As an owner, letting your kitten or cat outside for the first time can be quite stressful. We all want to protect our furry friends from danger but there comes a time when most of us decide that it’s time to let them explore.
There are lots of health benefits to allowing a cat to be outdoor. They will be mentally stimulated, have more space to exercise, can conduct natural behaviour that would be frowned upside inside (e.g. spraying and scratching) and have the freedom to explore. You might find that your cat likes spending hours at a time outside or they might just venture out for the odd half an hour and spend the rest of the time curled up at home. You won’t know until you start letting them out.
(Not all cats can be let outside, some have complicated health conditions, others live too close to dangerous roads or their owners feel they are at high risk of being stolen).
Preparing your kitten for the outside world
Before your kitten/cat goes outside for the first time, you need to make sure that they’re vaccinated, and have been neutered (at the appropriate age) and micro-chipped. Some owners choose to walk their cats around their gardens on cat leads to begin with but this isn’t necessary. Your kitten should be at least six months old before you let them go outside, for their own safety.
Kittens often don’t need much persuasion to venture outside for the first time, especially if they’ve been gazing longingly through your windows for a few weeks/months. You just need to open your back door, stand in your garden and watch them. They’ll probably crouch pretty low to the ground to begin with and might walk very slowly but that’s because there’s so much for them to take in. If you have more than one kitten, don’t expect them to stick together, they’ll probably each explore different parts of your garden. They might come to you for reassurance but they might be happy enough just walking around by themselves. After ten or so minutes have passed you might want to call them and you can go inside together but if they’re enjoying themselves, why not stay outside for a bit longer?
You should keep doing these little visits to the garden for a few days, always keeping an eye on what they’re up to. The first time they disappear over your fence might make you a bit anxious but kittens are great climbers and they’ll come back. Eventually you can leave them to it and go inside but how long it will take to get to this stage depends on your kitten and how you feel. Good luck!
If you can't decide whether your cat should an outdoor cat, or stay as an indoor cat - check out our advice guide here. Keep in mind there are some breeds better suited to being outdoor than indoor, so don't forget to have a look at our cat breed advice guides.