Introducing Your Cat to the Great Outdoors
Cats will instinctively roam, hunt, and explore and the outside world is a place where they can indulge this natural behaviour. There are trees to climb, bugs to chase and territory to claim! However, being outside doesn’t come without risk and it is important to be aware of how you can safely introduce your cat outside for the first time.
Under new legislation this year, it will soon become mandatory to have your cat microchipped before they reach 20 weeks of age. By doing this it will hugely increase the likelihood of you being reunited should your cat become lost or injured. So, I would make this a priority before you consider any outdoor adventures!
Bumping into a strange cat can knock their confidence so before you give your cat any outside access, I would suggest monitoring the comings and goings of any neighbourhood felines. If there are lots of other cats going in and out of your garden it may be a good idea to track the times of day that they visit and work out how they are accessing your garden. Pick a quiet time for your cat’s first few outdoor experiences.
Start with Supervision
For the first few times I would always recommend accompanying your cat outside. This is also a great opportunity for you to assess how your cat reacts to being outside - not all cats will be a fan and if your cat wants to return inside it is just as important that you are there to allow that to happen.
If you have a garden or enclosed space, ensure it is secure before you begin and make sure it is cat friendly by checking for any dangerous plant life such as lilies or rhododendrons. It is also important to secure the space from any of those potential neighbouring cat intrusions.
Take some treats or toys outside with you to tempt your cat back towards you if they stray a little bit too far.
Build up the time you spend outside with your cat and once you are happy that they are confident and relaxed you can start letting them out unaccompanied.
When allowing your cat outside for the first few times on their own try timing it just before a meal - a hungry cat will likely not stray far from the hand that feeds.
For obvious reasons if you live in a built-up area or near a busy road try to avoid letting your cat out around traffic rush hours.
Avoid dusk and dawn as these are a cat's natural hunting and foraging hours - this means they are more likely to roam that bit farther.
Be weather aware! Be it a hot sunny day, rain or snow, the weather will also be something new for your cat and it is not recommended to let them outside unaccompanied for the first few times in any extreme weather conditions.