9 Tips for Making a Cat-Friendly Window Perch

Gemma Johnstone
Written by Gemma Johnstone
Updated December 20, 2021
 A cat sitting by the window
Photo: k / Adobe Stock

Offer your kitty a comfortable vantage point to watch for squirrels

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Does your cat spend much of her day sitting looking out the window? She’s not alone. Many domestic felines, especially those kept indoors, get great enjoyment out of this pastime—with bird-watching being top of the list of instinctual and environmentally enriching activities. 

So rather than your cat having to perch on the edge of a narrow windowsill, why not create a more inviting, safe, elevated space for her to call her own? Follow these tips for making a comfortable window area for your cat. 

1. Install a Cat Perch

Windowsills often aren’t wide enough for your cat to do anything but sit pushed up against the glass. By using a dedicated cat perch or shelf, you can give them a more comfortable space and encourage them to stay in a window area you think is most suitable.

There are many cat perches available to purchase online or in pet stores, often using suction cups to secure them to the window. Select one with strong adhesive qualities or opt for a shelf that screws into the sill for extra security.

2. Get Creative With DIY Cat Window Seat Ideas

If you’re on a budget or don’t like the idea of a suction cup perch, you can DIY a window seat area. Hang a basket with sturdy strapping from a secure curtain rail or secure a padded piece of wood to the sill with brackets on the wall underneath. 

If your DIY skills aren’t great or you don’t want to secure anything to your wall or windowsill, you could even use a tall cat tree with a bed at the top and place it in front of your window. Alternatively, move your sofa so that the top edge runs alongside the windowsill to offer your cat a wider, more comfortable place to hang out.

If you have a bay window or a very wide sill, you might even simply be able to place a small cat bed on it. Just make sure you secure the underside, so it doesn’t slide off when your cat jumps onto it.

3. Check That It’s Sturdy Enough to Hold Your Chonk

If you opt for a hanging perch, make sure it’s able to hold the weight of your cat. Some suction perches have a maximum weight limit, and for larger breeds, those a little wider around the middle, or two cats, it might not be strong enough. The last thing you want is for the perch to fall off with your cat on it. It could put them off using it in the future, and they could end up with an injury.

4. Keep It Comfortable

A cat laying on a perch by the window
Photo: New Africa / Adobe Stock

To encourage your cat to use their window spot and make them feel as comfortable as possible, consider what they enjoy already as sleeping spots. Older cats may like a memory foam pad that provides extra support for stiff, arthritic joints. Heated or fleece-covered perches are also available. These can help ease sore joints and are a good choice if the window is draughty.

If the window lets in a lot of light and you live in a warm region, a basic breathable and washable fabric cover may be sufficient.

5. Ensure Your Windows Are Secure

You don’t want your cat escaping through the window if you’re in a high-up apartment, near a busy road, or if they’re a strictly indoor-only kitty.   

Opt for window ventilation locks or restrictors if you want the window open but not wide enough for your cat to slip out off. Any screens should use sturdy, claw-proof material.

6. Choose Suitable Window Treatments

Blinds and roller shades impede your cat's view and can be damaged when they try to get behind them. They also won’t work if you plan to sucker a perch to the window. Curtains are often the best option, but select ones that are easy to wash and that, ideally, you won’t have to clean pet hair off continually.

7. Select a Window With a Good View

A major reason cats love perching on windowsills is because they can watch what’s going on in the world. Selecting a window that backs onto another house isn't as attractive as one with a view of a bird feeder or trees filled with wildlife.

8. Don’t Force Your Cat to Use a Perch

Even if your cat has used the same window spot for many years, when you put a perch on it, they might suddenly not be so keen or even nervous about this strange new object. The last thing you want to do is force them to get into it, even if it was an expensive purchase or you spent days DIYing it. It can make them more afraid of the perch and less trusting of you.

Instead, you’ll want to encourage your cat to investigate at their own pace. Create positive associations by luring them onto the perch with tasty treats, catnip, or their favorite toys. 

9. Watch Out For Signs of Overstimulation

Although allowing a cat to look out a window can be environmentally enriching, for some, watching birds or other small creatures through this barrier is overly stimulating. The inability to reach the birds on the other side of the window can lead to frustration, stress, and associated undesirable behaviors. If you notice your cat seems stressed, this could be a sign they need other forms of enrichment instead.

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