Are you toying with the idea of letting your indoor cat outside? Many people believe you shouldn’t and for good reasons. Your cat could get lost, hurt, taken – or worse. Like anything else, with proper advice and due diligence on your part, it is possible for your indoor kitty to enjoy some needed outdoor fun. For most cats, being outdoors can prove beneficial to their health, mental well-being and help avoid unwanted inside behavior issues. Not all indoor cats will relish the idea of outside adventure, be sure your cat truly wishes to go outdoors before making the decision for him or her. Pushing your cat into doing something extreme can cause stress and anxiety, this may result in serious health problems. If your curious cat genuinely pursues going outdoors here are essential tips to follow that will ensure your cat is safe, healthy and has a wonderful time.
Health & Safety
First and foremost you want to focus on health and safety before your cat goes outdoors. This means updating important vaccines such as rabies to ensure your cat doesn’t contract any diseases from the outside world.
Secondly, never let an unaltered (spay/neuter) cat outside. You are certainly asking for trouble. An unaltered cat is more prone to run away, get injured from other cats (from fighting and/or mating), become pregnant or impregnate another cat which aids in the already overwhelming problem of overpopulation and a number one reason so many cats end up in an animal shelter.
Avoid these issues altogether by ensuring your cat is up to date on vaccines and altered.
Free Roam or Not To Free Roam
Before you fling open your doors and plop your cat out you should decide upfront if you will let your cat free roam outdoors or by using other methods. Your cat will obviously have the most fun free roaming but that doesn’ t mean it is the best choice or one you feel is suitable for your kitty. If you’re not sure here are some alternative ways to let your cat enjoy outdoors without completely free roaming.
- Cat Enclosures – Or sometimes referred to as free-standing catios can be purchased from a variety of retail and pet stores. Some choose to build their own. These enclosures vary among size and capacity but all ensure your cat has a safe and fun outdoor experience. You can find a variety with free shipping at Amazon.com
- Catios – The catio has become increasingly popular among cat owners. Not only is it nice for your kitty but you and your home as well. A catio is similar to a screened-in porch but made with thicker and higher grade screen so your cat cannot escape or damage it. Catios can be made from an existing porch or built as an addition onto your home. Some choose to build themselves while others turn to experienced contractors to perform the work. However, Catios can be more costly than other methods of choice.
- Cat Harness and Leash – Another product becoming popular is the cat harness and leash. With more experts sharing training methods online, people have become more aware that a cat can be trained, even to walk on a leash. This product makes outdoor time with cat and owner safe and fun. Watch the helpful tutorial from Howcast about harness and leash training a cat.
- Cat-Proof Fencing – Cat proof fencing isn’t as popular as the other methods, and you will need to install or already have a fence in place, but still a good choice for those looking to keep their cat close but allow free roam in a safe and fun way.
Regardless of the tactic you choose, free roaming or other methods, the best practice is starting slowly. Although your kitty has been begging to go out and you are overly anxious to share this experience, strangely enough, your cat might be scared or apprehensive their first few times. Gradual steps and patience is the key.
If you decide free roam is the best option, a good key point before you begin, is to train your kitty to learn their name and to come when called. Yes, this is completely possible with positive training and patience. I have six cats, all six know their name and will come when called.
No matter the method you choose, always let your cat know the safety of indoors is readily and easily available.
- Carry your cat outside
- Start a schedule and stick with it
- Stay in proximity to a door leading inside, if possible leave slightly open
- Each day stay a few minutes longer than the last and move a little further from the door
- Accompany your cat each instance until you both seem comfortable
- Place your cat in the enclosed area
- Start with a few minutes daily, about five or ten minutes
- Start a schedule and stick with it
- When your cat seems more comfortable leaving your cat in the enclosure ten to twenty minutes
- If your cat seems stressed do not force time limits, immediately remove from enclosures
Depending upon your cat and how well you commit to a schedule you should see results within days, several weeks or possibly longer. Remember, all cats learn and train differently and at different paces.
Learn more about cat leash and harness training at Howcast: How To Teach A Cat To Walk On A Leash
All Night or Unattended
Cats are nocturnal by nature, therefore, many will enjoy staying out after dark. You should train or at least make your cat aware upfront that he or she is not allowed out for long periods after dark or all night long. This can be easily accomplished by sticking with time limits and scheduling, such as bringing your cat in the same time every night before or after dark. It is simply unsafe to leave your cat outside too long during nighttime hours, especially for a cat that has spent most of their time indoors. Eventually, your cat should voluntarily begin to show up at the scheduled time each evening to come back inside.
Another way to help keep your cat safe and good method to use when first training, is never to leave your cat fully unattended. Make sure you or another family member is home to keep a watchful eye out on your cat when outside whether free roaming or in an enclosure. The best practice is to try and check their whereabouts every forty-five minutes to an hour.
New or Young
For newly acquired cats or very young cats, it is extremely important to wait at least six months before even thinking about letting them outside much less actually letting them out. A new cat or one that is still very young is just figuring out their home boundaries indoors. They are freshly getting adjusted and acquainted with you and the new home. Letting these cats out too early on might lead to dire injuries or worse. Using a harness and leash, or other types of enclosure is the best option to start off with, then gradually introduce free roaming if you choose once they are older.
Following along these tips should have you and your cat enjoying happy adventures in no time. But remember, not all cats are created equal, so it’s okay if your cat chooses to have all their fun activities indoors instead. Either way, I hope you and your cat have many happy moments – inside or out. Let me know what you think and tell us if you use any of these methods for your cat. Have more questions about the article leave them below.