If you live in Europe or the UK, you probably don’t need any explanation with regards to what I’m talking about after having read the title of this post.
For indoor cat owners in Canada, Australia, and the United States – I might have to catch you up to speed, so let me do that right now.
Here in the UK, and to my knowledge in most countries across Europe, pretty much no one has mesh on their windows. I’m talking insect screen mesh. Strong, pet screen mesh is besides the point – if your problem is ever that you should ideally replace weak-ish insect screens with stronger versions a pet can’t as easily scratch through, you now should now know you’re in a pretty #blessed position. Here, we mostly all have nothing in the way of open widows. And if you have a house cat, this absolutely sucks.
Now before you say, “Well no big deal, just get a custom made mesh screen and whip it on” – that’s not so easy. I’ll get into this more later, but let me first show you what we often have to work with:
Pretty right? That’s about where my satisfaction with these windows ends.
My 2c About the Stupidity of No Mesh on Windows
I need to get in a rant right about here, because I have been beyond myself with frustration with this no-mesh-on-windows policy that Europeans and Brits pretty much all seem to live by, and I haven’t actually taken the time to thoroughly vent about it online before.
Brits love carpeting. They hate overpaying for utilities like heating, and often refuse to crank heat way up in the winter. Totally fine, and the end result is a nearly unanimous love of carpeting, as it’s magical in that it keeps the house warm even while the heat is on low. Great.
But carpet beetles and moths eat carpeting. And there’s no insect screen on British windows. So you’re basically inviting the potential of a disaster into your home each time you open a window.
No carpeting? Still problems. Especially with clothes: clothing moths eat clothes. So by not having insect screen on your window you’re inviting the absolutely god-awful potential of having your entire wardrobe slowly eaten away by the dreadful things.
Not done yet, because obviously – bugs in general. You have to live with them just waltzing their way in. Sure, you could argue Europe & the UK probably have a lot less flying bugs than might come through the window in North American summers. Maybe. But that doesn’t mean they don’t come into your house here.
Besides harmless, but annoying insects fly in, I’ve had countless bees and wasps fly in through my windows here in the UK, and have heard so many stories of BIRDS and even small mammals finding their way in…
Why the heck would you not want to prevent all this hassle and potential headache by merely giving in and adopting mesh like the rest of us?
Okay now, we come to the excuses. The “reasoning” I’ve heard being thrown about behind this mad window-mesh hate.
- It’s ugly. I don’t want that crap on my windows.
Yeah that’s great, but unless you keep your windows closed 24/7, why would you not put up with windows being slightly uglier to prevent all the downsides? Makes no sense.
- Insect screens are stupid; they make windows darker, which defeats the purpose of a window (to let in light).
Those of us who live in countries that have accepted window screens as enhancements of the window don’t have mesh covering our entire windows – just small the portions we want to open. We’ll have enormous window panes at the top, for instance, completely untouched by mesh and impossible to open, then small portions at the bottom that we can open, and only these portions are covered by mesh (check the picture below for a visual).
- Insect screens block airflow.
If you’re stating this you have never actually used an insect screen before. Mesh does not block air flow, at most it slightly dulls the wind. Also, you know what really blocks airflow? Having to close your window as soon as the sun goes down because otherwise insects attracted to the light will get into your house. Yes, I could turn off every light in the room to open the window at night without attracting bugs, but I don’t think it’s too much to ask to be able to use a room to its full capacity after dark while also keeping a window cracked open, thank you.
Having insect screens on your windows makes your windows usable 24/7. It protects your carpeting and your clothing from the increased potential of clothing moths getting into your home. It protects your house from being invaded by flying insects, and your sanity by making sure you don’t have to deal with an incredible array of problems that might come about solely for the sake of having marginally “prettier” windows. It’s mad. Hate window screens? Please god give me a better explanation why. These just don’t cut it.
Now moving on to the horrible insect screen options we have to work with..
Picture from post The Pesky Houseguest: Weiss the Cat
Insect Screen Options for Europeans & Brits
Based on what I’ve seen, if you’ve got windows like mine, you have two options:
- Put pathetic velcro options like these up on your window and pretend they’ll be enough to keep your cat inside. They won’t – if a cat wants out, it’d be so easy for him/her to hack. And they’re a hassle. You can’t just open all your windows; after you’ve opened one, you’d have to carefully put on the velcro insect screen, then move on to do the same for any other windows you want opened. Getting air into my flat should not be a such a long process.
- Get a roller screen like one of these to screw in over top your regular window. Each time you want to open that window, you’d then roll the screen down. These are expensive, irreversible (you screw them directly into your window frames if I’m not wrong) and thus not renter friendly, and they’re still not ideal considering if you have a quick cat, he or she could jump out the window before you got the screen down (or of course you’d need to always make sure no cats are in the room whenever you try opening a window).
If you happen to have windows that open up or in? Your best option, I would think, would be to get a regular mesh screen and somehow fit it to the outside of the window. Obviously, the downside is your entire window would then always be covered in mesh (again, not the same as in North America where we have only small parts of our windows covered in mesh), but not the worst thing, especially when it comes to convenience, ability to remove them later, and cost.
Indoor Cats + No Viable Window Screens = ???
I don’t know if I’m missing something here, but this leads me to conclude that Europeans and Brits with typical windows either settle for the velcro option and somehow it manages to work out fine for them (maybe your cats don’t ever claw at window mesh?), or settle for nothing on the windows and rarely ever open them, or only open windows just a crack?
There’s one last option I suppose, but I don’t know that it’s physically possible:
Are all your cats somehow used to windows being wide open and miraculously, they’re never curious enough to be tempted to step outside? All of the house cats I know in Canada would definitely take an open window as an invitation to walk out, so I can’t quite wrap my head around this being a true possibility.
Not sure I understand how most of you work around the window situation. Especially those in apartments in big cities like Paris that have French windows out to balconies and such. Do you never open them if your house cat is in the room?
Please break it down for me so I can finally wrap my head around it!
Try using adhesive velcro tape, stick on screen & around windows and you have removable screens
Erica Wolf says
I’d like to revive this conversation because in a month or so I am moving to Rome with my dog and two indoor/outdoor cats (and my husband and 3 kids). I’m stressing pretty hard over how I’m going to make the windows safe for the cats. I’ve been thinking of loosely draping netting on the interior side of the windows with enough slack that they can be opened a little bit. I have to figure out how to secure it to the frame/wall. This won’t look pretty. But it might work?
Hi, I’ve recently adopted a dear little one eyed cat- she has no depth perception. I live in a rented 4th floor flat with centre pivoting veluxes, in france. I contacted Flatcats but their product only sticks to pvc frames . My veluxes are recessed and the wall are papered, so that’s not any good. Has any one had experience with the Velux fly screens? I need to know if hey would be strong enough to stop a cat getting out, and if the sliding scream is well secured to stop a Houdini cat from pushing it up or pulling it down. I hope that fitting this system would be allowed and solve my problem.
I grew up in a house so old it didn’t have window screens. I used these: https://smile.amazon.com/Fenestrelle-Expandable-Adjustable-Horizontal-Vertical/dp/B0776Z1R91/ref=sr_1_5?keywords=expandable+window+screen&qid=1556292516&s=gateway&sr=8-5
They’re quite sturdy if there’s a notch for you to expand them into, and you put the window down as much as you can after you’ve put them in. Our cat never escaped from that window. I’m not sure if they’d work as well vertically, but they could.
Elise Xavier says
Have never seen these, thank you so much for sharing the link!
I should absolutely try them.
Watch out if you have tilt-in windows; I’ve heard that they can kill cats who try to scale them in gruesome ways. Some kind of screen or grate should be considered a necessity for cat owners with tilt-in or tilt&turn windows.
Elise Xavier says
Oh no, that’s terrible! 🙁 Didn’t know this was a thing. Need to research it and see if there are any good screen or grate options for different types.
Is there a way to make a screen that doesn’t allow a cat to escape, but as well as removable (due to how the windows open… have to go through 2 sets of push out windows to get fresh air) and doesn’t involve drilling holes (rental)… Any suggestion or idea would be amazing as this summer is hot! Thank you
Elise Xavier says
I really wish there was a product like this around – sounds perfect to me! Love to hear any DIY suggestions anyone might have for this kind of thing.
Urgh I feel the pain here! Looking for something to keep my two cats in when I move to a flat with velux roof windows. Any ideas??
Elise Xavier says
Oh my word, those are the trickiest ever. Besides Velux insect screens, I have no idea whatsoever. And if you’re renting and not allowed to modify the space, then I’m completely without ideas!
I’m Spanish, I’ve had cats for years, and believe me – you’re not alone. Spanish cat-lovers forums are filled with DIY ideas and projects to protect your cats from falling off your windows – since you won’t find a single company that understands your cat’s needs.
The one I find easier, cheaper and more easily removable, specially for HUGE windows, is hanging a net outside the window, so your cat can use the windowsill to sit and watch – something like this:
Nets/meshes are cheap and you can choose the one that better suits your needs. You can cut to size and then fasten it using hooks that you’d have to screw to the walls (not-so-removable solution), or you could use tension rods – two horizontal, two vertical – and you’re done.
Good luck with those windows!
Elise Xavier says
Thank you so much for leaving this comment! It’s a real shame that no company has figured out a one-size-fits-all solution to this problem.
I think a DIY solution will be our only option, likely with some strong netting since Avery likes to run and jump into the windows when he’s hyper and thus he could easily tear through most flimsy netting.
I will definitely take a look around some forums to see what others have already tried. No point re-inventing the wheel! 🙂
I live in Croatia in Europe and nobody uses window screens here, just like in most parts of Europe 😀 I don’t think I ever saw those on someone’s window my entire life. Rarely does an insect come inside our house even without the screens. But our cat goes out in the yard since we live in a rural area and thankfully the coyotes don’t live in Europe. But I plan on moving to a rented apartment in the future so the cats will have to stay indoors. I have no idea how I’m going to achieve that. I will have to ask my friends who have indoor only cats. There must be a way, I can’t imagine not opening the windows!
Elise Xavier says
I would absolutely love to know how your friends achieve that! If you ask, please do stop by and let me know their answer!
The Swiss Cats says
Your post made us laugh ! US windows are weird to us, and ours are weird to US furriends, MOL ! You’re right, window screens are not usual in Europe. However, Claire and Momo were fed up with mosquitos during Summer nights, and chose to get roller screens for the house two years ago. With or without screens, they never let us enjoy the four windows where we could escape when they are open ! We are allowed to play freely on the two windows facing our fenced garden only. Purrs
Elise Xavier says
Oh mosquitoes! Something else I forgot are the biggest nuisance without fly screens.
Makes perfect sense to have designated windows where you cats can spend time. It’s something I was considering doing before that makes a lot of sense. Thank you for sharing what things are like in your household!