Introduce an indoor cat to the great outdoors safely and correctly with these tips.
- TIP: Always stay outside to supervise your cat. If you're not home, keep them in the house.
- Step 1: Once they get used to being outside, create a comfortable environment for your cat in an enclosure with furniture for climbing and resting, and a shaded area for relief from the sun.
- FACT: A cat that spends all their life indoors can live from 12 to 18 years of age, while a completely free-roaming, outdoor cat will live less than 3 years, on average.
- Step 2: Look for signs that your cat is stressed when in the new environment. Dilated pupils, defensive postures, or diarrhea are indications that your cat is freaked out and should be taken back inside.
- Step 3: Use a harness and an 8-foot lightweight leash to train your cat to go for walks or short trips outside. Gradually increase the time outdoors each trip.
- Step 4: Make sure you have a fenced in, cat-proof yard for your cat's safety. Use netting around the fences or consider creating a screened-in enclosure made of chicken wire and a wood frame.
- Step 5: Take it slow and have patience. Cats like time to explore their surroundings, so let them sniff around the new area at their own pace.
- TIP: Don't force the cat to go outside -- slowly acclimate it to the new outdoor environment step by step.
- Step 6: Visit the vet. Make sure your cat is spayed or neutered before letting it go outside. Get all your cat's shots up-to-date in case of encounters with other animals, and have your cat wear an ID tag or microchip in case they wander off.