Cat-Proofing Windows

A weird thing about Bay Area apartments is that most of the windows don’t have screens. Our landlord explained that they don’t need insect screens here because there are no bugs to keep out.

When we were staying with my sister in the East Bay, we had to close the windows once it got dark out because moths would fly in. For the record, Jelly is so good at catching moths. But here in San Francisco, we can keep them open all night (if it weren’t for the crazy people hollering or noisy dump trucks.)

Bugs or no bugs, living in an apartment with no window screens poses a problem for a cautious cat mom. How can I prevent my kitty from shimmying down the fire escape and harassing the neighbors, or worse, potentially falling out one of the windows?

Chicken wire. That’s how.

Since our half of our windows swing out on hinges, there is no place for a traditional screen. For the rest of the windows with sliding glass panels, we would have spent a fortune custom-ordering screens to fit those dimensions. So instead, we used chicken wire to create a barrier on the window that Jelly cannot fall through.

Any other material could easily be clawed at and torn, but Jelly’s full weight (or even mine, for that matter) won’t impact this sturdy mesh.

Here’s how we mounted the wire to our windows. (I say we, but Justin did the whole thing.)

We got the wire and the rest of our supplies at the best hardware store in the world; this place seriously has anything and everything you could ever think to purchase.


– 1/2″ mesh chicken wire

– nails with wide heads (cut tacks)

– washers

– double point tacks

First, J clipped the wire to the appropriate dimension for each window. Then, he affixed it to the window frame with a washer and nail along the sides. (We will probably be reprimanded by our landlord for nails into the window frame, but it’s better than having a dead cat.)

Here’s a closeup of the assembly. We used a washer that was bigger than the mesh of the chicken wire so there would be no way for it to slip out.

Next, he hammered down the double point tacks to the bottom of the window frame. He noted that this step was a particular P.I.T.A. But, better safe than sorry.

Last, he trimmed holes in the chicken wire (with wire cutters) for the window latches. We can unlatch the window and then push or slide it open.

Now we can open and close the windows relatively easy, and don’t have to worry about leaving them open all day.

We also cat-proofed the latch in the bathroom when we were worried that Jelly could flip the latch and push open the window. We’ve since mounted chicken wire to this window, too, but this was a clever solution in the interim.

We nailed a hook with a safety on it into the wall, then affixed a few inches of chain around the latch to keep the latch secure while its closed.

And there you have it. We live in a chicken coop, but our kitty is safe.



  1. I feel like there might be some fire safety issues with your solution. Still, very clever.

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