Letting your cat out for the first time sounds scary, but with adequate planning it will be a fun experience. First of all make sure you stay around him or her, if possible keep your cat in a harness or within bounderies before letting them run freely. Secondary make sure you show where to find you and the food so they know what is home. Over time they will learn explore their bounderies.
Congratulations On Your New Cat
First of all I need to congratulate on your new cat. Whether your cat is a foster cat, a new cat from a shelter or animal protection service or a newborn kitten – it all doesn’t matter, a congratulations is in place. Thanks for opening up your house and life to a wonderful creature on four legs.
With a new cat comes a lot of care, responsibilities and worries. That’s where we got you covered, for on this site we offer all the info you need to get your new cat settled.
Today we explain to you how to let your cat out for the first time.
Letting Your Cat Out
The opinions differ greatly on whether cats should be let out in the great outdoors. In my opinion there are many solutions as to allowing your cat enjoy some of the outdoors.
For us it is a simple story, we live in a natural environment with a dead end road and very little traffic. We are surrounded by mountains and there is a nearby lake and lots of forest. Here cars do not drive often and do generally drive slow.
While nature brings all sorts of dangers with them for your cats, it is also their natural habitat, so I cannot really disallow them access. Most of our cats came from the great outdoors to begin with before they got captured and saved by the RSPCA.
We do however feel the need to install a fence sometime soon, as to protect our foster cats and own cats from outdoor stresses such as other strays, predators and from straying too far.
If you live in the city, letting your cat out is a lot more difficult with dangerous traffic or way more sick strays and other dangers. There are however solutions to every cat.
As such you could:
- Walk your cat in a harness (like a dog)
- Build a catio (cat patio)
- Attach a catio to a balcony or window
- Install Cat Fences in your garden
My parents have their cat running around freely too. They live in a more urban area, but it is still safe for their cat. It is also handy when your cat is car trained. In their case, they trained their cat with a harness, walking the cat and making sure the cat stayed safe for a good while, before the cat was allowed to explore on their own.
Friends of ours also used to live in a busy area and had no garden. They used a cat harness to walk their cats around the streets of the city – a sure funny sight.
The biggest worries that we are struggling with concerning our cats is that when we are gone for holidays we either have to instruct to leave the cats indoors or they have to go outdoors and get stray again. The other worry is that often at night cats seem to fight and a lot of added stress is caused among our cats.
We are thinking of installing fences in our garden so that our cats can relax within their own boundaries. We got approximately 1600 square meter of garden. Our cats love that garden, so if we install a fence for most of that garden with a few gates for us and our cats to enter, it would solve a lot of problems.
Careful With Extreme Climates
Although cats are desert animals originally, most cats have adopted to their new habitat. The extreme heat waves we experience sometimes in Summer with temperatures of 25-30C, still cause our cats to pant for air. The extreme UV and high temperatures combined with their rather dark fur, makes a cat quickly too hot to do activity. Offer enough shadow places in the outdoors for them to lay down and put out a water bowl to drink from if they are running about.
The Winter temperatures pose another danger, that of undercooling or getting their coat wet. Their coat can protect them from little rain or snow, but their coat will when wet get heavy and does not protect enough against cold weather and wind. The wet fur will freeze over in extremely low temperatures and they will freeze or get frostburn damage.
Extreme temperatures simply means that your cat should have access to the indoors or at least have a place in the shade or outside of the wind.
New Cats And Kittens
We often have new cats and kittens through the foster project with the animal protection locally. These new cats are not allowed outside, because they are often afraid and do not respond when you call them back into the house. The result was that we had to trap them using the stray cat traps. It’s a tedious and long process of waiting for the stray cat to get hungry and hoping it will run into the trap. What happens often with cat traps is that our own cats run into them for a sad snack.
New cats and kittens need some time to accustomize to you. When you get a new cat or kitten, it is important to teach them where the food and cuddles are to be gotten. This is why they often say you should keep your cat in for at least 2-4 weeks. In some cases, especially with strays, it should possibly be even longer.
Felicia for example had to be tamed properly first before she was allowed outside. It took her a good 7 months before she went out the first time.
We currently have two kittens in our fostercare. Foxy keeps escaping us and doesn’t get back in. A trapping process is the only solution. The new Tiny (Tulla), is way easier to get back in on call.
Letting Your Cat Out For The First Time
Letting your cat out for the first time is both exciting and scary business. If your cat doesn’t come back on your request, she might be out in the open forever and get afraid from all sorts of noises and disappear.
It is also an exciting process, because it opens up a world of possibilities and interesting encounters for your cat. You will also be able to enjoy the outdoors together with your lovely cat. How will you go about doing so?
Preparation is still key as with everything. Make sure your new cat is accustomed to you. Leaving a cat indoors for at least 2-4 weeks is an absolute minimum. I would actually say 4-6 weeks is best. That way they get used to you properly, especially when they are very young or very stray.
Plan enough time to be with your cat when you are going outside with them. Don’t make it a solo effort where you open the door and leave them be on their own. That would be asking for troubles.
Ready Set Go?!
After your cat has grown accustomed to you, it is probably safe to let them experience the outdoors. Make sure that you don’t do this action right before you are off to work, as cats might act different and get a little wild outdoors. Trying to get a cat quickly back in might be more difficult than accounted for.
It is great if you got an area where you can let your new cat get used to the environment in smaller steps. As such are the use of a harness or having a place that you can close off from the rest of the world within the outdoors great solutions. Some people have some form of fencing on their terrace or balcony and can start there before going to the bigger outdoors.
So, yes, ready? Go! Take your cat outside and stay outside with them is the big key here. They will probably circle around you and make bigger and bigger circles once they are starting to explore and mark their territory.
Does your cat return to you? Perhaps it has been a great enough experience and its time to call it quits. Take your cat back inside and continue your day. You might want to retry some days later. Especially kittens might show this behaviour because they consider you to be their parent and their safe zone. Kittens also put out a burst of energy and are then suddenly dead tired. Keep that in mind when venturing onward.
Older cats and adult cats do not have the energy problem, but might be more scared of environments or elements such as wind. Keep and eye on them at all times and let them inside if they wish so.
The next time you will go outside with your cat, your cat will most likely wander off further, pushing its and your borders and make you more scared than they are (haha).
Suddenly you are worried that they will never return, but somehow your cat was never far away, just lieing down somewhere hiding or not too far away from you looking at you worrying.
Play With Your Cat Outdoors
A great way to keep your cats close to you and to make them understand which role you play in their life, you can also play with some toy or a branch of a tree. Anything with some distance between your hand and their claws is a great tool and toy.
We usually have a couple of cat toys available for them when they go outdoors. Especially on our balcony we got the cat tunnel and usually a couple of catnip toys. We also tend to put a bowl of water outside, so they got a safe place to drink their water after a session of running around.
Especially when you would install a fence or a catio or a similar safe keeping place for your cats, you might want to install some cat furniture and toys, such as a cat tunnel, to keep your cats entertained, even though in most cases the outdoors will offer enough.
Can’t Find Your Cat?
If your cat doesn’t return, do not panic immediately, but do show your face outside from time to time. Making your voice heard is also important, most cats will respond to it or track and trace their way back to safety.
Even when you do not see your cat back after two-three days, do not dispair yet, because cats are excellent hunters and survivors in nature. They know how to catch mice and birds and get plenty of nutrition on eating them.
They easily also wander off a bit too far, but hearing your voice and seeing your face might just help them to find their way back.
In worst case scenario’s you can also contact your local cat protection service, to let them help you out with your search. Often they got traps to set out to catch stray animals and might even have a register of lost and found cats. Local shelters might already have received a visit from your cat, but do not either forget the importance of local neighbours that might have seen or heard your cat.
Read: How To Find A Lost Cat?
On one last note I got to say that some cats just like to stray around. Our cat Tabby disappears sometimes for several weeks before he returns home. Our guess is that he has got a secondary home where he gets food, but he might just as well have enjoyed the outdoors for the full three weeks underneath our balcony.
What are your experiences with letting your cat out for the first time? Please share below in the comments.