Letting Your Kitten Outside For The First Time
When and how to let your kitten explore outside
Letting your kitten outside for the first time can be daunting. Knowing when and how to give them outdoor access, and making sure they are identifiable if they need to be, can help you have peace of mind as you introduce your little bundle to the big wide world!
Read more about letting your kitten outside
Before your kitten can go outside freely:
- Make sure they are identifiable. The most secure means of identification is a microchip. Collars with tags should have a safety clasp and be securely fitted.
- Have them vaccinated. Some of the biggest dangers of the outside world aren’t visible to the naked eye. Diseases such as enteritis or leukaemia virus could be fatal.
- Have them neutered. While you can give them supervised outdoor access before this, getting your kitten neutered is the best way to make sure one cat doesn’t become a whole lot more! Kittens can be neutered from four months old so don’t worry, you won’t have to wait long.
- ‘Kitten-proof’ your garden. While it’s not possible to control a lot of the outdoor environment, you can make sure their immediate territory is as safe as houses. Cover any ponds, make sure any nasty substances such as weed killer are shut away, and close any holes under sheds or verandas that might be tempting to your little one!
- Learn their favourite things. While it is more difficult to teach cats cues than dogs, they will still often respond to a favourite item or food. Try teaching your kitten to respond to you by giving a yummy treat if they come when you call their name. By training this cue you have a higher chance of successful recall outside.
- Plan the rules. Decide when your cat will be allowed outdoor access. Is it whenever they want, or will you be bringing them in at night? Are there are busy roads nearby, so will you only be letting them out outside of rush hours? Make sure the whole family knows the rules and sticks to them.
So long as you have planned in advance, and your kitten is vaccinated, neutered and microchipped, it’s up to you when you want to let them out. Below are the minimum ages – if there are other factors such as bonfire night, moving house or simply feeling your kitten is not ready then wait until you are comfortable.
- Supervised access: Kittens will not complete their vaccinations and waiting period until at least 13 weeks old, so this would be the youngest that you could start supervised access.
- Unsupervised access: Ideally cats should be six months of age before they are allowed outside unsupervised. This gives them time to mature, and also to be neutered.
Four months old is the earliest kittens can be neutered. Free, unsupervised access to the outdoors should only occur once your kitten is neutered, as kittens can get pregnant from only four months old!
Some top tips:
- Choose a quiet time. Going outside is a big, new experience for your kitten. Loud noises, children or other pets can all be scary in this new environment even if your kitten is used to them inside the house.
- Go before dinner time. Go when you know your kitten will be getting hungry. That will make getting them inside again a lot easier when you start rattling their food containers!
- Go with them. Walk around the garden with your kitten as they explore. You should continue doing this until you know they can safely find their way back to the house themselves. This may take several trips.
- Leave the door open. Make sure your kitten’s access back into the house is easy for the first few trips. If you’re going to use a cat flap, have a look at our cat flap tips.
- Flying solo. Once your kitten has spent time with you in the garden and seems confident you can leave them outside for 30-60 minutes. Don’t worry if they spend it under the shrubbery – it’s all part of getting used to everything. Call them in for a delicious dinner afterwards!
Once your kitten is confident in their explorations then you can settle into a normal routine with them.
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