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The best age for letting a cat outside

post #1 of 28
Thread Starter 
Hi..im a new member so greetings!
I have just recently purchased an orange tabby at 8 weeks of age..he is now atleast 13 weeks. We want to make him an indoor/outdoor cat but dont know which age is old enough. we've had him exclusively indoors for about 5 weeks and he knows his name (Loki) means "Food time"and he jumps merrily to his feeding room (the staircase lol). so i think he could follow his way home on the sound of my voice..but he is still a lot smaller than neighboorhood cats. He has a microchip and collar on him (not the same in the pic) and his vaccinations. I know some people might say that indoor is always the best b/c of dangers lurking outside. I used to live in America and can attest to seeing several roadkill laid on the street and how drivers seem to not be able to break for animals there (my mom who still lives in america just rcently lost her dog to a speeding truck 2 days ago) ...where I live is a suburban family neighborhood where everyone has a cat it seems like and people drive courteously for the most part..if someone could give me some info on whens the best time to let him start roaming around outdoors that would be great

this is a pic of my cat (its european championchip here..the orange lion is the netherlands mascot)



http://tubeimage.com/viewer.php?file...yjbjqmlo8q.jpg
post #2 of 28
There is never a best time. Sorry your cat, as you say, could get hit by a car. He could get lost, stolen and only God knows what else could happen to him.

Yes I'm an indoor only advocate precisely because of the many dangers lurking out there for cats. Not to mention the many horror and heartbreaking stories of owners who have lost their cats. Cats who went outside and suddenly one night, never returned. Stories of cats being stolen. There are even a few such sad stories here in these forums.

Even if he is micro-chipped and collared there is *no guarantee* that who ever finds him, will return him. What kind of home will the cat suddenly find himself in? Will his new "owners" treat him well? Worse, will they declaw him?

There are just too many risks involved. Unless you have a *cat proof fence* then I wouldn't risk losing or anything happening to my precious by letting him outside.

Shanynne
Extreme Kitty Lover
post #3 of 28
Hi Siren, welcome to the forums!

Instead of letting him out on his own, why not leash train him? I think that's the safest way to keep him happy and healthy outdoors. There are many options for leashes/walking jackets etc. Here's one example: Cat Walking Jacket

I trained my last cat to go outside on a leash. After dinner was our 'walking' time and we would spend an hour out there each evening (more on weekends). It was great, since she still was able to investigate all the bugs, grass and outdoor environment while I didn't have to worry 'if' she would come home or what dangers she might run into.

I live in a different part of the world than you (Ontario, Canada) and the biggest problem IS outdoor cats. Many people hate that people let their cats roam freely and then these cats use their gardens for their personal litter boxes. So, many people are trying to deter the outdoor cats from coming on their properties. Some are even resorting to leaving out traps and poison to make a point. So beyond the normal outdoor dangers (ie: cars, other animals) you also have to watch out for non-animal lovers.

As a result, I couldn't keep peace of mind letting my cat roam the outdoors on its own.
post #4 of 28
Definitely consider leash training! Has he had most of his shots yet? If you want to start taking him out on his leash make sure he's had his vaccinations and maybe wait until he's at least 12-14 weeks old so his immune system will be strong enough that he shouldn't catch anything.

If you want him to be able to go out whenever he wants and if you have enough yard space, you could make him a small enclosure against the house with access through a window.
post #5 of 28
Thread Starter 
I understand the concern about letting cats outside..ive had a few in the past when i lived in america (RIP) that have had bad experiences outside but as i wrote, i live in a different city and neighborhood (I live in a different country) ...people in general here have more respect for animals. There are lots of americans who are incredibly gentle and sympathise with animals but it still amazes me of all the animal abuse cases there as well. Here in the netherlands,we even have a party for animal protection in parliment here. There protection is insured here.. Its illegal to tie animals up to trees and lock them in cages all day and it is enforced.
my boyfriend has never seen roadkill here (which totally shocked me, i saw it everyday on the way to work when i lived there) and from what i see, pets are taken care of very well.
we live in one huge neighborhood which forms a town. our houses are interconnected to other houses which all have closed in gardens..i see many healthy cats here and no strays. not to say we dont get them but not nearly as much as where i lived in america. i guess my question is how old do i have to wait before my cat is old enough to defend his own territory against neighborhood cats and be able to navigate his way home.
post #6 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Siren View Post
i guess my question is how old do i have to wait before my cat is old enough to defend his own territory against neighborhood cats and be able to navigate his way home.
You actually want him outside fighting and getting wounds that could possibly kill him?
I guess I'd say 6 to 7 months then, but at that age he'd still be small enough that other cats could/would easily beat him up. Start letting him out while supervised for short periods around 4-5 months.
post #7 of 28
If he is going outside I would maybe wait until he is neutered, to cut down the risk of him roaming in search of a female, and fighting with other toms.
post #8 of 28
Thread Starter 
No of course not. where did i say i want him to be killed while fighting or possibly kill another cat? First, cats dont fight to kill. they desire to know who is the strongest cat. wounds do happen like a torn ear but very rarely do cats kill each other. this could happen just as well with other indoor cats. part of being a cat is being territorial..theres no getting past that no matter how much we want all cats to live together peacefully. I dont feel guilty letting him do whats natural to him (defending his own territory) and this is just me, id feel even more guilty if i didnt allow him to do that. I dont like caged animals, and a house is one big cage to me. BEfore i let him outside, i want him to be old enough to be in position to defend himself is he needs to. im starting to let him sniff around our enclosed garden under supervision, and he seems mildly interested. Certainally there are risks but i dont want to keep him protected all his life.
post #9 of 28
Actually, cats are colony animals, not solitary, their behaviors very closely mimic those of the lions as far as social structure.

The point is, more cats die from fatal illnesses resulting from cat fights than you may know.
A tiny (but deep) cat bite can go unnoticed until it either developes an abscess, or simply goes systemic.
Those are the very real concerns of cats outside.

Defending territory is a very stressful thing for cats, not an activity they enjoy at all, they simply have the instinctual drive to do so, like mating.


Now, all that said, I would not let any cat out, unsupervised, before it is neutered and never before the age of 10 months.
They have most of their adult size by this time and stand a better chance against adult cats.
post #10 of 28
Thread Starter 
And in an colony there are alpha cats who fight for their position. So it is quite natural. And unlike mating where you can cut it off, you cant protect a cat from fighting. It is a concern about infection but cats have lived around each other forever..an infection is not guaranteed to occur or else we would never have cats. Plus my cat has had all its booster shots.
my cat isnt sexually mature yet so i dont think i have to worry about that...but i defintly will get him casterated when he needs it (not just for the purpose of him roaming but i dont know who he might be knocking up heh heh)
Obviously ive wandered into a board who have a very strong opinion about this. My question was when a cat can go outside not if its the best idea or not. Could you guys stick to that?
post #11 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Siren View Post
Obviously ive wandered into a board who have a very strong opinion about this. My question was when a cat can go outside not if its the best idea or not. Could you guys stick to that?
Actually, you've been given a couple of answers regarding age, including an answer from me.
post #12 of 28
Thread Starter 
Yes, but not before I heard criticism about how i plan to raise my cat.
post #13 of 28
Well, I can't speak for the others, but I certainly wasn't critisizing you.
My only goal is to make people aware of the dangers.

I think cats outside is personal choice (not one that I would make), and a choice to be made while armed with facts.

Again, I would start letting him out for short, supervised trips now, but I would not let him out unsupervised until after he's neutered and about 10 months old.
You will want him to have the best possible chance if he does fight, and until he reaches adult size, he will have no chance.

If you start with short, supervised trips, then he can start getting used to the smells in the garden, and will be better able to find his way home once he's older.
post #14 of 28
Definately wait until after he's neutered so until he's around 6-7 months old. Depending on how cat safe your neighbourhood is (it sounds pretty good though) you may want to wait until he's almost a year old. They seem to get smarter quickly around then and become a bit more wary of new things.

Until then you could start getting him used to the outside by using a leash and harness. It's never worse having a cat that accepts a harness and leash since then you can safely take them with you in a summer hut or camping etc.
post #15 of 28
I think part of the problem is that "what is the right age?" depends on your opinions and ideas about cat care; there is no single, objective answer. So people have been giving their opinions, even though it's not answering your actual question.

Because you won't know when he's sexually mature until he sniffs the air and heads unerringly towards a fertile female, I won't even take him out under supervision until he was neutered. You say you are already doing that, so I'd guess I'd just be careful about the supervision until he's been neutered for a bit (the viable sperm doesn't just disappear). As you supervise him, pay attention to the social interactions he has with other cats; when he's holding his own without your intervention, then it might be be time to let him out on his own.
post #16 of 28
Hi Siren!
I agree with the others - definitely wait til he's neutered and had all of his shots. And also wait until he's confident on his feet etc - at 13 weeks he's a little young I think, perhaps wait til he's 6 months old when you know he's big enough to not get lost as easily (kittens so young can crawl into spaces so small you wouldn't even think to look there - imagine if that was outside?!).

You must understand that on this board there are a lot of users from the US where there is a very strong advocation of keeping cats strictly indoors or harnessed. I have asked similar questions and got back a torrent of 'advice' as to why I'd want to put my cat at risk of being ran over, eaten, etc etc. Please don't take it personally, they are just being good pet owners, it's just that sometimes some folk on here forget that cultural differences affect how we bring our pets up. They have the best intentions at heart though. I'm in the UK and am the proud owner of a cat who is the of the walk around my neighbourhood - the little girl cats swoon and chase him, but he's not interested cos he's been done I wouldn't have it any other way - he asks politely when he needs to go out to use the facilities, which I love cos it means I don't have to clean up the mess!

Good luck with your little 'un
post #17 of 28
Thread Starter 
thank you for your all of your replies. I didnt mean to get snippy but its a bit frustrated explaining that its not as dangerous as it is there for cats. I agree with the cultural difference but there are a lot of dangers in america one of them being the drivers. ive noticed in america people drive fast without any notice sometimes. my mom who still lives there just had her dog ran over by someone who didnt even stop to get out.
Where we lived (in louisiana) was teeming with poisnous snakes as well. also not ideal for a cat. I also saw plenty of strays from careless owners (which usually ended up as roadkill) and with careless owners you get stray dogs that could kill a cat. (this happened to a friend of mine in louisiana as well)
Another difference is that our neighborhoods are structured differently, our houses practically connected to the other and everyone has a small enclosed garden, very ideal for cats. We have more cyclists here than cars and drivers are usually watchful for cyclists. It seems that everyone has a cat here too so im around a lto of cat owners (maybe i should ask them lol)
ja, i didnt want to get off to a bad start, but it has been my experience here that its not dangerous for a cat and improves their quality of life as far as boredom. I think im going to call my vet and ask what she thinks
post #18 of 28
I've never had outside cats, but my sister has and I know she waited until 4 months when they were desexed, vaxed and microchipped.

Then after a small breakfast she'd let them out while she watched for about a week, feeding them again once they came back inside. After that she just let them out and they'd come home around dinner time. Most of them never went much further than the front yard.
post #19 of 28
I agree that you should wait until he has been neutered and finished up his shots.

I understand your choice to allow him outside--I dont' agree but I understand--however, I don't like that you slipped in that it improves quality of life by stopping boredom.

My indoor cats are not bored. They sleep at night when we sleep and thats about it--occasional snozing during the day. But they play with toys, with each other, with my husband and I and watch out the windows.

Leslie
post #20 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Shanynne View Post
There is never a best time. Sorry your cat, as you say, could get hit by a car. He could get lost, stolen and only God knows what else could happen to him.

Yes I'm an indoor only advocate precisely because of the many dangers lurking out there for cats. Not to mention the many horror and heartbreaking stories of owners who have lost their cats. Cats who went outside and suddenly one night, never returned. Stories of cats being stolen. There are even a few such sad stories here in these forums.

Even if he is micro-chipped and collared there is *no guarantee* that who ever finds him, will return him. What kind of home will the cat suddenly find himself in? Will his new "owners" treat him well? Worse, will they declaw him?

There are just too many risks involved. Unless you have a *cat proof fence* then I wouldn't risk losing or anything happening to my precious by letting him outside.

Shanynne
Extreme Kitty Lover
Is this really the best Idea? I live in a country area (we have cows and goats a few houses over and lamas on the other side of the town) and we have always let our cats out (well aside from when they are sick or there are fireworks going on) It always seemed cruel not to. They just sit at the door and cry until we let them out...The reason I ask is that I'm about to move to a more suburb area, and tomorrow I'm getting a new cat (I'm moving in a month) It shouldn't be that hard to teach him not to go out....if I never have. But don't they miss it? I always thought it was natural for them....
post #21 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by othie View Post
Is this really the best Idea? I live in a country area (we have cows and goats a few houses over and lamas on the other side of the town) and we have always let our cats out (well aside from when they are sick or there are fireworks going on) It always seemed cruel not to. They just sit at the door and cry until we let them out...The reason I ask is that I'm about to move to a more suburb area, and tomorrow I'm getting a new cat (I'm moving in a month) It shouldn't be that hard to teach him not to go out....if I never have. But don't they miss it? I always thought it was natural for them....
No they do not miss it.
You just have to be sure there is lots of enrichment and mental stimulation for them inside.

My 14 year old has never wanted outside.
She'll go outside with me once in a while and follow me around the yard, but as soon as I head for the door, she beats me to it.

As long as they have plenty of choice napping spots, a nice large window to look out/sun in, and lots of things to keep them entertained, they do just fine.
post #22 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Arlyn View Post
No they do not miss it.
You just have to be sure there is lots of enrichment and mental stimulation for them inside.

My 14 year old has never wanted outside.
She'll go outside with me once in a while and follow me around the yard, but as soon as I head for the door, she beats me to it.

As long as they have plenty of choice napping spots, a nice large window to look out/sun in, and lots of things to keep them entertained, they do just fine.
thanks, I think I will try it. I dont have alot of room in the new place (I'm renting a room (well two, also have a study) while in college up there, but the owner is my friend and she also has a cat, so I'm srue she won't mind me letting this cat roam the house after the old cat gets used to him. There have been alot of cases of cats getting worms up there for some reason, so its one thing I wont have to worry about.
post #23 of 28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Siren View Post
Hi..im a new member so greetings!
if someone could give me some info on whens the best time to let him start roaming around outdoors that would be great
Hi Siren!

Once your cat reaches sexual maturity he will start wanting to go out and stay out. So have him neutered and you will have better success with him coming home whenever you call him.
I am one of the few here with indoor/outdoor cats and happy to be one. They are all fixed, healthy and quite a bunch of very contented felines.
post #24 of 28


I also am one of the veeery few people on here who endorse indoor/outdoor cats. The way I draw the line is the location of your home->downtown city area is a definite no-no for me, but a more secluded acreage is a yes. But, it sounds like you have about as ideal of a community as you can get in a city for an indoor/outdoor cat, so I agree with your choice, and that you want to make sure kitty is safe as he can be before letting him out.

The first thing I would do is neuter your cat before you even think about letting him out. I did this with my little boy Zorro, and it has saved tons of stress and worry. I also believe neutering cuts down on the wanderings, as they don't have the instinct to look for a mate. So, I would say talking to your vet and having it done the earliest he is willing to do.

Second, I would make sure he is absolutely 100% trained to come when you call-no matter what. Some people say it is impossible for cats, but I do it with every single one of my cats, and now, no matter what time it is or what their doing at the time, or how far away they have managed to wander while hunting, all I have to do is call their name a couple times, give a loud whistle, and they come running. You can start doing this in your house with a bag of treats-every so often call his name and give a short whistle, and if he comes, give him a couple treats and praise and coddle him to the best of your abilities, so he understands beyond any doubt that is what you wanted. If he ignores you, give the treat bag a little shake, that usually makes them come running. Do this all the time, at random times throughout the day-even at feeding times, where instead of a treat you give him his bowl of food. Once he never(or very rarely) hesitates when you call him, start very slowly phasing out the treats. Never phase them out completely though, as you still need the enthusiastic response

Once you are done with the training, and he has been neutered for a while, start letting him out for short periods of time, while you are outdoors acting as support, and a protector, wince strays usually wont come near you, but they will definitely come near him. Always keep reinforcing the come-when-i-call rule of thumb. I would wait until he is 8-12 months, depending on his size/how well he comes when you call him. Just remember it is not a very good idea at all for your cat to be outdoors when night falls-that is when the nighttime creatures start coming out, and that is when you have to be concerned about losing him.

Good luck with the little one
post #25 of 28
I have always done indoor / outdoor also ...

I usually get babies that are already "fixed" but I keep them in for at least 6 months after they come to my home... while they are in they are trained to come to their name and follow basic commands
post #26 of 28
I think he is still a little young yet. He must at least be neutered first. He will go out looking for fights and urine marking all over the place if he isn't neutered. Not only is it a greater health risk (FeLV and FIV) if he isn't neutered, but its just rude to let him spray other peoples homes and bushes and mailboxes and everything else.

You can neuter him asap but I know some vets like to wait until 6 months. As soon as the vet will do it you can neuter him, make sure he has all his vaccines, rabies if that is an issue in your country, and I would even have him vaccinated for FeLV just in case. I don't usually recommend that but in your case I would.

Then slowly open the door and let him out on his own. I would wait until he starts to ask to go out specifically. Don't put him out and also if he shows no interested in going out the door don't force him. Some cats just want nothing to do with it. I have one that will destroy things to get out and another that won't go near the door.
post #27 of 28
I think letting your kitty outside is a perfectly fine idea. I'm hoping you either live rurally or in a quiet residencial area, and not somewhere surrounded by busy streets.

I would let him out IMMEDIATELY under supervision until you think he's old and smart enough to fend for himself. I think it's even getting to be too late!

The older the cat is the more accustomed he'll get to being an indoor cat, so it's important he learns the dangers of outside when he's young.

Let him out for short periods of time, each time letting him go a bit further and stay out a bit longer until he's old enough to run off on his own.
post #28 of 28
I also wanted to mention I think the reason alot of outdoor cats get hit by cars is because they're let out too late, and are full adjusted to being indoor cats first.
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