5 Ways to Satisfy Your Indoor Cat’s Desire to be Outside

Although your cat is domesticated, they still possess hunting instincts. Those instincts might make your kitty itch to be outside sometimes. Primarily, your cat is an indoor cat, but some time outdoors might not hurt provided you have a safe setup. Let’s discuss your options?

What are some ways to satisfy your indoor cat’s desire to be outside? You can satisfy your indoor cat’s desire to be outside in the following ways:

  • Leash them up and take them for a walk
  • Carry them outside in a kitty stroller or backpack 
  • Set up an outdoor enclosure for them
  • Ride a bike with your cat, bringing them in a cat carrier
  • Sit outside with your cat

The above 5 controlled measures for outdoor exploration will let you introduce your cat to the world, where they can smell all sorts of things and experience the warmth of the sunshine firsthand. Keep reading to learn more about these methods, with some helpful product suggestions along the way! 

5 Methods for Spending Quality Outdoor Time with Your Indoor Cat

Leash up Your Indoor Cat and Take Them for a Walk

I just wrote a detailed article about walking your cat. If you missed it, I highly recommend you go back and read it, but I’ll recap all the most pertinent bits of info for you here.

First, walking your cat on a leash isn’t mandatory like it is a dog because cats can use a litterbox for their bathroom needs. Why walk your cat at all? Walking your cat can be a good form of exercise and the time outdoors allows your cat to directly soak in some vitamin D from the sun.

If you decide you want to walk your cat, you’ll need a harness. The Rabbitgoo cat harness and leash combo is an Amazon’s Choice product and a best-seller that’s highly recommended among cat lovers. That doesn’t necessarily mean too much these days but I’ve purchased two of them so far and I couldn’t be happier with them.

I originally bought a smaller size and more recently ordered another as my cat “Tilly” has grown out of the original smaller sized Rabbitgoo harness. The harness has four straps for adjustments and two side buckles with snaps, both features of which are designed to prevent your curious kitty from slipping out. 

This harness and leash set works for cats with a chest girth of 13.5 to 16 inches and a neck girth of 8.5 to 11 inches. Whether you buy the Rabbitgoo harness or any other harness, please make sure the harness is made for cats, not small dogs. This will ensure a close fit so your cat is nice and secure.

As I mentioned in my post about walking your cat, everything in moderation. Since yours is an indoor feline, spending the requisite time adjusting your cat to the outdoors is a must. You want to do that by taking them out but keeping them very close to the house. Then let them spend a brief moment outside, adding more time and more time from there. Reward them for their progress all along. 

Adjust them to their harness when your cat is in the house. The first time your cat wears their harness, they’ll probably be very eager to get the thing off. You shouldn’t leave the harness on for more than a minute or two initially. Like with acclimating your indoor cat to the great outdoors, adding time incrementally to harness use is key.

My last point on walking your cat is this: don’t expect to be strolling through the whole neighborhood as you do when taking your dog for a walk. Some cats can handle long walks like that, but most will want to walk for a few minutes and then go home. Gauge how your cat is feeling by their walking speed. When they slow down, it’s probably time to head for home. 

Carry Your Indoor Cat Outside in a Kitty Stroller or Backpack

Perhaps your cat is on the lazier side. All they like to do is lounge in the sun, sleep, and eat. Maybe they play sometimes, but it’s in very short bursts. You just don’t think your kitty is equipped for walking, but you’d still like to give them some outdoor time.

You can always do all the hard work by pushing your cat along in a kitty stroller or by carrying them in a pet backpack. If you prefer the stroller option, the Kittywalk is one of the better options for toting your cat around town. 

Yes, it’s an expensive stroller, but it’s ideal for cats up to 25 pounds and it includes a removable pet carrier. The carrier itself measures 17 inches tall by 14 inches wide and 26 inches long. That gives your cat plenty of room to move, stretch, and watch the world go by as they’re leisurely pushed along in their stroller. 

You can compact the Kittywalk if you live in a small home or apartment and space is an issue. When compressed, the stroller measures 5 inches tall by 19 5/8 inches wide and 29 ½ inches long.

The front wheels of the Kittywalk turn independently and a rear safety brake lets you stop on a whim without causing your cat harm. Even better is that despite the name, the Kittywalk is suitable for small to mid-sized dogs too.

As for backpacks, the Lollimeow Pet Carrier is a good one to consider. This bubble-style backpack features a wide-open clear front window so you can see your cat and they can watch everything and everybody else. With nine ventilation holes in all and side ventilation nets, your kitty can breathe even when the bag is closed.

Ideal for all sorts of four-legged friends, this pet carrier can tote dogs up to 10 pounds and cats that weigh 12 pounds max. 

Set up an Outdoor Enclosure for Your Indoor Cat 

Did you custom-order your kitty the biggest cat tree you could find because you love them that much? (Or because you’re tired of them scratching all your stuff rather than their own.) Then you should be up to the challenge of creating an outdoor enclosure for your cat, also known as a catio.

Sure, you can buy such an enclosure online or at most pet supply stores, but many more cat owners DIY their catio from the ground up. By going the homemade route, you can be sure the enclosure is sized to your cat so they’ll have plenty of space to roam. 

Catio Spaces is a website dedicated to these cat enclosures. Here, you can find a bevy of catio plans for purchase. You can make a small window box catio if space is tight or create some bigger 4×8 or 8×10 enclosures. There’s even a plan for adding an eight-foot tunnel to your outdoor enclosure.

If you’re deciding what kinds of materials you should use for your DIY catio, here are some suggestions:

  • Polycarbonate: A thermoplastic polymer, polycarbonate is a clear, plastic-like material that makes an ideal choice for the roof of your enclosure. Your cat will still get the warmth of the sun but be sheltered overhead.
  • Mesh: Alternately, if you can’t get your hands on polycarbonate or if you need something more budget-friendly for your catio, mesh works just as well as a roofing material. 
  • Cedar: For shelving and any stairs, cedar is a strong, sturdy material, especially the tight-knot variety. 
  • Wire: Welded and galvanized wire over the wood base of your enclosure lends it more strength and a bit of appeal. You can get colored wire that’s covered in vinyl for a softer feel. 

Ride a Bicycle and Bring Your Indoor Cat in a Bike Carrier

If you’re an avid cyclist, why not take your kitty along with you one of these days? 

I would never recommend harnessing your cat, tying their leash to your bike handle, and then riding the bike. The leash can get caught in the bike tires or spokes and injure your cat. Less severely, your riding pace forces your cat to keep up, which might be hard for them. 

Instead, the above-recommended backpack is one option for keeping your cat close while you ride your bike. If you’d rather your cat be in front of you than behind you when you cycle, then you need a front-facing pet basket.

This Petsfit basket says it’s made for dogs, but many cat owners recommend it as well. The carrier has an interior mat that’s double-sided. In warmer weather, flip the mat to the vinyl side, and on cooler days, turn the mat to the plush side for kitty’s comfort. 

Mesh throughout allows for breathability, and with a drawstring top, you can secure the opening of the basket. That said, it doesn’t close all the way, so you must make sure your cat won’t jump.

How do you acclimate your cat to riding in a bike basket? Here are some of my best tips for cycling safely with your cat:

  • Some states may have rules or laws about whether riding your bike with an animal in the basket is allowed. Here are the state biking rules courtesy of Bike League.org. Check the rules in your state and always follow them.
  • Make sure you feel comfortable and secure riding a bike with your cat in the basket. If the extra weight is too much, or you feel excess pressure because you’re terrified of an accident, then use another of my recommended methods for satisfying your indoor cat’s interest in the outdoors.
  • Triple-check that the basket is securely attached to your bike before you start pedaling.
  • As with all other forms of outdoor togetherness, getting your cat used to sitting in the bike basket or in a backpack will take time and training. Be willing to put in the work and maintain your patience!
  • When riding with your cat, you don’t want to cycle quickly. Go at a very slow, even pace and avoid doing sudden maneuvers like turning or stopping. 
  • Plan for quick bike rides just as you do when walking your cat. If you two can cycle for five or seven minutes at a time, consider that a victory! 

Sit Outside with Your Indoor Cat on Your Porch 

My last suggestion is by far the simplest and most uncomplicated, but it works. Instead of venturing to and fro with your cat, just take them out on your porch or the back deck, find a nice place to sit, and hold your cat in your lap.

Depending on where you live, just keep in mind when there might be less traffic or people around. Strange loud noises can create a terrible experience for your cat and in turn you too. There are definitely times of the day that I don’t take my cat outside because of the construction that’s happening in my neighborhood.

This is how you should start when adjusting your indoor cat to the outdoors anyway, but don’t think of this method merely as a stepping stone to get where you want to be. We tend to take evening strolls and early morning walks. Just something to keep in mind. It’s a great moment of bonding between you two that can’t be replicated. It’s hard for me to imagine that anyone spending more time with their pet isn’t simultaneously improving the quality of life for themselves and their pet.  

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