Tips for Taming Feral Cats

Taming feral cats is a rewarding experience, but it requires patience and commitment. The process is similar for kittens and adults and can take from a few weeks to several months, depending on the cat. If you want to tame a feral cat, here are some tips to get you started.

Trap and Confine the Feral Cat

The first step in taming a feral cat is to trap him. Use a cage trap like the Have a Heart traps. Many feral cats will not go near a trap or carrier. To overcome their fear and suspicion, disguise your trap with a towel or blanket. Bait your trap with raw meat or strong smelling canned cat food.

Once you have trapped the cat, release him into a secure enclosure. A crate large enough for food, water, bedding and a litter box works well for this. You can find them at most pet supply stores. Put an open cat carrier in the crate. This will give the cat a snug, secure place to hide.

 If you do not have other cats in your home, you can set the crate up inside. If you already have cats, put your crate in the garage or basement until you get the feral checked by your vet. You do not want to risk exposing your cats to any potential diseases the feral might be carrying.

Take the Feral Cat to the Vet

Feral cats are exposed to many diseases and parasites. You need to make sure the feral is healthy, especially if you have other cats in your home. You should have him checked by your vet as soon as possible. Try to do this within the first couple of days. Let your vet know ahead of time that the cat is feral, so they can take the necessary precautions to ensure the safety of both the cat and the staff.

Make a Safe Room

Once the cat has a clean bill of health, you can release him into a quiet room in your home. Put his litter box, food and water in the room and make sure that all the hiding places are accessible by you. You should also be able to close this room off from the rest of the house to keep out other pets and give the feral a secure, confined space where you can start to tame him.

Bond with the Feral Cat

This phase of taming the feral cat will require the most patience from you. You will need to start slow and let the cat set the pace.

Enter the room and talk softly to the cat. Do not try to touch him or remove him from his hiding place. Offer food treats to coax him out, but let him approach you.

When he approaches you, try to scratch his ears. If he runs or hisses, back off.

Once he lets you touch him, try putting him in your lap. If he runs, back off.

Play with the cat. Wand toys allow him to romp and pounce while keeping your hands out of harm’s way. Some cats may also enjoy catnip.

Socialize the Feral Cat

When the cat is comfortable being handled, slowly introduce other people. If you have other cats, let them into the room. Leave the door to the room open to invite your new cat to explore the rest of your home. Let him share food bowls and litter boxes with your other cats.

Taming feral cats may seem like a daunting task, but it only requires patience. And the reward is a loving companion.