Preparing Your Cat for the Great Outdoors

Preparing Your Cat for the Great Outdoors

While some cats enjoy staying indoors, others prefer and may even attempt to venture outside. Allowing your cat to explore outside can sometimes be beneficial in that it provides enriching exercise during the day and better rest during the night. Before allowing this, however, it is important to create a safe outdoor environment with enriching objects and cat-proof barriers.


A bird feeder, for example, is a wonderful outdoor accessory that provides safe entertainment for your cat. Many cats enjoy perching and bird watching. On the other hand, since cats are natural hunters, they may attempt to catch the birds that you attract. It is important, then, to keep bird feeders well out of reach. Ensure that your bird feeders are high enough to avoid being jumped at by your cat and wildlife, and that the surrounding areas are free of objects that can further help them reach the feeder. 


Cats, like their larger counterparts, are also very adept at climbing. Trees, gates and fences are among the many outdoor objects that cats may attempt to climb, so it is important to accommodate feline behavior when letting them outside. For fenced and gated areas, employ proper barriers to ensure your cat cannot escape or injure itself. Inward-tilting nets at the top of gates, for example, can help prevent your cat from jumping over and escaping, and are great to use in conjunction with outdoor blockades.


Curious cats also enjoy digging in the dirt and tasting plants, making gardens an intriguing spot to explore. This poses a problem, however, since many plants may be poisonous to cats, and gardens could be left damaged and unkempt. Consider using chicken wire as a barrier around your garden. Sprinklers may also discourage your cat from playing in your garden. As a more creative alternative, consider growing a garden exclusively for your cat. Plants such as catnip and oat grass are considered safe for house cats. 


Leash-training can also play a key factor in your cat's outdoor ventures. This is a safe and effective way to introduce your cat to the outdoors, and to help familiarize it with areas they are allowed to explore. Taking your cat out for walks around the neighborhood can also help with teaching your cat how to return home if it ever ventures beyond your yard. This is especially important for those who live in areas where wildlife are present because many animals, such as mountain lions and coyotes, can prey on small household pets.


It is also important to consider vaccinating, spaying and neutering your cat before allowing it to explore the outdoors. Along with the core rabies and FVRCP vaccines, the lifestyle FeLV vaccine is warranted for outdoor cats. Feline leukemia virus is transmitted through nasal secretions and saliva by infected cats. The FeLV vaccine plays an important role in the prevention of the transmission of this virus. Adult cats and kittens as early as 12 weeks of age can receive this vaccine after viral testing. Spaying and neutering your cat will also reduce the incidence of roaming, aggression and unexpected pregnancy. Microchipping your pet also helps with identifying them if they get lost. Contact your veterinarian for a consultation regarding vaccines, spays and microchips.


If your cat enjoys spending time outside, it is important to take safety, health and training into consideration. There are plenty of resources to help guide you through this process. With the proper preparations, you and your cat will be able to appreciate the great outdoors in no time!

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