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Should you let your cat outside?

When is it okay for cats to first go outside? Should they even go out at all? It can be daunting letting them out of your sight at first, so if you’re wondering if and when to start letting your cat roam outdoors, here’s what to know.

When is it okay for cats to first go outside? Should they even go out at all? It can be daunting letting them out of your sight at first, so if you’re wondering if and when to start letting your cat roam outdoors, here’s what to know.

Tom Harrison
Content writer
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Posted 1 OCTOBER 2019

Should I let my cat outside?

Cats love to climb trees and explore their local area, so it seems natural that you’d let them go outside. While there are sound reasons for keeping your pet cat safe indoors, there are even stronger arguments for letting them go outside:

  • Many cats find being indoors boring. Going outside provides them with a more varied and interesting environment.
  • Cats kept indoors are at risk of stress and obesity.
  • Indoor cats need more stimulation. It’s important to be honest with yourself about whether you’re able to provide that.
  • All cats need to scratch and spray. If you let them outside, they can do this on a tree and not on your furniture.

Some felines, also known as house cats, stay indoors all the time. It might seem cruel but there are a few reasons for this:

  • Breeders of certain pedigrees, such as Ragdolls, might recommend it.
  • Indoor cats are safe from dangers, such as busy roads and foxes.  
  • Some cats have medical problems or disabilities that mean they’re better off inside. 
  • Expensive pedigree cats are at risk of being stolen.

At what age can kittens go outside?

It’s advisable to wait until your kitten is about five months old before letting it out on its own. And you shouldn’t let your kitten outside at all until at least a week after they’ve had their first vaccinations and been neutered.

It’s also a good idea to have your cat microchipped and to make sure it’s wearing a collar with an ID tag. 

For older cats, keep them inside for two to three weeks (sometimes even longer) after you first take them home, depending on your cat’s personality. This will give your new pet time to adjust to its surroundings. 

Will my cat come back if I let it out? 

For first-time cat owners there’s always the worry that if you let your cat out, they’ll never come back. And, even with supervision, a cat that wants to escape will do so.  

But cats enjoy their home comforts, and there are ways to encourage them to come back if they do wander off: 

  • Let your cat out just before feeding time. That way, they’ll have an incentive to return promptly.  
  • Call their name as you tap the food tin or shake their cat treats.  
  • Be patient. Cats might not come when you want them to but, generally, they’ll return when they’re ready. 
  • If you’re really worried, you can get a GPS tracking collar that lets you know where to find your pet. 

Tips for letting your cat outside

If you’re nervous about allowing your cat out for the first time, here are some pointers: 

  • Don’t force your cat – let your cat venture out in its own time.  
  • Be on hand to supervise.  
  • Get a magnetic cat flap. These allow your cat to come and go as they please – without bringing their friends with them.

Should I bring my cat in at night

It can be better to keep your cat indoors at night as there’s a greater risk of being hit by a car or encountering an aggressive fox. You can give your cat freedom with a cat flap, but you shouldn’t leave it locked out all night. 

I live in a flat and can’t let my cat out. How can I keep my house cat happy?

If you have to keep your cat indoors, there are a few things you can do to make its life a happier one: 

  • Give them stimulating toys to play with. Cat gyms, ping-pong balls, mouse toys, squeaky toys – give your cat plenty of options. It needn’t be expensive: string, tape measures and plastic bottles work just as well.  
  • Make sure your cat has a scratching post. It also needs high shelves, boxes and cupboards it can jump up on.  
  • Don’t let your cat onto a balcony or ledge if it’s not safe. You can give your cat fresh air by fixing mesh over the windows and opening them.

Where can I find cat insurance? 

Whether your cat is free to roam the great outdoors or a happily pampered house cat, the right pet insurance can give you peace of mind, should they become ill or injured.

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