Skip to content

When can kittens go outside?

Kim Staples
Written by  Kim Staples
Saarrah Mussa
Reviewed by  Saarrah Mussa
5 min read
Updated: 10 Apr 2024

Young cats need a little time before they’re ready to go outside, and they’re best introduced slowly. Here’s what you need to know about letting your kitten out for the first time.

How old does a kitten need to be to go outside?

Experts recommend only letting kittens go outside once they’ve had all their vaccinations. These are given when they’re nine weeks and 12 weeks old, and need another couple of weeks to be effective.

So, your kitten should be at least 13-14 weeks old before being allowed outside. Some vets say they ought to be at least four months old, while the Blue Cross recommends waiting until they’re five months.

It’s also a good idea to wait until your kitten has been microchipped, which can be done when they’re 10-12 weeks old, and neutered or spayed, which can be done when they’re four months.

How to prepare for letting your kitten outside

First, make sure your kitten is old enough and healthy enough. Wait for them to have effective vaccinations, a microchip, and parasite treatments. Consider having them neutered or spayed too, especially if there’s a chance they’ll come into contact with other cats.

Consider a collar with an ID tag too, in case they run off or get lost.

It’s also a big help if they’re trained to recognise their own name, as this will make it easier to call them back inside.

Try introducing them to other cats and animals beforehand, if you can (once they’ve had their vaccinations, of course), to get them used to interacting with others.

And finally, kitten-proof your garden:

  • Clear it of plants that are poisonous to cats, like lilies

  • Make sure there are no gaps in the fence that your cat could squeeze through

  • Look out for anything that could hurt them, like sharp edges or nails

  • Block off areas you don’t want them to access

  • Cover up any ponds

How to first introduce your kitten to the outside

Choose the right time: Pick a day with pleasant weather, at a quiet time of the day – preferably a bit before mealtime, to guarantee the kitten will come back inside for food. Some vets suggest opening the back door half an hour before your cat’s breakfast time.

Let them go outside on their own: Rather than picking your kitten up and placing them outdoors, just open the door and let them take the first steps outside when they’re ready. This way, going out will satisfy their curiosity and encourage confidence rather than stressing them out.

Stay close by: Sit or stand nearby, and give your kitten a chance to explore the great outdoors on their own terms – under your supervision for safety.

Start short: Let them out for 30 minutes or so at first, and gradually increase that time to build their confidence.

Give them treats: A steady supply of treats, especially when they come back inside when called, will keep your cat feeling happy and safe.

Advantages of letting your cat outside

  • It’s great exercise – Going outside helps your cat stay in good shape and reduces the risk of obesity

  • It’s good for their mental health too – Exploring the outdoors is fantastic enrichment, satisfies your kitten’s curiosity, and socialises them

  • It can help behavioural issues – Such as preventing your cat from spraying and scratching inside

  • It can help reduce stress – Which will also help with behavioural issues, and help your cat be less territorial in your home

Disadvantages of letting your cat outside

  • It’s not the only cat out there – Your kitten could encounter other cats and animals, and you never know if they’ll be friends or foes

  • They could eat something harmful – Such as plants, slug pellets, or discarded food that could be poisonous or harmful for cats

  • They could pick up diseases – There’s always a chance your cat could pick up parasites, viruses, or infections

  • Busy roads and traffic can be dangerous – Accidents can happen, especially if your kitten is unfamiliar with the area and roads in general

  • Cats can be risk to other local wildlife – Cats’ natural hunting instincts can make them a menace to small animals such as birds

  • They may need more grooming – Especially if your cat has a long coat that picks up dirt

How to decide whether to let your cat outside

Some kittens are made for the great outdoors, while others may be less keen and prefer a cosy indoor life – or may just need a little more time and encouragement to get outside.

Factors that might indicate your cat could do well outside:

  • They’re interested in looking out the window

  • They’re curious about going through doors, or meow at the front or back door

  • They’re in good enough physical and mental health to handle it

  • They respond when you call them

Factors suggesting it may not be a good idea to let your cat outside:

  • They have existing health problems, especially anything that could need emergency treatment

  • They have low confidence, or are nervous, even indoors

  • They have a tendency to get into fights with other animals

  • They show no interest in going outside when you let them out

Why compare pet insurance with MoneySuperMarket?

Whether you have an indoor or an outdoor cat, pet insurance for your kitten will help cover vet treatments and more. Compare cat insurance with MoneySuperMarket to see plans available to suit your pet.

Compare pet insurance now
Get a quote