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Home > Cats > How to Socialize Feral Cats: 10 Expert Tips & Tricks

How to Socialize Feral Cats: 10 Expert Tips & Tricks

close up of two feral cats

If you found a feral cat in your community or one made their way onto your property and you would like to keep them as a pet, you will need to socialize them to help them feel more comfortable. Keep reading as we list several tips and tricks that will increase your chances of success.


The 10 Tips on Socializing Feral Cats

1. Provide Food and Water

stray cats eating kibble from bowl
Image Credit: Hulki Okan Tabak, Unsplash

One of the best ways to help a feral cat feel more comfortable around you is to provide them with food and water. They are likely malnourished and dehydrated, so you can help them be healthier while establishing a positive association with your presence. Place the bowls near where you usually see the cat, then leave the area so they will come out. We recommend providing high-quality cat food with real meat like chicken or salmon listed as the first ingredient.

2. Be Patient

Continue to provide food and water for several days, and the feral cat will likely become less afraid of your presence and may even start to come out to greet you. However, be patient because they are often quite fearful of humans, and it can take quite a while for them to trust you.

3. Provide Treats

Person giving treats to a cat
Image Credit: Svetlana Rey, Shutterstock

If you can see the cat hiding while filling the food and water bowls or if they come out to greet you, try to coax them closer by using treats. It can take a few tries until they understand what treats are, but they will likely come running once they do, and it will help form a bond between you and them.

4. Create a Safe Place

Whether you intend to keep the cat in your yard or the house, you’ll need to create a safe place for the cat that’s away from foot traffic, loud noise, and bright lights. Boxes work great, as do plastic storage bins. A small shed or garage is a good choice for outdoor cats, and indoor cats usually like being under the bed or in the closet.

5. Get Closer

Once the cat seems more comfortable with your presence, you can try to get closer and spend more time in the area while the cat eats. You could also start to offer them treats from your hand to help strengthen your bond.

6. Use a Calm Voice

woman reaching out to touch a tabby stray cat in the street
Image Credit: sergio souza, Pexels

When speaking to a feral cat, always use a calm, relaxed voice to help them feel more comfortable and calm, especially at first.

7. Play With Them

Once the feral cat is comfortable with your presence, you can engage in playtime. Many cats enjoy chasing after balls of crumpled-up paper or stuffed toys. A laser pointer is also sure to get cats running wild.

8. Visit the Vet

the veterinarian weighs an overweight cat on a scale
Image Credit: Zhuravlev Andrey, Shutterstock

Once the cat is comfortable around you, you’ll need to take them to the vet so they can be looked over to ensure that they aren’t suffering from any health problems. You will also want to get them current on their vaccines and have them spayed or neutered.

9. Call a Professional

If you are struggling to socialize with a feral cat, contact your local animal shelter or animal specialist, as they can provide additional tips.

10. Create a Routine

adult orange tabby cat looking up on green blanket wagging tail
Image By: Lux Blue, Shutterstock

Cats are routine-based animals that prefer a lifestyle that stays the same. If possible, try to create a routine for household activities, especially for feeding your pets and cleaning out the litter box, making it easier for your cat to stay on schedule and feel comfortable.


How Else Can I Help Feral Cats in My Area?

  • Spay or neuter your cats to help prevent them from adding to the feral cat population.
  • Some organizations offer a catch-and-release program and will spay or neuter any cats that you bring in. You then drop the cat back off where you found them, which will help reduce the feral population over time.
  • Donating to your local animal shelters can help these organizations offer a wide range of services that can help feral cats.
  • Volunteering your time at the local animal shelter or vet’s office can be a great way to help the feral cats in your area.
  • If you are willing to provide ongoing food and shelter to a group of feral cats, contact your local animal shelter to learn how to become a colony caretaker.


Final Thoughts

By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can socialize a feral cat so they are comfortable with your presence and can even make a great pet. Providing them with food and water is a great first step because it helps the cat know that you are friendly, and they are likely to come back for more, which will help them become more familiar with you. Providing a cozy, private shelter can help convince them to stay, and after a while, they will let you get close enough to pet them. Taking the cat to the vet can help ensure that they are healthy, and getting them spayed or neutered will help ensure that they don’t reproduce and add to the feral population.

Featured Image Credit: katrin88888, Shutterstock

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