Whether or not pet cats should be allowed outside is a subject of debate, with strong opinions on both sides.
If you aren’t willing to risk the dangers of the wide outside world by letting your cat roam, but still want them to have the sensory and mental stimulation that the outdoors can bring, there are compromises.
Here are 3 ways that you can help your cat experience the outdoors more safely.
Leash Training Your Cat
Leash training is absolutely doable for many cats. Of course, it’s much easier if they start learning as a kitten, but adult cats can also pick up this skill.
Be sure before planning to set off on walks that your cat is microchipped, vaccinated, and given prevention for any parasites common to your area. Learn your cat’s body language, so you can recognize if she’s fearful or stressed at all during your walk.
Next, purchase a harness and leash. The harness should be easy to get on and off, and one that your cat can’t wriggle out of.
The Kitty Holster is a great harness, though if your cat finds a jacket-type harness too bulky, there are lightweight figure 8 or H-style strap harnesses. Keep in mind those can be less escape-proof.
Let your cat get familiar with the harness before putting it on. Leave it out for her to sniff and investigate. Offer treats when first putting the harness on, and if your kitty reacts anxiously, remove it and try again later (or the next day)
Once she’s comfortable with the harness, let her wear it around the house for a few minutes at a time each day, increasing the amount of time gradually. Attach the leash and try some indoor walks before heading for the great outdoors. Keep the treats and rewards coming to help associate leash walking with something positive.
Pet Strollers for Your Cat
If leash training fails or isn’t something you’d like to try, pet strollers are an option. They’re more commonly used with dogs, but many cats can and will “stroll.”
Strollers offer more protection from some outdoor dangers than leash walking. They’re usually completely enclosed with mesh, so your cat stays in but can see around her.
If you plan to try strolling, bring the stroller into your home and leave it where your cat can see and explore it. Curious cats may jump right in.
Next, close the cover but don’t move the stroller. From there, stroll around your house for short distances, gradually moving on to the outdoors.
Build an Outdoor Enclosure for Your Cat
Lastly, consider an outdoor enclosure for your cat. This can range from a simple, portable mesh tent or tunnel to a simple permanent enclosure to an elaborate “catio.” You’re only limited by the space you have, your skills, and your budget.
Outdoor cat enclosures can be bought pre-made, or if you’re handy with building you can create your own. These spaces let your kitty enjoy sensory stimulation from fresh air and outside sights and sounds while keeping them safe from most dangers.
Adding shelves and perches as well as toys offers physical exercise as well.
Make sure you supervise at first to watch for any possible escape routes you weren’t aware of, and check on your cat(s) while they’re in the catio.
How Will You Bring the Outdoors to Your Cat?
To wrap up, indoor vs. outdoor for your cat doesn’t have to be a black and white issue.
Hopefully one of these suggestions works to give your kitty the experience of the outdoors while giving you peace of mind as well.
As always, you can speak with a veterinarian to receive personalized advice for your cat’s needs.