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Your kitten and the great outdoors

Your kitten shouldn't be allowed outside the home until she's completed her first course of vaccinations. And even then, you should wait a further 2 weeks, to make certain the vaccine has had time to take effect. A good age to let her experience the outside world is 14-16 weeks, but please don't let her out unaccompanied until she's really confident; a good guide is whether she's big enough to use the cat flap. While she's little, you should stay with her when she plays, and make sure she doesn't wander off. Of course, when she's older, she'll go her own way.

Some people prefer to keep their cats indoors, which is fine, as long as they have enough exercise around the house. There's no reason why 'indoor cats' can't live a happy, healthy life without ever venturing past the front door. If you're the indoor type, your vet will be able to advise you how to keep your cat in the best possible shape through food and indoor activity games.

How can you 'kitten proof' the outside world?

Letting your kitten play outside for the first time can be daunting. Don't worry though, a few simple steps will help keep her safe and sound.

  • Tell your neighbours you have a new kitten.

  • Encourage her to keep away from busy roads and come home to sleep at night.

  • Remove all poisonous plants from your garden. These include lily of the valley, laburnum and foxglove.

  • Make sure all hazardous chemicals in your shed or garage are safely locked away.

  • Don't use slug pellets, or, if you do, make sure they are special 'pet friendly' ones.

Microchipping - a small thing that can make a big difference

You'll probably want your kitten to wear a collar with your name and contact details attached to it, but it's also worth considering having a microchip fitted.

A microchip is a tiny device, about the size of a grain of rice, that's injected under the skin. It carries a unique number which is entered on a central database, so that if your kitten ever goes missing, she can be re-united with you more easily.

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