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Should I Let Indoor Cat Get out? How to Introduce Cats to Outside?

Updated by Sheryl on Sep 30, 2021

Studies have shown indoor cats can live 10-15 years which is significantly higher than outdoor cats who can live only 2-5 years because of the countless threats they encounter from being outdoors.

Cats are exposed to life-threatening risks when you let them roam outside freely. Busy roads pose the most danger for outdoor cats. He may get attacked by dogs or predators or start a fight with stray cats. And there’s a chance that your cat may get lost or picked up by animal control authorities.

Besides catnapping, torture, and killing by psychopaths, serious health problems by ingesting poisonous plants or chemical substances are common for cat parents. Therefore, it’s not the best idea to let an indoor cat go out without you being around.

cat look outside
  • Solutions for Bored Indoor Cats
  • When can kittens go outside
  • How to introduce cats to the outside
  • Tips for introducing your cat to outside for the first time
  • What to do when an indoor cat gets lost in the out door
  • NOTE

Yet, some cats can feel bored when cooped inside. For example, if you have adopted a stray cat who was used to the freedom outside, will find it difficult to get the stimulants inside a house. If you see symptoms of stress in your cat from being indoors, it may be because he cannot exercise his brain. Here are a few things that you can do to make your cat stay indoors without getting bored:

  • You can buy or build a catio or cat enclosure to give your cat the feeling of being outside without exposing him to the threats mentioned above.
  • Give him toys that he can chase or pound. Toys that make sounds and look like birds or mice can help your cat exercise his instinct to hunt and chase.
  • Get your cat a scratching post or a cat tree.
  • Buy them cat food puzzles that make them hunt for getting the food.
  • Make time to play with your cat. Cat’s may not be as playful as dogs, but they need emotional stimulation to feel happy and content.
cat catio

If all else fails, you may need to take your kitten outside to relieve boredom and anxiety, but make sure your kitten is the right age. Because of the potential risks of infectious diseases, you should not let your kitten go outside unsupervised until it’s 6 months old. It’s crucial to neuter your cat by this time because cats can become pregnant at 4 months old.

In any case, don’t let your kitten outside before its first course of vaccination, which is around 9 to 12 weeks (depending on your kitten and the vaccine), and it’s advised to wait at least a week after the vaccination.

If you have adopted a cat recently, it’s advised to give him at least 2-3 weeks to make himself comfortable with the new place before you allow them outside.

outdoor cats

Choose a quiet, sunny day when introducing your cat to the outside world to avoid stressful situations in the first encounter.
Apart from vaccination and neutering, there are also a few preparations to take before you allow an indoor cat go out:

  • Make sure he will not get lost
  • Microchip your cat so that you can reach him if he ever gets lost. A microchip is a grain size device that is linked to your contact details. It is scanned to get information about a lost cat. Besides a microchip, you should also tag your cat with your identity. Attach a tag with the cat’s collar that contains your name, address, and phone number. Prepare a pet leash for your cat if you want to take him for a short walk.

  • Make outside cat-friendly
  • Enclose the yard so that the cat cannot escape by any means. Block any holes in the fence, cut down branches that can help them climb up and jump outside, cover up ponds and remove sharp objects, pesticides, and plants that can be dangerous for cats. You can also consider installing a cat fence.

  • Train your cat
  • Training is important if you have decided to allow your cat outside. Teach your cat to come to you when you call their names. Call them and give them a treat when they respond. You can also use sound cues such as shaking their favorite cat food container or using bells to let them know you will offer a reward.  Practice this training until your cat spontaneously responds to the cues. Also, try to schedule a mealtime and allow them outside shortly before the mealtime. Hunger will always make them come indoors.

cat in the outside
  1. Keep your cat’s outdoor visits short for the first few weeks. Call them inside after 10-15 minutes and offer them food that they like.
  2. Feed them at a particular time and let them outside before mealtime, so that they come to you as they feel hungry.
  3. For the first few times, it’s a good idea to go out with your cat to give him reassurance. Leave the back door open if your cat is a little timid so that he can go back to its safe place if he gets frightened.
  4. Keep an eye when your indoor cat going out and call them inside if you see them wandering too far. But don’t take them inside every time you call them. Give them rewards like their favorite treats or toys. Don’t make them feel that going to you means going back indoors, especially if they love being outdoors.
  5. You can increase their time outdoors but slowly. Let them outside regularly and add a few minutes to the trip gradually. Once they seem relaxed and confident while being outdoors, you can start to let them outside unsupervised.
  6. You may consider installing a cat flap to allow your cat to come and go as he wishes. It’s the easiest way to give free access to your cat rather than you opening the door for him every time. 
cat leash training

It might be scary if an indoor cat suddenly gets lost in the outside. So, it’s always advised to microchip your pets to avoid any such circumstances. But don’t need to panic if you haven’t; here are some tips to get your cat back home safely:

  1. Search common hiding spots

    Indoor cats will not be comfortable being outside. Most probably, he’s hiding somewhere. Search everywhere in the garden in the bush, behind the bush, above the trees. Take a walk around the neighborhood; an indoor cat who has never been outside is likely to be found within a 3-4 house radius.

  2. Lure your cat with smelly cat food

    Shake his bag of treats, open a fishy wet cat food, or make sounds of their eating bowls. Cats can recognize sounds from a great distance. So, if your cat is within his hearing range, he will come running to you.

  3. Use the power of cat scents

    Cats can smell things from far away; their smelling power is 100 times stronger than ours. So, if your indoor cat goes outside, you can use familiar scents to guide them back home. Putting the cat litter box will give you the most stick, which is gross, but it actually works. You can also put his favorite blankets, toy, or food bowl around the place.

  4. Let others know

    If you haven’t found your cat yet, make everyone aware of your missing cat. Show them a picture or put of a poster with photos. Call a local shelter; it might be possible that someone has already found your cat and has taken them to a local shelter to a vet for assistance.

Cats live a much safer life being indoors. An indoor cat can live a long healthy life without ever venturing outside. Not letting a cat outside means keeping him safe from deadly infectious diseases, road accidents, attacks by other cats and predators, and other threats that an outdoor cat encounters. Indoor cats actually live a much longer life as compared to outdoor cats, so it’s never bad to not let a cat outside.
Sheryl is an editor from iPetor, owns extensive pet care experience. As a professional writer, she can provide useful pet care tips for all "parents".
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