When can I let my cat go outside?
If you have adopted an adult cat you will be advised to keep them in for 4 weeks. Some cats will tolerate this period well, but others will look to go outside sooner. It is best to stick to this timescale if you can, particularly if they have shown signs of anxiety.
It is useful to get your cat used to being called to come to you. Have some treats in a tin and shake the tin along with their name and then give them a treat - your cat will learn that the tin shake means treats and will come running! You then have a little bit of control when you go outside to call them in.
Think about how you intend to give your cat access to outside every day. If you are at home for large periods of the day you may wish to consider allowing access 'on-demand' via the back door or a conveniently positioned window, for example. However, if you are out at work during the day you may prefer to install a cat flap. If you cannot fit a cat flap then you could also provide an outdoor shelter with water and litter tray.
You will need to assess your local environment to decide if there should be any limits on your cat's access to outside. You may wish to confine your cat at twilight so that it can remain indoors at night, or limit their access outside at times when traffic may be busy.
Keep a litter tray available indoors whilst they are transitioning to the outside world.
The first few days of being let outside
Choose a quiet, dry period when you are at home all day and do so a short while before a routine mealtime. Accompany your cat outside but don't be alarmed if they disappear into some shrubbery; this is a normal strategy to enable them to get acclimatised to its new environment in a place where it can observe without being seen. Leave the back door open initially and, after about 30 minutes, call your cat indoors for its meal and then repeat the following day.
Most cats adapt extremely quickly to exploring their new territory outside and they probably will not need a gradual introduction of this kind but the more timid individuals may benefit from gradually increasing periods outside in the first few weeks.
Always be guided by your cat and do not force them to do anything they do not want to do – some cats are happy curled up on the sofa and never want to venture outside!