My indoor cat wants to be an outdoor cat, what do I do?

Neo snuck out of the house last night. A friend left my front door open accidentally. Neo took the opportunity to escape. He was gone for about 2 hours and I was worried sick. He's not a street wise kind of cat, so any number of things could happen to him. He was born in a feral colony in cottage country in the prairies so he knows the country life, but not so much about the city.

DSCF0005.jpgWhen a friend spotted him (the same friend that left the door open, for those of you keeping track) he was hiding behind a shed and was too freaked out by a dog barking to make his way to the back door. My friend went over to him and Neo walked back to the house taking shelter in shrubs all the way.

With the cooler weather, Neo has been meowing all day and part of the night to get outside. I let him out on a harness as much as I can, but I can't leave him alone. He could get tied up, or break free of his harness and end up who knows where. Not to mention the cars, other cats in the neighborhood and simply the fact that I had a cat get out once and he never came back. I just can't justify letting Neo become an outdoor cat. But my problem is that he loves to go outside. And I do believe that he needs fresh air and sunshine and to chase a few bugs and eat some grass. It's in his nature.

I know this goes against everything I've said before about outdoor cats. And I went on and on about 7 reasons to keep your cat indoors as well as giving you advice on protecting your cat , and tips for preventing your cat from becoming a stray. But I've been doing a little investigating about my options. My brother mentioned to me about a thing called a cat gazebo, so I am doing a little research to see if this is the answer to my problems. I'll let you know what I find out, but in the meant time, if you have any experience with cat gazebos, cat fences or restraints that keep your cat safe outside, please let me know.

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