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Should Cats Leave The House? (Or Be Indoor Only?)

If you have an indoor cat you may be wondering if you should be considering letting it out or not…

Should cats leave the house?

If you want to allow your cat to have some time outside, it is best to wait anywhere from 3 to 6 weeks before you do so. This will give them time to get used to their new home so that you know that they will want to come back.

So, now you know. But, what else should I consider first? Do indoor cats get sad? What are the benefits of letting it out? Keep reading for these answers, and much more…

What else do I need to consider before letting my cat out?

A cat staring.

A cat staring.

You also need to consider your location and gauge its safety. If you live close to a spot where lots of cars are passing, then it is potentially very unsafe to allow your cat outside. There is also the potential that your cat might be overstimulated by being outside and simply get lost!

If you are worried about your kitty getting lost, there are GPS options that fit your cat’s collar such as PawTrack that can help you to keep tabs on your kitty when they are going outside.

Do indoor cats get sad?

Some cats will get sad if they want to go outside, though not all cats will do this. Some kitties actually prefer being indoors and are actually quite shy of being outside. This will vary from cat to cat, but it’s actually quite common for some cats to be perfectly happy living indoors their entire lives.

It should be easy to tell, as cats that want to go outside often press themselves against the windows or simply try to ‘make a run for it’ whenever you open the door.

In such cases, it’s up to you whether or not to allow them outside time, just be sure to consider if it’s safe and make sure that your cat is well-settled in the house before letting them wander outdoors.

What are the benefits of a cat leaving the house?

Letting your cat go outside or even installing a cat door so that they can come in and out as they like is definitely worth considering. Your cat gets the extra stimulation and fresh air that they can only get outside and a chance to exercise their more precatory instincts with insects, mice, and birds.

Your cat will also likely require a little less frequent changes on the litter, as they will often simply ‘do their business’ while they are outside of the house. It gives your cat a good amount of freedom and is excellent for their mental health if your cat just happens to love spending time outside.

What are the disadvantages of a cat leaving the house?

While outside time can be good for your cat, there are certainly caveats to this as well. Other animals may pose a danger to your kitty and even humans might, if your cat decides to fish a snack out of their trash and they happen to have a pellet gun!

Automobiles are another constant danger and a cat’s innate curiosity can even be a problem, as an overstimulated cat might explore the area to the point that they become lost and cannot easily find their home!

Going outside is stimulating for your cat but you must definitely keep all of these points in mind when you are deciding whether or not your cat should be allowed outdoors.

Do cats come back home after they run away?

Yes, most cats will come back, and they generally have an easy time finding their home once playtime is done and they are looking to get back to the comfort of your shared home once again. Some cats are better at this than others, however, and cats do occasionally get lost.

You can fit your cat’s collar with a GPS device if you are worried about this, and commercial products such as Tractive and PawTrack will allow you to monitor where your cat goes so that you can look for them if they are away for too long and you are worried.

Why does my house cat want to go outside?

While not every cat wants to be an outdoor cat, if your own kitty seems to want to go outside, this is completely normal. Cats are curious by nature and simply peeking out the window shows your kitty that there is soft grass, trees, other animals, and all kinds of things to see, smell, and simply experience.

If you are worried, there are GPS collars that can help your track your cat, but you should consider installing a cat door so that your kitty may explore the outside and come back inside whenever they like. If this is too dangerous, you should consider compromising by leash-training your kitty or employing other outside options.

While it takes a little time, leash training is definitely something that you can do, and there are also harnesses where your cat can ride around in a belly-pouch with you when you walk outside or even in a backpack with a view-bubble if it’s not too hot out!

Do indoor cats miss being outside?

A cat by the window staring outside.

A cat by the window staring outside.

Yes, some kitties will miss being outside, but you can help them to miss it less by making their indoor environment much more fun and kitty friendly! This can be done with regular playtimes, as well as more than one kitty bed being placed around the house, and the addition of extras such as kitty towers and lots of toys.

Non-toxic plants are a great way to bring a little of the outdoors inside to your kitty and you might also consider even getting them another cat or a small dog as a friend. Whatever option or options you decide on, making the indoor environment more stimulating will definitely help to make your cat a little happier spending time indoors.

Do indoor cats know their way home?

Generally, yes, but your cat needs to have been in the home for 3 up to 6 weeks before they’ll actually consider it to be their home. With rescues or even just a recent move, there is a chance that your cat might go outdoors and look for the place where they used to live.

Most kitties develop a sort of ‘magnetic map’ when it comes to the place that they consider home. This is why you’ll occasionally hear about a cat finding their home from miles away, sometimes even years after getting lost.

Not all cats are the same, however, and some of these loveable little furballs can manage to get themselves lost, so if you are worried then simply make sure your cat has a good 6 weeks to adjust to their new home and consider the added security of a GPS tracker collar before letting them go outside.

Do indoor cats run away when they are sick?

It is possible. Not every cat does it, but some cats feel instinctually compelled when they are very sick to go somewhere alone to die. When your kitty is sick, it is best to keep them indoors so that you may treat them.

In many cases, your vet will be equipped with what is necessary to nurse them back to health, so keeping them indoors while you are treating them is the best way to combat this occasional instinct that cats have to go somewhere quiet and secluded when they think that they are dying.

Do female cats in heat leave home?

Yes, when a female kitty is in heat, they are going to do their best to get outside. That means that you need to distract them or even place them in another room if you intend to open that door – otherwise they have no problem bolting around or between your legs to get outdoors and find a mate.

You should also consider getting your cat spayed, as this is not only good for avoiding certain types of cancers, but on the off chance that your clever cat manages to get out then you won’t have to worry about raising a litter of 4 to 12 kittens!

Lindsey Browlingdon