When can a kitten go outside?
While your kitten is very young and staying at home with you, it’s a great time to start planning how you’d like to manage their outside time.
Identification for your cat
Having a microchip implanted under the skin isn’t a legal requirement at the moment like it is with dogs, but it is an unrivalled way of helping them get home should they become lost or injured. You may also wish to give them a collar with a name tag. If you’re going to use a collar, make sure it’s an easy-release type, and a reflective style will give extra visibility after dark. Many owners – especially of younger cats, like to fit a bell to their cat’s collar to help them listen out for them, and also to warn the local wildlife that a cat is nearby.
How and when will you let your kitten out?
How will your kitten get in and out? You can have a cat flap fitted, and if you choose a microchip cat flap that scans your kitten’s microchip to open the flap, you can be sure that no other neighbouring cats can come in! Alternatively, if you’re at home most of the time, you may like to let your kitten in and out via a door or window.
How much outside time will you allow your cat? Factors to consider here are whether you’d like your kitten to be allowed out at night or not, and your surroundings. Do you live on a busy road? Are there a lot of other cats in the area? Traffic and cat fights are the most significant risk factors at night, so it can be much safer for your cat, and more relaxing for you, if you keep them inside after dark.
Making your outdoor space safe for your cat
When it’s nearly time to let your kitten out for their first exciting visit into the garden, there are a few things to check to make it as safe as you can for them.
- Cover any ponds
- Cover any pipes, holes or small gaps down the sides of buildings
- Check your fencing and cover any gaps
- Make sure any sharp garden tools or chemicals are removed from anywhere your kitten may be able to access
- Check there are no toxic plants or other hazards, such as rat poison or slug pellets
Vaccinations & neutering
Your kitten must have their first course of vaccinations before you allow them any outdoor access. At this point, you could allow them a little supervised time outside, building up to a bit longer once they’re fully vaccinated. However, you shouldn’t leave your kitten alone outside until after they have been neutered, and it’s best to wait until the kitten is nearer six months old before they have complete freedom.
Before you let your kitten out for the first time, you can practice recall training with them. You can do this by calling them to you and offering a small treat when they come to you and calling them and tapping their food bowl or shaking a bag of biscuits. They will quickly learn that there is a reward to be had if they come to you!
The first time outside
Choose a dry day when it is quiet – try to avoid a time where there are dogs barking nearby or children playing – so that your kitten is not likely to be frightened. A good tip is to time the first trip outside just before a meal is due, so that your kitten is likely to come back easily. On the first few visits into the garden, and while your kitten is learning to use their cat flap, always accompany them outdoors. By staying close to them and gradually increasing the amount of time outside, your kitten will soon build their confidence and be able to make the most of their newfound freedom.
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