New cat or kitten? Wanting to let them roam the big, wide world outside? Stop and think before you do, to ensure the safest way to introduce your cat to the outdoors.
You must note that there are differences in introducing a young kitten and an adult cat to the outdoors.
With an adult cat, keep them indoors 3-6 weeks before letting them venture outdoors; cats have a great ‘homing beacon’ and if you let them out straight away will find their way back to where home was before you brought them home with you. Keeping your cat indoors for minimum of 3 weeks will sort of ‘re-set’ this, so your home becomes theirs and they will then find their way back to you. This also applies with adult cats when you move house – keep them inside until your new location becomes theirs.
With a kitten there is a bit more preparation before letting them outside – this is first for a new kitten! Ensure your kitten is micro-chipped in case they get lost; vaccinated to avoid illness or disease; and neutered at the appropriate age to avoid any unplanned litters!
Work on recall in the home before letting your cat/kitten out – calling them and shaking their favourite bag of treats, or something similar so they know to come back when called.
If you want to put a collar on your cat/kitten (many people choose to so a bell can be added), ensure you get a collar that can has some sort of [emergency] release so the collar will break if it is stuck on something, and it won’t harm your pet. Bells on collars do reduce the success rate of hunts, however won’t ever completely prevent the occasional successful hunt.
At first it is wise to monitor your cat/kitten on their first adventure outside to ensure they don’t get into too much trouble, and so you’re on hand if they do! You may wish to firstly take your cat/kitten out on a harness and lead to let them get used to the smells and surroundings and layout of your garden in a controlled environment.
Whilst outside, sit and play and explore with your pet to allow them to get used to, and enjoy this new setting. Practise recall in the garden with your pet, being sure to reward, fuss and praise them when they come back when called.
Eventually allow your cat/kitten more time outside without you, until they want to venture out on their own.
As cats are nocturnal, they spend the nights active and hunting – to allow your pet outside of an evening/night it is advisable to get a cat flap. With a cat flap, you won’t have a restless cat that has been cooped up all night, and you won’t be disturbed by your pet asking to be let out. The best options are cat flaps that open via magnets (one in the flap and one on the collar of your cat(s)), or that open when registered microchips are within a certain proximity. These kinds of flaps ensure no cats that are not of your household can enter.
For any further advice or any questions on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact me via any of the methods below.
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