How to safely expose your indoor cat to the great outdoors
The outdoors can be dangerous for your cat. Learn how to introduce your cat to the outdoors in a safe way to enrich its life.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both options.
Outdoors, there are many dangers, from cars to poisons and predators to cats that want to fight. House cats are not part of North American ecosystems. They can also cause serious harm to songbirds and other small mammals.
Your miniature apex predator has the instinct to run wild. The natural world is filled with scents to track and animals to chase. There are also places to hide and things to climb. To be healthy and happy, cats need to exercise their instincts. How can you allow them to experience the outdoors while minimizing risks for them and the native wildlife in your area?
Continue reading to learn how to bring your cat safely outdoors and also to the outdoors!
Safe Outdoor Activities for Cats
Catios & Cat Runs
Letting your cat explore the outdoors in a completely enclosed area is safest. A catio’s mesh walls keep other animals away from your cat while allowing it to play, run, jump, and explore your backyard.
They can be as simple as a mesh pop-out on your window or as complex and elaborate mesh-enclosed patio areas large enough for you and your pet to enjoy while you get some 1:1 time. Your cat can decide when they want to go outside to sunbathe if your cat run is connected to a cat door or window.
Upgrade your backyard to make it safe for your cat. Install a cat fence that is curved upwards at the top. This will prevent ambitious climbers and jumpers from climbing the wall. There are specialized cat fences ready to be installed, or you can add an angled top to your existing fencing. After you have sealed your backyard, sit back and enjoy watching your cat play!
Leash Training Your Cat
It can be challenging to get your cat used to harnesses and leashes (we’ve seen videos of cats becoming boneless). However, it is possible. You can take your adventurous and bold cat on a world tour. You can teach your cat to walk with a harness or leash. Soon, your feline companion will be your travel buddy on trips to the mountain or park!
Bringing Outdoor Enrichment Inside
It’s no secret that cats enjoy looking out of windows. So, make it even more enjoyable for them! Install a hammock or pillows on your windowsill for your cat to relax. Install a bird feeder outside the window to get the best view (bonus points for one that sticks directly to the glass). If the weather permits, open the windows to let the smells of the fresh air in. Just make sure the screen is securely attached.
Bring Nature Indoors
You can let your cat enjoy the tastes and smells of the great outdoors without leaving your house! Grow some cat grass to give your kitty something to nibble on. This is perfect for cats that like to sneak a bite of your houseplants.
Fill a deep baking pan or storage tote with leaves, sticks, and other outdoor debris your cat can safely explore. Hide some treats and let them explore the bin to get their hunting instincts started.
There are many places to climb
You may have wondered why your cat is so determined to sit on your refrigerator. It’s because they are naturally inclined to climb up and observe the world from a high perch. Allow your cat to express their natural behaviors indoors in a manner that does not scare you when you go for a midnight snack.
Install a cat shelf, climbing wall, or even a cat tree to encourage your cat’s exploration. You’ll be able to watch them flex their muscles as they climb and jump, wearing down their nails on the way up.
Our enrichment ideas for indoor cats include toys, puzzle feeders, and other activities that will keep your cat happy.
Don’t be scared to try new things with your cat. You know them better than anyone, and you can tell what activities suit their adventurous spirit. You might be surprised that your resident couch potato has a hidden sense of adventure.