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This blog is brought to you by The Registered Vet Nurses at the HUFT Vet Helpline service.
Letting cats roam around outside on their own? Sounds odd? We’ll let you in on a secret—it really isn’t!
It’s true that our cats like familiar places. However, it’s a fact often unknown that our felines are naturally independent creatures who also love to explore the outside world. Sniffing out the green grass, chasing after birds or butterflies, taking in everything with their big cat eyes, a walk is the perfect time to provide your cat with some exercise, mental stimulation and a much needed break from monotony.
If it’s your indoor cat’s first time outside, we understand that it can be a little scary. Cats have a habit of chasing anything that interests them (a moving prey or a potential mate) and losing their way home. This blog will help you look at some tips that can make your cat’s first adventure safe and memorable.
Both cats and kittens need to be ready before they can be taken out for their first time.
If you have an adult cat, they need at least 2 weeks to settle into a new home environment before being allowed safely outside. Whereas, kittens should be over 5 months old, fully vaccinated and spayed or neutered before being allowed outside.
Vet Tip: Consider spaying or neutering your kitten at the right age to avoid unwanted litter. Consult your vet further before letting your cat or kitten outside so they can take you through the health risks and advise timely precautions for the same.
Make sure your cat is easily identified. Get them a quick release cat collar with an ID tag. You can also get them microchipped. This will be helpful, should they stray a little too far away from home.
Practice calling their name at a young age while using their favourite cat treats as a reward. While it will take an enormous amount of practice and patience for your cat to learn a recall cue, don’t give up. Remember, you’re doing this for your cat’s safety and well-being. If you’re facing any trouble, you can also reach out to a feline behaviourist consultant who would be happy to help.
Before meals, let your cat roam around near your house for a short amount of time. Once they’ve explored the outside, call them in for their lunch or dinner. Repeat the same over for a few days. This will gradually help you build an “outside-in'' routine and confidence that your cat will return home. If you’re uncomfortable with letting your cat be alone outside, you can accompany them for a daily evening walk using a cat harness and a cat leash.
HUFT Tip: In summers, remember to keep your cat indoors during peak heat hours i.e. between 10am to 6pm. If you have to travel anywhere during these peak hours, use cat carriers to keep your cat away from the harsh sun. It’s best to step out during the cooler parts of the day (early morning or late evening). Avoid pavements as they can harm your cat’s paws. Always carry clean drinking water.
Read More: How To Keep Cats Cool In Summer
Provide points of access in your house where your cat can regularly come and go from. This can be a cat flap or open access points in different parts of your house. These access points help provide reassurance, security and habit to your cat.
There is no one right answer for this question. It all depends on where your cat is most comfortable. If you’ve adopted a cat from the streets, it’s very natural that they’d have an urge to hunt their prey themselves and be free to roam around anywhere they wish to. Sometimes, they might become irritable, develop anxiety and other behavioural issues. Hence, in this situation, it’s best to have a good “indoor-outdoor” routine for your cat.
When it comes to an indoor cat, observe how your cat behaves once they’re outside. If they feel stressed or anxious, it’s a good idea to consult a feline behaviour consultant in deciding your next step. Remember to accompany your cat the first few times they step out.
Yes, cats can find their way back home. They have a special ability called ‘homing instincts’ that allows them to navigate their way back home. Some cats have stronger ‘homing instincts’ than others. Hence, each situation will be different. If your cat has lost their way, remember to not panic and keep up an active search.
If your cat has gone missing, remember to not panic. Look for the nearest places around your house where they can hide, especially during quiet hours in the night. Alert your friends, neighbours and local authorities so they can help you with the search. Mark a trail of your cat’s litter, starting from the house to outside while leaving the door slightly open. The familiar scent will help your cat find their way back home. Missing posters can also be extremely helpful.
Learn More: How To Find A Lost Cat
Kittens should be ideally over 5 months old before they’re allowed to roam around outside. Ensure that they’re fully vaccinated to avoid any diseases. It’s also a good idea to get them spayed or neutered to avoid unwanted litter.
If you’ve adopted an adult cat, they need at least 2 weeks to settle into a new home environment before being allowed safely outside. Ensure that they’re fully vaccinated to avoid any diseases. It’s also a good idea to get them spayed or neutered to avoid unwanted litter.
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