Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Windows, Screens and Cats: Just a Little Adventure

Window Kitty, Snowy Night

Each spring I link to my 2016 article “Windows, Screens and Cats” to help warn cat guardians about safely opening their windows on the first nice days in spring to avoid letting their cat escape outdoors. We can easily forget the tiny spaces our cats can fit through, how sharp claws can rip a hole in a screen, or how clever cats can actually open windows and doors. All of these circumstances and more have happened to me over the years, and while I’m glad I managed to collect each escapee—even one escape when four of them were outside—I would gladly have avoided the story with the happy ending in order to have avoided the fear and danger in the first place. Each spring, too, kitties suffer what is called “high-rise syndrome” where inadequate screens or poorly guarded open windows, and humans who think their cat “would know not to jump” results in falls from high windows.

Each year I also share yet another story of how, when I thought I was careful to the point of paranoia, one of my cats taught me a lesson by escaping out of a window or door or through a screen just to show you should never underestimate your cat. This year it’s one of Namir’s great escapes from a window that had been open about 1/4″.

Read “Windows, Screens and Cats” now, or if your cat has escaped read Your Indoor-only Cat Got Out the Door!” for tips on how to recover your cat, or scroll down and read about Namir and his “Swiss Army Paw”. Links to the informational articles are also included at the end.

Article contents:

  • Charm’s escape—twice!
  • Make sure your screens can handle your cats
  • Materials
  • Construction
  • Installation, new screens and reinforcing old ones
  • High-rise Syndrome
  • Meanwhile back in 1998, the first escape

Click here to read the entire article: “Windows, Screens and Cats”.

. . . . . . .

Just A Little Adventure

Never underestimate the strength and agility of a cat, or the ingenuity and persistence—or how skinny he can make himself to fit through a tiny opening.

cats at window
Cat TV in full operation.

You’re familiar with the big casement window that faces the side of my house—the one that is Cat TV, where the bird feeders are and the lilacs bloom (it’s Human TV too), and where Giuseppe sits to sing to Mademoiselle Daisy. The window is 48” x 48”, and I chose a casement, which has two panels that open like shutters, because I’ve always thought casements were so pretty, and because, when they are open, you get air flowing through the entire opening, not just a small part at the bottom or side. Also, because of the way they wind shut and then lock, they are darned difficult to break into, and because they wind from outside into the opening, when the winter winds blow up against them it just shuts them tighter. And bear in mind, each casement panel is nearly 24” x 48”, double pane glass with vinyl clad aluminum, quite substantial.

And theoretically, you can open them just a little bit to let some air in, and the winder will hold them in place unless it’s turned somehow, so they don’t really need security locks.

Unless a very slender gray and white cat smells the spring air through that 1/4” inch opening and really really really wants to go outside.

Before Namir went out in the yard with Cookie and me, he was strictly an indoor cat. He could sit by the front door and nearly every day at least one person would come to visit and everyone knew the rules—you had to greet Namir before you greeted the human. This kept him contented, for the most part, though he knew he deserved more.

But in his youth he was quite the cat about town living indoors and outdoors, and even when his person, who ultimately brought him to me, tried to keep him indoors, he cleverly opened a door or removed a screen and let himself out. Until Kelly came along, that is, and he had to protect her. Before that he was quite the mancat about town, until that same person rescued him and took away his matched set of fuzzy dice.

One warm spring day I had indeed opened that window just a tiny bit and while lots of noses were pressed up against the opening, including Namir’s, and there was a little pushing to see if it would open farther since the screens were not in place yet, the window held and we all enjoyed the fresh air.

Later, I had to run to the post office and bank, then to the grocery store, and because it was still mild I left the window open that tiny bit, pushing on it before I left to see if it would open any farther. It did not. By the time I pulled into my driveway on that spring evening the dusk was deep, the yard was in shadow and just the cobalt blue sky reflected in highlights on the ivy and young spring plants growing in the side yard. Looking up, I saw Kelly’s silhouette in the window which was not at all unusual. I heard something rustle in the ivy and stopped, listening, but couldn’t spot movement or even place where it was. Likely, it was a late bird digging for dinner, or a chipmunk hurrying home before dark.

I took my packages from the car and closed the doors, then walked up my stone steps, heard the rustling once more and stopped to look at its persistence and perceived size, then proceeded to my door and inside.

Kelly's Morning Bath
Kelly’s Morning Bath

Kelly was sniffing out the window with great intensity. Kelly still had a great hunting instinct, and nothing in the house smaller than her fellow cats was safe, nor even directly outdoors, though I never let her out to catch things. She quickly glanced at me, eyes huge and round, then turned back to the window, but Kelly had that expression no matter what she saw. Whatever it was that lurked in the ivy, it was totally enthralling.

I put my bags down and Cookie came over and Peaches and then the Four came out, but no Namir, who was the official greeter, even pushing himself in front of Cookie when I entered and inspecting all the packages with his long nose and looking disapprovingly at me with those tourmaline eyes because I rarely had anything that interested him. If it did, he pulled it out of the bag and took off with it.

But he was not there, and as I looked at big-eyed Kelly at the window, remembering the rustling in the ivy, my subconscious was doing the work my logical mind would soon realize—Namir had somehow managed to get himself out the window! That meant slender Kelly might as well, and was anyone else missing? The Four adored him, they’d jump off a bridge after him, certainly out the window! But they were all there, Mimi was in the kitchen with Peaches, Cookie was looking at me, and I could tell she knew as well.

I ran to the window and looked out and noticed it was open about two inches, and the winder, which I always left in a downward position, was off to the left at about 11:00. I pushed on the window, and it opened an inch more at least, enough for Namir to get through! I looked out and listened, heard and saw nothing, but wound the window shut with a thump and ran for the front door. Cookie was looking out front along with a few of the Four and my porch light was still on. Moving them back I ran out and yelled, “Namir! Are you out here?”


“Namir? Is that you?”

It was full dark now, but the floodlights on my porch lit the yard to the street and off to both corners of the house and beyond, though with all the groundcovers and plants and trees, anything could be out there and I might not see it. Still, Namir’s white legs would shine in the light, even if he was in a shadow.

I saw movement at the corner of the house and it was him, on the other side from the casement window, now near the dining room window!

“Namir?” I said softly. I’ve seen enough of my own cats become frightened and distrustful of me when they’d gotten outside, and even overly people oriented Namir looked a little startled and distrustful, those oval eyes fully open, his huge ears tall and pale inside and and kind of making him look like a deer, though he was the wrong color. He was headed down the side of the house, but had turned to face me. He must have walked across the porch but run when I burst out the door.

“Nam-i-i-i-r-r,” I softly coaxed in a sing-song voice, “where are you headed?” I began to slowly walk toward him, talking. He kept leaning forward as if to start walking, then he’d stop, and never took his eyes off me. I thought about his heart disease and all the medications he took each day, I thought about him running with that bad heart, being outdoors in the cold. I didn’t think he’d run off and disappear, I saw in his eyes he just wanted an adventure, and he was a little bit mad that he couldn’t make himself run when he really wanted to.

When I got near him, I slowly leaned down and extended my hand, which he sniffed, then looked back up at me, and I could see just enough emotional distance in his eyes that I knew if I made a fast move, or if there was a loud noise, or anything broke the spell, he’d run.

gray and white cat
Namir, with his bedroom eyes.

I slowly reached down and put my hand lightly on his back, then as he made a break for it I managed to lean really far and get one hand in front of his chest and one under his belly and pick him up! His legs went everywhere and I pulled him against me, trying not to compress his chest or abdomen but to hold him decidedly tight. He flailed his legs around while I carried him in the door, but it was just frustration. “I almost made it!”

In we went, and I set him down on the table by the door. He was Namir again, and not unhappy to be inside, inspecting grocery bags and swatting Kelly, who he knew had told on him, and he knew dinner was imminent, and that he was going to get everything he wanted and be able to act like the boss even though he wasn’t and be able to cuddle with me later.

And we did all those things, and Namir also demonstrated how he had turned the casement handle, even though I had closed and locked the window, pulling on it, then pushing on it. It took enormous ability for an eight-pound cat to exert enough force on that casement handle to even turn it once and open that big window, and the result of a lot of observation, watching me open and close the window, to figure out how and which way he should turn it to open that heavy casement. I can just picture Kelly watching him with big round worried eyes and actually say out loud, because Kelly was a real talker, “Namir, are you sure you should do this? Namir, I don’t think you should. Namir, please don’t do that.”

Namir looked at me, “Do you see this? I have more powers than you will ever know. I have thumbs when you’re not looking. I am a cat.”

I’m sure Kublai was having the laugh of his afterlife with that one, since he had once escaped by removing a window screen. Though he’d never met Namir, the two had the same persistent drive to prove they were just as human as me by imitating me in things I never expected a cat to do, and to get outside. I never made the casement window mistake again, though Namir did outsmart me in another way and get outside a year or so later…but later that spring, I began to take him outside with Cookie and me.

Check your screens and windows, and recover a lost cat

Read “Windows, Screens and Cats” now, or if your cat has escaped read Your Indoor-only Cat Got Out the Door!” for tips on how to recover your cat, and also read on about one of Namir’s great escapes from a window that had been open about 1/4″.

Article contents:

  • Charm’s escape—twice!
  • Make sure your screens can handle your cats
  • Materials
  • Construction
  • Installation, new screens and reinforcing old ones
  • High-rise Syndrome
  • Meanwhile back in 1998, the first escape

Click here to read the entire article: “Windows, Screens and Cats”.

Art and Gifts featuring cats you know! Visit Portraits of Animals



Feline Images from Portraits of Animals!

Namir's "bedroom eyes".
Namir’s “bedroom eyes”.

Namir turns his gaze up to me, enchanting me with his “bedroom eyes” as we spend a morning in the garden. To visitors and to me, once he is sure he has you under his spell he turns on those famous bedroom eyes, narrowing them just enough so they looked mysteriously slanted and angling up a tourmaline glance, as if sharing a secret, looking totally exotic (he thinks), purring joyfully, certain you belong to him completely.

It’s available on Portraits of Animals. You can find this photo in my gallery of Feline Photos.


All images and text used on this site are copyrighted to Bernadette E. Kazmarski unless otherwise noted and may not be used without my written permission, although links to your site are more than welcome and are shared. Please ask if you are interested in using and image or story in a print or internet publication. If you are interested in purchasing a print of an image or a product including it, check my animal and nature website Portraits of Animals to see if I have it available already. If you don’t find it there, visit Ordering Custom Artwork for more information on a custom greeting card, print or other item.

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