Cats that live at home and have a garden available, or that can simply run around in semi-freedom outdoors jumping from roof to roof, live a more intense and adventurous life. But it’s important that they also learn to come back home after their time outside!
Cats are freedom-loving animals. Forcing them to live stuck inside four walls when there’s a patch of green available is very unfair. However, before you allow Fluffy to go out, you should make sure there are no dangers lurking about and keep the area under surveillance as much as possible.
How to get your cat used to being outdoors
If your cat is still a kitten, it’s a good idea to make her explore the surrounding territory by taking her outside for a few hours a day, on a leash. This will allow her to get to know the smells and the way back home. Many people see the leash thing as a taboo, but there’s absolutely nothing wrong with it. It’s a great tool you can use to take your cat out for some fresh air and healthy physical activity, all the while keeping her safe! When she’s a little bigger, give her some minutes of freedom in your company, and always during the day. Every time you go back inside, give her a treat as a reward, which will work as positive feedback.
Create a safe space outside for your cat
The first thing you must do once you decide you’ll let your cat out is to create a safe environment for her. Make sure there are no toxic plants or rat poison in the garden or nearby. Cats love to hide and nap in places where they can sleep undisturbed, so plant bushes in the garden and leave a nice comfy mattress beneath them. Keep in mind that cats love to dig, so if there are parts of the garden you don’t want your cat to visit, protect the area with a fence or net, making sure she can’t climb over it.
How to teach your cat to return home
The most complicated part of the whole process is teaching your cat to come back home. Once they discover how fun and full of potential life in the garden is, they may even refuse to spend more time inside. The secret is to make them accustomed to respond to a precise call: the sound of the bag of food, a little bell, a noise or whistle you make or simply calling her name. Another strategy is to make her used to eating at regular hours, so you can let her out a bit before mealtime: she’ll come back as soon as she’s hungry. Avoid leaving your cat out at night, as they may be temporarily blinded by car lights and freeze in place, risking being run over.
A suggestion for you, if you’re tired of opening and closing doors and windows all the time to let your cat in and out: have a cat door installed, to give your cat full autonomy in her comings and goings!