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When should I let my ex-stray outside?

(Q) When should I let my ex-stray outside? 

(A) Cat behaviourist Celia Haddon says: You cannot keep a cat inside for too long, but you can let a cat out too early. So it is always wise to err on the side of caution, particularly with a cat that is used to living as a stray.

So much depends on the individual cat. Some stray cats, having found a warm home, refuse to go out much! Others yearn for their freedom. The vast majority of rescued strays, however, will return at mealtimes‚ unless they have a second home nearby where they have been fed in the past. If this is the case you might have to wait an extra month before letting him out.

I would suggest a month or so of letting your cat outside under supervision. During this month start feeding him at set times when you want to be able to call him in easily. For instance, if you want to call him in for the evening, start timing a feed at 6pm, or whatever time suits you. This means that when you let him out, he has an incentive to return at that time.

Also, start calling him over to you within the house and give him a treat when he gets to you so he is more likely to come in when called.