As a pet parent, trying to decide whether you should let your new kitten explore the outside world is a difficult choice to make. While the outside world might seem like a fun and exciting place for your kitten, unlike us, your kitten will not be able to tell the difference between what is dangerous and what is not. Therefore, it is only natural that you would want to ensure that your kitten is kept as safe as possible while they enjoy their newly extended world. Here is our checklist of insightful tips and safety measures to take into consideration before letting your kitten go outdoors.
At what age can my kitten go outside?
Kittens should be at least six months old before they can go outside on their own after they have been neutered and had their full course of vaccinations. This period will also allow them to get used to their home and make it easier for them to track their way back after adventuring outdoors.
Before letting your kitten go outdoors
Being naturally inquisitive, it is likely that your kitten will want to explore the garden and beyond. However, there are a few essential things to bear in mind before letting your kitten out into the outside world. Consider the following suggestions to ensure a smooth transition to the outdoors:
13-14 weeks: Have your kitten vaccinated: Because of potential infections,getting your kitten vaccinated is critical in protecting their health. Your kitten should be kept indoors until a week after they have had their full course of vaccinations at about 13-14 weeks old. Additionally, you should also ensure that your cat regularly gets a flea and deworming treatment. Consult your veterinarian to book an appointment and know the appropriate time to get their treatments to keep your kitten protected.
4 months: Have them neutered: Once they reach four months of age, it is important to get your kitten neutered. Cats who are not neutered are more likely to roam away from home to find a potential mate, especially male cats. Getting them neutered will also prevent unwanted kittens since female cats can get pregnant as early as four months old.
5 weeks and up: Get them microchipped: For outdoor cats, it is vital to have them microchipped. In some cities, it is even mandatory to have your pet microchipped. The advantage of this is that in the unlikely event your kitten ever wanders too far from your home or gets lost, a microchip will enhance the likelihood of having them returned to you.
Tip: If you have moved to another address, remember to update your contact details.
Safety collar & tag: On top of getting your cat microchipped, ensure that your kitten also has a proper means of identification with an ID tag. If you are unsure on which collar to pick, we recommend getting a quick-release collar that snaps open in the event your kitten ever gets caught on something.
Work on their recall: Try teaching them to come to you when called by their name in the house. Give them a treat and a nice head scratch when they come to you, those are the best rewards for behavior reinforcement. Repeat this process several times until your cat always comes to you when called.
Cat-proof your garden: Always strive for prevention. Make sure your outside space is fully enclosed and cat friendly by removing any harmful items such as garden tools or debris that could potentially harm them. Remove any poisonous plants that can be hazardous to your kitten’s health as well. We suggest growing plants such as catnip, catmint, lavender, honeysuckle and cat grass in your yard. Doing this will encourage your kitty not to wander too far.
The most harmful plants to cats include Lilies, Tulips, Mistletoe, Daffodils, Azalea, Ivy, Chrysanthemum, Cyclamen, Kalanchoe, Oleander.
For a full list of toxic plants for cats, click here.
Tip: Always ensure that the products you use on any of your plants are non-toxic and organic.
Install a cat flap: Installing a cat flap in a door or window is essential if your cat is no longer an indoor cat. This will allow them the freedom to come and go as they please, and if ever they feel frightened, they can always come back inside.
On the big day
The big day has come, you have covered all the steps above, and now your kitten is ready to explore their newly extended world. Now you can follow the steps below to acclimate your cat to the outdoors:
Choose a dry, quiet day: Make sure there are no other cats, noisy children, dogs, or any other disruptions that might frighten your kitten and avoid bringing them out in extreme hot or cold weather.
Supervise them: Always accompany your kitten’s first step outside. Your kitten will most likely be timid and bolt off if frightened, so ensure you do not push them if they are showing any signs of uncertainty or anxiety; let them go at their own pace.
Optional: Use a leash or a harness at first to prevent them from running off. Over time, once your kitten feels comfortable enough outdoors, you will be able to stop using the harness or leash entirely.
Begin with brief outdoor sessions: Start with slow increments of 10-15 minutes, then gradually increase the amount of outdoor time until you both feel comfortable.
Do not feed your kitten before letting it out: If necessary, hunger will encourage them to come back indoors. Make sure to have their food/treat/toy ready before bringing them outside. This way, you will not have to leave your cat unsupervised while preparing their food or getting their toy.
Reward them: Reward your kitten by giving them treats once they have come back in the house. This creates positive reinforcement for returning home after his or her time spent outdoors.
Remember, prevention is better than a cure. With your love and care, you can help your kitty avoid any potential dangers and make their first outdoor experience a positive one.