Five tips for letting your cat out for the first time

Posted by Argos, 1 June 2018, last updated 1 November 2022.

Letting a cat outside for the first time can be nerve-racking for pet owners. Cats are naturally curious animals and they will most likely love to explore as much of the outdoors as possible. So, to relieve you of any worries, we have some tips on what to consider when letting your cat outside for the first time. But firstly, let’s cover a few frequently asked questions about letting your cat outside.

Should I let my cat outside?

It is completely up to you, and your cat, as to whether you let them outside or not. Cats are curious creatures who, throughout history, have learnt to live in the outdoors. Certain cat breeds may be more likely to enjoy the great outdoors than others, so it is always best to test whether your cat likes the outdoors by taking them in a garden or enclosed outdoor space first.

How long should you keep a new cat indoors?

Generally, it is considered best to keep an adult cat indoors for around 2 – 6 weeks after you first bring them home, but this can vary depending on the breed and their character. It is about giving your cat the right amount of time which allows them to settle into their new home environment and become more comfortable with their surroundings. It’s important to ensure their vaccinations are all up-to-date and before letting your cat go beyond the garden make sure they are neutered.

Letting cats outside after moving

If you own an outdoor cat and you have moved locations, it can be a little daunting letting your cat outside again for the first time.

Your cat is not stupid, they will more than likely come to realise that they are no longer situated where they were before and will come to terms with their new scents and surroundings.

If you are worried, you should take the necessary steps as you would if you were letting your cat into the great outdoors for the very first time. Below we will delve into our five top tips for letting your cat outside for the first time:

  1. Make sure your cat can be easily identified
  2. Ensure that they are mature enough for the outdoors
  3. Teach your cat recall signals
  4. Plan their outdoor boundaries
  5. Be patient with your cat

Ginger cat sat on a step exploring a hedge

How to let a cat out for the first time

1. Make sure your cat can be easily identified

When preparing to let your cat outside for the first time, make sure that they have identification. Your cat can wear a collar with an identification tag. This will make it much easier for them to be returned if they stray too far. Remember, cats are extremely active creatures and a collar can get caught. Make sure you select a collar with a quick release to keep your cat safe. If your cat loses their collar, there are other ways they can be identified.

2. Make sure they’re ready and confident for the outdoors

It is important to understand whether your cat is physically ready, able, and confident to go outside for the first time. If you have a kitten, you should wait until they are around six months old before allowing them outside for the first time. They are small, and vulnerable to getting lost, catching an infection or having a run in with larger animals. Also, make sure your cat has completed a full vaccination course before they venture outside.

With an adult cat, you should wait two to six weeks before allowing them outside. If your cat is new to your home, make sure they have had enough time getting used to your house and the scents around them. You should also make sure their vaccinations are up to date.

Before letting a cat beyond the garden, make sure they are neutered.

3. Teach your cat recall signals

To ensure your cat returns on command, teach them signals. Tapping a tin before feeding time will teach them when food is ready to eat, and they will learn to associate the sound with their dinner. Using this sound when calling them indoors should bring them back in a hurry!

You could also try teaching your cat other recall signals such as whistles or calling their name. You can test this out first by letting them in the garden, calling their name and rewarding them with a treat when they return. This way your cat will return as soon as they are in a close enough distance to hear your command.

4. Plan your cat’s outdoor boundaries

Before letting a cat outside, there are a few things to consider in terms of their boundaries. You can start by letting them in a small part of the garden and staying in the garden with them. Then gradually let them explore further and further until they are happy on their own.

You should decide the level of outdoor access your cat will be allowed. If you want them to come and go as they please, you should consider installing a cat flap. This way, they can access the house at night and when you are not home.

You should also consider the dangers surrounding your home, such as traffic, other animals and your garden. You should make sure your garden is cat-friendly and properly fenced off, and also consider whether you need to take extra precautions if you have a pond.

5. Be patient

Every cat is different. Make sure you introduce them to the outdoors gradually over time, especially if they are a nervous kitty. Some cats may be confident straight away and others may have no interest in going outside. Be patient with your cat and understand that they will eventually learn to go outside if they wish to.

Supervise the first few visits outside and make sure your cat knows how to get back inside when they want to. Try to make it a positive experience; you can do this by taking them outside for the first time in good weather and ensuring there are limited unfamiliar noises.

letting a cat outside for the first time

Microchipping cats

While it is not a legal requirement to microchip your cat, it is highly recommended. If someone finds your cat, believing that they are stray, it is likely that they will check for a microchip with a vet. If you want to know your cat’s whereabouts at all times, we suggest trying out a collar with a GPS tracker.

If your cat is microchipped, you can get them a microchip cat flap. This will ensure that only your cat can get into the house – you don’t want any unwanted guests in your home. You can browse through our range of cat accessories to find suitable products for your cat and home.

Letting your cat outside for the first time can naturally be worrying, so remember to keep yourself protected from unexpected vet bills with Argos Pet Insurance provided by Pinnacle Insurance plc. Explore our cat insurance policies today.

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