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Should a CH Cat be Allowed Outside?

March 19, 2012

Photo courtesy The Scott

For some cat parents, the thought of allowing their cat outside for some fresh air conjures up thoughts of green grass, romping around and a pleasant afternoon. For others, it can mean danger and loss.

While the topic of letting your cat outdoors can generate a mixed response from no matter who you ask, it does beg the question: Should special precautions be taken for our special cats?

It’s generally agreed that cats should be indoor pets. Cats who live inside live longer, healthier lives. This is especially true for CH cats, who may have a more difficult time defending themselves and surviving outside.

All my life I’ve had indoor only cats; it’s a personal choice based on many factors. However, I’m familiar with a number of other CH cat parents who do allow their cats to temporarily wander and play outside, usually in the safety of their backyard. So is this the right decision for you and your cat?

Only you know what’s best for your cat, but here are some things to think about:

Do you have a safe place outdoors where your cat can play? This can mean an enclosed backyard or an enclosed cat playpen (one with a roof). One that provides structures for climbing and resting — as well as a shaded area is ideal. Don’t forget to include a water bowl and other necessities, too.

While keeping your cat in the safety of your backyard is truly the best option, there are still some precautions you should take:

While your cat is outside, be sure you can supervise him at all times. Pet theft is a very real risk — no matter if it’s some random creep or the kid from down the block. This is another great reason why microchipping can be very important, especially since a collar can be easily removed.

Also, vaccinations are vital for any cat allowed outside. Things like the soil in your yard or garden can contain deseases spread by other animals and unvaccinated cats for months. Similarly, rabies becomes more of an issue since your cat becomes more likely to interact with wildlife that may be infected.

If your backyard isn’t inclosed, use a harness and leash on your cat. While your cat may be somewhat unsteady because of his CH, you certainly don’t want to risk his dashing off out of interest or fear.

However, not all of us have backyards — let alone a safe place for our pets to play outside. This can be especially true in some cities and suburbs where there’s just too much going on like frequent, noisy traffic and neighbors walking around with baby strollers or dogs. Sometimes it may be too much stimulation for your CH cat.

Photo courtesy carolyn.will

But, if conditions permit, and you’re comfortable with the idea, it may be something you should try. Playing outside may provide more opportunities for exercise, bonding and may very well increase your cat’s confidence through new experiences.

Wobbles the Lighthouse kitty says his owners would take him outside on occasion for exercise:

“I could practice walking — and even running — without worrying about hitting anything … Of course, they always stayed nearby to keep me safe.”

Similarly, Jennifer allows her Bella outside several times a week. She said she worries about Bella, but Bella loves it so much and comes back feeling proud of herself and her adventures.

So if you’re eager to allow your cat outside and you have an enclosed area or a kitty harness — and your CH cat is physically able — I’d say go for it. I think the most important factor is to make sure your cat is safe outside, but I think most CH cat owners are already well aware of the special considerations their special kitties need.

Do you allow your cat — CH or otherwise — outdoors? Please share in the comments!

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. JacquieB permalink
    March 19, 2012 8:24 am

    Percy definitely enjoys his time outdoors. He is an extremely disabled CH kitty, but he seems to benefit from his hours out there. the outdoor kitties like to hang with him and he seems to love the sounds, sights and smells he gets from his romps outside in our huge fenced yard.

  2. Ashling permalink
    March 19, 2012 8:33 am

    Trying this again…Wordpress erased my first answer!

    It’s interesting that this is today’s post. Although our other cats (ages 11-16), with whom our CH cat Elf does not interact, have always been indoor/outdoor cats, we’ve kept Elf inside. I worry though that her world is too small, both in stimulation and physical space. Yesterday I decided to bring her outside, for a few minutes, with me at her side the whole time. I was excited at the thought she’d have all that space to move and explore (with the good grip of grass & dirt vs most of the house’s difficult hardwood), and lots to see and smell and discover. The moment I put her in the grass she panicked; terrified! I scooped her up, brought her back inside and she dove into her safe little nook in ‘her’ room (our very large, almost always occupied by one of us, carpeted office). Clearly she needs a much gentler introduction to the outside world. We’re going to make a high-walled ramp leading up to a broad window shelf (the windows in this room begin a foot from the flooor) so she can lay there and take in the smells, sights & sounds from the safety of her room. Eventually I’ll try outside again, maybe starting not with the great big yard, but with the porch, in the security of her kitty cube.

    Two of Elf’s traits that we attribute to CH (correctly or not) are her strong startle reflex and great fear of anything/anyone unfamiliar. Do others with CH cats find this to be true? How do you address it?

  3. March 20, 2012 6:20 am

    We’ve been keeping our elderly cat Fenella largely inside or outside only with supervision purely because she has been lost once since we had her when going searching for her previous owner who died. The others wander freely; we don’t have any with CH and I’d again be thinking extreme supervision but it seems a shame to trammel able-bodied young cats who want to explore and hunt and climb trees. I think I’d want a CH cat to have as much opportunity as possible but only if watched at all times and probably on a harness unless the CH is very slight. Have I lost cats on the road? yes. And yes, it hurts. But on the whole they either avoid it or learn to negotiate it. I’ve had one cat whose territory extended more than a quarter of a mile in every direction. No way could I have kept him indoors without it being cruelty. We DO train them to come in by dusk however; 80% of road kill happens at night. Or on our road between dawn and 8 am when ambulances are banned from using the siren and stop for nothing. We only let the two really streetwise ones out before 8. It’s really a question of tailoring your habits to a compromise of your cat’s needs and the environment. My friend has two largely indoor kitties whom she takes to the park at weekends. They come to call so she can let them off the lead in the park after walking them there on the harness. The park is so big she doesn’t have to worry about them going out of it and onto the road.
    It’s a very personal judgement call especially when your cat has any special needs

  4. karen permalink
    July 25, 2012 3:41 am

    My CH cat Lou, a three year old seal point Siamese, loves his once a week adventure in the garden. Lou doesn’t run, except for short stints on his front legs only, so I feel secure that I can keep up with him. You can see the joy that he has walking in the flower bed and yes, he tries to go for a walk down the hill away from the house but that’s when I scoop him up and we come back inside. His romp is usually about a 1/2 hour after which he takes a nap. Lou has never been afraid of anything so outside has many dangers for him. He has never been out unsupervised.

  5. Joy permalink
    November 19, 2012 4:00 pm

    We allow Felix outside only when we watch him. He is about six months old and is mild CH. He is frightened of sudden noises so we don’t worry about him going past where we feel comfortable. He loves it. Loves to lay in the sun, chase (bunny hop) the bugs and just be a cat.

  6. Dawn permalink
    April 21, 2014 1:19 pm

    We have been trying to get our mild CH cat Janie used to a harness but as soon as we put it on, she collapses as if unable to walk. Literally collapses. We’ve tried a few times now but the same result so I don’t think it’s just a case of protesting! Has anyone else had this problem? She’s 10 months old. I’m wondering if it restricts her movement too much? Thanks for the fabulous site, I’ve learned so much.

  7. lillysdigitalgarden permalink
    April 21, 2014 1:22 pm

    We have been trying to get our mild CH cat Janie used to a harness but as soon as we put it on, she collapses as if unable to walk. Literally collapses so I don’t think it’s just a case of protesting! Has anyone else experienced this? She’s 10 months old. Thanks for the wonderful site, I’ve learned so much.

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