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Hello cat people!

I am a new cat owner and my kitty, Douglas, is one year old.  I live in a condo that has a fenced-in common area with a pond.  There's ducks and geese, some people let their little dogs out there.  Can I let my cat run around out there if I am out with him?

Do cats tend to just run off?  Does he need to have different vaccinations if he's going to be outdoors?

If I lost him I'd be devastated, of course, and I'm sure he could squeeze under a couple areas of the fence out there.  And I'm sure he can run faster than me.

He just looks so longingly out the window, as do I.  It would be fun to see him play outside.

19 Replies (last)
you're going to hear strong opinions both ways, laschndr.  personally, i believe that cats are healthier and happier if they are allowed outside, provided that he's fixed, his vaccinations are up to date and he's not declawed or otherwise handicapped.  as far as different vaccinations, better check with your vet, as different regions have different possible health concerns.

i'd wait until you've had him at least a week, though, and he's comfortable with you and knows that home is home.

he might even make friends with some of those little dogs! 

I've lost many cats (all my cats are fixed) who I used to let outside. I even found one hit by a car right in front my house. It was a horrible sight to see my baby like that and right then I vowed to never allow this to happen to any kitty again. I have 2 fixed male kitties who have never stepped outside and they are healthy and happy and have the softest fur ever! Outdoor cats fur changes and isn't as soft. They're 4 years old and both meow like kittens! They don't even have a remote interest in going out/escaping.  Never have.


I've had him for a year, since he was a few weeks old.  He was a stray but hasn't been outside since.

He also doesn't have front claws.

My biggest fear is that he'll run away and I won't be able to catch him!

Good things to think about guys... thanks!

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Happier or not, you have to be careful with the transition. You do have to check to see he has all the right vacs with the vet as pg said..sometimes they won't give everything to indoor cats. And you will have to be vigilant in worming him. Also make sure that he has someplace to go where the dogs can't get him...that would probably be the thing most likely to scare him into running off.

What I would do is make sure you have some way to get him back when you want him. I don't know whether you want to try a cat leash, or maybe bring out a bowl of food that he will be interested in. Just until he is acclimated to the area.

The main problem with moving indoor cats to outdoors is that they get easily lost. If he goes through the fence he might not know how to get back in. But he won't just run straight off. The first time I took my cat outside she basically just froze up and stared around for a while.

i started letting both my cats outside when they were kittens. I had htem on a harness though, for the first few times to kinda show them the boundaries. at my old place, my cat (only had 1 at that time) was allowed to go out by himself eventually and he knew to come back and usually didn't wander too far. i'm much closer to a road now, so they can only go outside if i'm out there w/ them. they know hwere they can go and don't run off real far. but they are soo much happier and calmer after they've spent some time outside!

My main concern would be that the poor thing could get easily hurt or lost, even if you're watching it (which is sometimes tough, as they are sneaky).  Especially if it's declawed.  Dogs, other cats, geese and ducks (and some people, unfortunately) are not always friendly to cats, and they can't climb to get away without claws. And fleas!  Oh, my gosh, the fleas in summer!  Getting rid of the fleas if they get into your home is SUCH a pain. 

My cat (my first) was also run over right in front of my house.  Devastating.  And one my friend's outdoor cats died of feline leukemia, even though it was supposedly vaccinated.  Also don't forget wild animals - raccoons, possums, etc - that carry rabies.  When I get another cat, it's going to be indoors ONLY.  If I lived in the country, far from cars, I would consider outdoor cats again (still dangerous, but they would NOT be declawed, and would be fully vaccinated)
I wouldn't if he doesn't have claws in the front. Claws are one of their best ways of defending themselves against other animals.
yeah, unfortunately, if he can't defend himself and he can't climb, he's pretty vulnerable.  that sucks.

If you must let him out, only do it on a leash - he's in danger with no front claws as he can't defend himself. If he had claws I would still say only on a leash because not only do outside cats have less than half the life expectancy of indoor cats, but they also kill birds just for the fun of it. Birds deserve to live too!

Leash train him.  I see people walking their cats all over the place.
I definately oppose to the idea of allowing cats to become "outdoor" cats and embrace the idea of leash training a cat.

If you feel you still want your cat to have more freedom, you can buy one of those very long leash cord things that are attached to a stake driven into the ground. If you try this, however, a collar will not do - you will need to purchase an adjustable harness and be sure each time you fasten your cat in that it is snug and not loose.

I kept my cat as an inside cat for many many years. She would sneek out sometimes, but would never go far. Give me a heart attack! Now I can open my door and she will just roll around on the porch and sun bathe, but not go any further. If I close the door, she will scratch and meow. Adorable.

They do have harnesses for cats, and I would also train her with a bit of food outside. Get your cat used to your area so she doesn't get lost. I don't think I'd be comfortable letting a 1yo cat outside, but if you are comfortable doing so, then by all means. But just be careful, I've seen kitty death too.

Thanks for the thoughts and ideas.  I went outside while holding the cat, and he was pretty calm for a few minutes, but then got a little nuts.  He was sort of panicky and was trying to get down, so we both got nervous and I went inside.  I'm gonna skip the whole idea.  He'll be safe and healthy indoors.  If I had my own fenced-in yard it would be worth trying.

Thanks again!

I think you have made the right choice fwiw

I would strongly say no unless you leash train. Keep in mind if you leash train you need to keep up with the flea treatment. I am going to echo the sentiments that you cat needs to be up to date on shots. Fences don't really mean anything to a cat.

Even leash trained please be aware of what plants are poisonous to cats such as some bulbs and aloe, and that other peoples animals can be unpredictable. My neighbors cat was killed by a damn raccoon, my best friends cat was killed by a neighbors teen and only got a $40 ticket.

Original Post by laschndr:

Hello cat people!

I am a new cat owner and my kitty, Douglas, is one year old.  I live in a condo that has a fenced-in common area with a pond.  There's ducks and geese, some people let their little dogs out there.  Can I let my cat run around out there if I am out with him?

Do cats tend to just run off?  Does he need to have different vaccinations if he's going to be outdoors?

If I lost him I'd be devastated, of course, and I'm sure he could squeeze under a couple areas of the fence out there.  And I'm sure he can run faster than me.

He just looks so longingly out the window, as do I.  It would be fun to see him play outside.

I agree that especially since your kitty has been declawed he should only be allowed outside on a leash.  As has been stated, many kitties do very well on harness and leashes.  Just be sure that it is not one of those kitty types that come open.  Another thing that has not been mentioned here is that you would have to check the laws were you are.  Many places rquire cats as well as dogs be licenced, and confined to their yard. There is also the danger of poisoning and the cats are a danger to birds, and if they're allowed to hunt they are in danger of disease from rodents and other things they might catch.

Someone mentioned a fenced yard.  For cats you need a "top" on the fence, not just a regular fence and many cats will find their way out of those, too.

Great discussion,

Gramma Patsu


Since he's a very young cat, he'd probably take well to harness training... don't laugh - cats CAN be trained to walk on a lead, and it keeps them much safer if you have a shared outside... you don't just buy a lead and drag him outside the first day though - you have to work up to it step by step - get him a shoulder harness and get him used to wearing the harness without any lead on it first... then put the lead on and let him drag it around inside... then put the harness and lead on and open the door and take him outside for a short period of time. With practice, he'll associate the getting out of the harness with getting to go for walkies... and then you'll be able to take him outside for supervised play without worrying about his getting lost!

Our cats are inside-only because we live in an upstairs apartment without any outside space of our own, so it wouldn't be safe for them... but if we ever have a house I'm going to build a big 'kitty jail' outside (a large fenced playpen with a cat-door into the house) so they can go outside and lie in the sun and sniff the air and chew the grass in safety.

I have the luxury of being home quite a bit.  The controversary of letting cats go outside without tethers is something that got kind of nasty between my hubby and me- I won.  It would be me scraping my buddies off the road- folks drive pretty fast here.  So when any of the three cats go outside, they are on a longish leash for maybe an hour- they can eat grass and roll around on the warm sidewalk then in they come.  As a general rule, I tend to not have poison anything in our gardens.  It does take work and concentration on my part and the cats but mostly it works well.  My cats are neutered and not declawed.  I feel better also cause I feed wild birds, too.  This way everyone gets a chunk of the pie!  My neighbors think I am more than nuts but that is ok.  My cats are not getting abcesses etc from others. 

I let my two cats outside during the day and always have, starting from when they were about 5 months old. However both of them have their claws, and I agree with the posters who have said that without claws cats are pretty much defenseless outdoors, so if you do let him out, it would be wise to watch him. I never leave my cats out at night, I always get them inside because there are foxes that come out at night where I live.

Something that I did with my cats the first time I let them out was to put butter on the underside of their paws (which is an old wives tale that if you put butter on a cat's paws the first time you let them outside, they'll always be able to find their way home).

I've never had any problems with letting my cats out and have been doing it for about 7 years now. I would check with your vet about vaccinations and there is a little chip you can get which is microscopic and goes under your cat's skin, so if your cat does run off somewhere, if someone finds him and brings him to the vet, they'll know that he's not a stray and will be able to return him. I know it doesn't sound too nice thinking your kitty has something like a barcode in him but I've been assured by my vet that it's really harmless.

Otherwise, as other posters said, you could try a leash. But it depends on the cat really as to whether or not they'll enjoy it. One of my cats is extremely independent and when I tried a leash out, she just struggled and tried to escape.

Somebody made a good point here about observing how the cat feels outside. He may be looking out of the window longingly, but once he actually finds himself outside, it may be a different matter. I have a few cats and one of them totally loves going outside - actually, he escapes from home quite a lot, because he's so old (18) that we're afraid to let him leave the house. But we also have another cat, much younger and fitter, who has been outside only once and it was a total dosaster. He freaked out, was scared to death with all the space around him, stopped recognizing us, ran like mad and we only managed to catch him because he fell into some hole. And he lost his fang when he bumped into a fence. Really, it was heartbreaking to watch him panic...

19 Replies