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Letting your cat outside for the first time

Tips to help you safely introduce your cat to the outside world.
Written by Mayhew team
Updated 3 months ago

The great outdoors

Letting your cat explore outside will have several benefits for your new feline friend, and we’ve put together some top tips to help you successfully and safely introduce the outside world to your cat.

How long does my new cat need to stay indoors before I let them out?

This depends on their age and how well they have settled in to the new home, but generally:

  • 3-6 months old = Stay indoors for 8-12 weeks
  • 6 months or more = Stay indoors 3-8 weeks

Getting their paws outside

When you let your cat out for the first time, do it on an empty stomach or an hour or so before normal feeding times. Call them back inside for food after about 15-30 minutes outside. If your cat has jumped the fence, they should still come back at the next meal time so make sure you have something extra tasty to reward them when they return.

Try to build in a call or command that relates to food or play so that you can always call your cat back if you need to.

Never carry your cat outside or use a harness; if the cat has settled in well, they will be curious about the outside but understand that home is where the food is.

Always let your cat out for the first time in a calm, controlled fashion without distractions from any children, other dogs or cats in the neighbourhood, and be sure to choose a nice sunny day, making it a really positive experience for everyone involved.

Introducing a cat flap

Some cats might not grasp the concept of a cat flap and rely on their owners to open the door for them. These simple steps can help any cautious kitty get used to using the flap on their own:

1. Start by popping your hand through the flap and giving your cat some treats or chicken - just pop you hand through leave the treat and bring your hand back through the flap so it closes.

2. After your cat has polished off the supply of treats, repeat step one, but this time hold the flap open and try to guide them through the flap with the treat. If they follow that’s great! Give them the treat once they clear the flap itself, then repeat the process going back the other way.

3. Some cats will still be wary so it can be useful to help them through the flap by leaving it open, allowing them to get used to coming and going through the opened flap.

4. If your cat really doesn’t like pushing the plastic door, get them used to pushing a paper door first, then card, cardboard and then the plastic cat flap door.

5. Some cats will use the flap but be reluctant to do so at certain periods of the day. This is normally because other cats may be around in the area, so a good tip is to create some cover for your cat as it leaves the house so it is not walking in to a potential cat ambush. A pot plant to shield an open spot can work wonders and help build your cat’s confidence with using their cat flap at all times.

Microchip cat flaps

Microchip operated cat flaps are always the way to go when it comes to letting your cat outside. The benefits include the fact they will only let your cat or cats enter the property. They can almost always be fitted into most places including glass, brick walls or doors and are a one-off investment that can help give your cat freedom and give you peace of mind they are not stuck outside in all weathers. We do live in Britain after all!

Keeping cats safe outdoors

There are many benefits to letting your cat have free access to the great outdoors, but there are also some dangers that you will need to be aware of. For more great tips on how to ensure your cat has a great time outdoors, read our advice from our cat experts here.

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