Deciding whether or not to allow your cat outdoors can be an intensely personal decision. Some owners have cats which are strictly housecats, others have cats that are allowed indoors and outdoors, and some owners opt to allow their cat outdoors only when the cat is on a leash and going for a walk.
If you do want to allow your cat to roam around the great outdoors, it can be an intimidating and stressful process to let it go outdoors for the first time – especially if you are a first-time cat owner. However, by taking a few simple steps, you can simplify the process and better ensure that your cat is safe outdoors.
Choose the right time and move slowly
If you want your cat to be able to enjoy the great outdoors, you should take your time and move slowly. You do not want to let your cat or kitten outdoors as soon as you take him or her home as it is likely that you will never see them again.
If you have a kitten, wait until they are six months old and either neutered or spayed until you let them outdoors unsupervised. It is essential to neuter or spay your cat as there are already thousands of cats, many of whom are feral, who do not have access to proper care and protection.
If you have an adult cat, you can let them outdoors after they have spent at least two to three weeks with you. Let your cat explore the outdoors in their own time and avoid pressuring them to get outdoors right away.
If the cat jumps over a wall or fence, try not to panic, most cats will return after a few minutes. When your cat or kitten does return, make sure that you reward them with a few treats in order to create a positive association with leaving the house and then returning.
Ensuring you have the right supplies
When letting your cat or kitten outdoors for the first time, you should follow Petbarn’s kitten care guide and ensure that you have all of the feline supplies you need. Petbarn has a range of collars and leashes which are specifically designed for cats along with the treats you will need to reward your pet.
When letting your cat outdoors, you will also want to ensure that they are protected against tiny parasites like fleas, ticks, and worms. Petbarn has all of the medication you need to keep your pet parasite-free, along with specialty combs, sprays, and shampoos to rid your pet of any parasites which they might have picked up.
Microchipping your cat
If you are letting your cat outdoors, it is essential that you microchip them first. When a pet is microchipped, a tiny microchip the size of a grain of rice is implanted in the skin between their shoulder blades in a relatively painless process.
After the pet is microchipped, you can register your contact information to the serial number of their microchip. In the event that your cat is lost, any vet or vet tech can scan the microchip, pull up your contact information, and give you a call.
Not only will microchipping your pet ensure that the two of you are swiftly reunited following a separation, but it also is the law in certain states.
Protecting local wildlife
One of the reasons many of us love cats is that they are notoriously good hunters – if you have a rat or mouse in your garden, you can rest assured that they are no match for your cat. However, because cats are phenomenal hunters, they can also pose a risk to ecologically significant local wildlife and cats have even wiped-out populations of now-endangered bird and rodent species.
The good news is that you can take steps to protect local wildlife while also giving your cat the time outdoors which he or she craves. One thing you can do is to keep your cat indoors for an hour before dusk and an hour after dusk – this will allow crepuscular creatures such as bats, rabbits, and some bird species to safely leave their homes without being attacked by cats.
A recent study has also shown that cats who were fed a meat-heavy diet and played with had little to no interest in hunting at all. If you have an indoor-outdoor cat and live in an area with an important wildlife population, consider adding more meat and meat-heavy feed to your cat’s meals.