When Can My Kitten Go Outside Alone?
It’s been several weeks since you brought your kitten home. And that means several weeks of scratched furniture, having your feet attacked, and a smelly litter tray. Plus, your kitten’s been trying to escape through every open door. We know what you're thinking - that surely it's time to let your kitten go outside alone. But how can you be sure?
Is it safe to let my kitten outside?
If you've ever read discussions about outdoor cats on the Internet, you'll know it's a topic that divides people! Some people say it's too risky to let cats outdoors, whereas others insist that keeping cats inside is unnatural, even cruel. Here's a few of the pros and cons of outdoor cats:
- Cats attack birds and other wildlife, which can cause problems with wild populations and eco systems.
- Cats can become prey to larger animals, hit by cars, or even abused by people.
- Outdoor cats are more likely to be hit by cars, especially when under the age of 1.
- Outdoor cats are at increased risk of diseases, parasites, and poisoning.
- They may fight with other cats, resulting in injury.
- An outdoor environment is more interesting and stimulating for cats.
- Being outdoors gives cats chance to get more exercise, helping with obesity.
- Hunting and exploring outside gives cats an outlet for their natural instincts.
- The outdoors is great for mental health - both ours and our cats'!
- No smelly litter trays for young children or other pets to come into contact with.
In the end, whether you let your cat outdoors is up to you! Consider your comfort level, your cat's health, and the safety of your location before you make the decision.
What's the best age to let my kitten outside?
So you've decided you want to let your kitten outside. Your kitten is crying or desperate to go outside. When can you finally open the cat flap and let them experience the big wide world?
Generally speaking, a kitten should be at least 4 months old before going outside. You will also need to make sure your kitten is fully vaccinated - outdoor cats are at risk of parasites and diseases - and neutered/spayed.
After being spayed or neutered, your kitten needs at least a few days to recover before going outside. If they have stitches, they may need up to 10 days to make sure their wound has fully healed.
Make sure your kitten seems fully settled at home before letting them go outdoors. Going outside for the first time can be a frightening experience, so it's best that your kitten knows they have a safe place to come back to.
Can kittens go outside in winter?
Even if your cat is old enough and had all their vaccinations, we recommend waiting for a warmer season to let your kitten outside for the first time.
Very cold temperatures can be dangerous for cats - and kittens are more susceptible to freezing weather. Kittens should never be let outside if the temperature is lower than 45°F.
The cold isn't the only danger to your kitten in winter - they may try to sleep in dangerous places to stay warm, like under a car wheel arch, and there is an increased risk of coming across toxic anti-freeze.
How to let a kitten go outside
The big day is here, and your kitten is going outside for the first time. Here's five ways you can prepare your kitten to go outside and make the process go smoothly:
- Ensure that your kitten is spayed/neutered, microchipped, up to date with their kitten vaccinations, and has had a flea and worm treatment.
- Make sure your garden is safe for your kitten. Put away any tools or chemicals and cover any bodies of water, like ponds.
- Choose a day with good weather, when you have enough time to stay with your cat in the garden while they explore.
- Keep the garden quiet and free from other pets and young children.
- For nervous kittens, a spritz of calming Pet Remedy on their collar or applied to their chest will help to relax their nerves with natural essential oils.
Will my kitten come back if I let it outside?
Cats have a very strong sense of direction. Animal behaviorists say that cats have a 'homing instinct' which allows them to find their way home even from miles away.
If you have given your kitten enough time to feel comfortable at home and to bond to you, they are highly likely to come back home again if you let them outside.
If you're nervous, try teaching your cat to come when you call their name before letting them outside. And of course, in a pinch, the sound of you shaking their box of kibble will usually be enough to bring any cat home!