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Letting a cat out for the first time

post #1 of 13
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone,

We've had Smudge and Oscar for almost 2 months now and they'll be castrated in a couple of weeks time, so it's soon going to be time to take the big step to let them out!

So I'd like some advice please.. What is the best way to go about letting them out for the first time? I have never done this before so anything that even seems obvious would be useful, incase I don't think of anything. Also, is there a time period that we should wait before castration and letting them out? (ie. more than a couple of days)

I understand people here have views on whether cats should be allowed out or not but I'd just like to say that I'm not asking for views on that thank you.

Thanks in advance!
post #2 of 13
What I normally do is wait till the cat is around 6 months old, and then take it out on a harness and lead. They are usually a bit more sensible by then and able to take things in. It is also important that they know their names and at least sometimes come when you call. I walk them round the house, in and out of any exits/doors you want them to use, and keep them by me on the lead while I sit in the garden. I do this for at least half an hour a day for a fortnight or more, then let the cat off the harness near a door and see if it comes to me when I call, with a treat. Then I let it off under supervision, while I am outside. All these stages take time which is well worth it - you will not then have a cat who panics as soon as it goes out and might run away. It will know the smells of home and be able to orient itself. Leaving a litter box outside at the beginning is also a good idea, for the smell. Of course, you must check your garden for anything harmful, including garden chemicals or antifreeze, as cats will get into anything. Also warn your neighbours that your cat is now going out, and ask them to do the same checks - I lost a cat to rat poison last year. If you do live near a busy road or anything you have no control over, then I would not let them out. It is dangerous out there, but you can minimise the dangers.
post #3 of 13
And keep an eye out for routinely roaming dogs, birds living in your backyard, etc.
post #4 of 13
Thread Starter 
Great, thanks for the advice. Our back garden is enclosed so there's no other wildlife in it apart from the odd bird in the tree. We don't tend to get roaming dogs either!

We still need to get a cat flap installed, so I'd imagine it's going to be another couple of weeks before we actually let them out.

One problem we do have is that both my boyfriend and myself are at work until 6ish, so by the time we're home it's dark, so we can't really let them out for short times as I don't want them out whilst it's dark. So, I think we may either need to do it in the morning before we leave for work, or do it over weekends to begin with.
post #5 of 13
Be prepared for him to jump the fence and dissapear for a day or two at a time, while you pull your hair out.
post #6 of 13
Males can still get females pregnant for up to 30 or so days after being neutered.

I'm not an advocate of letting cats outside - too many dangers IMO. But if you really want yours outside, I recommend either training to harness/leash and supervising them for a hour or so. Or build/buy a sturdy cat enclosures where they can sit out there and still be protected.
post #7 of 13
Please, please, please make sure your neighbors and their children are animal friendly. We lost one of our siameses when I was a kid living in rural Arkansas - A neighbor, we never found out who, shot one of our siameses with a small caliber gun.

There are alot of people out there that don't like animals in general, and especially don't like cats. I've known heartbreaking things to happen to cats - Some guy threw a mommy and her kittens out of a truck on I-95 last week or the week before... Grouchy old neighbors that don't want the cat on the porch swing are just as likely to do horrible things as a kid that thinks it's funny to hurt animals.

Letting them out in and of itself is fine, but do please know your neighbors.
post #8 of 13
If you are not supervising the cat, you don't know where and how far they will go. Good or bad neighbors - IMO I'd keep the cat inside or in your own yard. And even at that, someone who doesn't like cats can still harm your cat in your yard if he/she is unsupervised!
post #9 of 13
Yeah, even someone who really likes cats can be a threat, as they will feed your cat bad foods or even take them inside. The lady next door who loves cats starts putting out cow's milk and suddenly your cat has diarrhea and never eats regular food, or the dad down the street sees your cat and shows his daughter, who says "ooh daddy can we keep it?" and suddenly the cat is an indoor cat again... at someone else's house!
post #10 of 13
I forgot to add that you should always make sure a cat outdoors has identity - they can and will jump fences, if not now then later. Or claw their way up them. Mine are all microchipped and wear breakaway safety collars with ID tags. And they can still give you terrifying moments - my Wellington, who normally comes when called and almost never leaves my property, disappeared today for 7 hours. I was beside myself and I and my neighbours were out roaming the fields for hours. He turned up cool as a cucumber at 8.30 this evening. Goodness knows where he had got to, but he had us all scared.
post #11 of 13
GK is right, I would wait over 30 days after being neutered to let them out. Give their hormones time to 'chill'. Also, make sure they wear collars & consider getting them microchipped. Inform your neighbors what the cats look like, so if they seem them they can notify you. Also, if it is a regular fence, the cats will climb over it....just because it's there & they aren't supposed to climb it!
post #12 of 13
Thread Starter 
I get the impression that you guys might be from the US? I know things are fairly different there in regards to this topic. We have about 6 neighbours here, all who are used to cats being around, and our back garden is enclosed, you can't get into it except through the house, which obviously noone except us has access to. There's no main roads nearby, there is a road nearby but it's not that busy and it's not that close.

As I said, we have made our minds up and we're going to let them out and about as they please during the day, we're going to keep them in at night, but this post was mainly for ideas on how to gradually encourage them to go out and come back in again, so I appreciate any opinions on that.
post #13 of 13
Yes, most of us are from the US, so that is where the fear comes from. In so many places, it just isn't safe for a kitty to be outside.

I'm sure they'll enjoy having access to the garden. Esp. if there aren't too many "fearsome creatures", no nasty neighbors, & no major roads nearby.
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