Adopting an Indoor/Outdoor Cat
Adopting an Indoor/Outdoor Cat
Congratulations on your new adoption! We are excited that you have found your new pet. Since you plan to have your new cat go outside, here is some information we want you to know.
The Introduction to your Home:
Please see our packet with information on how to introduce your new cat to your home. We always recommend starting new cats off in one room. We recommend one room for about 2 weeks, or until they seem comfortable in that one room and ready to explore the house. It is important that your new cat doesn’t get outside too soon. If they have not established their scent and comfort in their new home, they may not come back once let outside.
Settling in the Home First:
It is important that the cat has established that the new home is theirs before going outside. A lot of this is done by scent. They will need to be in the home for at least 2 weeks before their scent is established. They will mark the home as theirs but rubbing on furniture, walls, and floors. It is also important that the cat has a routine before letting them outside. They should have a set feeding time and place, so they get used to that routine. You want them to anticipate their meal. If they know when and where food is coming, they will be more likely to come back for it.
Letting them Outside:
Once you feel a cat is ready to go outside, here are some tips to help you be successful.
- Wait at least 4-6 weeks before letting them outside – You want to make sure they have time to make their scent strong in the house. This gives you 2 weeks in the small room, then an additional 2-4 weeks getting used to their new home before going outdoors.
- Training the cat – You can try to train your cat to come to you for treats when called during the initial inside period. This will be beneficial later when they are going outside. If they already have a recall, they are more likely to come to you when called if they are outside.
- Choosing the day – Pick a day you are home. This allows you to supervise if possible and be there if needed. First open the door for them in the morning before breakfast. This is recommended so they will be hungry and more likely to come home sooner if they decide to explore. Cats are generally cautious, and will usually spend some time exploring the yard or areas closest to the home first. If they get scared and panic, that is when they are most likely to bolt. We do not recommend picking them up and bringing them outside. You should let them make the choice to go out on their own. You can go outside with them to supervise, and you should leave the door to your home open so the cat can run back inside if they get spooked. Once they are done exploring, the may come back inside. It is good to try to have them go outside for short periods to start. We would recommend staying close by or outside with them for the first few weeks that they go out before you let them outside without you.
- Routine – Having a routine is important when a cat is going outside. It is more dangerous for them at night, so you should try to get them used to coming in before dark. If feeding time is regular, they are more likely to come home when you want them home.
- The Yard – Try to make your yard cat-friendly and safe. This will encourage them to stick around, and hopefully prevent them from wandering too far.
- Identification – Your newly adopted cat is microchipped, which is a great way to reunite cats that are found. We also recommend getting a quick release safety collar with an ID tag. This way people will always know the cat is owned.
- Take it slow – The best advice we have is to take it slow. Don’t rush into letting your cat outside, and make sure you feel comfortable that they know their home and area before they are outside without supervision.
Knowing the Risks:
In choosing to have your cat go outside, you are aware of the risks. Some risks include:
Disease – Please keep your cat up to date on all vaccinations recommended by your primary veterinarian. These include rabies, FVRCP, and potentially FIV or FeLV vaccinations.
Parasites – When your cat goes outside, they will be exposed to fleas, ticks, ear mites, and intestinal worms. Please consult with your veterinarian about keeping your cat on a monthly preventative.
Predators – Outdoor cats often become the hunted species, particularly to larger predators such as dogs, coyotes, foxes, some of the large predatory birds.
- Your cat could ingest a toxin or pesticide
- Your cat could get hit by a car
- Your cat could be trapped by someone worried about a pest
- Your cat could be picked up by a concerned citizen assuming the cat is lost and brought to a shelter