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We've had our cat for two years or so, rescued from a local shelter when he was about 3.

He's happy in our apartment and likes to use the balcony a lot. It's very safe, glass-walled and he likes to look at cars and buses in the street two stories below.

We'll move to a house with garden in a year or so. We're very concerned that he may leave for good.

We don't know how we will fence the garden, but I don't think we'll be able to fence it good enough to prevent him from going away. That's fine with me as long as he comes back after wandering where he needs to.

Is there anything we'll have to do to make sure he can enjoy some freedom and maybe some hunting, but yet ensure that he still sticks with us most of the time?

We currently think we'll prevent him from going outside for a month or so so that he can get used to the new home. Then open the windows / doors and see what happens.

We tried once to leash him but that's out of question. He absolutely hates it and does everything he can to get rid of it. It becomes its absolute first priority to get rid of it. I don't think I'll ever want to try this again. We tried this on the balcony out of fear of him getting over the balcony and falling down in the street. As it turned out he's very cautious and didn't try to jump.

But this will be different with a garden.

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We currently think we'll prevent him from going outside for a month or so so that he can get used to the new home. Then open the windows / doors and see what happens.

This is really the best you can do. Make sure he knows the inside of the house first, with the usual food/toilet/sleep/play spots. Once he is confortable in this new environment, let him go out. You should be home when you let him out to begin with, and lock him in for the night and when you're away. When you are sure that he is going to come back, you can give him more freedom :-)

A good trick is to let him go out before giving him his daily food. This way, he can wander outside for a bit, and then you can "trick" him in with food ! Should always work, and he will also associate the fact that he needs to come back to get fed.

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I know folks who have fenced outdoor "cat runs" for cats they aren't willing to let run free.

My current cats are strictly indoor beasts, and at this point don't show any interest in going outside (though they like being able to look outside, and make hunting noises when they see something that looks like it would be fun to chase).

Outdoors is dangerous.

But realistically, most cats allowed outdoors do know where they/their humans live, won't go very far, and will return home. Collars with contact info are highly recommended, as are ID chip implants, so the beasties can be returned to you if they're unable to do so on their own (lost or injured).

Remember that they will need a flea collar or equivalent protection.

Something I did with my previous cat: The first few times outside in a new location, I walked with her -- support/reassurance, protection if she needed it, and I could tell her when it was time to head home and provide guidance. Admittedly as a part-Siamese she was more socially focused than some cats, but I do think it's worth a try.

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