How to let your cat outside for the first time

Letting your cat outside for the first time can be daunting.

But most cats benefit from the stimulating and ever-changing environment outside of the home – plus being outside allows your cat to express natural behaviours.

If you do decide to keep your cat indoors all the time, it’s important that you create an indoor environment that will allow your cat to express as many natural behaviours as possible.

If your cat will be going outdoors, below are some you can do to help them adjust to the outside world – and make sure they return home safely.

  • Each cat is different and the length of time in the home before going outside will vary. On average we recommend keeping your cat indoors for at least the first two to three weeks in their new home, so they can adjust to their new environment and routine before their territory expands. Cats tend to bond more to their environment than the people in it, so it’s important your cat is settled in your home before you let them outside to roam.
  • While you’re keeping your new cat in, it’s important to be security conscious about open doors and windows. If your cat gets out during this time, there’s a chance they may not return home
  • During these first few weeks feed your cat around the same time each day so they expect to come to you for food at those times
  • While you prepare your cat’s food you could make a particular sound, for example call ‘dinner’, whistle, or rattle a tin with some dry food in it. This way your cat starts to associate the sound with food coming
  • Then, when you first let your cat out, let them out when he’s hungry – they’ll be more keen to return home for the next meal when you make the familiar sound
  • Check the weather forecast. If it’s likely to be a miserable day with rain and wind then your cat might get scared outside, so check the weather will be calm before letting them out.
  • Choose a day when the garden and household are quiet to let them out for the first time. Don’t do it if there are lots of people outside or in your garden, this will be overwhelming for your cat
  • Feel free to accompany them out into the garden and leave the back door open, especially if they’re a nervous cat. That way your cat knows they can run back indoors if they need or want to. Although it may be tempting to use a harness and lead when taking your cat out, this is something we would suggest to avoid. A cats natural instinct when worried by something is to run to their safe place. Being on a lead can cause anxiety for your cat as they may feel that their freedom to run from threat has been taken away . The lead may also become caught and tangled if they do manage to run away.
  • Before you let your cat outside, make sure they can be identified as yours should they get lost. It’s very important that your new cat is microchipped, please see our advice page on microchipping your pet for more information
  • Finally, place a collar on your cat that has a safety release mechanism on it – collars without a safety release can cause many different injuries. Attach an identification tag to the collar which states that your cat is microchipped.

After a few trips outside, you cat will start to feel more comfortable in their surroundings – and you’ll feel more comfortable about letting them out. Happy exploring!

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