“Falls-from-height” are a common cause of injuries and deaths to Hong Kong’s cat population. Even if your cat goes through a window and doesn’t fall, you’re in for an exciting and stressful time (and possibly a visit from SPCA and some firemen) trying to get the cat back inside again, safely.
Even if you’re not on a high floor, there are other daily dangers to cats: traffic, dogs, snakes, other cats, people…. so window nets are still needed even if you’re living on a low floor (e.g. village house).
At Paws United, we aim to ensure our cats to go to homes where they will be safe, and we know you want your adopted cats to be safe as well, so this guide sets out our expectations concerning window nets.
Window nets must be fitted before an adoption is approved.
Let’s be clear, we aren’t trying to force our adopters into doing things against their will. The cat’s safety is something we should all be concerned about. When people tell us, “I never open the windows”, we have to ask them: “What about your other family members? Your visitors? Your helper? Workmen who come to fix or clean things?” It is very difficult to guarantee that windows will stay closed, and even a brief mistake is enough to endanger a cat’s safety.
Not usually. For most adopters, we just ask you to send pictures or videos of your window nets to us via WhatsApp. We might ask you to zoom in on certain areas, or video yourself giving the net a good shake. Even so, in rare cases we might request a home visit to inspect window nets and the environment.
We look at four things when we consider window nets:
- Coverage: have all the necessary windows been made safe?
- Hardness: is the window net going to bend or flex?
- Fixing: is the window net going to come loose or come off?
- Gaps: can a cat squeeze through the net?
Let’s review these in a bit more detail.
Does every window that could open need a net? Not really. Lower windows that people can easily reach always need nets. Higher windows that are out of reach (without steps or a chair) don’t need nets as long as you never open them. We like to see these windows fastened closed with cable ties.
Easy-to-reach windows in every room need a net – including the bathroom, kitchen, and all the bedrooms. It’s perfectly fine to consider some rooms “off limits” to your cat… but cats have a way of sneaking into rooms (especially where they aren’t allowed!), and you have to assume that is going to happen.
Window netting must be rigid. Anything based on fabric is unacceptable because it will eventually be torn. Anything flexible or soft, like plastic mesh or metal barbecue mesh, is also a bad idea. Cats can be stronger than you think, and can also be incredibly persistent, so if there is any possibility that they can move the window nets, they’ll probably try to do that – and keep trying until they succeed. We prefer to see a heavy-duty metal grid, like the ones in the following photographs:
A rigid metal mesh, which is preferred for window nets.
Another example of a rigid metal mesh.
The window nets must be firmly held in place in a way that will not become weaker over time. Solutions that we accept – plastic zip-ties, having the nets screwed to the window frame, also purpose-made latches and hinges so your window nets can swing open and closed.
Solutions that we might not accept include wire twist ties (cats love playing with these, and they can become looser over time), any fixings based on adhesive sticky pads (these also become weaker over time), and velcro.
Make sure the window nets are fixed as close to the edges of the net as possible. If the fixing points are too far from the edge, even with rigid nets, cats might be able to push their way through.
It should be possible to grip your window net and give it quite a firm shake. It should not come off, and no gaps should open up. We may even ask for a video of you doing this! Your cat may well also try to test your window nets:
This is one reason why nets need to be firmly fixed in place
Kittens especially, but even adult cats, can squeeze through surprisingly small gaps. That means that your window nets should have no gaps at the edges of the window (especially at the top), or where two pieces of netting overlap (At overlaps, the two pieces of netting should be firmly fixed to each other).
Many windows have existing child-proof barriers like this:
Example of a child-proof barrier – this won’t protect cats, and your window nets may need to be installed behind this barrier to avoid gaps
Sometimes, if the barriers are big or if they stick out a long way from the window, fixing the window nets to the front of these barriers creates a gap around the edges. Your cat-proof window nets might have to be fixed behind the barrier, directly against the window. You can certainly attach the window nets to the child-proof barrier.
We may ask for photos of your nets from different angles, and we may reject the nets if any gaps are too big.
A window that you never intend to open can be permanently fastened shut. This could be done with plastic zip-ties, a window frame lock, or a screw or bolt through the window frame. A window that has been permanently disabled does not need window nets.
Some types of child lock can also be used, like this one:
Child-proof lock, firmly attached to window frame and handle, limiting the opening distance to less than 3cm
There are two requirements:
- The lock has to be firmly attached, so that it cannot fall off, or be loosened over time
- It has to be able to secure the window less than three centimetres open. Some child locks leave a gap which is far too small for children, but easily big enough for a cat.
Again, we will require photographs of the child lock. Not all windows are suitable for such locks.
Obviously, cats should never be allowed out onto a balcony. Some cats are cautious about heights, but others can be instantly distracted by a bird or insect flying past, and will jump to catch it without even thinking about how high up they are.
Windows need nets because windows usually stay open for a long time. Balconies – which are mostly used for drying laundry, a quick smoke, or growing some pot plants – might need to be accessed now and then, but there is not usually any reason for the balcony door to be kept open, like you would keep a window open.
That means it’s easier to accept that a careful, caring owner can shut their cat safely in a bedroom before opening – and then closing – the balcony door. Of course, the caring, careful owner must be sure to do this every time the balcony is accessed.
However, if you’re the type who likes to keep the balcony door open, it is possible to have sliding mesh doors fitted. Some of our adopters have done just that, with the help of local engineering firms.
Having a balcony does not rule out adoption, but we will talk about it with you in some detail.
If you have any additional questions, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
必須澄清，我們並非強迫領養者做一些他們不願意做的事，貓貓的安全才是我們都要重視的地方。當大家告訴我們 「我從不會打開窗戶」，我們會想確認 「如果是你的家人呢？你的訪客？你的工人？來修理或者清潔的工人？」這些情況下我們很難保證窗戶能夠一直保持關閉，甚至一個微少的錯誤就有可能危害貓貓的安全。