Cats have lived outdoors for over a millennium, but when is the right time to let them outside, and how would you go about doing it?
The right time to let your kitten roam free outside. Kittens can be allowed outdoors after six months of age, a few weeks after they received their last vaccination. However, before letting your cat out, there are several questions that you need to ask yourself, such as do you need to allow your kitty outside?
Each person and cat are different, so there is no right answer, just what you feel is right. Read further to understand the inside/outside debate, environment concerns, and alternatives if you want to keep your kitty indoors.
The right time to let them outside
While each cat is different and some breeds mature sooner than others, I'm looking at you Maine Coon, the accepted age to introduce your kitten to the outside world is at six months old.
At this time they are old enough to be able to handle themselves and should already have had their vaccinations. Even with your guidance, the outside world is dangerous to small or infant animals.
You want to make sure that they are old enough to take care of themselves.
For people who have just adopted an animal, regardless of age, a bond needs to be made with the new member of your household before you let them outside. Allowing the new kitty outside right when they are adopted is too much too soon for their little systems.
Give them time to get comfortable with the new home and frankly you. Otherwise, they might try to run off while outside. Each feline is different, but two to three weeks should hit that sweet spot.
Along with the right age your cat it is easier on all involved for your feline to be neutered before you let them outside.
If you have a female cat out without being spayed, then count on all of the dude cats in the neighborhood paying a visit to your home and marking it as their territory, you will be amazed by how many cats are in your area.
An uncastrated male cat might take off if they get the smell of a female cat. Simply, their instincts will take over.
Steps to get your kitten to interact with the outside world
To get your cat used to the process of going outside will take time and thought on your part.
There are some questions that you need to ask yourself.
- Do you only want them to run around at night and stay in during the day or
- Would you rather them have access all day
- How will they go outside, by your letting them out during certain times or
- Would you rather they have a way to get out on their own.
These decisions need to be made by looking at your current living arrangements and how best to keep your cat safe.
First, let them outside in a neutral environment where there is not a lot of noise or other animals. Stick by their side as they explore the world around them.
If you see that they are getting into stuff that they really don't need to step in then, but let them rely on their instincts. Continue this process until they start to wander away from your protection.
Test to see if they come when you call them and pay attention to how they act while outside. If they are rebelling against you, bring outdoor privileges down and try again with shorter times out until your cat starts to pay attention to your commands.
Should you allow your kitten to go outside?
This is a debate in the cat world. Should you let your cats outside, or is it better to keep them inside? Some people have strong opinions about the matter, see Natasha Lyonne in Russian Doll or my mother as an example.
Their theory is that no matter how domesticated your cat is, they are still an animal and the outside world is their natural environment. It is cruelty to keep your cat inside.
They have a point. Currently, I am listening to my cat meow his frustrations that it was time to come in from the patio. Let alone the spitting and hissing when they know it's time to go in.
The opposite point made is that even though they are animals and long to be outside, they are still an alien species in many environments and contribute to the decimation of many smaller species, to the point where some breeds are extinct.
In addition to that some places are not the best for a cat to roam free. If you live in a more rural area, then they can wander freely, however larger animals could see them as vulnerable prey.
In more populated areas, not everyone is considerate to other animals sharing the same surroundings.
Ultimately it is up to you to choose if they go outside or not.
Alternatives to letting your kitten roam free outside.
If the idea of letting your cat run around the neighborhood sends anxiety pulsing through your being, but you feel guilty for keeping your poor kitty inside, there are alternatives that you can both of your needs.
If you live in an apartment complex, there are balconies or patios, and then your cat can be trained to use this area as their outdoor space.
You can deck this space out for both of you with toys, towers, and cat-specific plants. (Some plants are poisonous to cats, and they will try to chew everything.) After a while, you can leave the patio door open during and let your cats freely go in and out as they please.
Some feline owners, those who have the money for it, create enclosures for their cats outdoors with chicken wire. It ends up being their little room outdoors where they can enjoy fresh air, but also keep safe.
If none of these work for you then try taking your cat out for a walk instead. If they are a kitten, then they will adapt to the lease a lot quicker than an older cat would.
This method will give them a broader scope of the world while also giving you the peace that nothing tragic is happening to them.
How cold is too cold for cats? If the temperatures are nearing 45 degrees Fahrenheit, then it is time to keep them in. You will notice your indoor/outdoor cat coming in more frequently when it is approaching these temperatures. As a just in case keep a warm enclosure outside in case they do get trapped outside.
Should I let my kitten roam around at night? This is up to each owner and their current living arrangements. There will always be risks associated with your pet spending time outdoors. However, there is no disadvantage to them being outside during the night than during the day.
Can kittens find their way home? If your cat has a close association with the house that you are currently living in, then yes they can find their way back. However, if you haven't lived at the location for a long time or haven't had your cat for that long, then it might be difficult for them. Let your cat become familiar with their home before allowing them outside.