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How to Tame a Feral Cat (7 Tips)

Nicole Cosgrove

Feral cats are either born in the wild, abandoned, or lost from their homes. These cats are wild animals and can be tamed at times, but it requires patience.

Most animal lovers who encounter feral cats wonder if they can take them home and care for them. However, it is not as easy as it sounds. There are some steps you need to take to tame an adult feral cat.

On the other hand, feral kittens are easy to tame or capture early enough before they learn to survive by themselves in the wild. The older the kitten gets, the harder it becomes to tame them.

Feral moms give birth to their kittens in hidden, quiet places to keep them away from humans. Once the kitten grows older and starts playing around, humans notice them but are not easy to capture.

The kitten should not be taken from the mother before they are old enough. They need to be weaned for at least four weeks to survive longer.

If you take them before the four weeks are over, they might die of some disease. You should also consider capturing their mother and get them spayed to prevent future litter.

Taming kittens can take at least six weeks, depending on the state of wildness and their age. Different cats have different temperaments. Hence, it’s not like clockwork.

Kittens from the same litter can also differ in personality. It, therefore, requires a lot of patience to tame your cats.

Always remember that every cat is different and taming them will be worthwhile. You are producing affectionate companions for other humans around you. Taming a feral cat, however, requires a lot of time and patience than other cats.

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Essential Tips to Consider When Taming a Feral Cat

1. Call Your Local Animal Control

If you notice a lone cat lurking around your neighborhood, you should never make contact with them. A feral cat considers humans as predators, and when afraid, they can bite, hiss, or even attack you.

Sometimes, feral cats might seem sick, and even if you would like to help them, you shouldn’t. Most feral cats have rabies, and it’s safer if you call your local animal control to avoid you being bitten or scratched by them.

Once the cat has been treated, you can now start the taming process. The process can take several weeks, depending on the cat.


2. Let the Cat Initiate Contact

When looking to tame a feral cat, it is best if you leave the cat alone. Let the cat go about its business as usual.

If you want the cat to hang around you more often, and become interested in you, do not give it your attention. When you notice that they keep hanging around you, you can continue interacting with them.


3. Offer the Cat Food

Cat eating outside
Image Credit: MaraZe, Shutterstock

Once the cat starts getting comfortable with you, you can start interacting with them in a non-threatening way. You must make sure that the cat enjoys interacting with you.

One of the best ways to do that is by offering food to the cat. So the best time to initiate contact with the cat is during meal times.

Offer food to the cat at the same time every day. You can pick a specific place to put the food where the cat can find it to build a routine.

You will notice that the cat will keep coming back for food every time. Keep a close distance from the cat when they feed but do not touch them at first.

You can also offer the cat treats such as toys, making the cat want to spend more time with you alone.


4. Desensitize the Cat to Human Contact

Human contact can be scary for most cats. This includes being touched, sounds of other people talking, opening doors, and music. All these sounds can leave the cat on edge.

You must make sure that the cat gets used to these sounds to no longer be scary and distracting. This might take a while, but you can introduce the sounds to them slowly as you interact with them.


5. Do Not Touch or Pick Up the Cat Until Its Ready

Feral cat getting acclimated to home
Image Credit: dimitrisvetsikas1969, Pixabay

It would be best if you took cues from the cat from its reaction. If you get close to the cat and they back off, then you need to back off as well.

Getting the cat comfortable around you is a slow process, but it is worthwhile, but always be prepared for occasional setbacks to avoid disappointments.

If you move too quickly and the cat is not ready, they might be defensive. They might scratch or bite you if they feel the need to protect themselves.


6. Invite the Cat Inside

You can now invite the cat to your space after regular interaction with the feral cat. The cat will only accept the invitation if they are comfortable with all the human sounds and no longer scare them.

You can invite them inside by leaving your door open for them after interaction with them. You can also leave the food and water at your door and slowly get the cat used to the idea of getting into your home.


7. Give the Cat Some Space but Not Too Much

ragdoll cat lying relaxed in the garden in summer
Image Credit: absolutimages, Shutterstock

When the cat gets comfortable enough to live in your home, you will need to give it enough space to hide before getting used to the new environment.

Give the cats their place where they can feel secure when it’s there. However, it is essential not to give them too much space and alone time. The cat will need your guidance and judgment in the new space.

The cat also needs to get used to hanging out with you in its new home.

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Final Word

Before you decide to take in any stray cat, make sure it does not belong to someone who might be looking for their cat. If you are sure it is a feral cat, you must ensure that they are a good candidate for training.

Feral cats are not easy to train, but you can quickly build rapport with them if they make the first contact. Over time you will build your relationship and invite the cat to your home.


Featured Image Credit: dimitrisvetsikas1969, Pixabay

Nicole Cosgrove

Nicole is the proud mom of Baby, a Burmese cat and Rosa, a New Zealand Huntaway. A Canadian expat, Nicole now lives on a lush forest property with her Kiwi husband in New Zealand. She has a strong love for all animals of all shapes and sizes (and particularly loves a good interspecies friendship) and wants to share her animal knowledge and other experts' knowledge with pet lovers across the globe.