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How to Transition Your Cat to an Indoor/Outdoor Lifestyle

Want to give your cat some fun in the great outdoors? A slow start is key! Every cat is different; this could take from two weeks to a month or more.


It’s important that your cat become acclimated to their indoor home, first. So please make sure kitty has a good amount of time inside with his family before beginning the process to acclimate them to indoor/ outdoor living. When your cat is feeling confident and calm in their indoor environment, they’ll be much more confident in their new indoor/ outdoor routine.


Here’s how to start transitioning your cat to an indoor/outdoor lifestyle:


  1. Feed your cat indoors and on a regular schedule.

    Feeding outdoors not only can attract wildlife and other cats, but also it can make it less likely your cat will want to come inside! Establishing a feeding schedule indoors can help train your cat to an indoor/ outdoor routine.

  2. Start with slow increments of time outside, only 10 minutes at first, then bring them inside.

    o Let them get a feel for the smells, sounds and sights in their new outdoor world.
    o Keep an eye on them. Spend time with your cat outdoors to get them used to their yard and area surrounding it.
    o Do NOT let your cat out unsupervised initially. We suggest you keep an eye on them and increase time outside in a supervised manner.
    o Give your cat a yummy treat right after coming back inside. The more tempting the treat, the stronger the instinct will become to come back inside when it’s time! Try saying something like “It’s time to eat” in a happy voice, too, so that eventually your cat will respond to your calling them back in.

  3. Make a routine: let them outside at the same time every day and bring them in at the same time every night.

    o Do not let your cat stay outside at night.
    o Let them out before feeding time so that they can remember to come home… that’s where the food is!
    o Keep meal times consistent so that their internal clock will remind them that it’s feeding time. This will help you to always bring your cat in at night; you’ll never need to worry about where he is at night.

Other tips

  • Make sure your cat wears a collar and tag, or better yet, get a microchip!
  • Try using the same door every day for your cat’s outdoor access. Maybe a door with good windows nearby to see that your cat is there waiting to come back inside or a door away from a road or busy neighbor?
  • Make sure you’re not letting your dog out or bringing them in at the same time as your kitty. That way, a cat waiting to come inside won’t be chased away by an eager dog!
  • Let your neighbors meet your cat. Your cat could very well show up on their porch, so it’s best you let them know he’s yours!  And your neighbors can also come to you if they have questions or concerns.
  • Don’t forget your yearly veterinarian visits; they’re really important for an indoor/outdoor cat. Be sure to follow a regular deworming and flea treatment routine.
  • Avoid letting your cat out in extreme hot or cold weather.
  • Declawed cats can have a much more difficult time fending for themselves outside. We recommend that you choose a cat that is not declawed for indoor/ outdoor living.

Other Things to Consider

Safety concerns:

  • Dogs, wildlife and other cats who may try to harm your cat
  • Cars
  • Poisons and toxins (antifreeze, pesticides)
  • Mean people: neighbors can sometimes be cruel to cats they find in their yards

Health concerns:

  • Disease (FeLV/ FIV)
  • Parasites (fleas, ticks, intestinal worms, and even heartworm)
  • Be sure to consult your veterinarian and let them know your cat has an indoor/outdoor lifestyle.

Necessary vaccines and preventatives:

  • Feline Leukemia vaccine
  • Rabies vaccine
  • Heartworm preventative

Optional vaccines:

  • FIV
  • Leptospirosis