Taming Feral Cats

Taming feral cats can be a long process.  If you have a chance to work with a kitten it is a little bit easier.  Feral cats are either born in the wild or have been dropped off by humans.   In the wild they have had to protect themselves from predators and to them, a large person looks like a predator.  If you trap a feral cat, it may take a long time for them to feel comfortable around you.  Many people interested in cats once they trap the cat, will take him to our veterinarian in Richmond.  They will have an overall exam and a surgery to have them spayed or neutered.  It is a good idea after you take them home to keep them in a small pet carrier until you are sure they don’t need any more medical attention.  Catching a feral cat to take it back to the Richmond veterinarian hospital will just further terrify the cat.  He will eventually forgive you but if he needs medical attention this might not be good for his condition.

The Feral Cat Taming Room

Once your cat is well and your pretty sure they don’t need anymore care, you can release them into what I call a feral cat taming room.  Make sure the room has no bed or other hiding area.  Also your cat will spend many hours looking for a way out, don’t underestimate the lengths he will take or what he will chew through to get out.  So make sure before hand that your room is secure.  Place a small box where the cat can retreat to any time he feels frightened.  This is his space and you should never go near it or prevent the cat from being able to retreat into it.

Feeding the Feral Cat

Place the cat’s food outside his box and feed him a small amount each time you feed him. Make a noise or say something the cat can associate with you and the food. Wait until he feels safe eating with you in the room.  This could take a long time, as at first he will only come out of the box when you are gone.   When he is eating comfortably with you in the room start moving the bowl away from his box.  Again this is a slow process.  Any attempts to speed up the process might upset the cat and have you back tracking. 

Start spending more time in the room.  Offer small amounts of food often and remember to make the noise when you do.  Your cat will start to associate you with good things.  This will increase his trust.  You will be able to watch the body language of your cat to see how comfortable he is in the room and how comfortable he feels with you.  When he is comfortable, you will see his tail up and watch him rub against furniture and his box.

Touching the Cat

Gradually as your cat gets used to eating and being left alone, you can begin taking steps closer to your cat.  Use a long stick to gently pet or touch the cat.  Keep slowly progressing through the process.  Get closer and closer to the cat until you are able to touch him with your hand instead of the stick.  This is a tricky process as your cat is so busy eating when he does notice you, he might be afraid and retreat.  It is not uncommon to have a cat at this point scratch or bite you so be prepared with the proper clothing or protective gear.

After a few days or weeks, you will notice your cat enjoying the process and you will be able to get closer and closer to your cat.   It will take a lot of time and patience but in the end it is well worth the effort.

Most cats do tame up but it isn’t uncommon for them to display some feral tendencies their whole life.  As stated earlier, the younger the kitten, the less time they were wild and the fewer habits and fears they will have developed.  It is especially important to have your feral cat seen by a trusted veterinarian in Richmond.  They will likely sedate the cat for his exam.  Wild cats may carry diseases and parasites that need to be taken care of.  This can’t be stressed enough if you have other cats in the house.

Advanced Animal Care Richmond would love to help you take on the challenge of a feral cat.  They are beautiful animals that are often sickly in the wild.  If you have any questions or need to schedule an appointment please call at (859) 625-5678