Why and How to Take Your Cat Outside

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You may find yourself watching your cat at the window thinking “my cat wants to go outside.” I’m here to tell you to GO FOR IT. And to explain how – because you have some great options for taking your cat outside! This is an enriching activity for both human and cat. Consider taking your cat outside at least once per week. Here’s why and how to take your cat outside safely.

Table of Contents

Is it Weird to Walk a Cat?

It’s not weird to take your cat for a walk! There are so many potential benefits from taking your cat outside, whether it’s for a walk or just in an outdoor space Here are a few reasons why to take your cat outside.

The Sensory Environment

The great outdoors presents a number of sensory exposures your cat doesn’t benefit from indoors. UV radiation from the sun has a long list of beneficial physiological effects. Temperature fluctuations and wind stimulate micro muscles that control a cats fur and whiskers.

Nature brings a constant symphony of new sounds. Birds and butterflies, people and flowers catch kitty’s attention visually. Your cat will be captivated by the world she encounters outside the walls of your home. And she likely knows this – which is why she looks out the window so intently.

Cats are very attuned to their environment, and this includes stressors that we humans can’t sense. Being outdoors can get your kitty away from some sources of non-native EMFS, which has its own set of benefits.

Interestingly, one thing that being outdoors does not help with specifically is vitamin D. Cats receive vitamin D through their food, not their skin. Even without their luscious fur, cats won’t manufacture vitamin D from sunlight – hairless cats and cats with patches of shaved fur don’t make vitamin D even with skin exposed. If your cat is struggling with low vitamin D levels, talk to your vet about an oral product like this one. However, the sun is the source of life on this planet, and there are benefits other than vitamin D for your cat when she catches a few rays.

A white, odd-eyed cat walks outside on a leash toward the camera with a person behind her. The cat is looking down to the side with one yellow eye and one blue eye.

Exercise and Socialization

Going outside can lower stress and anxiety levels. Some methods of taking your cat outside allow her to get lots of exercise (see leashes and enclosures below). Cats who get exercise are less likely to become obese or get a health issue like heart disease and tend to live longer, which is good news for everyone.Cats will benefit from increased socialization and a sense of community by exploring the yard or neighborhood. However, going outside unsupervised has numerous risks for your cat that undermine these benefits.

Improved Behavior

All of these sensory and physical inputs are good for exercising your cat’s mind and body. They are also good for helping him self-regulate his nervous system. This can help combat boredom and depression.

The physical and emotional benefits of going outside will likely translate to fewer behavioral issues indoors. Cats display symptoms of anxiety, stress, and other mood disorders through poor behaviors around the litter box, inappropriate scratching, and other bad manners. Taking your cat outside on a regular basis may help alleviate these behaviors.

How to take your cat outside

Walking your cat on a leash

One great option for taking your extroverted feline on an outdoor adventure is with a harness and leash, just like how a dog is walked. On a leash, cats can run, climb, crawl, pounce, and even roll around in the grass or on the sidewalk with excellent supervision. You will easily be able to keep them out of trouble while they enjoy the benefits of being outside. If your cat tends to be shy, there are better options for him below.

Escape-Proof Cat Harness and Leash Escape-Proof Cat Harness and Leash

This adjustable kitty harness features 4 adjusting straps which allow a just-right fit for your flexible cat. Both sides have a sturdy safety buckle for a more secured closure - never worry about your cat getting lost during outdoor adventures

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Walking your cat without a leash

If your cat wants to go outside, there are several reasons why a leash may not seem like the best option. There could be safely concerns in your outdoor environment, such as traffic or lots of dogs. Or your cat might want to feel more protected but still be able to travel around your neighborhood to see the sights and smell the smells and visit with friends. A cat stroller or a backpack carrier are great choices for how to take your cat outside in a more protected manner.

Using a cat stroller

A cat stroller is like a child stroller, but with an enclosed mesh area where the cat can sit and observe her surroundings safely and comfortably.

Happy Trails Pet Stroller Happy Trails Pet Stroller

This easy-locking pet stroller features a panoramic view window and a three position canopy with mesh ventilation.

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Wearing a cat backpack

A cat backpack or carrier allows you to be hands-free while your cat gets an amazing view. Because you’re carrying your cat, she’s up higher off the ground and can see more. You’ll be able to wear her on your front or your back, and enjoy short walks and hikes together!

Great for Short Trips
Cat Backpack Carrier Bubble Bag Cat Backpack Carrier Bubble Bag

The unique and popular space capsule design of this cat carrier backpack helps your pet feel safe and comfortable. You cat will have a broad vision of the outside. Your hands will be free during hiking, travel, cycling and walking. And you can wear it on the front or the back!

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Outdoor cat enclosures

Cat Patios

Cat patios, or “patios”, are sort of like chicken coops for you cat. They are spacious, comfortable, and perfect for your cat to relax in the fresh air and sunshine while observing birds and passersby. If your cat wants to go outside and you aren’t able to supervise him closely the whole time, a catio is a great option.

Our Favorite
PawHut Large Wooden Outdoor Catio Enclosure PawHut Large Wooden Outdoor Catio Enclosure

This outdoor cat enclosure playpen can be utilized for play with single or multiple cats, plenty of space for felines to relax in outdoor weather. The catio includes 6 large platforms. There is enough room in the enclosure for a variety of outdoor activities such as climbing, jumping, or lounging.

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Portable Playpens

A fold-up pet playpen is a great, affordable option for setting up a safe space for your cat to experience the outdoors. She can hang out with you in the yard, on the deck, or even while camping without the commitment of adding a permanent structure to your home.

Great Portable Option
Portable Foldable Pet Playpen Portable Foldable Pet Playpen

This pet playpen has a spacious interior and reinforced seams. It pops up in seconds, and folds flat into a convenient carrying case for travel.

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Helping a Cat who Wants to go Outside get Outside

No matter what, if your cat wants to go outside, be sure that you cat is wearing a safe collar with identifying information any time he is out of the house. And consider getting him microchipped, just in case. Taking your cat outside can lead to improved behaviors and an increase in quality of life for your cat. Doing so safely is easy and fun with the right tools and strategies!

my cat wants to go outside

Kelsey Madison

Kelsey Madison is a cat lover, fostering enthusiast, part time vet tech & writer. She has fostered close to 300 animals over the last 10+ years, and currently has 3 beautiful tabby cats who love to stick their faces in her morning lattes. She is passionate about helping others develop a deeper understanding of their beloved felines and learn more about fostering.