Indoor or outdoor cat?
Most cats love having space outside to explore. However, some cats will prefer to stay indoors and others will need to remain indoor-only cats because of health conditions, such as FIV. You can find out more about how to determine if your cat is an indoor or outdoor cat in our guide.
Find out more: Indoor cats
When to let your cat outside
If you have a new cat, or have moved to a new home, it is important not to let your cat out until they have adjusted to their new environment. This gives them a chance to spread their scent and find their own way home, and usually takes three to four weeks.
When you let your cat out for the first time, let them out before meal time – that way, they’re more likely to want to return to eat.
How to create a cat-friendly garden
While you might not be able to confine your cat to your garden, there are some things you can do to encourage them to stay.
- Provide an inviting, safe and private toilet area. Newly-dug soil or gravel is perfect. You could even add some cat litter to encourage them to toilet in their new space. Make sure it is dug over regularly so it remains hygienic
- Add fencing. Cats can climb most fences, but a two-metre high, close-boarded fence, together with a hedge running parallel to it, will encourage them to stay within the garden
- Add cat-friendly plants. You could create a cat-friendly corner in your garden filled with cat friendly plants like catnip, cat thyme and lavender. A patch of longer grass provides a soft bed and nibbling it can help your cat cough up hairballs. Plants without thorns are ideal of creating shady spots for naps, and logs make great natural scratching posts
- Hiding places. Cats might feel threatened in an open space, so make sure your garden has plenty of places to hide.
- Try scattering dry food in the safe areas of your garden to encourage them to search it out
- Read our behaviourist’s two-part guide to creating a cat-friendly garden below
Creating a cat-friendly garden – part 1 Creating a cat-friendly garden – part 2
How to keep your cat safe outside
If you’re keeping your cat in the garden and surrounding areas, you’ll still need to be aware of potential dangers. Busy roads, especially at rush hour, can be a hazard for cats. It may be a good idea to keep your cat in at night and during busier times on the roads. Sheds and outbuildings can also be tricky places for felines. Often, they contain chemicals and poisons that can harm your cat. Make sure you keep these locked away safely and securely.
Find out more about keeping your cat safe outside
Keeping your cat safe from dangerous plants
Cats are usually careful about what they eat and will stay away from anything that might be poisonous. However, young and curious cats might be inclined to ingest something they shouldn’t – or even ingest pollen or plant matter when grooming themselves.
Create a cat-safe flower bed with feline-friendly plants, and be aware of plants that are dangerous to cats. Common blooms like poppies and lilies can all be harmful – as can many others.
Find out more about dangerous plants for cats.
How to deter your cat from hunting
Hunting is a natural behaviour for cats, but it can create a tricky situation for wildlife-lovers. In the wild, cats have frequent hunting expeditions, while pet cats are given food easily without any effort!
If you want to reduce your cat’s hunting behaviour, there are some things you can try.
- Keep your cat inside at night, and during dawn and dusk
- Provide them with plenty of interactive play sessions and enrichment toys
If you have visiting birds in the garden and want to keep them away from your cat, follow our top tips:
- Hang feeders from a tall, thin shepherd’s hook – cats cant climb these!
- Plant a scaredy cat plant or curry plant near feeding stations to deter cats
- Don’t feed wildlife on the ground
- Attach cut-up plastic bottles around bird tables to make climbing difficult
- Keep bird tables away from fences or areas that cats can easily climb
Lost your cat? What to do next
If your cat chooses to stray away from your garden, they’ll usually return fairly soon. If your cat goes missing for longer, however, you might begin to worry. If you’re awaiting their arrival, here are our top tips to get them back safely.
Find out more about what to do if you’ve lost a cat