Pets and window dressings are a volatile combination. Murphy’s law says that the more you love your curtains, and the higher the price you paid for them, the more attracted your cat will be to climbing them. It’s frustrating and infuriating of course, but other than putting up with shredded curtains, what’s the solution?
Why do cats climb curtains?
Let’s start by looking at it from the feline perspective to try and understand (forgive?) the reasons behind why cats climb. Well, they’re little predators and the behaviour is hard-wired into them. Feline bodies are made to climb to make full use of vertical and horizontal spaces. In the natural outdoor environment, you will find cats happily climbing trees and perching high-up to get a better vantage point of what’s going on around them. It makes them feel safe from any larger predators that might be lurking, and it’s a good place for spotting prey.
Cats are naturally inquisitive creatures and, regardless of their age, gender, breed or whether they’ve been neutered, as pets they need lots of stimulation. You may think only kittens climb up curtains and that they mature as they grow older. This is not always the case. You may think high-energy breeds such as Abyssinians or Bengals would climb more than low-energy Persians. Again, not necessarily so.
Stimulation in the domestic environment means playtime and exercise, and that’s where the curtains come in. In short, puss is not doing anything wrong – and you must never discipline him – it’s just that you don’t like his unwanted or damaging behaviour!
If not curtains, then what?
Getting back to the pesky soft furnishings issue, it is clear that if you have a cat that loves climbing curtains and you’ve tried and tried in vain to stop her, unfortunately the curtains will simply have to go.
Your best alternative window dressing options, then, are:
Roller blinds: With no wafty curtain fabric to entice your feline friend, and no slats to play with, simple roller blinds may be the answer. Avoid natural textures such as bamboo or seagrass and instead choose a sturdy, coated material that puss can’t get a grasp on. Importantly, make sure you go for the cordless option, so nothing dangles provokingly. Specialist manufacturers such as this one offer remote-controlled electric roller blinds, for the ultimate in cat safety and your convenience.
Vertical blinds: If you need more light and privacy control options than a roller blind can offer, vertical blinds might work for you. There’s no cat-tempting horizontal construction and as long as you stay away from fabric-covered or embossed louvres, the texture shouldn’t attract any animal hair. Select rigid PVC or wood-style slats that can withstand being pushed aside by a cat eager to get to the window.
Interior shutters: Stylish plantation-style shutters are a more costly option since they have to be custom-made and fitted to your window. However, but once they’re installed, all your problems will be over. The sturdy wooden construction makes them ideal for withstanding curious cats who won’t be interested in the shutters any more than in the window frame. Then again, who didn’t see this game coming?
Finally, if you like the look of Venetian blinds in your home, don’t go there. Cats have been known to trash the delicate slats with consummate ease, especially those made from vinyl or aluminium, as the video below demonstrates. What’s more, puss can get trapped between the slats, scratched by sharp edges and injured from the cords holding the blind together. It’s just not worth the risk.
How to train your cat not to climb
It’s a brave or naive person who thinks they can train their cat to do anything at all, but maybe there’s a better chance with a kitten? They will climb curtains out of sheer boredom and out of curiosity to explore the world around them. However, if you provide a rich play environment for them to play, learn and grow, the little fluffballs may not go for the curtains.
Nip the problem in the bud by offering appropriate climbing alternatives that cats will find appealing. Maybe get a cat tree with a resting spot at the top, hang feathery toys at various levels, keep exciting toys all around the house and, of course, play with your kitten often. This strategy should, in principle, also work with an older cat, though be warned that old habits do die hard and leopards rarely change their spots.
If you want to go a step further, there are other ways you can create an appealing climbing space for your cat at home. Think like a feline – vertically as well as horizontally – and add a hammock and scratch post, a cat tree, play tower or cat condo to keep your purry friend engaged. Or you could go all out and adapt your interior design to include feline requirements, like so: