Updated: Dec 26, 2020
When it comes to owning a cat there are many things that you will want to consider. One of those considerations is if you want your cat to be an indoor/outdoor cat. It is first important to note that there are a lot of hazards outdoors for cats to come in contact with (vehicles, busy roads, large predators, illness, etc). Veterinarians and adoption shelters highly recommend that pet owners should have an indoor cat only. About 70% of the estimated 95.6 million pet cats in the U.S. live indoors only and only 25% are indoor/outdoor cats.
With that in mind it's known that cats are ultimately prey driven and extremely active felines that find happiness in exploring their freedom. Many cat owners find that their feline friends do not like being cooped up in the house and staring out the window at birds or other small prey. If you decide that you want to give your cat a taste of freedom it's important to take the following steps:
Make sure your cat has updated vaccinations and are in pristine health for their age;
Ask your vet what shots and treatment is recommended for indoor/outdoor cats;
Have them on a schedule (cats are creatures of habits);
If you can limit their time outdoors (alternate/control their outside time in sync with their schedule);
NEVER declaw your cat, especially, if they are going to be indoor/outdoor cats (without claws they are unable to defend themselves);
Make sure your cat is spayed/neutered;
Microchip your feline friend and be sure their ID tags are updated;
Have bells on their breakaway collar (this will lessen their chances of successfully hunting prey);
Have food, water and shelter available if they are unable to come indoors during their outing;
When your cat comes back home check for burrs, foxtails, injuries, etc., (if you notice anything unusual consult with your veterinarian).
With consistency you will be able to provide your cat with what they need for their outdoor comfortability and safety. Keep in mind that you must introduce your cat to the outdoors slowly and preferably when they are older. You'll want to allow them to adjust to their home for three to four months before going outdoors. This will allow their scent to be present within and near the home; so their likelihood of getting lost, lessens. If you get a cat as a kitten, it's important to familiarize them with a harness and a leash. This will make introducing the outdoors easier.