Here’s How to Repair and Replace Window Screens Torn by Your Cats


In an article I wrote for Catster recently, in which I wrote about how I rearrange my life and my house for my cats, I mentioned that I have replaced window screens that have been torn by cats’ claws. A commenter suggested that I write an article about repairing the framed screen assemblies by replacing the screens within them..

It’s really very easy, but it may depend on the type of windows you have. Here’s what I do. I stay on top of this, because we live in mosquito country and there’s nothing worse than bloodthirsty mosquitoes getting into your living space in the summer. I’ve learned over the years to pay attention to screens.

Note that my windows are casement-type windows. The screens are on the inside of the windows and easy to remove, and they are in a metal frame.

Here are my quick and dirty steps to replacing screens:

1. Remove the screen frame and lay it on a flat surface to work

2. Gently pry into and remove the thin rubber gasket with a non-sharp knife

It’s not a big big deal if you rip the used screen. It’s probably not a big deal if you break the gasket. I have, and have just used the pieces when I put the new screen in — but it’s nicer to have a whole length of gasket. Remove and discard the old screen.

3. Cut a new piece of screen to fit the window

Allow an extra allowance around all the boundaries; you’ll need a little extra to get pushed into the groove where the gasket will go, and you can trim the excess later.

Regarding new screen, my old screens were made of a flimsy material. I went to my local hardware store and was able to buy screening that was much sturdier. This had the added bonus of being easier to work with. If you replace a screen with flimsy screen material, it tends to bunch and ripple, particularly when you’re dealing with corners. The sturdier screen may at first seem as if it’s harder to work with, but you really do end up with a better looking screen (with no ripples or bunching).

4. Replace the screen

This is the tedious part. Breathe and play some music because you need to go slow here (at least, I do). Lay the cut new screen piece over the frame. Gently and patiently begin to push the gasket into the groove, securing the screen. Make sure the screen is lined up well — you really don’t want to tear it out and start over if you don’t have to.

Be sure that the knife (I’ve also used a regular screwdriver) pushes in right over the gasket. You don’t want to tear the screen if you don’t have to. And if you use a sturdier screen material, you’ll have a harder time accidentally tearing it.

A Catster commenter told me that they had their screens replaced at their local hardware store, and that they were able to find “cat-proof” screening. This is well worth checking into; sounds like it was worth the extra cost. Here’s something I found along these lines; the materials are vinyl-coated polyester.

Other things you can do to mitigate screen tears

  • Keep your cat’s claws clipped. It may not totally prevent damage if your cat goes for a screen, but the resulting tear may be smaller than a tear with sharper cat’s claws.
  • Use tape. I’ve done this to keep out mosquitoes, but that tape drove me nuts. In truth, I’d rather take the time to replace the screen.
  • Painstakingly push the tiny wires back into place. One reader suggested this, and they admitted that it is tedious. And, the tear is still there. should a cat get their claws into the screen, it will make the tear even worse.
  • Buy tape repair kits for screens that have a mesh pattern. I used one once. It does the job, but it’s never an exact match.
  • If you’re dealing with a screen door, check out special pet screening. We put in a door with a double layer of screening on the bottom. The wider, darker mesh is very strong, and a cat can climb it without destroying it or destroying the regular mesh behind it. (But if you have a clever kitten as I do, the upper level of the door is still reachable and destroyable!)

Remember, the ease of replacing screens will depend in part on the type of windows you have.

Have your cats destroyed screens? Do you have any tips about how to deal with this or what you’ve done to fix the screens? Share your thoughts in the comments, please, because I know that many of us face this challenge!

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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of a short story collection about people and place. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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