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Help! My Indoor Cat Wants to Go Outside

a white and orange cat outside in a decorative harness
Picture of Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal, DVM

Dr. Rick Coufal is the founder and lead veterinarian for Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic. Coufal graduated from State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences in May of 2000.

Does your cat wait at the front door for you? Do they rush the front door every time it is opened? Maybe they paw at the door and meow? If your feline friend seems incessantly curious about what lies behind the door, it may be time to consider taking your cat outside.

Striving to be the best vet in Colorado Springs, we at Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic want to make sure you have all the information you need to safely introduce your indoor cat to the great outdoors! It can be a scary leap of faith to allow your beloved feline outside, especially with all the dangers they could face. We are happy to walk you through the necessary steps to ensure a safe, invigorating experience for you and your kitty companion.  

How to Introduce Your Cat to Outside 

  1. The first step to getting your pet accustomed to the idea of going outside is to first introduce them to outside in small, controlled steps. Building up confidence is a great way to ensure a controlled experience once it is time to go outside. Try letting them out on a closed patio or near the backdoor with the screen closed. As they adjust to the sights, smells, and sounds of what lies beyond your home, they will get more comfortable over time. 
  2. If you have not already trained your cat to respond to their name, now is the time to! In case they get away from you, you need to be able to know that they will confidently respond to you. This can be accomplished with treat reinforcement.
  3. Now that they respond to you and feel comfortable near the outdoors, it is time to get them used to a leash. Leashes for cats are different from dog leashes. Instead of a collar and restrictive leash, a walking harness for cats is recommended in conjunction with a cat specific lead. A harness and cat-tailored lead allows for more control on your part and flexibility for exploration on the cats end. 
  4. Now that you have all the safety training down, and the cat has been moderately adjusted to outside, the walking process can begin. If possible, this process is best started in a fenced backyard for maximum safety (If you do not have access to a backyard, taking small journeys is just outside your front door is another option). Allow your cat to wander around the yard with the harness and lead secure. Time the outings at 5 minutes to start. As they build up confidence and you feel more comfortable extend the time in 5 minute intervals. 
  5. Once you have built up a good time, say about 20 minutes, you can then start taking your cat out for walks in more public spaces. Like outside the front of your home, or around the block. Gauge how your cat reacts to the new surroundings and calibrate the walks as needed from there.

Vaccines for Outdoor Cats

Now that you have taken the correct precautions on training a cat to be comfortable outside, it is time to provide the healthy safety aspect of having a cat that goes outdoors. Since you have decided on a hybrid indoor/outdoor lifestyle for your cat, it is necessary that you get both the core and noncore vaccinations. This strategy protects your cat from any unforeseen illness that they would otherwise not encounter had they remained an indoor only cat  

What Vaccines Does My Cat Need to Go Outside

Core: Rabies, Feline Distemper, Feline Calicivirus, Feline Herpesvirus Type I

Non-Core: Feline Leukemia, Feline AIDS, Chlamydophila Felis, Bordetella Bronchiseptica

Why Microchip Your Cat?

In addition to the vaccinations, you will also need to make sure your cat is microchipped. If the worst case scenario occurs and your cat gets away from you, a microchip is an excellent resource to help get them back home safely. The microchip functions as an identification tool that any veterinarian, animal rescue, or animal shelter can scan. Each chip has a unique barcode that when scanned, contains crucial registration information that allows your cat to be traced back to you. 

Getting Your Cat Ready for Their Adventure | Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic

If you are still wondering “should I let my indoor cat go outside” or “should I walk my indoor cat outside,” the answer is absolutely yes! Our compassionate team of veterinary professionals at the Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic are ecstatic about preparing your cat for their adventure! We can provide all of their necessary vaccinations and microchipping to guarantee safe exploration! Schedule your appointment today to get started on the preparations for the epic journey!

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Ponderosa Veterinary Clinic is seeking an enthusiastic and caring veterinarian to work relief, part-time or full-time in our general practice. PVC is a full-service, 3+ doctor, small-animal veterinary hospital. We have established an excellent reputation for developing lasting relationships with our clients and for providing compassionate and quality care to our patients.