Skip to main content

PawTracks may earn a commission when you buy through links on our site.

4 safe solutions for taking your indoor cat outside

Keeping your cat as an indoor-only cat has many benefits. It can help keep him safer, reduces the risk of his getting fleas and ticks, and can help prevent him from getting lost. Many cats live quite happy lives entirely indoors, especially if you provide them with plenty of mental stimulation, playtime, and attention. Getting a second cat as a companion can help keep them active and content, too. But in some cases, especially if your cat has lived outside previously, he might not be totally content with staying indoors. If your indoor cat wants to go outside, there are a number of ways you can do that safely.

Cat wearing a harness in a field of grass

The risks of bringing a cat outside

Should indoor cats go outside? There are some risks associated with taking your cat outdoors. Any time your cat is outside, he could potentially be attacked by other animals, including dogs. Even when you’re careful about securing your cat, it’s possible that he could escape and go missing.

Related Videos

The outdoors holds other dangers for cats. Fleas and ticks can carry disease, and your cat could get internal parasites from eating mice or other rodents. Drinking from outdoor water sources could lead to your cat contracting giardia, a parasite that can cause diarrhea and dehydration.

You have options for minimizing the risks of bringing your cat outside. Talk to your vet about your plans and make sure your cat is on a quality flea and tick preventative. If you have your cat outdoors with you, be sure that his harness fits securely and correctly. Update your cat’s microchip information just in case he escapes, but also stay vigilant to keep him safe. When outdoors, supervision is key. You can stop your cat from eating mice and ensure that he drinks only from a bowl that you put out for him.

How to bring your cat outdoors with you

You’ve got a range of ways to bring your cat outdoors with you.

Get a harness: One of the most popular options is to put on a cat harness with a leash attached. Harnesses come in many different designs, but be sure to buy one that’s designed for your cat’s comfort while helping to prevent cats from escaping. Double-check that you buy the right size for your cat, and always make sure the harness is properly fitted to your cat.

Learning to walk on a harness takes time, and it’s easier for some cats than others. Practice with short sessions in your house and give your cat plenty of treats to keep the experience positive. When you do go outdoors, start with really short trips.

Get a cat stroller: If you’re looking for a more secure option, then consider investing in a cat stroller. A fully enclosed stroller provides your cat with a safe place, but it allows you to easily take walks and explore with your cat at your side. Look for a stroller with secure closures and mesh that’s designed to withstand cat claws.

Get an outdoor pen: Fully enclosed outdoor pens for cats are another option. These pens let your cats relax in the yard while you supervise. Again, look for a pen that is durable enough for cats and that closes securely so no cat can escape.

Cat sitting in a pet stroller

Create a catio

While spending time outside with your cat can be a great way to bond, chances are, your cat may start asking to go outside when you don’t always have time to take him. Having the ability to safely let your cat outdoors on his own can be helpful.

Building a catio can be the solution. Catios are enclosed spaces that are durable, strong, and can help keep your cat safe while he enjoys the outdoors. Catios can be as simple as a small enclosure that you build right onto a window, or as complex as a large, multitier enclosure that you place on a patio or in your yard. Attaching a catio to a window lets your cats come and go freely.

If you decide that a catio is right for you, you might choose to custom-build one to your specific requirements. There are also plenty of catios available for purchase that can save you some construction time. No matter what type of catio you choose, be sure that it’s strong, enclosed by wire on all sides, and has a door that is accessible only to humans.

Your cat may love having the chance to spend some time outdoors, but don’t be surprised if he’s afraid at first. Start with short visits outside, and you can gradually build your cat’s confidence. Keep in mind that while all these methods are designed to increase your cat’s safety, a trip outdoors is never 100% safe for cats. It’s important to stay with your cat or closely supervise him, even if he’s in a strong catio. Talk with your vet to make sure your cat has any recommended vaccines, carefully make your plan, and then start giving your cat a taste of the outdoors — a nibble at a time, of course.

Editors' Recommendations

The most common annoying cat behaviors, explained
Common cat behavior or bad cat behavior? Here's what to know and how to deal
A gray cat in foliage

Cats are a bit of a mystery. Unlike dogs, which have the reputation of being human’s best friend, our feline friends seem to view us as a necessary evil. We clean their boxes, fill their water dishes, and buy them trees to climb on so they can get away from us.

And also unlike dogs, cats are natural-born predators — known for being so bad for the ecosystem that it’s best to keep them inside. The arrangement can cause some friction, but we love our cats anyway. When a pet starts doing something out of the blue, we may worry it's not common cat behavior. Is a cat peeing outside of a litter box cause for concern? What about when your kitty starts scratching everything? Consider this cat behavior guide a decoder to your cat’s antics and what — if anything — you can do about them.

Read more
What you can do to help your cat after surgery and show your pet how much you love them
Here's how to keep your kitty feeling safe, comfy, and calm post-op
A cat at the vet

You love your kitty. Sometimes, that means agreeing to send them in for cat surgery. Whether it’s a standard spay or neuter procedure, necessary dental work, or something more worrisome like removing a cancerous tumor, you’ll want to ensure you give your furry friend some extra TLC post-operation.

Your feline friend may also need you to be patient with them. Cat behavior after surgery can vary from pet to pet, but they may be slightly shyer, lethargic, or easily irritated for a while. The good news is that your cat should go back to normal — and hopefully wind up as an even healthier version of themselves soon. Knowing what to prepare for can ensure your cat feels safe, loved, and comfortable after surgery.

Read more
Are urinary tract infections in cats possible? What cat parents should know about this condition
What to know about prevention and treatment of UTIs in cats
Gray cat in a cat bed

UTIs are a common and pesky condition in humans. It’s short for urinary tract infection. A UTI is an infection of a part of the urinary system, like the bladder, kidneys, or urethra, as the name implies. UTIs can involve painful burning sensations when peeing. They affect about 10 out of 25 women and 3 out of 25 men at least once, according to the Urology Care Foundation.

Cat parents may wonder: What is the rate of urinary tract infections in cats? Unfortunately, it’s not zero. Cats can get UTIs. The good news is that cat health experts don’t commonly see the issue when treating felines. However, it’s still good to think about the urinary tract when approaching your cat’s health.

Read more