However, carrying your cat is a great way to accustom him to the initially scary world of the outdoors, and a good preface to the next step:​. Cats can be very happy when kept indoors and it is much safer for them than letting them go outside where they may encounter numerous hazards. The other cat is an outside cat and the cat with the problem has mostly been an inside cat. By training your cat to use the litter box outside, you can get rid of litter odor once and for all. Take a food/toy reward out with you and sit down quietly. Make sure you don’t fall for these common “facts” about cats that are actually false. This way you can keep an eye on your cat while letting them explore freely and call them back if you feel like they’ve wandered too far. Do you worry about the risk if you do? Cats love having outside space to explore and roam but you should make sure that your cat is ready to go outside. Here are just a few of the outdoors dangers, although not an exhaustive list. Bird feeders can attract wildlife to a spot where your cat can watch without touching. Some of the most common risks to an outdoor cat… If your indoor cat happens to get out when it’s cold, they’ll most likely be in more danger. There's a lot you need to know to make things go smoothly with your new friend. And once fleas infest your home, the eggs get into couches, rugs, etc., making it not only difficult to remove them but also expensive. If your cat is accustomed to living outdoors, they’re smart and know the best places to find shelter and stay warm. 8 Fun Ways to Celebrate Your Cat's Birthday, Low Stress Travel to the Vet With Your Cat, The 7 Best Cat Subscription Boxes of 2020, The 15 Best Gifts for Animal Lovers in 2020, Everything You Need to Know About Raising Your First Cat. This can work especially well if your cat is trained in using a cat door or cat flap, which then can connect to an enclosed area outside. That they cannot be healthy, happy, and active, if not allowed to experience all the glories of the outdoors. “Cats that go outside do face greater risks,” she says. For cats who would prefer to "free-roam" (within limits), outdoor enclosures are ideal. The soil of a garden or yard can harbor diseases spread by stray, unvaccinated cats for many months. Building an outside shelter for a cat can be an inexpensive and fun project for the family. She writes for rd.com, helps lead the editorial relationship with our partners, manages our year-round interns, and keeps the hundreds of pieces of content our team produces every month organized. Prior to any trips outside it is worth considering how you intend to give your cat or kitten access outdoors in the long-term. Access to clean drinking water is essential, as well as making sure cool, shaded areas are available if your cat wants to get out of the sun. If a cat’s body temperature falls below average, they can suffer from hypothermia and if winds are high, they can get frostbite. Image: Cat on a hot slate roof by Matthew / Flickr These explorations are best kept to a very short time—10 or 15 minutes—as most cats will become too eager to jump down and explore on their own. A few months ago this weird reaction started. The additional "drag" of a bulky leash will slow your cat's walking progress. If your cat seems desperate to go outdoors, what it really might be craving is more entertainment and stimulation, both of which you can provide indoors. As your cat continues to scratch and itch, it can lead to more serious skin infections. Your experiences may vary with any or all of these means of providing a safe outdoor experience for your cats, but we think you've been given enough alternatives here to get you started. Cat lovers who want their cats to enjoy fresh air, sunshine, and the ambiance of trees, bushes, and plants, often feel guilt by confining their cats to the indoors. I think allowing a cat to go out with FIV to go out and interact with other cats is like a person having human AIDS and having unprotected sex and now telling their partner or sharing needles. Despite enjoying the freedom to roam, outdoor cats like Hobbes can lead a dangerous life. Dr. Richter recommends taking an old storage container and create insulation using straw (not blankets) to keep your cat—or strays that frequent your neighborhood—warm. Even though he runs the house, he likes to take a jaunt outside from time to time, just to make sure his territory is safe. The risk of contracting killer diseases, including, You can't observe his litter-box habits and may miss evidence of, Injury and/or death from attacks by dogs, other cats, or predators, "Cat-napping" for profit, or personal gain, Trapping and disposal by cat-hating neighbors, Confiscation by animal control authorities, Risk of ingesting toxic plants and exposure to pesticides. Dr. What do you think? However, given time and patience on the part of the trainer, most cats will enjoy leash walking. If your cat goes outside, I believe in treating fleas proactively every month. Indoor Cats Live Longer . At best, it can’t result in a happy relationship with your neighbor. They can be poisoned, get diseases, parasites, run over by cars, or freeze to death. Happily, there are ways to minimize the risks. If that’s the case, make sure they are well fed and have access to a warm shelter. This was the mindset in previous generations: that cats were free and independent creatures and should not be confined. The cats you see outside may be cats whose owners let them outdoors, or they may be feral or stray community cats who live outdoors. Creating an outdoor shelter doesn’t have to be an elaborate process. “As a general rule, I would recommend bringing your cat inside the house if they don’t have a warm place to retreat to when the average daily temperature is lower than 45°F— they shouldn’t be outside for any length of time at that temperature,” says Dr. Richter. The Wheel Away converts to a backpack, car carrier, and bed. Gary Loewenthal, former Host for the About Cats forum used to carry his cat Mike around their... Leash Training. Most people keep their cat indoors all year round, but for those that let their cat outside to explore you’re going to want to keep an eye on the temperature during the winter to make sure it’s safe for them to be outdoors. The indoor cat to outdoor cat transition can be a lot easier if your cat has a safe spot he can go to outside. Consider adding a cat door to your home, setting up a safe shelter outside, or investing in a permanent heated structure. This can include window perches so cats can watch wildlife outside while sunning themselves, cat trees so they can climb, multi-level kitty condos, scratching posts, cat hammocks, beds shaped like little caves, and shelving attached to walls to create vertical “kitty highways.” He also recommends keeping your blinds open during the day so your indoor cat can get lots of sunshine. Also try to buy as lightweight a leash as possible, consistent with safety. Outdoors cats can get into antifreeze, or be exposed to lawn chemicals. Slow and easy will result in a cat with a safe and happy indoor-outdoor experience. Today, we understand the hazards of allowing cats to roam freely, either by personal experience, hearsay or through the media, including the Internet. That said, many cat lovers still prefer to share the Great Outdoors with their feline friends. Gary Loewenthal, former Host for the About Cats forum used to carry his cat Mike around their backyard, allowing him to sniff and explore at will. Cats might have thick, fluffy coats, but that can’t fully protect them when the temperatures start to drop. Dr. Nicholas Dodman, Animal Behavior Clinic Director at Tufts University offers some ideas that may help. Cats that go outside need even more protection from hot weather. Franny is an award-winning freelance writer who has been writing about cats since 1997. Keeping an FIV positive cat indoors also minimizes his risk of exposure to problems. Fact: If your cat is overweight, the safest way to help her trim down is by … Cats are territorial, and if there's a neighborhood cat on the prowl (mentioned above), a … Keeping your cat out in the cold is just one of the dangerous mistakes cat owners should never make. There is too much danger of their becoming tangled up, with the possibility of choking. We bought the basic version, with a black mesh "pocket" that comfortably held our cat safely with a drawstring adjustment and a metal clip that attaches to his harness. Add waste from the litter box to the litter in the designated spot. If you decide that you want to make your cat a "traveling cat," we suggest purchasing a personal vest-style carrier, called "Pet Pocket 2," manufactured by Global Pet Products. Cold temperatures (even if they’re not yet below freezing), high winds, and snow or rain—causing your cat’s coat to be wet—can lead these things to happen more quickly. Territoriality. Be sure to test your cat's "leash quotient" indoors for several days before taking him outside. Many cats will... A Personal Carrier. Read up on the other to make sure your feline friend is happy and safe. Consider adding a cat door to your home, setting up a safe shelter outside, or investing in a permanent heated structure. Talk with your veterinarian about risk and prevention. Provide your cats with viewpoints from which they can easily observe the outside world. It's all a matter of time and patience. When cats go outside, they're exposed to many more diseases than they are when they stay inside. A number of these diseases can be serious or potentially fatal. In her free time, she likes exploring the seacoast of Maine where she lives and works remotely full time and snuggling up on the couch with her corgi, Eggo, to watch HGTV or The Office. “Cats need more calories in colder weather, even if they stay indoors, so make sure your feline friend is always well-fed,” says Dr. Richter. When Indoor Cats Want to Go Outside Carrying Your Cat. Letting your kitten out for the first time There are a few things to bear in mind before your cat’s ready to explore the world outside your home on its own. Many of these cats may carry diseases that can be passed on to your cat if he or she comes into contact with them. We are no longer supporting IE (Internet Explorer), when it’s too cold for dogs to go outside, common “facts” about cats that are actually false, dangerous mistakes cat owners should never make, This Clever Hack Will Keep Your Car Windows from Fogging Up, These Feline “Olympics” Prove Cats Aren’t Just Adorable—They’re Real Athletes, CBD Helped My Cat’s Growth Disappear in Less Than 2 Months, Do Not Sell My Personal Information – CA Residents. Disease:The American Feral Cat Coalition estimates that there are approximately 60 million feral and homeless stray cats living in the U.S. You want to make sure they have enough space to move around, but not so much space that it makes it difficult to keep it warm. If you have an outdoor cat it can be difficult to get them to want to stay inside during the cold. An outdoor cat litter box also means less odor inside your home. To help your cat learn that it’s okay … By training a cat to go outside, the litter remains outside, leaving less for you to clean. I'd suggest starting with just a minute or two for a timid cat who has never had an outdoor experience. Walking your cat outside on a harness and leash can be a great compromise on the issue of outside vs. inside. The odds of an outdoor cat living a long, healthy life is very slim. Cats should never be left alone outdoors on a leash or a rope extension. If you’re lucky, your indoor cat can live to see their 17 th birthday. We are no longer supporting IE (Internet Explorer) as we strive to provide site experiences for browsers that support new web standards and security practices. House cats can get fleas from other animals who go out, from hunting rodents in the house, or by spending time near outdoor areas. At worst, a neighbor might decide to take revenge on a cat that regularly terrorizes his livestock. Have a variety of ways for your cats to exercise. We recommend a sturdy harness or walking jacket, as opposed to a collar. Morgan is an Associate Editor at Reader’s Digest. These diseases can be carried by other cats, for instance, or insects that come in contact with your cat. She graduated from the University of New Hampshire in 2016 where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Journalism. Many cats will initially feel confined by the additional weight of the harness, and their first attempts at walking on a leash will appear to be more of the "slinking" or "belly-crawling" variety. Do you let your cats go outdoors? Any cat can be trained to a harness and leash, using a gradual method of training. Indoor cats are healthier, happier and live much longer than cats that go outdoors. “Similar to dogs, it depends on a number of factors such as age and coat thickness, as well as if they are usually an outdoor cat or indoor cat,” says Dr. Gray Richter, a veterinary health expert with Rover. Cats who are allowed to roam freely outdoors live just two to five years, on average. Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. During periods of cold weather, cats will go looking for a warm place to hunker down. Cat behavior can be puzzling sometimes, especially when an indoor cat that seems content suddenly starts pleading to go outside. Let them experience the outside safely. Important: Due to the coronavirus crisis, we have had to make changes to our current services. Keeping your cat up on vaccinations helps prevent them from catching these diseases. We would put him outside and he would keep meowing to come inside. For many cats, observing wildlife is almost as much fun as catching and killing it. Dr. Lorie Huston. Collars can be slipped too easily, which will most likely happen at times of danger, as when meeting a strange dog or cat on the street. The Kittywalk Stroller provides both a durable nylon netting "cage" so kitty can enjoy the outdoor experience and a water-resistant canvas shade for protection from the sun. Any cat can be trained to a harness and leash, using a gradual method of training. Even if your cat can’t go outside, they may enjoy experiencing the great outdoors in a safe way. If they really want to let a cat out on their property, we know that they can build a catio— a cat patio —or put them on a leash to go outside. Odor-eliminating kitty litter can only do so much to mask the scent of excrement. Other dangerous stuff awaits cats that go outside, that I can partially control for by keeping my cats indoors. A cat that’s older can (and should) go out into the garden before then, but you’ll need to keep a close eye on them. Have there been any changes in … This is especially true if you live in an urban area where there is a lot of traffic. Training your cat to go outdoors can take some time, especially if your pet is an indoor cat.However, cats are intelligent and, with some effort and patience, you can successfully train your pet to come indoors and go outside as required. Common examples include: 1. feline leukemia (FeLV) 2. feline AIDS (FIV) 3. While vaccinations are important to indoor cats, they are essential to the health of cats allowed outside. Go outside and leave the door to the house open so that your cat is able to join you but can also quickly get back inside if they want. Indoor cats are overweight. The more we understand outdoor cats and the complicated issues related to them, the more effectively we can help them, reduce cat overpopulation and protect wildlife. Bottom line, “if the weather dips below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit), all cats are susceptible to hypothermia or frostbite,” says Dr. Richter. Before allowing your new kitten or cat outside, ensure it has a means of identification, either a securely fitted collar with a tag (showing your telephone number) or, ideally, a microchip identification implanted under the skin on the scruff of the neck.. Nancy Huggins’s kitty, Norman, is a cat about town. Find out how to keep your cat safe. Cats that go outside can be mauled and killed by dogs, evil people, and predators. On the other hand, there are some safe compromises to offer your indoor cat the best of both worlds, without the potential hazards of free-roaming outdoors. Creating an outdoor shelter doesn’t have to be an elaborate process. They can be built from scratch, with your own or purchased plans, or assembled as modular enclosures. We recommend our users to update the browser. Please note that tying a cat outside on a leash is not a substitute for personal interaction and supervision. A walk means your cat stays safer from outside dangers like cars, toxins, and other animals, and your cat still gets to enjoy the enrichment the outdoors has to offer. Although Jaspurr is at the "belly-walking" stage, he eventually will progress to walking with us. If you also have a dog at home, here’s when it’s too cold for dogs to go outside. Your cat may prefer to just "lie around" outdoors on his leash, as does our Jaspurr (pictured above), who is a beginner in "leash etiquette." Make sure they have access to a windowsill or similar, as many indoor cats like to perch safely and look out the window. Mike's nose led Gary on their walk, and each outdoor expedition was a bit different than the last. Cats are very sensitive creatures, however, so something else could have upset her and made her unwilling to go outside. 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