Can Feral Cats Be Tamed?

Should you try to tame a feral cat?

Feral cats are different from stray cats. Stray cats are usually the product of a person’s irresponsibility. Irresponsibility could be defined in two ways regarding strays:  dumping a cat to fend for itself and/or neglecting to spay and neuter its cats. Stray cats can be timid but are often easily tamed. Feral cats are probably born to wild parents and are wild themselves. Feral cats have had no human interaction and are very difficult to tame. 

 Because feral cats are difficult to tame, thus making them undesirable indoor pets, many rescue organizations are dedicated to trapping, spaying, and neutering feral cat colonies. Often, these organizations trap the cats, have them spayed and neutered, and then release them near where they were initially found. Then, they dedicate themselves to providing food to these colonies. 

Feral cats are everywhere. You can find feral cats in rural or farm areas, abandoned buildings, parks, and alleyways.  You might catch a glimpse of them, but you might need help to catch them.  After all, they have not been around humans, so any contact would make them shy away from you. If you have feral cats in your neighborhood, you may wonder whether these animals can be kept as pets.

 Taming a feral cat can be problematic simply because they are not accustomed to humans. Depending on their human interactions, some cats might be classified as semi-feral, total feral, or even converted feral cats.  Depending on how your cat is classified dictates your potential success in socializing with it. In addition, it takes a lot of time, love, and patience to tame these cats.

If you find a cat that has been feral for years, chances are there is little to no chance of socializing it. With no human contact, these cats are overly independent and would never depend on a human for food or companionship. You might have better success with a semi-feral cat. In these instances, they have had some limited human contact. A converted feral cat would probably have the best chance at everyday life as someone’s pet. These cats were once domesticated, meaning they probably started life as a pet and were abandoned. The converted feral cat will likely eventually respond to human interactions such as love and affection.

 If you want to attempt to tame a feral cat, remember that it can be hard work reaching out to the feral cat and getting them to trust you after being on its own. Sometimes, your efforts will only pay off for a while, especially with older cats. If your attempts succeed, the rewards are well worth it because a strong bond can develop, and loyalty and love is the reward.  

If you believe you have the time and the love to attempt to tame a feral, there are some things to remember. First, these cats see you as an intruder and are likely to spit, hiss, bite, and claw. This is a normal response as they defend themselves against a perceived predator – you. If they manage to get in a few bites or scratches, you should apply first aid immediately. After successfully trapping a feral cat, your first step is to get it to the vet for a spay or neuter and check for any diseases it may carry. This is a necessary step and an absolute must if you have other pets in the house. After you have arrived home with your cat, you need to let it adjust to you and the surroundings by giving it a small, safe place to stay. Allow the cat to stay in a small bathroom or laundry room where it does not feel overwhelmed. You will need to take time every day to spend time with the cat and allow the cat to adjust to you.

Remember, not all feral cats can be socialized; however, with love and patience, your time and efforts may be worthwhile.

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