Expat Problem: Neighborhood Cats Jumping IN Through the Windows

I never imagined that neighborhood street cats jumping IN to our house through the windows would be a problem when I first became an expat.  It also never occurred to me that others also had the same problem!  But among expats, it’s actually quite a regular problem.

I was really scared the first time it happened to me.  My infant daughter’s crib was below a window.  One night a neighborhood cat jumped in the window and right into the crib!  Luckily, my daughter was not in it, but was instead with me.

Shockingly, most people have no screens, and don’t want any.  All the windows here are inward-opening casement windows similar to the picture below.

Inward-opening casement windows with a fabric screen installed using thumbtacks and a hammer

It was several months before I could find screen material which is sold on a big bolt like fabric.  It needs to be cut with scissors to the size of the window, and attached with thumbtacks and a hammer into the wooden window frame.  (Then it can never be removed for cleaning, but at least it keeps out the insects, cats, and large black scorpions.)

Now my daughter is older and we have two cats of our own.  We have one window where we have left the corner of one screen unattached to make a “cat door.”  However, the neighborhood cats have discovered it and we often find them in our house.  I finally figured out why.

The wild street cats are looking for food, and when they come in, they go to the kitchen and eat our cats’ food.  Once they get food in one place, they remember it and keep trying at that place.  Actually, they go from house-to-house and try to get in every house.

Over the years, we’ve had trouble with many cats trying to jump in.  In one house we had a metal screen that someone had installed years before in the kitchen.  Yet one night some street cats managed to destroy a corner of it and get into our kitchen.

I used to think we were the only people having this problem until I discovered many other expats (at least in our city) are having the same problem. The neighborhood cats have also discovered our cat door, so we have to be careful.

Street cats in Turkey

When I first moved here to the Middle East, I was shocked about how many street cats were around, and it really disturbed me.  But after a couple of years, I realized that if it were not for the cats, there would be rats everywhere, particularly as there was a lot of garbage dumped in nearly every vacant lot of every neighborhood.

These piles of garbage were not caused by people throwing garbage there.  They would put their garbage out for the trash man, but often, just before the regular trash truck from the city came by, someone with a donkey-drawn cart would come by and take it from many of the houses.

Typical donkey cart

They would then dump it in the nearest vacant land or vacant lot.

Sheepherders used to collect trash from houses and dump it in a vacant lot to provide forage for their sheep--nowdays there are dumpsters around the city neighborhoods where people put their trash.

Sheepherders used to collect trash from in front of houses and dump it in a vacant lot to provide forage for their sheep--nowdays there are dumpsters around the city neighborhoods where people put their trash.

Then local sheepherders would run their sheep through the garbage to forage for food!  (For years, every time I bought lamb to eat, I wondered whether the animal had been eating garbage instead of grass.  A farmer once told me he didn’t think it would make any difference what the sheep had eaten.)

Thus arises the actual importance of these street cats in the ecosystem as predators in keeping down the rat population.  So I don’t mind them any more.  (I just don’t like them coming in my house!)

Now, most of the vacant lots have been built up and the sheepherders have moved out of the city, so you seldom see these piles of garbage any more.

Is anyone else at other locations around-the-world having this problem with street cats? (Of course they are not vaccinated, but that is a whole other issue.)

–Lynne Diligent

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One Response to “Expat Problem: Neighborhood Cats Jumping IN Through the Windows”

  1. 100swallows Says:

    I used to live in a house with regular cat visitors. It’s funny how, though they all behaved like cats, I liked some and disliked others, judging them as though they were humans. In your case, I’d have hated some who jumped into my house and I would have tried to scare them and “teach them a lesson”. I guess I wouldn’t have been above throwing something at them (though I’d have been terribly sorry if I actually hit them and hurt them). But with others I’d have smiled at the cute, cheeky behavior and grabbed them for a hug. It’s sad to think that my old friends could become a plague, like those “hateful” raccoons in the small towns in the American Midwest.


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