Garden and outdoors

Is your cat ready to go outside?

Neutered, vaccinated, microchipped and ready to explore

Make sure your cat has been neutered, vaccinated and microchipped before they go outside. This will protect them and reduce the risk of them getting lost.

How to keep your cat safe outside

Cats love having outside space to explore. However, some cats will prefer to stay indoors and some cats will need to remain indoor-only cats because of health conditions (see below for more information).

It helps to be aware of potential dangers to your cat outside, such as busy roads, especially at rush hour. It may be a good idea to keep your cat in over night and during rush hour.

See also: Keeping cats safe outside

Microchipping and collars

Microchips are the best way to permanently identify your cat. Microchips are quick and safe to fit, and your cat will not be aware of the implanted chip. The chip will help reunite you and your cat if they have been found after wandering off or have been in an accident.

If you choose to fit a collar, we recommend quick-release collars that come off easily when they get snagged. This reduces the chances of your cat getting trapped by a snagged collar. Cats can catch their leg or jaw in elasticated or loose-fitting collars, which can result in serious injury.

See also - Microchipping

When to let your cat outside

If you have a new cat, or have moved to a new place, do not let your cat outside until they have adjusted to their new home and had time to spread their scent within the home. This will help them find their way back. This usually takes three to four weeks.

When you let your cat out for the first time, let them out before meal time so they will be more likely to return when you call them to eat.

If your cat has not been neutered, it is advised that you don't let them go outside.

How to keep your cat close to home

You may not be able to confine your cat to your garden, but you can discourage them from straying by creating a cat-friendly garden.

  • Provide an inviting, safe and private toilet area, such as newly-dug soil, sand or gravel. You could add some cat litter to encourage them to toilet there. Make sure it's dug over regularly so it remains hygienic
  • Fencing. Cats can climb most fences, but a two-metre high, close-boarded fence, together with a hedge running parallel, will encourage your cat to stay in your garden
  • Cat-friendly plants. You could create a cat-friendly corner in your garden, filled with plants like catnip (Nepeta cataria), mint, cat thyme (Teucrium marum) and lavender. A patch of longer grass provides a soft bed and nibbling it can help your cat cough up hairballs. Plants without thorns are ideal for creating shady spots for naps and logs make great scratching posts
  • Hiding places. Cats may feel threatened in open space, so make sure your garden has plenty of places for them to hide

Should your cat be an indoor cat?

Some cats need to stay indoors for health reasons. Blind and deaf cats are vulnerable to traffic. Cats with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) should no be allowed outside because they can spread the virus to other cats and are at greater risk of catching other diseases.

Cats kept indoors will need extra care to ensure their environment is stimulating and enriching while allowing them to exhibit their natural behaviours like scratching, hunting and playing.

See also - Indoor cats

Lost cats - what to do next

Has your cat gone missing? We know how stressful this can be, and have lots of advice about how to search for your cat and improve your chances of getting them back safely.

See also - Lost a cat?

Related topics

Keeping your cat safe - Topic

Photo credits

Banner image - Carol Hu -

Cat on fence - Mitchell Orr -

Kitten on a chair - Alexey Ruban -