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Should all cats be let outdoors? Find out more in our guide.

The great outdoors

Ideally, all cats would be allowed access to the outdoors in order to exhibit natural behaviour. A lot of cats have a tendency to want to explore and giving them access to the outdoors gives them mental stimulation, exercise and reduces stress. It also gives cats a bigger territory, as well as an exciting mix of smells, sights, tastes and textures to keep them occupied. You'll find that some cats are more than happy to stay as indoor cats. How can you tell whether your cat is keen to be indoors and outdoors? Take a look at our visual guide to see where your cat will be most content.

Outdoor risks

While letting your cat outside has plenty of benefits, there is likely to be some risks too. Injuries from road traffic accidents, as well as from conflict with other cats, dogs or humans, can be common. Keeping your cat in at night can protect them from the hazards of the roads, while a reflective collar will help them be seen.

Cats who venture outside can also be more prone to diseases and parasites - vaccinating your cat should help to prevent against these. Microchipping is also important, increasing your chance of being reunited with your cat should they go missing.

Cats and wildlife

While some cats love to hunt, others are content not to catch anything at all. Although cats that do hunt tend to catch sick or weak birds, you might want to deter them from doing so. There are some simple measures to take to reduce the number of garden birds and small animals that cats successfully catch.

What can I do to deter my cat from hunting?

For cats, hunting fulfills an innate behavioural need - it is important for their mental and physical health. To help fulfil this need, playing safely in the home is a great alternative for your cat. You can try the following:

  • have regular play sessions with your cat to mimic hunting behaviour, helping to satisfy your cat's desire to hunt
  • rotate toys to keep games interesting: feather toys, fishing rod, catnip mice are all great additions
  • at meal times, hide biscuits around the room for your cat to search out
  • keep your cat indoors if a fledgling is in the garden, until its parents lead it away
  • keep your cat inside at night when small mammals are most active, particularly during dawn and dusk
  • make sure your cat is neutered - find out more here
  • Keep bird tables and feeders high up and away from platforms, and position nest boxes where cats cannot reach them
  • encourage your cat to stay in the confines of the garden by making it appealing enough. Provide them with a good toileting area as well as feline-friendly plants like catnip, mint and lavender and they're much more likely to stick around
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