I was wondering how long you should keep an adopted rescue cat indoors before allowing it to explore outside.

I've been told anything from 2 weeks to 3 months.

Thanks everyone. At the moment she's happy enough in the house. We've moved the bird feeder so she can watch the birds out of the window too. She hasn't given any indication yet that she wants to go out but we're obviously thinking ahead. With summer being on its way (hopefully).

  • 7
    Note that you don't have to let the cat outdoors at all....
    – keshlam
    Apr 6, 2015 at 13:39

4 Answers 4


You want to wait until the cat has accepted that this is its new home. How long that takes depends on the cat; it was a month before my two decided I was an acceptable human, and they're indoor cats.

One thing I used to do with outdoor cats after moving was to go out with the cat the first few times -- walk them around the building while they check out the neighborhood and landmarks. They seem to like knowing I'm there if the run into something which might object to them.

Make sure the cat has a collar with your phone number, so if it does get lost or hurt people know who to call. The collar is also an immediate signal that this is a pet rather than feral, which is sometimes important. Ideally the collar should be elastic or have a break-away link so the cat can escape if it gets snagged on a branch, but mine always wore traditional collars and never had a problem (outside of the initial argument about "you are not going out of the house naked, young lady!"). I've also found the collar a useful signal to the cat about whether it will be allowed out or not.

  • 5
    I would also highly recommend microchipping.
    – Spidercat
    Apr 6, 2015 at 15:00

According to the RSPCA:

Cats need time to adjust and settle if you move house. They could get into serious danger trying to return to their previous home. To prevent this, keep cats indoors for at least two weeks after moving. Ensure your cat’s behaviour has settled before letting them outside.

However I would give her at least 6 weeks to learn that your house is her house. When you do let her out, supervise her in the garden before letting her go out of sight. My youngest cat had five or so short supervised 'adventures' before she was allowed to climb the fence and go wherever she wanted.

  • Hi @Piper what do you mean by supervised? Would this be letting her in the garden with a harness and leader?
    – Wildwookie
    Apr 7, 2015 at 10:45
  • @Wildwookie Use a harness if you've got one but I just meant stand with her - she will likely be nervous at first so you want to make sure she doesn't panic and bolt. If you think she's in an anxious mood then immediately take her back inside. It depends on how far away she has moved from her previous house - but you must make sure she has completely settled in at your house before you let her out the door.
    – Piper
    Apr 7, 2015 at 18:19

Being outside for a kitty is conducive to increased physical activity, natural stimulation, as well as it acts as an outlet for their natural instinctive cat behavior. There are risks however. They can be hit by a car, for example.

I have always had my kitties enjoy the great outdoors. I had adopted a 7 year old, declawed cat. She was so fat when I first got her, her stomach rubbed on the ground. She was obviously uncomfortably fat! It wasn't until I let that poor thing out that she started to trim down. Not having claws didn't slow her down. She could take on any challenger and box them to defeat. She was the best mouser I have ever had. She lived to the golden age of 18. That cat's whole disposition changed when she was allowed outside. She went from ornery to fun and active. Just saying.


The initial question was posted 5 years ago. We had our beloved Dot for 4 years and she remained a very happy house cat who went out in the garden on a harness in the summer.

We now have three other adopted house cats and a good sized catio so they can also chill or play outside in the sun.

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