Ragdoll cats are known for their intelligence and desire to follow their human’s every move, but this is usually contained within their home. Sometimes, however, cat owners think they’re doing their pet a favor by letting them outside. As a former animal shelter employee and volunteer, I’ve seen some of these outings go horribly wrong!
Should you let your Ragdoll cat outside? While it might be tempting to let your feline friend explore the outdoors with you, Ragdolls should never be left to free roam. The mental stimulation is great for your cat, but his safety is more important! Consider other ways for your cat to get some fresh air, such as setting up an enclosed area or training him to walk on a leash.
The outdoors may be calling to you and your cat, but letting him loose comes with some risks. Don't worry, though, because there are ways that you can let your cat enjoy life's simple pleasures without risking life and limb.
Why Should You Bring Your Ragdoll Cat Outside?
Most experts and enthusiasts would argue strongly against letting your Ragdoll roam, but some cats are insistent. While the risks outweigh the rewards, there certainly are some benefits to letting your cat spend time outside.
Slowly introducing your cat to environments other than your home may help them adapt to future changes. This could make their next vet visit or a move less stressful for everyone.
In the event that you face an emergency evacuation, having your cat accustomed to leaving their home can truly be a lifesaver.
Cats have a well-earned reputation for being couch potatoes, so it’s easy to forget that they have inherited curiosity and prey drive from their wild ancestors. Allowing them some time outdoors helps them express their inner lion.
While it is not generally advised to let your cat outside, it is up to you to consider all information available and act in the cat’s best interest.
What Could Happen If I Let My Ragdoll Cat Outside?
A quick trip outside could result in problems ranging from tangled fur to a permanently missing cat. It is important to weigh these risks against the benefits of outdoor exploration.
All too often, cat owners wanting to treat their Ragdoll to an adventure get more than what they bargained for. Your Ragdoll might be completely calm and confident inside, but something as small as a lawnmower could cause him to take off.
Once he’s in “flight mode”, it may be next to impossible to get him back.
Vehicular traffic poses a major danger to house cats. Sadly, most of us have had the misfortune of seeing someone's pet on the side of the road at some point. Cats aren't wired to understand traffic safety and should be kept away when possible.
Disturbingly enough, unaccompanied cats may fall victim to wrongdoers. Even more so than most cat breeds, Ragdolls are overly trusting of people who could pose a threat to them.
Sadly, humane organizations worldwide have seen harm done by strangers, from cats being lit on fire to being shot with BB guns.
Well-intentioned neighbors may assume that an unfamiliar cat is an unloved stray, and rehome your beloved pet via an animal shelter or personal networking without your knowledge.
Approximately 3.2 million cats enter shelters and pounds in the United States each year. Only about 90,000 of those animals are ever returned to their original families. (source)
With “pet flipping” – the act of stealing a pet and “rehoming” it for a profit – on the rise, designer cats face an elevated risk of being stolen. While it’s unlikely that catnapping your average cat would be profitable for thieves, Ragdolls typically cost upwards of $400!
Your Ragdoll could also face danger while interacting with other animals. Dogs may give chase, injuring them or causing them to run into hazardous areas. Other cats may be territorial and engage in aggressive behavior with your Ragdoll as well.
While less likely, it is not unheard of for kittens and smaller cats to be picked up by large predatory birds like owls and falcons, even in urban areas!
If left outside, your cat could also face a variety of ailments and infestations. At the very least, he could bring back fleas, ticks, and parasites that could spread throughout your home.
More importantly, he could contract potentially fatal diseases like rabies, feline leukemia, or distemper.
Ready to Take Your Ragdoll Cat Exploring? Take these Preparation Steps First!
Bringing your cat outdoors is dangerous, but there are some ways to minimize the risk.
Vaccines & Physicals – Make sure your cat is current on preventative vaccines, and ask your vet if your cat is healthy enough for potential added stress and physical activity. Ragdolls are prone to both heart and joint issues, so this is very important.
Spay or Neuter – If you have a female ragdoll, make sure she is not in heat. This can make her more likely to try and escape and potentially attract other cats. Unaltered males are also more likely to wander, looking for mates.
Identification – Tags and collars are a good way to distinguish your cat from a stray, but can easily fall off. Microchips are inexpensive and a much more reliable way to identify your cat to police, animal control, and shelter workers if needed.
The above tips are just a start– Always follow the advice of your veterinarian and use your best judgment!
What if Your Ragdoll Wants to be Outside, but You Can't Trust Him?
If you can’t find a safe way for your Ragdoll to enjoy the outdoors, consider the following options.
- Catios – If you have a porch, chances are that you can make a DIY catio! Just add some heavy-duty screens to enclose an existing outdoor area.
- Crates and Cages – A large dog crate or small animal cage can serve as a safe place for your cat to hang out, but remember that if your Ragdoll can fit his head through, he may be able to escape- Choose your crate accordingly.
- Pet Carriers – From the classic plastic carrier to backpacks with windows for your cat to peep through, you can find something your Ragdoll will enjoy.
- Leash and Harness – It might sound crazy, but this trend is really taking off. If you wanna try that out, read our guide that shows you how you can take your Ragdoll cat for a walk!
Regardless of the option you choose, always keep your cat’s feelings in mind. Make sure that you introduce all changes slowly, and never leave your cat alone and vulnerable in an enclosure!
Do Ragdoll cats get lonely? Just like almost all cats, Ragdolls can get lonely. You can prevent this by getting them a companion cat or dog, or leaving on TVs, radio, etc. There are also pet sitters who can stop by and visit for reasonable fees.
Should Ragdoll cats be kept inside? Ragdoll cats should always be kept indoors. If you take them outside, they should be directly supervised.
How long do Ragdoll cats live for? Sadly, Ragdolls have some of the shortest lifespans for domesticated cats. The average lifespan of a Ragdoll is 9 to 15 years.