drapes and never tried to pull on them again.
posted by Rubber Soul at 8:33 AM on January 9, 2006

Tail docking and declawing are both, to me, completely unacceptbale mutilations performed for the sake of human convenience or preference. With all of the other alternatives in this thread, I think it's fairly demonstrable that you don't have to mutilate your cats to live together peaceably.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:35 AM on January 9, 2006

Declawing is not mutilation. You are using overheated rhetoric. I have neutered, declawed cats, both of whom are healthy, well-adjusted, and certainly can stretch, play and enjoy their lives. Believe me, they enjoy their lives.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 8:41 AM on January 9, 2006

Are you really sure you need to cover the window.?Online and in some larger home improvement stores they sell frosted glass looking adhesive. Allows privacy, lets light in and you could probably cut it into a pattern. if you did not want an entirely frosted window.
posted by TheLibrarian at 8:47 AM on January 9, 2006

This really wasn't a question about declawing, but I have to reiterate that even if you were the sort of person to declaw a cat, you'd have to be a special kind of evil to do it to an adult cat. Kittens can recover from declawing and learn to adjust without too many problems for the most part, but for an adult cat, it is physically and emotionally traumatic.

And Jeff, it is mutilation, it's removing their first finger joint.
posted by catfood at 8:48 AM on January 9, 2006

I can't really understand the whole mutilation rhetoric. Yes, it is a change to their bodies, but it removes a portion that is adapted for an exterior, not interior environment. However, they are adult cats and perhaps it is best not to declaw them now. It is one option for dealing with the problem, but there are others. Since I doubt lois1950 wants this thread to devolve into a debate about the ethics of declawing I will say nothing further on it.

As for window treatments, venetian blinds are pretty cat resistant. They do seem to like batting at the cords, but that causes no harm. If you get them with wooden slats they provide some insulation, although they don't really seal the window area like drapes.
posted by caddis at 9:03 AM on January 9, 2006

Just as neutering is removing their testicles/ovaries.

Sorry, no more derail from me, but overheated rhetoric is just that - overheated rhetoric. We do many things to domestic animals to make them more domestic. Not all are cruel or inhumane.
posted by jeff-o-matic at 9:03 AM on January 9, 2006

Must've missed the "how does everyone feel about declawing" part of the question. /grumble

Depends on how much light you want to still get through the window. I second (third?) covering the windowpane. You can DIY it with fabric and cornstarch.

Or you can hang a panel in front of the window (make a cover for a slab of plywood or get slightly nicer wood and stain it) which would probably be too solid to be a tempting climb-toy.
posted by desuetude at 9:18 AM on January 9, 2006

posted by matildaben at 9:35 AM on January 9, 2006

I had a window near a stairway that provided my neighbor with an excellent view of me. I wasn't interested in putting up a curtains, and I didn't like the look of the adhesive frosting that thelibrarian mentioned. I ended up going to an art supply store and buying this goo that craftspeople use to create psuedo stained glass. Its sort of an acrylic goo that can be ultimately removed with a razor blade without any damage to the glass underneath. As an added bonus, it comes in many colors. I just used the clear, and I applied it liberally with a coarse sponge (also available in the art supply store), creating whirls and dallops. The size of your window might be problematic, but one 4 ounce bottle of the stuff was enough for me to frost the one window, as well as the smaller windows on my front door.
posted by crunchland at 9:45 AM on January 9, 2006

I don't have cats, but I once sublet an apartment with huge windows on two sides of the room. The light was great, but the fishbowl sensation wasn't. Since it was a sublet, I really couldn't do anything permanent, so I went to an art supply store and bought big sheets of rice paper and just taped them over the bottom half of the (double-hung) windows. It still let in lots of light, I had privacy, it was not too expensive, easy to put up and take down.
posted by ambrosia at 9:49 AM on January 9, 2006

I've got plantation shutters like the ones linked above, and I like the way they look and work (and I have a cat who would surely destroy drapes). Admittedly, I don't like too much light in my place, but opening the louvers allows light in without providing a particularly good view to those outside, while still allowing the cat to watch birds.
posted by uncleozzy at 10:17 AM on January 9, 2006

There are also those rolled plastic sun shades that go on the outside of the house. Inconvenient, but cheap, and no way the cats will bother those.

As to the hair--have you tried vacuuming your cats? It sounds crazy but a daily once-over will dramatically lessen their indoor shedding. Some cats will tolerate it fine, others will take your arm off.
posted by LarryC at 10:34 AM on January 9, 2006

To block out a too clear view into her bathroom, my sister glued smallish sqaures of a thin pretty paper to the pane with egg whites. Just brush on the whites and stick on the paper. Very pretty.
posted by Sara Anne at 10:51 AM on January 9, 2006

Another vote for venetian blinds. My mum has a large front window and that's what she went with. She keeps them pulled up about 18 inches or so for cat space during the day and lowers and closes them at night.
posted by deborah at 10:58 AM on January 9, 2006

I think I saw that paper-gluing technique on some home decorating show too. As Sara Anne said, it is really attractive looking and almost gives a stained glass effect to the window.
posted by booknerd at 11:00 AM on January 9, 2006

It's the old "first comment is sort of a derail" thing, which throws off the entire thread. If the declaw comment came in an hour later, it wouldn't have been such poison to the thread.
posted by mathowie at 9:52 AM PST on January 9 [!]

Matt is quite correct. Sorry for derailing your thread lois1950. I should have held off on that comment for a little while. (If anyone wants to complain to me I am monitoring the MeTa thread.)
posted by caddis at 11:32 AM on January 9, 2006

Watch out with venetian blinds. Unless you're planning on keeping them pulled up as deborah's mother does, you're looking at the possibility of a cat sized breakage of the outside end of the blinds de to repeated bending. I've had to replace the blinds upon moveout of every apartment I've lived in, because my cats tend to bend the blinds in order to sit in the window!

I second shades.
posted by mewithoutyou at 11:33 AM on January 9, 2006

posted by mewithoutyou at 11:34 AM on January 9, 2006

I had to cover some huge windows, and the fact that I really wanted them covered NOW was making me rush my decision-making. So I got some of these as a temporary solution -- paper shades that are cheap, are easy to size and install, and gave me privacy while I really considered the problem.
posted by JanetLand at 12:22 PM on January 9, 2006

We have curtain panels from ikea that our 2 indoor cats have never shown any interest in climbing. They are very inexpensive, let light through, and hang flat against the window instead of draping like normal curtains, which may help discourage climbing.
posted by platinum at 12:51 PM on January 9, 2006

I just saw an article linked from about stenciling windows with an allover pattern. I quite liked the effect, and like the stained glass paint, it provides privacy. Art supply stores have lots of good stuff like the stained glass paint, or beautiful papers.
posted by theora55 at 1:15 PM on January 9, 2006

I have a pair of these (sliding screens) covering two different sliding glass doors. They are great.
posted by oddman at 2:14 PM on January 9, 2006

mewithoutyou: they're wood (fake wood, I think) blinds (hard slats, 'bout 2 inches wide), not the bendy mini-blinds.
posted by deborah at 9:04 PM on January 10, 2006

Ah, gotcha, deborah. My mum has those in her kitchen.
posted by mewithoutyou at 6:50 PM on January 15, 2006

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