Cat safety: Outdoor access for the indoor cat.

How can we ensure cat safety while outside? Should we allow them out to roam or should we enforce supervised play in the yard?

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How can we ensure cat safety while outside? Should we allow them out to roam or should we enforce supervised play in the yard? Honestly, the preference is all yours. I’m not here to judge nor am I a ‘cat expert’. But the chances are that you’ve already had the ‘will we, won’t we‘ discussion. And there are many reasons why you could choose to allow one or the other (or even both)

Many Irish families opt to allow their kitties to roam the local area because historically they were an excellent method of pest control. However, with the ever-changing environment, more and more people are opting to keep their cats strictly indoors. Due to the area in which we live, both are cats are kept inside. But with that being said our youngest cat is very boisterous, and she loves to run around. This can mean chaos for our household! So, to help her burn off some of that excess energy we frequently allow her outside for supervised playtime.

[Gifted] Beautiful Collars from Cool Cat Collars.

Despite the fact that she’s attached to both an extendable lead and a harness, she’s somewhat of a Houdini. We’ve watched as she’s broken free just to explore an awkward spot of the yard that she couldn’t before reach (and often for good reason). Samira is definitely more of a handful than her sister, and that’s why she always has a collar & name tag.

Sam wearing her collar and little raincoat while outside.

Samira was sent this gorgeous collar from Cool Cat Collars. It’s adjustable, so no need to worry about sizing, and let’s all agree that purple is definitely her colour.

Willow, or oldest feline, also received one. She’s not the outdoor type and hates being outside, so she flaunts her beauty solely indoors. Even so, a collar is a must just in case she makes an escape. Her beautiful pink collar really compliments her fur and, surprisingly, she loves wearing it.

Willow wearing her pink velvet collar! It’s actually very loose on her, she’s just furry!

The importance of cat safety for the anxious mum.

From the moment we take our pets home they become part of the family. It can, therefore, be distressing when they go missing or show signs of becoming unwell. Although it’s true that cat safety is easier to manage while they’re inside, there are some things we can’t avoid. Eye infections happen, upset stomachs aren’t uncommon and they can always slip through our feet as we’re leaving the house. Accidents happen and they can make us feel extremely anxious as pet owners.

Willow’s Disappearing Act.

I can recall one instance where Willow took it upon herself to explore our neighborhood. We’d had her for a few months at this point and she was always a very timid cat. It was within her best interest to keep her indoors for the majority of the time. Even when outside she’d never made an attempt to go any further than the fenced perimeter. That is until one day.

Ryan was watching her as usual but he wasn’t quick enough to stop her leaping over the fence. It was unexpected and, in hindsight, I don’t blame him for being unable to reach her in time. She managed to make her way into the neighbour’s yard before stopping and crying for help. Since then she’s never set a paw beyond the patio steps and, as the anxious pet owner, that suits me just fine.

Our cat’s safety and well-being can gravely impact our own mental health. It’s therefore important that we know how to safely allow them access to the outdoors. If you’re unsure how to get started with letting your cat outdoors, check out some of the suggestions below. Or speak to your vet to get a better understanding of what you need to safeguard against in your area.


How to keep your indoor cat safe outside.

Supervised outdoor time with or without a leash.

If you have a garden you can easily allow your cat outside while you keep watch. Cats are agile creatures and so if you’re opting against a leash, it’s important that you give your cat your undivided attention.

When we need to get things done around the house, Samira can be a real nightmare. It’s on these occasions that we attach Samira to her harness and retractable leash, and allow her to roam the yard. The leash allows her freedom to reach all the nooks and crannies, while also keeping her from entering any of the neighboring gardens.

Many may argue that if a cat wants to go outside, it should be allowed to do so of its own accord. However, for cat safety reasons, it’s not feasible in our area. We’re surrounded by dogs, three active construction sites, and a busy road. Therefore the leash is the safest way that Samira can get unsupervised access to an outdoor area. As for our other cat Willow, she’s simply not interested in the outdoors and even when the door is open, she’s happy just to watch.

Taking your cat for a walk.

I know what you’re thinking because every time I mention that we take our cat for a walk, I get that look. The one that says ‘you’re THOSE people.’ But the truth is cats can be walked just like dogs can, and in fact many enjoy it.

If you’re thinking of taking your cat for a walk it’s best to purchase a harness for extra security. You can use an extendable leash or a standard one, but for safety reasons, I always find it best to keep our youngest cat on a short line simply because she doesn’t understand roads. Cats will need time to get used to both the harness and the lead, so it’s best to take them out in small bursts or use the above method to get them used to the new equipment.

But remember: Your cat is taking you for a walk, not the other way around. Provided that they aren’t in danger it’s best to let your cat guide you, and use the leash only as a means to keep them safe rather than to direct them. The chances are if you try to control them, they’ll simply lay down.

An enclosed outdoor ‘cat-io.’

Have you ever heard of a ‘Cat-io?’ It’s essentially a safe area for your cat to run around without the danger of escaping. Much like a run for dogs but with high places to climb and a caged roof to prevent any acrobatics.

They’re slightly more expensive than the options above, but they’re certainly interesting. If you have the amenities for one of these beauties it would be a great way to safely allow your cats to go outside whenever they want.

Image from Catio Spaces.

How do you ensure optimum cat safety when allowing your indoor cat outside? Have you come up with a different method?

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112 comments

  1. Totally fell in love with your kitties and love how they sport their beautiful collars! Our cat is used to going out a couple of times during the day and doesn’t seem to understand why we go and collect him, the anxiety goes totally through the roof! We tried the harness more than once, but he wasn’t very keen on it! I honestly love people that walk their cats, and love that t you made a note that is the cat walking you! x

  2. Whenever we let TJ out – twice a day usually – we time his rounds and go on a search expedition if longer than 5 minutes. The poor fella doesn’t understand how anxious it makes us when he’s out and about! Especially at his age (going on 15!) with all the conditions he has. But we wouldn’t have it any other way (tell Samira his fellow TJ says hi!)

  3. Aaw, what cute little furballs! My mum has a cat, and especially while at the Summer house the cat’s safety outdoors has been a big question mark. Now we have a full corner of our terrace fenced off so he can be outside but not able to run off and get lost (he’s not particularly clever :D). He loves adventures, though, so I do take him on walks in a leash daily. He’s like a dog, trots along like no cat I’ve ever seen ^_^

    Teresa Maria | Outlandish Blog

  4. Thank you so much for taking the time to read! We’re always looking after the neighbourhood cats – we’d have them all adopted if we could!

  5. Reading this made me think of my Dad and how much he loved cats (animals in general) and would always take in the surrounding area cats if they showed up at his door, haha! Great info for any owners who want to keep their fur family safe!

  6. I’ve never seen an enclosure like that before, it’s very clever and quite useful! Thanks very much for sharing.

  7. My cat is a very smart and always curious. Recently, she established a special bond with my husband and she gets anxious when he is away. Although our cat has a chip, she still wears a collar with our conract details.

  8. My cats are 100% indoor cats, but it is so handy to have harnesses for them for travel! Plus, I’ll take Louis out on the porch with me every once in a while with the harness. Just so useful to keep around, even for indoor cats!

  9. Thank you for responding to the article, and for giving me a view of you and your pets. I couldn’t imagine living in an area with Coyotes! I think having dogs on either side of the fence is bad enough (although I do love dogs. It’s just for the cats more so).

  10. We live in a rural area, and a lot of people let their cats roam outside, but we keep ours indoors only, as we worry about their safety. Despite being in a rural area, we live on the main road through town, and there are coyotes, foxes and the ocassional bear. I did purchase harnesses for our cats with leashes to go outside and our older cat loves it! He loves to roll around in the dirt and grass and enjoy the fresh air. He is quite content to just walk around the outside of the house and doesn’t try to venture too far. OOur younger cat

  11. Whar a beautiful cat! Great tips too, I guess this can be for dogs too.

  12. These are really great tips. I have a friend who is struggling with issues with her cat and I’m going to send this to her.

  13. I think the outdoor playpen is a great idea becaause your adorable cat can also play outside.

  14. You know ever since I’ve seen your cat pictures I am so in love with your site.I love cats as if like they are my babies. I really want a cat but at my work no animals are allowed plus I stay alone and in weekends wen I am home my family dont like cats.These post I’ll sare with friends who have cat.

  15. It just makes me too anxious to have them out without some sort of lead or shelter to stop them from getting away. Especially with that road nearby and all the construction work.

  16. Thank you for reading and commenting. Understandable, you wouldn’t want to let them outside with wild dogs knocking about.

  17. I have to agree with you. Samira never gets outside unless we’re direct with her, otherwise, she could probably get herself out somehow. It’s just too risky to not watch them, and sometimes the best option is just to keep them in.

  18. My older one is very lazy but our younger one LOVES walking. And I can’t stress that enough. She’ll actually carry her harness around.

  19. My partner didn’t tell me until the next day otherwise I would have lost it! He lost our hamster too by letting her under the couch. I shouldn’t let him supervise our cats ever!
    Thank you so much for reading and commenting.

  20. That’s awful. I’m so sorry your mum lost a cat like that. Luckily our girls are safely surrounded by fences, but if they stole my youngest they’d soon give her back. She yaps too much!

  21. My youngest cat will walk easily but the oldest really doesn’t like it. So she just get supervised out the back at the moment. We’re trying our best to get her used to walk but it’s just very difficult for her because she’s older.
    Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. It’s much appreciated.

  22. Luckily our girls are both inside most of the time. The one that goes out more gets flea treatment and worm treatment as normal, while it wasn’t recommended for the older girl because she is inside most of the time. Fingers crossed no issues yet.
    Thank you so much for popping in love! x

  23. Great tips! We live in an area where there are a lot of stray cats and as a result, people aren’t always the kindest to cats that they see outdoors around their home. For that reason (as well as the many other risks associated with allowing your cats to run loose outdoors) we only bring ours out when they are on their leashes. That being said, we do love spending time in the back yard with them. Pippen is a HUGE fan of cuddling in my hammock, watching the birds.

  24. I think the indoor and outdoor for cats is the most hard decision and organization for cat owners. I don’t have a cat but if I did I think I would limit the access highly

  25. keeping our pets safe is always the number one concern. I love that they make porches to allow them to enjoy the outdoors without having to worry.

  26. I love those cat porches. We let the cats outside supervised from time to time – if they eat the grass then it’s going to be a mess inside!

  27. I love the idea of a catio! Our sassy girl would love that. We’ve never let her outside, because I’m too freaked out she’d get away.

  28. Where we first lived in Denver it was too dangerous to let our cat outside (ambulances, fast traffic), and I can see how much he would have loved outdoor access like this. Luckily we now live in a neighborhood where he can go out into the back yard, we only let him out when we are outside and he stays nearby, which is a relief!

  29. I don’t have any pets but these are very helpful tips for cats being outdoors. Always be safe!!!!????

  30. I’ve never had a cat but if I did it would definitely be an indoor only cat. So this is a great informative post on how to carefully train an indoor cat and familiarize it with the outdoors!

  31. The cat-io is such a good idea! We never let our babies outside, even supervised. It’s just too dangerous. Supervised, we don’t have to worry about them hunting (I hate when people use cats as pest control, because they could get sick) but we do have to worry about them breaking free. I’ve seen so many poor kitties hit by cars or people doing something horrible that I just can’t let them out of my sight. But I do want them to be able to go out. So the cat-io is perfect!

  32. This is very useful information. I don’t have a cat myself but my best friend does so I’ll share this post with her πŸ™‚

  33. Some fab suggestions on how to allow your pet cat the freedom to roam. The personalised tags is a great idea for easy identification if your cat does get lost.

  34. I have two dogs and I can not imagine letting them roam around freely. Cats are different but I still would feel uneasy about letting them explore on their own

  35. We adopted two cats, and agreed that we wouldn’t let them outdoors. However, that catio is pretty cool! And I love the idea of going for a walk on a harness.

  36. these ideas and tips are very helpful and useful for every of the reader who have cat…well Samira looks so cute and lovely though…Glad you shared this with us…

  37. I’ve never seen a cat on a leash, this is a very interesting post.
    I like the outdoor play area too.
    Thanks for sharing

  38. Beautiful personalized tags. I love those.
    Thanks for sharing this awesome post.

  39. I never knew you could take cats for a walk! all my cat did was laze and lick itself! lol

  40. I love your cat photos. So cute! I would have freaked when Willow jumped the fence. I am so paranoid with our kitties. I keep them inside all the time. We live in the wide open country and there are so many dangers out there, like coyotes.

  41. The Cat-io contraption is brilliant! Love the idea of letting Mr Bigglesworth outside, but in total safety.

  42. We lost our cat “Hampton” last September so this was a bit sad to read but the pictures are sweet and the content is great information for cat lovers.

  43. The cat-io is amazing! What a wonderful idea! My Mum had an indoor cst that was stolen from her garden. The cat pen would have been perfect for her! The harness is adorable! xxx

  44. I cat sit for or neighbor sometimes. They are inside cats that do get a bit of leash time ouside and I appreciate reading all these points so I can be a better cat sitter.

  45. The cat tag is lovely. Such a sweet idea to take your car for a walk on a leash I’ve never seen this before!

  46. My cats have always been strictly indoor cats. Now that I’ve moved to a bigger place they go in the garden supervised, but I’m scared that if they went and explored outside alone they wouldn’t understand. If I had a leash at a young age they might have got used to it, but being older they hate collars so it wouldn’t go down well haha! I love that you walk your cat though

  47. Super love the tags!!! We don’t allow our cat to go outside, we feel he would either get stolen and get lost…

  48. I so hope to have a catio someday for my cats! We take them on our porch with their harnesses and leashes. Louis likes it and sits with us most, but our two girls are more anxious about it.
    -Christine, http://www.catsandcoffee.me

  49. The outdoor play area is such a fun idea – but make sure the cats have proper care to avoid parasites! We’ve been seeing tons of cats with fleas lately at my clinic and they can be such a pain to get rid of.

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