Can Ragdoll Cats Go Outside? Watch Our Video =)

One of the big things about Ragdoll cats is that they are supposed to be indoor-only cats and not accustomed to the outdoors. Many Ragdoll breeders make adopters sign contracts saying they won’t let their cats outside. So, it asks, “Can Ragdoll cats go outside?”

Can Ragdoll Cats Go Outside - Seal Mitted with a blaze Ragdoll cat Charlie on grass outside

Deciding to Let Your Ragdoll Cat Outside

As with many decisions, the decision to let your Ragdoll outside is a subjective one. And also, how you’re going to let them outside. When a breeder has you sign that on a contract, I believe they think more like you let the cat outside in the morning and let them back in at night. They’re not referencing taking them for walks in a stroller or on a lead or letting them out in a catio, for example. 

My quarantine cat vlog series created a lot of questions as to why I let my cats outside.  We have also had a decent discussion about it on Facebook.

Seal Mitted Ragdoll Cat Charlie with an hourglass blaze and Trigg Chiggy Blue Lynx Mitted Ragdoll cat IMG_1196
Ragdoll cats, Trigg and Charlie, outside

Why Breeders Don’t Want Ragdoll Cats Outside

But maybe they are.  If you’re a breeder reading this and ask that your adopters not let their cats out, please let me know in the comments why you don’t.

Recently, a breeder, Stormi Nell of FamilytimeRags, shared why she doesn’t allow her adopters to let their kittens outside. She stated, “We have had 3 pet owners lose their cats in horrible ways. One ran out the door when their child opened the door. The cat feeling safe outside ran straight to the street and was killed. Another family had almost the same scenario, but the cat survived being hit. She had a long recovery time with a broken hip, but all ended up okay.

Seal Mitted Ragdoll Cat Charlie with an hourglass blaze outside on grass - Can Ragdoll Cats Go Outside
Seal mitted Ragdoll cat Charlie outside in the grass

Another family was walking their cat when a stray dog came and attacked. It was a nasty attack, the cat did not die immediately, but the vet could not save him. The last was a cat who loved digging in the dirt and got very sick. The owner was wonderful; she did everything she should do.

The vet did as well, but when nothing was making sense, he finally did the test for histoplasmosis, and by the time the test came back, the cat was too far gone. It was probably a month or more of testing, new medicine, and no recovery. The vet said the kitty likely got the histoplasmosis from the dirt they were playing in.”

Seal Mitted Ragdoll Cat Charlie with an hourglass blaze outside on grass meowing IMG_1190
Ragdoll cat Charlie meowing outside

Do Ragdoll Cat Owners Let Their Cats Outside?

Floppycats has been around since 2008, and since then, I’ve heard of many, many Ragdoll cat owners who let their kitties outside. They use various means like taking them for walks on leads/leashes or in a stroller, or they have a catio (a safe and secure patio designed to accommodate the needs of a feline). Sometimes, they let them stroll in their backyard as I do with mine. I do not endorse or suggest letting your cats outside. I firmly believe it is a personal decision based on what you’re comfortable with, given your situation, beliefs, etc.

Seal Mitted Ragdoll Cat Charlie with an hourglass blaze outside on grass in a tree IMG_1204

Dangers of Letting a Cat Outside

The dangers of outside vary depending on where you live. Dangers include and are not limited to (please tell me more if I’ve forgotten them):

Seal Mitted Ragdoll Cat Charlie with an hourglass blaze outside in a tree IMG_1207
  1. Dogs
  2. Other cats – neighborhood cats that are roaming
  3. Foxes
  4. Coyotes – Unfortunately, many readers have shared horror stories of their cats being killed by coyotes with me.
  5. Wolves
  6. Hawks and Owls
  7. Bald Eagles and other large raptors
  8. Fleas
  9. Ringworm
  10. Heartworm (from mosquitoes)
  11. Vehicles
  12. Yard Chemicals
  13. Neighbors poisoning them
  14. Children or other people hurting them
  15. Being stolen
  16. Poisonous snakes
  17. Poisonous plants

Other Dangers of Letting a Cat Outside

Of course, cats are known to be swift and efficient killers – they kill birds, bunnies, and more.  So you are putting wildlife populations at risk by letting your cat outside. Read this reader’s story about why she no longer lets her cats outside.

Why I Let My Ragdoll Cats Outside

As many of you know, when I moved into my first home, I brought my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, with me.  He was 16 years old at the time.

Trigg Chiggy Blue Lynx Mitted Ragdoll cat eating grass IMG_0551

He immensely enjoyed his daily strolls in my backyard, and I enjoyed watching him, especially as he approached his final years. He would sit for hours just watching the bees. I also found the stroll helped him go to the bathroom (#2), and so I appreciated the benefits of that too. Here is an old video of my old man on this daily stroll.

When Charlie was a kitten, I had a bunch of people over one evening. It was winter, and we had about 1 inch of snow on the ground. Someone had opened the back door (because the house was hot and they were trying to cool off) – I freaked out because I knew Charlie was probably out there.

Trigg Chiggy Blue Lynx Mitted Ragdoll cat laying on grass outside IMG_1715

I am not keen on them being outside at night – I don’t trust night animals – owls, raccoons, opossums, etc. So I flew outside to see if I could find him, and he was running around like a madman on the patio in the snow in complete delight at his newfound freedom.

 The joy and peace the outside brought Rags are why I decided to let Charlie and Trigg outside…because of that night of Charlie being a nut. We now go outside every day – I try to schedule about 1 hour of my day to do it.  The three of us go out there together. 

My backyard is entirely fenced in – they both have escaped. Charlie, twice. Trigg, once. Trigg’s was entirely unintentional – he smelled something and crept under a part of the fence that I didn’t know he could get under. That portion of the fence was fixed the next day.

Trigg Chiggy Blue Lynx Mitted Ragdoll cat outside on grass IMG_1157

Charlie has scaled the fence twice when he has gotten a whiff of the neighborhood cat, Pancho. He hates him. I don’t know why, but Charlie wants to kill him. Pancho used to come in our backyard before we got a 6 ft privacy fence – when we had the chain-linked fence, he would come in the back.

One time when I let the cats out, I didn’t know Pancho was in the backyard – so when he saw Charlie and Trigg, he burst out of the bushes and ran off to get away from them. But, unfortunately, that was it for Charlie – he chased the heck out of Pancho – Pancho (experienced in scaling fences) scaled the fence in an instant, leaving Charlie hissing and pissy behind the fence.

So since that incident, Charlie has wanted to kill Pancho. It’s been about a year since Charlie has scaled the privacy fence (which is easier to scale since he can climb the wood with his claws). I figured out that before Charlie scales the fence, he does a certain kind of meow. So when I hear that, and if I am not nearby, I will say, “Charlie, NO!” Then he flicks his tail and decides it’s not a good idea. It’s weird.

Sure, every day I let them out, I run the risk that I could lose them. I have talked about it in a video – I would not trade keeping them for another day in exchange for the joy they get going outside. That’s also why I put flea control on them.

I tried the natural ones – didn’t work for us. The chemical ones do – I hate putting it on them – it makes me think I’m asking for problems later on. However, their daily joy is not something I want to take away from them. They both love going out so much.

I don’t know if I should start it again after Charlie and Trigg are gone. Letting them out is a lot of work – especially if it’s muddy, cold, rainy, etc. But, on the pleasant days, it’s a joy…and I enjoy doing yard work with them.

Floppycats Who Let Let Their Cats Outside.

A Reader who lets his cat go outsite with a tracker comment on Youtube.

How you CAN let your Ragdoll outside safely.

  1. Catio
  2. Containment Fence
  3. Strollers
  4. Leash
  5. Harnesses
  6. Flea Prevention Options – Please consult with your veterinarian. Non-topical flea meds are safer for your kitty. Be sure to research these dangers neurologically before applying them to your cat.

Do you let your Ragdoll cat outside?  Why or why not?

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Hi, I’m Jenny Dean, creator of Floppycats! Ever since my Aunt got the first Ragdoll cat in our family, I have loved the breed. Inspired by my childhood Ragdoll cat, Rags, I created Floppycats to connect, share and inspire other Ragdoll cat lovers around the world,

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28 Comments

  1. Hi, I live in south England in a relatively busy town. We have two cats age 2 & 13 who come and go as they please and now a gorgeous little ragdoll kitten. He’s already interested in going outside, he sees the other cats play in the garden and me in and out all the time. I have been reading how you shouldn’t let ragdolls outside due to them not being very street wise. Our road at the front of the house is quite busy at times but my other two cats only ever go out the back into neighbours gardens. I am concerned that I won’t be able to keep my kitty inside whether I want to or not. He’s so brave and not a scared kitten at all which also concerns me. I don’t see how I can keep one inside and then let the other two out. The vet told me I should be able to tell if he is capable of going outside. Are there any signs to look out for that may help me or ideas on how to help him become more street wise? Thanks Ruth

    1. Sorry, Ruth – it really is subjective – no one on here should tell you it’s OK to let him out. I never like the idea of cats roaming for obvious reasons, so maybe you can install a cat containment fence.

  2. I originally kept my two ragdolls indoors, but we have big french doors at the back of the living area and every now and then they were managing to slip out if the gap to let some air in was misjudged. I would notice them then just sitting and chilling in the sun in the back garden… if I couldn’t find them, I could look over the fence and just see them frolicking in the next door neighbours gardens, seeming so happy. They still spend more time in that out, and normally at least pop back for an indoor lie down and some attention every half hour or so. I’ve also seen them interact with other cats, and they actually scare off the poor two siameses next door! and just suitably avoid the others. The gardens are enclosed to the “outside world” so they can’t get in to incoming traffic, strangers or wild animals, and a little shake of some treats or opening a can of tuna sends them running back in any way. It’s of course specific cat dependent, but in the right circumstances, with the cat old enough and some VERY close eyes being kept on them first of all, it isn’t a definite no

  3. I’ve lost every cat I’ve ever let go out. There’s always one night where they won’t come in. I heard it when the last one I let out got caught by coyotes. The sound haunts me and I’ll never let it happen again. My indoor/ outdoor cats all died between the ages of 2 and 7. My indoor cats all lives to be almost 20. It’s just not safe.

    1. Ugh. I am so sorry – I can imagine why that would haunt you.

    2. Anonymous says:

      I completely agree! My sweet boy wouldn’t have any idea what to do to defend himself! It’s just so much safer and no fleas. Since he has never been outside in his life he doesn’t try to get out so it’s so nice to not have to guard the doors when someone is going in and out

  4. Christine says:

    I’m going to spend $2800 for a ragdoll. I don’t know if I want to take the risk of letting him outside with that price tag. Our other cat (rescue) is indoor only, and our dogs stay indoors except for potty/walks. We have bears, coyotes, and cougars in the vicinity as well as cars, so I don’t even let my kids go outside without me nearby.

  5. Sharon Conway says:

    In U.S. & Canada, ticks (Lyme disease) is a real issue. Be sure vet meds include flea AND tick prevention.

  6. I live in Switzerland, my apartment is on the ground floor of a condo. I let my ragdolls outside only when I’m home. They love it and get along with most of the neighbors cats. They don’t mind the dogs, the dogs are usually on the leash and couldn’t care less about cats. My rags get scared of people and noises so usually don’t spend more than 10 min outside without coming back home, checking on me and then going outside again. The condo’s backyard is huge and there’s no busy street too close but they wouldn’t dare crossing the street anyway. I just trust them going outside because they are shy. Not sure I would let them out if they were super confident cats. I think I would be too worried something could happen to them.
    Jenny thanks for the blog, for FB, for YB… you teach me a lot about cats, you are so sweet and I also have a lot of fun reading your stories… big hug from a half Brazilian half Italian living in Switzerland.

    1. Thank you, Carmen – for sharing! So interesting that you live in Switzerland – I have visited that beautiful country – loved it. Zermatt and Geneva. How did you end up there?

  7. I let my ragdolls out anytime they want during the day, and when it’s not too cold out. They choose not to leave the house if it’s wet or cold out, but otherwise they love the outdoors! I think it’s healthy for them, they get so much entertainment and exercise out there, and they live their best happiest life when outside. I keep a close eye on them and call them back if I see they have ventured too far, but I can’t imagine the sad life of keeping them locked up in a house.
    As far as a ragdoll not being able to defend themselves, well mine have proven to be great cats and I would rather them live happy full lives albeit filled with more risk then a long boring life locked up. Saying that, I was careful in how I introduced them to the outdoors and gradually gave them more freedoms, they do learn.

    1. “I would rather them live happy full lives albeit filled with more risk then a long boring life locked up” – I hear you.

  8. Hi Jenny!
    I was wondering if you and other members of the group allow your Ragdolls to receive the vaccine for Feline leukemia? I was told that Ragdolls should not have that vaccine because they are sensitive to it, but most vets recommend it for cats that go outside.

  9. This is a great article. I’m from the UK where risks are lower, however, as I’ve learned, you do still need need to be very vigilant, even if taking your cats out into an enclosed garden on harnesses and leads.

    We are very protective of our Ragdoll fur babies and we had no intension of letting them outside at all. However, due to issues with damp and mould in the home from a leaking pipe under flooring, both cats became incredibly unwell (projectile vomiting daily), so we started taking them out into the garden on harnesses and leads, so we could open all doors and windows to air the home.

    Ragdoll cats outside on leashes and harnesses UK

    Within a split second, a Persian chinchilla cat jumped over a 7’ fence and came into the garden. We knew the cat very well, as the owner had originally handed him over to us where they could not look after it, and did not brush him, however, once we had turned him into a beautiful house cat (which he should always have been due to the breed), the owner decided to take him back then started letting him out again. Anyway, we assumed he would be okay with our cats, particularly as he was small compared to our Ragdolls, however, within a split second he attacked BoBo, our easy going Ragdoll. From that day onwards, it triggered a behavioral issue with Jasper, his brother, and he started re-directing aggression to BoBo on a daily basis. 4 years on we are still dealing with Jasper’s aggression and it can be quite traumatic at times.

    Hopefully Floppycats will be able to upload some photographs I had included when I commented on their Facebook Group. There is a photo where you can see the Persian chinchilla at the door. Obviously he didn’t understand he no longer lived with us so he clawed at the door from 6am until midnight most evenings begging to come in. The foil on the floor is because Jasper and BoBo kept breaking through the vertical blinds (breaking the chains) and started chewing on electrical cables.

    Ragdoll cats outside catio UK

    The important message we’ve learned from this is… an event which can happen in a split second can trigger an unwanted behaviour. Thankfully the neighbour and cat moved away.

    For those of you wondering why we didn’t just open windows. Our cats were clever enough to fully open any windows on a latch. We had opened upstairs windows and on two separate occasions both cats had got into the rooms (doors were closed) and had fallen out onto concrete. Miraculously both escaped injury.

    This is another example with harnesses and extendible leads. We had been actively playing with Jesper and BoBo, getting them to chase feathers on poles. We thought they had had enough exercise as they were laying on the grass quite content and we were sat with them. Again, in a split second, Jasper took off and ran up the outside of the catio to the top (the catio was build because of the ongoing damp smell in our home and continued ill health). Anyway my other half took BoBo inside – you can see him climbing the inside, as he went to get a ladder. Thankfully, Jasper came down on his own.

    I must admit it gave us quite a fright and we’ve not taken them out since.

  10. I have a ragdoll, she is 10 months and she goes out alone all the time, it had not been my intention. Over summer we were all in the garden and she would cry being left in, and so it began. We have a tall stone wall around the back and she never wandered out, and so it has progressed. She now paws the door to ask out, all weather, but never stays out long, maybe an hour tops, and if i call her name, she returns, often from the top of my garden office. mostly she wants to be around me, so is never far away and always in at night. We have also witnessed her hissing at the neighbors cat, and seeing him off the wall in no uncertain terms, so I believe she can protect herself. I was worried to start with, but we have gradually got used to it. I have had cats all my life, siamese and a few moggies and they all came and went as they wished, her behavior seems perfectly normal. The most distinctive trait seems to be her need to follow me around from room to room, and cry if manage to move to another room without her noticing

  11. Sonya Gits says:

    I have a ragdoll x birman cross she is fixed and micro chipped has just turned one. Collar with name and phone number. Loves her freedom outside and climb trees has just started trying to scale fence to neighbours. Left inside she just cries wanting out. I feel mean, but don’t want to loose her. If she does go over fence do you think she will she know her way back home. Or should I keep my eye on her till she is 2. I am in New Zealand will always make sure she is in at night. What do you think?

    1. Sonya Gits says:

      My Ragdoll has just turned 2 years old and she has been going in and out of the house for a year now. But yesterday she spent her birthday stuck on a neighbours house roof for 5hrs couldn’t get down. We had been calling her as she always comes but this time didnt so was strange then finally heard her crying. Got a ladder and got her home. Did not let her out today and she doesn’t seem to want too. Does anyone know do cats remember they were scared and will not do it again. please reply.

  12. Who says it cuts their lives in 1/2? I was taking mine on nightly walks in the stroller, and they enjoyed that so much they wait every night for their ride at the door. Then I finally let them have a morning excision to get more exercise. I have two age 1 and 9 months. They go to the door in the morning and I’m always outside following them. I never intended on letting this happen but they see our 3 dogs go out and they would sit there like why not me? They do not go out with the dogs, which are huskies so we get very few animals into our yard. My main concern before I even got a Raghu was FIP. How do they contract that as it’s the only reason that I don’t walk them round the block on a harness in case, but I know many do and I know they’d love it.. I can’t bear to think of losing them, but I’m curious why a very would say 1/2 lifespan?? I obviously want them safely protected, they never go out without me, but that comment scared me. What was the reasoning for it or is that in case of animals or being hit by cars which my guys are quite chill and enjoying their outdoor time so much.. but I want them to have a very happy and full life of course. We have a fenced in yard and one of my twins helps me watch them every morning and comes on walks at night. Do they get cold in winter time or still wanna go out and don’t really feel it or need a jacket. It’s summer here in NY. They haven’t jumped or climbed to get out. There are no cats in the houses next door on either side which I like and again having huskies, cats do not wanna come here out back. Never seen one back there in 20 years. I’m just afraid of cat germs during a harness type walk cause of the FIP factor. I love my babies so much I can’t imagine life without them already. Thanks for any advice or answers you can give. I appreciate Kate the guidance on a pretty new but concerned rag mommy. Tysm! ❤️❤️❤️ Shelly

    1. I can confirm that outdoor cats definitely can have half the lifespan of indoor cats. That’s because they get eaten or hit by cars. I’ve had 8 cats during my life. Four were strictly indoors and four were indoor/ outdoor. I always tried my best to get them in before dark. But they didn’t always want to come. The four that went outdoors *all* disappeared. They were between 3 and 7 years old. The ones kept inside all lived to be 17-20 years old.

  13. Steven Erving says:

    You have to be joking. Our Rogdoll Barnie, named because he was raised in a barn before we adopted him is very much a OUTDOOR CAT! He watches over his large outdoor area and keeps all the ferals out. He loves to sit in my lap as I drive and look out the window. He goes camping with us and even chased off a Racoon who was getting close to our site. We have a cat door in the window so he comes and goes as he pleases and loves it this way. No litter box as he prefers the outdoors. At 5 years old now he is very strong and fast when he wants to be but most of the time walks at a very slow pace. To chase off other cats he make a yowling sound that sound like a child screeming. He is very untrusting of new people until he gets to know them and very picky about food. Rather than bringing in a mouse as a trophey he will bring it into the house and eat it. He has bonded to me and sleeps next to me and only curls up on my lap. He will lay next to my Wife but only curls up to me. He loves to play on the roof and jumps straight up further than any cat I have ever seen. I swear he is half dog. When the weather gets bad he cant wait to get outside and comes in soaked. He loves the water and being in our Kayak. He is very smart and very aware and Loves his freedom.

    1. Hi I’m getting two rag doll kittens soon & was good hearing you say you let your rag doll out! I think all cats posh or not should have some freedom as it’s in a cats nature! Obviously will be keeping a good eye on them when they do go out in a few months & try to keep them in garden but won’t make him if that’s a issue because its cruel. Thanks for your comment

  14. My kitties are not allowed outside for several reasons – many listed above; however, also because they can walk in another animals feces or urine (or bird droppings), then lick their paws and get whatever desease the other animals may have had. This is too risky for me and I’ve also been told, by my vet as well as others, that cats allowed outside can have their longevity cut in half. I won’t risk losing my precious babies before the rainbow bridge calls when they’ve lived a long and healthy life.

    1. Makes sense – I am also aware of those – but had forgotten them, so thanks for sharing. I do like my cats being exposed to build antibodies too =). Thank you for sharing your opinion and your choice for your cats.

  15. i agree totally with what Patti said. This was very well written Jenny and I’m so glad that you wrote it. I feel guilty sometimes that I let my cats out and 2 of them do not stay in the yard. I feel that if you get a kitten and it never knows the outside and it has lots of things to do inside then that is great and that is what i wish was my situation. But all three of my cats came from outside.. two were abandoned and one was essentially abandoned as my across the street neighbor at the time moved and just left him because she was pissed that he kept coming to my place. When a cat is used to being outside then it’s hard to all of a sudden not allow them to ever go out. They don’t understand why and it feels cruel to me. And my cats would go nuts. I started building little obstacle courses and forts and things that they can climb on so that maybe that would encourage them to want to stay in the yard more. And i do worry when the two leave the yard. But I can’t in good conscience lock them up in the house. One of my cats will stay in the yard and we play and then he wants to come in. He just wants to be with me so it’s easier with him. And now that it’s cold, the other two will not stay out very long at all. I think the way you do it is perfect Jenny and if we had a yard like yours my cats would maybe stay around more too. i have a really small yard with no trees or plants and it’s south facing so it’s brutal in the summer and just not interesting. that’s why i’m trying to make it more appealing. I rent so there is only so much I can do. Luckily I don’t live on a busy street it’s really quiet but I still know that anything could happen. I just can’t take that away from them and sometimes i wish I was stronger and just stopped letting them out at all. But then I feel that they would be miserable and confused and very pissed and I just can’t do that to them.

    1. Sounds like you are doing what’s best for your kitties and your situation. I like when a cat owner is so aware of their kitties’ needs/wants…and I understand the risk…and sounds like you do too! Thanks for commenting and sharing!

  16. Wonderful post & videos about such a very controversial and interesting topic, Jenny!!! Thank you so much for the way you presented all this info and I totally understand why you allowed Rags outside and why you allow Charlie & Trigg outside, too! I think it’s marvelous that you do that for them as I truly believe it enriches their lives in so many ways. You have the perfect back yard for that, too! 🙂 <3

    Lurved both videos, too! It's obvious how much Rags enjoyed the outdoor time and I don't need to tell you how much I LURVE seeing Charlie & Chiggy outside in your videos!!! 🙂 <3

    If I had the same setup that you do I would have Miss PSB out in the backyard for an hour each day, too. I think it's a brilliant way to let them explore and find their inner predator when running and hiding and climbing and stalking their way through the brush & foliage! 🙂 <3

    Big hugs & lots of love!

    Patti & Miss Pink Sugarbelle 🙂 <3

    1. Thanks, Patti – I think it’s important not to judge and trust people to make decisions that are educated and wise about their cats. Sometimes we can’t always agree, but respecting their decisions is important. I wish you had the same setup I do so that Miss PSB could go outside too!

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