Is it Safe to Bring My Indoor Cat Outside?

CatChannel expert Jeanne Adlon, professional cat sitter, weighs in on cats and the outdoors.

By Jeanne Adlon | Posted: July 18, 2008 2 a.m. EDT

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Q: Is it OK to take my indoor cat outside to a park?

A: As a rule, I do not recommend taking your indoor cat to a park or outdoor area outside of your home. With the nice summer weather, I know it is tempting to think your kitty would like to soak up some sun or frolic in the grass, but what seems pleasant to you potentially can be dangerous for your cat.

Fleas, ticks and other parasites often are present in parks and public gardens, just waiting to hitch a ride on your cat. There can be pet dogs, sometimes off their leashes. Some parks are home to raccoons and other wild creatures. Plus, the outside world can be noisy, and cats are frightened easily, particularly of unfamiliar sights and sounds. Sometimes when I am walking through Central Park in New York, I see people with cat carriers trying to coax their kitties out. More often than not, the cats are having a miserable time.

I know there are some indoor cats that might adjust to adventures outside the home, so if you really want to bring your indoor cat outside, your own backyard is best. Please make sure your cat is wearing a harness, leash and ID tag, and is current on shots. Make sure to supervise your cat outdoors. Some people enjoy walking outside with their cats in pet strollers encased in nylon mesh. I think this is pretty creative, but I am not sure what the cat thinks.

There is a reason why cats love home-sweet-home and small, cozy places like boxes, bags, or cat beds — they feel safe and secure. If you want to introduce a bit of nature into your cat’s environment, purchase a small bird feeder with a suction cup that can attach to the outside of your cat’s favorite window. Your cat will love watching the birds while safely channeling her inner tiger.

Jeanne's Tip of the Week:

Do not throw out old catnip toys. They can be rejuvenated by soaking in hot water for a few minutes. Squeeze the water out, and give the toy to your cat while it’s still damp. Make sure it is warm or cool, but not hot. More tips




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Is it Safe to Bring My Indoor Cat Outside?

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Reader Comments

Joyce    Houston, TX

10/20/2014 1:33:16 PM

I have 3 "alley cats" I adopted 3 years ago (all females). I couldn't have chosen 3 better felines if a cat whisperer recommended them. It's amazing how their temperament is excellent to be strays. They are all spayed, get their yearly checkups and 30-day flea medication. I let them out into my backyard and they don't stray far from it at all. They even "check in" like they were kids during their adventures outdoors. They run, chase each other, bugs, butterflies, and generally just enjoy the sun and grass (hiding). I often go to see how they're doing and lots of times they just come in on their own. There are trees to climb, fences to scale and other "cat things" they find to do. Nothing has ever happened to any of them and they wear their identification so others will see they belong to somebody. It would break my heart if I had to suddenly stop them from going outside that they love so much. I am retired and can keep an eye on them. If I have to get a job they'll have to come indoors and I guess, just understand. They obey/mind me quite well to be cats and I love 'em to death. I'm simply a cat person!

Beryle Chambers    International

10/8/2014 1:21:58 PM

I am a serial cat companion. If had 4cats over 30 years. First lived to 19, next 15, third to 18 and I
adopted a senior cat last year. They have all been the joys of my life and my Gurus about what's important in life. I've had cat climbing posts for all, toys, a communal bed. I'm lucky enough to have a ground floor apartment in a townhouse co-op. I have a small fenced in yard, grass, flowers, faces south for lots of sun. All my cats learned to tolerate a harness with a cord that takes them close enough to the fence to look through it but not close enough to climb it. Our agreement is that they are only allowed out if I am with them. And only for about 45 minutes. So it can be done (with Advantage for fleas.) They have been and remain my 'Family'. I don't know that I could have gotten through some very tough times without their love and friendship. Bless all cats!

Shirley    Tucson, AZ

7/18/2012 4:04:35 PM

Love the tip of the week and thank you for sharing that.

Bob    Syracuse, NY

7/22/2008 9:33:16 PM

Very good article with some excellent suggestions.

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