At What Age Can Kittens Go Outside?
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At What Age Can Kittens Go Outside?

When can kittens go outside? How old should a kitten be before it goes outside? When can I let my kitten out of the house? What risks are there for kittens who go outside? Can I let my kitten out? Is it safe to let kittens play outside? What are some risks of letting a kitten go outside too soon? When is my kitten okay to go out on its own?

Many people who bring home new kittens are eager to let them outside, however this it is not always a good idea to let a new kitten outside, particularly not right away.  You might decide later to keep the kitten indoors only as cats face many risks outside; but a young kitten who has experienced the outdoors once or twice, is very hard to keep in.

Risks of Letting a Kitten Outside Too Soon

There are many diseases kittens can get.  When they are born the kittens get some antibodies from their mother's milk but these wear off after 6 weeks.  As such vaccinations are important. However, vaccinations require booster shots until they are fully effective, and even then they are not effective until 3 days after the final booster shot. As such kittens should definitely not go outside before 3 days after their final booster shot (which usually happens around 12 weeks of age).

The other big concern, particularly with kittens, is that they should not be outside before they are spayed or neutered. There are too many cases where the cat goes missing right before its spay or neuter appointment. This not only complicates the owner's schedule, but risks the cat getting pregnant.

Additionally, because of its small size, a kitten is vulnerable to being picked up by a hawk, or eagle. They are often targeted as food by foxes and raccoons. Small kittens can be killed by tom cats.

Once kittens are let out it is very hard to contain them back indoors, as such one of the biggest risks of letting them out too soon is not being able to keep them indoors. Some people think they can let it out here and there when it is little and then contain it later, but this can be a hard habit to break.

So, When Can Kittens Go Outside?

In some areas it is illegal to let cats out at all if they can get off your property. As such in these areas it is not wise to let your kitten out at all unless you have harness trained it (start training them indoors) or have your yard fenced so that cats cannot get out, or have built a proper cat enclosure.

Otherwise it would be best to keep your cat indoors until it is not only fully vaccinated, but spayed, or neutered as well. Ideally the cat should also have some sort of permanent identification, such as a tattoo or microchip.

Since outdoor cats face so many risks having pet insurance might also be a good idea.

You might even find that after keeping your kitten indoors that you prefer knowing it is safe.

Some of the Risks to Outdoor Kittens

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Comments (3)

I didn't know about this.. thanks. I don't have cats anymore, but I did have some. I let a kitty out for the first time when she was about 8 weeks old and she was so scared she climbed up my leg and up to my shoulder. She loved being there and felt safe, but never liked being out on the ground. Now that she is an adult she loves the outside. She has a different mom now because I had to let her go when I moved here with my son in law and daughter. He is very allergic to cats.

I don't think any housecats should go outside, personally. Too many dangers from other animals, kidnappers/catnappers, getting hurt by vehicles, poisons, etc etc... Excellent article, as always. Voted, have a great weekend!! : )

Ranked #2 in Pet Safety

Another article that every pet parent needs to read. Great job, Brenda.