I have a nearly 14 month male cat called Jaffacake (who has been neutered). I have not let him outside yet but he sometimes cries near the back door so I have taken him out on a feline lead.
Is it too late to start letting him outside by himself? I'm worried about him not being streetwise enough or wander too far or get into fights with other cats.
I feel mean letting him out but would never forgive myself if something happened to him.
any advice would be great!
The worries you mention should be your concerns regardless of whether you started to let him outdoors as a kitten or not until now. That great outdoors, no matter where you live, and how "street-smart" your cat is, is DANGEROUS.
Regardless of how intelligent any of us think our cats are, they are not smart enough to know all the dangers and avoid all the dangers that are waiting for them outdoors. You have to be the smart one.
Cars, cat bites from cats carrying Leukemia or FIV, attacks from wild animals or cats and dogs, parasites (skin and GI), wandering off and getting lost, rabies in some areas, upper respiratory viruses transmitted from other outdoor cats, foul play, poisons, getting accidentally locked in someone's garage for days or injured when they're sleeping under a car hood and the owner starts the engine, getting stuck in a tree, falling from a great height, .......I could go on and on. Unfortunately, I've seen it all and still do more than I would like.
Save yourself the heartbreak or high vet bills or greatly decreased lifespan of outdoor cats and spare your kitty from pain, fear, and diseases and keep him inside while he's already used to being inside!!!!
I know you only asked for a bit of advice and not a long lecture, but the suffering I've seen and the personal pain I've experienced has made this subject one very dear to my heart.
I'm glad you wrote to me before you made your decision and I hope you'll consider very seriously what I've said.
Thank you for writing!!!!