Cats often long to be outside. But lots of us feline owners find ourselves asking: will my cat come back if I let them outside? Because we definitely don’t want to lose our kitty companions!
Watching your cat stare out the window longingly can make you feel awful. I know watching my cat track birds with her eyes makes me want to let her out. All she wants is freedom!
But in the back of our heads, we all worry if it’s a good idea to let them out. In this article, we’ve got all the information you need to make your decision on whether to let your cat roam the outdoors.
Will My Cat Come Back If I Let Them Outside?
Yes, most likely your cat will return if you let him wander outside. Your cat is familiar with the smell and location of your house and will be able to find their way back, so there’s no need to worry about it getting lost.
When you move to a new house, or if you just brought a new kitten home, keep them inside for at least a month or two so that they can become accustom to the scent of your house. This will orient them so that when they go outside they can find their way back.
Things to Consider Before Letting Your Cat Outside
Before you let your feline companion outdoors, there are some things you need to think about for their safety. If you are worried about any of these things, either don’t let your cat outside or consult your veterinarian first.
The first thing to know when considering letting your cat outside is whether they are a breed that can handle the outdoors.
Breeds such as the sphinx cat, Devon rex, and Cornish rex cannot handle the outdoors well due to their thin or non-existent coats. These cats should never be let outside, as they can easily become cold and unsafe.
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Other breeds with mild temperaments should not be let outside either. Persian cats, Russian Blues, and Ragdolls are all very gentle cats and should be indoor only cats.
While no cat owner wants their cat to get into a fight, it will most likely happen at some point if you let your cat outdoors. Gentle breeds don’t hold up in cat fights, and are prone to getting injured!
The age of your cat is also something you should think about before you let them go on outdoor adventures.
If your cat is a kitten, meaning under eight months of age, you need to take special care letting them outside. Never let a cat outside until they have been spayed or neutered, and have had all of their proper vaccines. It takes until four months of age before the vaccine process is completely finished.
But even after four months, kittens are still small and somewhat fragile. They may get caught up in a cat fight that they cannot win or escape, and that’s not what any of us want.
I recommend not letting any cat outside until after eight months of age just to be sure that they can be left on their own and can take care of themselves.
Environment & Neighborhood
Where you live is also a big deciding factor for whether your cat should go outside.
If you live in close proximity to a busy street or main road your cat probably shouldn’t leave the house. Busy roads can be very dangerous for cats. The last thing a cat owner wants is for their cat to be involved in a car accident or to be hit by a vehicle.
If you have multiple cats, they sometimes will head outside together, but that might also help them come back home on a regular schedule.
Preparation for Letting Your Cat Outside
Now that you’ve looked into the possible dangers of letting a cat outdoors and reasons to keep your cat inside you can make your choice. If you are going to let your cat out you need to prepare for their adventure.
Before your cat leaves the nest, there are a few things you need to do for their safety. First, make sure that your cat is spayed/neutered and are up to date on all of their vaccines. This way, they can’t have kittens or pick up diseases from other cats.
Also, consider having your cat microchipped. Microchipping your cat is very important, and can help you find your cat if it gets picked up by someone else. If another person finds your cat and gives them to the animal shelter or animal control, the shelter will read for a microchip.
The microchip contains the owner’s information and if the chip is read by someone they can call you and you can pick your cat up.
Get your cat a comfortable collar with an engraved plate on it. Add your information including your name, your pet’s name, and your phone number. This will let people know that the cat has a loving owner and isn’t a stray cat.
If your cat doesn’t come back, how long should you wait before you start to worry? The answer is it depends. Monitor your cat’s patterns when they’re outside. Each cat has a preference for how long they stay out, and learning that will allow you to gage how long is too long.
In my experience, my cat has always come back to the house within 8 hours. So if she’s gone for more than that, I start to get worried about her. I’ve never had problems with her running away, she has always come back just as happy and safe as she left.
If your cat doesn’t come back within a day or two, it’s fair to start worrying.
Letting your cat outside is a big decision, and should be made with caution. Rest assured that you have all the information to make the right choice for you and your cat.
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