Have You Ever Attempted To Tame A Feral Cat?

It’s a real challenge to tame a feral cat. Do you have a high quota of patience? How about the necessary time to spend on this project? Domesticating a cat that has lived outside in the great wild world will not be easy.

One of my references, http://excitedcats.com, offers definitions of the different types of stray cats that you might meet. Here they are:

Group of strays and ferals being fed
  1. FERAL The true feral cat has had little to no human contact throughout his life, and therefore would be unlikely to trust humans. The true feral ranks essentially as a wild animal, and this reference says you should not attempt to tame them.
  2. SEMI-FERAL This cat you might attempt to tame. It falls between feral cats and socialized cats. Though he doesn’t want you to touch them, he may not fear human interaction. He will most likely make eye contact with you and might talk to you. With time, attention, effort, and care, you have a good chance to tame this cat.
  3. SOCIALIZED If you find such a cat, he has probably just gotten lost or run away from home. He ranks as entirely domesticated. He doesn’t retreat from contact and finds such meetings comfortable. Try your best to find his owner.

If you find a socialized cat, before you adopt kitty, first ascertain that he really has no home. He might belong to someone and has just wandered from his own house.

Okay, so say you have found a semi-feral cat that will interact with you and talk to you, though kitty will not let you touch. So, what steps do you need to follow to tame this kitty?

First, Build A Rapport

First of all, the cat is more apt to give you attention if you ignore him. Cats, perverse creatures that they are, will become much more interested in you. If the cat “talks” to you and doesn’t just run away, your success chances become higher.

When you and kitty begin to interact, you want to make sure the cat finds your meetings satisfying. You don’t want him/her to feel threatened at all by your presence. A way to make sure kitty enjoys your time together is to offer food.

Rescuers say that mealtimes prove the best time to interact and build rapport. Yes, the way to kitty’s heart might include tasty food. You can also offer treats and possibly toys,

Feral cats by the sea

Get The Cat Used To Human Contact

Contact with you might seem scary to kitty, but other types of human contact can make the problem worse. People talking to each other, music, doors opening and closing, all provide sounds that kitty does not understand.

It becomes important to get kitty used to dealing with these new, distracting stimuli. As you interact, make sure to include some of these experiences so you can defuse them and accustom the cat to these new noises.

Invite Kitty To Come Inside

Once your semi-feral gets comfortable with you and can tolerate the normal sounds that accompany your lifestyle, invite him/her into your home.

Start by leaving the door open for a time when you go back inside after interacting with your new friend. A good idea: Leave food and/or water just inside your door to tempt kitty to enter. Let the cat get used to the idea. Eventually, it will become part of kitty’s normal routine.

Provide Hiding Places And Monitored Space

Your new kitty friend needs places that belong just to him, where he can feel safe and secure. However, don’t leave him alone for too long. Give him attention and support and help him learn his way around your home.

Are You Sure You Are Up To Taming Such A Cat?

Trapping a stray cat

Do you truly want to adopt the feral cat for yourself? Do you have space and time to give the cat? It could take months or even years to tame such an animal. Can you commit to caring for this cat for the rest of its life?

After all, if you tame this cat and then give it to a shelter, you are in essence abandoning kitty, who now loses the only human he trusts in the whole world. Such a situation would prove horrible for the cat. If you can’t commit, don’t even start the taming process.

Black feral cats in New Orleans

If you do get into a situation where you have tamed a cat and then find him to be miserable indoors, you can’t take him back. He’s lived inside and may find his old living space much altered, and he might not know how to deal with it.

You can’t give him to someone else, as he has no taming experience with that person. The best thing you could do consists of finding someone with a barn who will let him live there. Then he will have access to a dry place out of the weather but will still have his freedom.

What Ferals Prove Easiest To Tame?

If you can capture a feral kitten early enough, before they have learned to survive in the wild by themselves, you will find them easy to tame. The older they are, the harder it becomes to tame them.

The kitten’s mother should have weaned it at least four weeks before you capture it. Health-wise, they need at least that four weeks with the mother to ensure good health. If you can, also capture Mom and have her spayed to prevent future litters.

Three feral kittens
It’s easier to tame a feral at this age

Taming the kittens could take at least six weeks, depending on their age and degree of wildness. As each cat is different, the taming time may take longer. Partially, it depends on the cat’s temperament. Do expect to exercise patience.

The older the cat, the longer and more challenging you may find the taming process. When you feed the kitty, try not to make eye contact, as kitty may think of such as a threat. Remain still and quiet; sit or stand in the area; after a few days, speak to kitty in a calm and reassuring voice.

As the cat’s trust seems to grow, move the food a little closer each day. Don’t try to touch the cat or pick it up until kitty becomes ready. If the cat backs away when you try to touch it, wait a few days and try again. Build trust slowly.

My Experience With Taming Ferals

After reading the definitions of feral, semi-feral, and socialized, I can see that I had adopted two semi-feral kittens. Their mother and three kittens were fed daily for an entire summer by the wife of a project foreman in my village of Ouzinkie.

Of course, I couldn’t get close to them, but the allure of food brought success. I opened the box, put the food inside, and stepped away. First one kitten got in the box and started eating, and soon the second one joined her (I later found that both were female.)

My semi-feral Siamese, Lou

Then those folks left, and the cats had to fend for themselves. The mother and her offspring now must to find their own food. Mama Cat had three kittens, and I wanted two of them: twin Siamese cats, both female, as it turned out.

A couple of weeks after their benefactors left, I trudged into the village with a box and some cat food. Providence had a hand in the matter — When I arrived, I could see only the two Siamese. Mom and the other kitten had disappeared.

My semi-feral Siamese, Poo

I quickly stepped up and closed the box, then carried it the mile and a half back home. Once in my cabin, I had help. My black tom, Sam, took over. I opened the box on the floor, and the kittens climbed out. Sam immediately befriended them and took them under his paw.

I named them Poo and Lou, the nicknames I’d given to my two black cats, Uptight Cat and Loose Cat. They learned their names, but never really became fully domesticated. They would run, whenever someone new appeared, or even from me, until they knew my identity.

However, Sam Cat raised them well, and they got very accustomed to me and any regular visitors. Such beautiful littlle cats — Siamese coloring with four white paws and a white chin.

Sam had ideas about discipline. Until they finally reached full maturity, he would not let them go down to the beach, because big birds could swoop down and take them. For several months, he would also chase them home if they tried to follow when we went hiking.

They have afforded me so many fine memories, and I cherish the adventures we had together. They definitely found a place in my heart and home.

If you can capture and tame a feral kitty and give it a happier home, more power to you!

References I used for this post:


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