Letting your kitten out for the first time can be nerve-wracking, but there are steps you can take to keep it safe and healthy. Introduce the outdoors gradually when it's at least 6 months old, and limit its time outside at first. Be sure to vaccinate and spay or neuter your kitten before letting it out, and remove hazards from your yard, such as toxic chemicals. Keep in mind vets recommend keeping cats inside, so consider enriching your pet's indoor environment with lots of toys, climbing perches, and hiding spots.
EditSteps

EditTeaching Your Kitten to Go Outside

  1. Enclose your yard before letting out your cat. To keep your cat from getting out, install special attachments to your fence that prevent it climbing over. Find these fencing attachments online and at pet stores.[1]

    • Enclosing your yard with fence attachments is especially important if you live near potential hazards, such as busy roads or highways.

  2. Introduce your kitten to the outdoors just before mealtime. If you free feed your cat, take its food away several hours before you train it to go outside. Otherwise, let it outside for the first time just before one of its scheduled feeding times. A hungry kitten will be more likely to respond when you offer a bowl of food and call it back indoors.[2]

    • Get a bowl of food ready just before you let it out for the first time. That way, you wonít have to leave your kitten outside unsupervised while you fix its food.

  3. Choose a quiet, stress-free time to let your cat go outside. Make sure the surrounding area is free of scary, stressful sights and sounds, like a neighborís barking dog or noisy kids playing nearby. Additionally, check the weather forecast, and let your cat out on a dry day.[3]

    • If your kitten gets spooked, it could form a negative association with the outdoors or, even worse, run away and get lost.
    • Cats use their sense of smell to find their way back to your home. Avoid letting your kitten out after a rainstorm since it will remove the scent and make it more difficult for your cat to find its way back.

  4. Open the door and let it explore on its own terms. When youíre ready to train your kitten to go out, simply open the door to your yard and take a step outside. Hold the door open, and allow your pet to follow you outside at its own pace. Cats are cautious animals, so itíll probably take a couple of minutes before itís comfortable leaving the house.[4]

    • Keep the door open so your kitten can go back inside if it feels squeamish. Donít pick your cat up or force it to go outside. If it darts around or hides under a shrub, try not to worry. Keep your distance and let it get accustomed to your yard.
    • If your kitten doesn't want to go outside or runs back into the house, just let it stay inside. If it wants to be an indoor kitty, keep it active and entertained with toys, scratching posts, and climbing perches.

  5. Call your cat and offer food after about 10 minutes. When youíre just starting out, keep your catís trips outside brief. After 10 minutes, offer it a bowl of food and call it back indoors. If it doesnít come right away, give its bowl a shake and make encouraging verbal cues to get its attention.[5]

    • Remember to prepare your kittenís food in advance so you donít have to head into the house and leave it alone outside. In addition, grab some of its favorite treats just in case the bowl of food doesnít catch its interest.
    • Itís also helpful to teach your cat to come before letting it go outside. Offer a tasty treat, say ďCome,Ē and reward your pet with the treat when it comes to you. Keep practicing until it reliably comes on command.[6]

  6. Stay calm if your kitten doesn't come back immediately. If it doesn't return right away when you call it, don't try to chase it, shout, or call frantically. Try calling it using a calm, normal voice instead.[7]

    • Food with a strong odor, such as sardines or tuna, could do the trick. Place the food inside near the door, keep the door open, and wait for your cat to come investigate.

  7. Increase its time outdoors gradually. Practice going outside every day and, with each training session, add a few minutes to its time outdoors. When your kitten seems to come and go with confidence, you can start letting it spend longer periods of time outside without supervision.[8]

    • Even after acclimating your cat to the outdoors, keep it inside overnight and in hot, cold, or rainy weather. Cars and predators pose a greater risk when itís dark, and bad weather could take a toll on your catís health.

EditKeeping Your Kitten Healthy Outdoors

  1. Let your cat out only after itís fully vaccinated. Wait at least a week after your cat has finished its course of vaccinations before letting it go outside. A cat that goes outside is exposed to more diseases than cats that stay indoors, so vaccinations are essential. Consult your kittenís vet about legally required vaccinations, and ask if they recommend any additional vaccines for cats that spend time outdoors.[9]

    • Generally, a kitten completes its core vaccinations by the time itís 5 or 6 months old.
    • Keep in mind some important vaccines arenít always legally required. For instance, although it isnít always a core vaccination, your vet will still recommend vaccinating your cat against feline leukemia virus (FeLV) if you plan on letting it go outside.[10]

  2. Spay or neuter your kitten before letting it go outside. If your cat isnít already fixed, schedule an appointment with its vet. When kept as pets, kittens are typically spayed or neutered by the time theyíre 6 months old. However, with proper veterinary care, even an adult cat well into its teens can be fixed.[11]

    • Spaying or neutering your kitten lowers its risk of developing cancer and other illnesses. In addition, you wouldnít want to deal with a litter of kittens after letting your female cat outside unsupervised. Finally, fixing your cat will lower its risk of getting into fights with other felines.

  3. Give your cat routine flea and tick preventative medicine. While oral medications are available, topical treatments are the most popular routine parasite preventatives for cats. To use the treatment, apply the medication between your catís shoulder blades once a month. Follow the dosage instructions on the packaging; doses vary and usually depend on a pet's weight.[12]

    • Discuss parasite preventative treatments with your catís vet and use your product as instructed.
    • While over-the-counter products are available, treatments prescribed by vets are more effective, and it's wise to have your vet recommend the right product and dosage for your pet.

  4. Keep your cat away from chemicals, toxic plants, and other hazards. Check your backyard for hazards, and make sure anything that could hurt your cat is out of its reach. Store chemicals, such as antifreeze, on shelves in a garage or shed. Research any plants you keep in your garden and make sure theyíre safe for cats.[13]


EditPreventing It from Getting Lost

  1. Get your pet acclimated to your home before letting it go outside. It usually takes a few weeks for a cat to adjust to its surroundings. However, the right length of time depends on your kitten. Observe its behavior, and make sure it appears confident, interacts with you and your family members, and knows where it can find its food, litter box, and toys.[14]
  2. Place a tag with your contact information on your kitten's collar. To stay on the safe side, always keep identification on your cat. Secure a collar to its neck with a tag that lists your name, your catís name, your phone number, and your address.[15]

    • Cats can squeeze in and out of tight spaces, so make sure the collar fits securely around its neck. The collar shouldnít be so loose that it can slip off, but you should be able to fit 2 fingers between the collar and your catís neck.[16]

  3. Microchip your cat just in case it gets lost. A pet microchip is a device the size of a grain of rice that, when scanned, reveals your contact information. Implanting one is a relatively inexpensive procedure, so call the vet and invest in a chip just in case your cat gets lost.[17]

    • Once a chip is implanted in your catís neck or upper back, youíll need to keep it updated. If you move or change your phone number, go online or call the company that hosts the chip to upload your new contact information.
    Advertisement

  4. Consider harnessing your cat or letting it out in an enclosed area. To prevent your cat from getting lost altogether, donít let it out unsupervised. Walk it on a leash, keep it tethered in your yard, or let it out in an enclosed patio or cat run.[18]

    • Keeping your cat harnessed or enclosed is best if you live near potential hazards, such as a busy road, predatory birds, or a big dog that routinely gets loose.

EditTips

  • Once your cat gets used to going outside, you could install a cat flap in your back door so it can come and go as it pleases. Flaps are available with special sensors that are triggered by your catís collar, which prevents stray animals from entering your house.
  • Remember that vets typically recommend keeping pet cats indoors at all times. Unless your cat exhibits destructive behavior that canít be corrected with training, consider keeping it inside.
  • As an alternative to going outside, keep your indoor cat entertained with lots of toys, scratching posts, hiding spots, perches, and climbing spots.

EditWarnings

  • Don't let your kitten go outside unless it's at least 6 months old. Even without taking vaccinations or neutering into consideration, a kitten less than 6 months old is too fragile to venture outside on its own.
  • Avoid leaving your cat outside unsupervised if you live near potential hazards, including busy roads and predatory wildlife.

EditReferences

EditQuick Summary

Cite error: tags exist, but no tag was found