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Will My Cat Come Back If I Let Them Outside or Do They Need Training? Tips & Tricks

Written by: Melissa Gunter

Last Updated on January 25, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

maine coone in the garden

Will My Cat Come Back If I Let Them Outside or Do They Need Training? Tips & Tricks

Being a pet owner comes with a lot of difficult decisions. You must choose the right foods, toys, and veterinarians, among other things. You’re also the one who is in charge of your pet’s safety. When it comes to cats that are tempted to go outside into the big world around them, pet parents have even more to worry about. The outside world is a dangerous place for a cat or any pet for that matter. Still, some cats simply need their freedom.

This leaves you left to answer the question, will my cat come back if I let them outside? Do they need training? Unfortunately, the answer to the first question isn’t cut and dry. Most cats will come back, but not every cat is the same. The second question, however, is a bit more inclusive. Yes, your cat needs a bit of training before they head out into the dangers of the outside world. Training could be the key to your cat returning to you each day.

Let’s take a look at when a cat is ready to potentially explore the world and the type of training you should provide. This will help keep your cat safer each time they walk out the door for an excursion. Click on the title you would like to review first regarding this topic:

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Determining If Your Cat Is Ready to Go Outside

Cats are curious creatures. No matter their age, they’ve most likely sat and peered out the window showing you that they are interested in what’s going on in the big world beyond their home. While this is normal, you can’t simply let your cat rush out the door whenever. They need to be ready for it. The question is, how do you as a pet owner make this decision? Let’s take a look at a few things you should consider before letting your cat outside.

1. Your Cat’s Age

Age is an important deciding factor when it comes to your cat going outside. You wouldn’t let a kitten simply take off on their own. No. In fact, you should wait until your kitten is at least 4 months old before you let them explore the world outside. By 4 months old, your kitten should be fully vaccinated and spayed or neutered. They are also accustomed to your home. This helps them understand where they should return.

If you bring an adult cat home, things are slightly different. While adopting adult cats is a wonderful thing to do, allowing them at least 4 to 6 weeks to get acquainted with their surroundings is a great start when considering outdoor exploring. Then, and only then, if you feel they are ready, you can let them start to explore. Make sure adult cats have also received their vaccinations and altering though. This makes them less likely to roam.

2. Consider the Breed

Another thing to consider before allowing your cat outside is the breed. Certain breeds simply shouldn’t be outdoors. Among those breeds are hairless cats or those with extremely short coats. The lack of hair in these cat breeds makes it difficult for them to regulate their body temperature. This can make going outside dangerous for them so they should stay indoors.

You’ll also find that some of your more docile cat breeds aren’t well equipped for life as an outdoor explorer. Ragdolls and Persians are at the top of this list. No matter your cat’s breed, if they tend to stick to your lap, show fear of the outdoors, or have illnesses or disabilities, it may be best to keep them inside.

young woman with ragdoll cat on couch
Image Credit: rock-the-stock, Shutterstock

3. Ensure Your Cat Can Be Identified

Your goal with allowing your cat outside may be to let them explore your backyard, but you can’t guarantee your cat will stay where you want them. For this reason, it’s best to be prepared in the event your cat goes beyond the quaintness of your backyard. Before your cat ever steps foot outside, make sure they can be properly identified. Possibly the best way to do this is microchipping. If your cat is microchipped, animal control or veterinarians can access the information on the chip and get your cat home to you.

Using a pet collar is another great idea. You can put your cat’s tags on their collar so people in the neighborhood can easily identify your cat and their owner. You’ll also find that some collars include GPS tracking so you can easily find your cat if they roam too far. Many people have worried about the use of collars on cats, but in these instances, they can come in handy.

4. Make the Area Safe

You may think simply opening the door and letting your cat out is the way to go, but that’s not the case. Your yard can have potential hazards for your cat. You should make sure pools and ponds are covered. This will keep your cat from drinking the water or accidentally falling in. You’ll also need to determine whether any of the plants in your yard or the chemicals you use could be toxic to your kitty. If they are, these issues should be addressed before your cat goes out adventuring.

Shelter and access to water are also highly important when it comes to cats going outside. If you aren’t providing these to your kitty, they may wander somewhere else to find them. In the event you aren’t home when your cat needs you, ensure your backyard provides them a safe place to seek shelter and the necessities they’ll need until you’re home.

outdoor cat enclosure
Image Credit: SariMe, Shutterstock

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Training Your Cat for the Outdoors

In most cases, your cat will come back when let outside, if you train them. Opening the door and hoping for the best isn’t the best scenario. Instead, you should work with your cat a bit before they are allowed outdoors. The most important thing your cat should know before getting started is their name. If the cat is young or you’ve recently adopted them, you may find it takes a bit of time for the name to stick. Keep with it and use it often. Your cat recognizing their name is a necessity when it comes to getting them back home if they roam.

Once your cat knows their name, training them to come when called is the next step. This training should be done inside the house. First, grab a bag or container of your cat’s favorite treats. Then call your cat’s name while shaking the treats. You should be sure to speak clearly so your cat understands. When your cat responds, give them a treat. Repeat this action a few times until your cat has the hang of it.

When you feel confident with their progress, go into another room away from the cat and try again. Having this method learned is ideal for when your cat is outside. All you need to do is step out, call their name, and shake the treats. Your kitty should come running.

cat training
Image Credit: Andriy Blokhin, Shutterstock

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The Dangers of the Outside World

We can’t talk about allowing your cat outside without mentioning the dangers that lurk there. Cars are one of the most deadly things to a cat outside. If at all possible, it is best to keep your cat away from the road and in the safety of your yard. You’ll also find that other animals can be troublesome. Dogs that aren’t friendly to cats, other cats looking for a fight, or even predator animals like coyotes may come lurking for your cat.

Always make sure they have a place to hide when needed. Unfortunately, you should also be prepared for the potential of parasites and illnesses when your cat explores outside. If you notice something isn’t quite right, take your kitty to the vet immediately.

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Final Thoughts on Cats Going Outside

If you feel your cat is a good fit for exploring outside, there are ways to do it safely. In most scenarios, your cat will come back, but properly training them is the best option to keep separations from happening. If your cat does become lost, immediately contact animal control and your local shelters. They are your best starting point when a cat has roamed too far and needs a little help finding their way back. Make sure your cat has identification tags or a microchip also, which can make returning them home much easier.

Featured Image Credit: Nils Jacobi, Shutterstock

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