Seeing your kittens going outside for the first time can feel like waving the kids off on their first day at school. It’s a proud moment, a little bit scary and you need to do some planning and preparation to make sure all goes smoothly.
Other common questions include:
- When can kittens go outside?
- Should kittens be neutered or spayed before they go outdoors?
- Is microchipping necessary?
- Is there an easy way to introduce the kitten to the outdoors?
Luckily we have already asked our local cat expert these, as well as a few other questions we thought, are essential, so you can be prepared for the big day.
Carry on reading to find out when kittens can go outside, what you can do to ensure they’re safe while exploring the great outdoors, and how you can prevent your kitty getting lost, or stolen.
When Can Kittens Go Outside?
More often than not, kittens will show signs of being ready to venture out. These might include them waiting near the door, scratching or pacing at the door, or even pawing at the door. When they go out will depend very much on the breed of the kitten and its personality.
Some kittens are fearless and ready for adventure from the moment they can walk, while others are indoor breeds and prefer staying inside. For the most part, however, it is safe for your kitten to go outside, supervised when they are three months old. It is around this time they should have completed their vaccinations.
Unsupervised outdoor time is recommended for kittens that are at least six months old. At four months old, kittens can be spayed or neutered, and it is only after this that it is safe for your kitten to enjoy the outdoors on its own.
It is also a good idea to microchip kittens before they are allowed outside. This simple procedure can be done around the kitten’s first or second vaccination. It is quick and easy to do, there is no discomfort for the kitten, and it is affordable. In our opinion, there is no reason to not do it.
Speak to your vet about preventative tick and flea treatments for your kitten. They will be able to advise what types of medication are available, which one is best for your kitten and what the correct dosage would be.
8 steps to get your kitten How To Get Ready For The Outdoors?
As soon as kittens are vaccinated, spayed or neutered and microchipped, their owners can start preparing for them to go outside.
But Before you do anything, it is essential, for your kitten’s safety, and your peace of mind, to check:
- How safe is your garden? Is it securely enclosed?
- Is your house on a busy road?
- Do your neighbours have dogs, or cats, that could injure your kitten?
- Have you or your neighbours recently used any pesticides, herbicides or poisons?
- Are there any parts or flowers in your garden that could be potentially harmful to your kitten?
- Are there any ponds or swimming pools nearby that could pose a threat to your kitten?
Now that you know what to be aware of let’s get down to the planning.
1. Secure Your Garden
Before your kitten can go outside, you need to secure your garden. This is especially important if you live near busy roads or highways, or are nervous about your neighbour’s dog. There are specially designed attachments available that you put on your fence to stop your kitten escaping.
2. Choose A Quiet Time To Go Outside
Don’t take your kitten outside for the first time when your neighbourhood is at its busiest. Traffic, playing children and barking dogs. These seemingly normal sounds could scare your kitten, causing it to run away or form a negative association with being outdoors.
Also, make sure it isn’t raining. Not only will this dampen everyone’s spirits, but the rain will remove any scent, making it harder for your kitten to smell its way back home. Never let your kitten out on bonfire night, if there are any fireworks or if you have just moved houses.
3. Don’t Feed Your Kitten Just Before Going Outside
If you are worried about your kitten not returning, it is a good idea to not give it any food before going outside. A hungry kitten will most definitely come back home for dinner. If you are in the process of supervised outdoor time, we suggest you prepare their food before going outdoors so that your kitty doesn’t have to be alone while you’re getting it ready.
4. Let Your Kitten Explore On Its Own
When both you and your kitten feel prepared to venture outdoors, let them do it at their own pace. A good way of doing this is by opening the door and taking a step outside. Keep the door open so the kitten can follow.
Cats are curious, but they are also cautious, and it might take a few minutes before your kitten feels safe enough to follow behind you. Patience is critical, so don’t try to coax it out, pick it up or force it out the door. When they are ready, they will make their way into the garden. Let them explore their new surroundings while you keep your distance.
5. Offer Your Kitten Food After 10 Minutes
The key to success is allowing your kitten outside for a short time in the beginning. When it has been outdoors for 10 minutes or so, call it back, with some food.
If your kitten doesn’t respond immediately, give the bowl a shake, while making other sounds that it usually responds to. Dinner might not be as enticing as the birds in the tree, so get one of its favourite treats and tempt it with that.
6. Don’t Panic If Your Kitten Doesn’t Respond Straight Away
There is a good chance that the call of the wild is more appealing than your call, so don’t panic if your kitten doesn’t come straight away. Stay calm, and call for it in a quiet voice. Food with a strong odour, like tuna or sardines, will definitely work. Put it near the door and wait for kitty to reappear.
7. Slowly Increase Outdoor Time
If your kitten enjoys being outside, you can slowly start to increase the time. Eventually, your cat (and you) will feel more confident, allowing you to leave it outdoors, unsupervised.
A word of warning though, no matter how comfortable your kitten is outside, always make sure it is indoors when it gets dark, or when it is raining. And to be safe, rather than sorry, always keep your kitty indoors overnight.
8. Train Your Kitten To Use A Cat Flap
A cat flap is to your kitten what the keys of a car are to a teenager; it is a sign of independence and freedom. But you are going to need to train your kitten to use it. We recommend placing treats on the other side of the flap, or you can prop it open for a few days. There are some great ones to choose from, including microchip cat flaps.
How To Stop Your Kitten Getting Lost?
Of course, you are concerned that your kitten could get lost or even stolen while outside. But there are a few things you can do to protect your fur baby.
1. Getting Your Kitten Used to Its Home
Before you let your kitten outside, you need to make sure it is acclimatised to its home. A kitten that is familiar with (and likes) its surroundings will play with you, is confident and can easily find its toys, litterbox, food and bed in your home.
Experts suggest placing used kitty litter around the perimeter of your property so that your kitten can become familiar with its territory. This method, while a bit yucky, will also deter stray cats coming into your garden.
2. Put A Collar On Your Kitten
A tag with your contact information on it is one of the easiest ways for people to see whether or not your kitten is a pet, a stray or feral. More info about stray cats and what you can do can be found here. Make sure the ID tag contains your name and telephone number, as well as your kitten’s name.
When putting the collar on your kitten’s neck, check that it isn’t too loose that it will slip off. It also shouldn’t be too tight. Ideally, there should be space for two fingers to fit between your kitten’s neck and the collar.
3. Make Sure Your Kitten Is Microchipped
Microchipping your kitten is an excellent way of finding your lost pet. You can have this procedure performed when your kitty is vaccinated or any time after that, but the important thing is to do it. Remember to keep your contact information up to date, especially if you move or change phone numbers.
4. Use A Harness
Although there is some debate around whether harnesses cause cats distress, it is a good idea to get your kitten used to it while it is still young. There are different types available, and it is an excellent way to keep your kitty safe while outdoors.
5. Check For Injuries
In a kitten’s world, what happens outside, stays outside. Unless you give them a thorough check on their return. Look for any apparent injuries, and also make sure there is nothing in their fur or paws. A welcoming stroke is a great way to say, “Hello, I missed you”, while checking for any cuts or other injuries.
It is also essential that you keep an eye out for ticks or fleas, especially if your kitten enjoys running through long grass or in fields.
Questions Related To When Can Kittens Go Outside
Is it a good idea to leave the cat flap open?
A cat flap is an easy and convenient way for your kitten to come and go as it pleases. Unfortunately, it can also be an open invitation for other cats or foxes. Depending on where you live, you could shut the flap at night when your kitten is first learning to use it. Or you could consider getting one that works with your kitten’s microchip.
Is It Necessary To Microchip My Kitten Before Letting It Outside
As it currently stands, it is not compulsory to have your kitten microchipped, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t do it. The procedure is quick and easy to do, it doesn’t cause the kitten any kind of discomfort, and it is affordable. Rather than asking why you should microchip your kitten, you should be asking why wouldn’t you?
Are Foxes A Concern For My Kitten?
The good news is no, foxes shouldn’t be a concern for your kitten or cat. On the whole, a fox doesn’t see cats or kittens as food, and in more built-up areas, they have learnt to coexist with pets quite well.
According to the vets we spoke to, there is more chance of a cat or kitten getting run over or being hurt by another cat in a scrap. However, a fox with babies might attack if the kitten gets too close.
What If My Kitten Can’t Find Its Way Home?
Cats have a fantastic sense of smell, as do kittens. They also have a very good sense of direction. Female kittens are naturally inclined to roam less than males, while a neutered male is less likely to wander as far as one that hasn’t been neutered.
Also, preparation is everything. So if you have followed our easy steps to getting your kitten ready for being outside, there really is nothing for you to worry about.
What If My Kitten Doesn’t Want To Go Outside?
Not all kittens enjoy the outdoors. Some breeds are happy to stay inside, close to you, while others prefer to explore the wide-open spaces. If your kitten doesn’t want to go outside, it is okay. There are plenty of ways for you to stimulate your kitty and keep it busy indoors.
Have you recently introduced your kitten to the outdoors? Who was more nervous, you or your kitty? We would love to hear all about it in the comment section below.