Support Trap Neuter Release
With all of those cats wreaking havoc in the wild, some may think its better to tame a few and remove them from the general population. An indoor cat does less damage to wildlife than a feral one, and removing one cat from the population does prevent further kitten births from that cat.
However, supporting a TNR program in your area has a greater effect and covers more cats. These programs trap feral cats, neuter them, and return them to the wild, rather than taming them.
These programs are shown to reduce cat colonies to manageable levels, reduce the number of cats admitted to shelters, and even reduce aggression shown by feral cats. You can find links to multiple studies that show the benefits of TNR here.
While environmentally conscious people might think that capturing and taming feral cats would be a good way to reduce the impact of cat colonies on the ecosystem, TNR programs allow for more widespread results without the need to permanently remove feral cats from the wild.
What Is A Feral Kitten
A feral kitten is a kitten born in the wild with no previous human contact. A kitten that is born on the street could be feral by 5 weeks of age. If the mother is fearful of humans, she will teach her kittens at an early age to be fearful. You could start out with the fiercest of kittens, but if they are young and you are patient and can spend the time, they will most likely tame down and become adoptable kittens.
How Much Time Will It Really Take Each Day
When kittens arrive, give them a day to calm down and adjust to their new surroundings. During this time, cover the cage completely with a sheet or blanket to help them feel extra secure.
After the first day, uncover the front of the cage. A lot of time is needed, the more often you visit, the more accustomed to you they will get, and the more attention they will want!
Being with your kitten or kittens several hours a day is important.
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Differences Between Feral And Stray Cats
Stray cats are domesticated pets that find themselves homeless, either temporarily or permanently. Feral cats are wild animals, so the cat will be governed by survival instincts and behave accordingly.
You can tell the difference between stray and feral cats through their appearance and behavior:
|Will approach humans for food or petting|
|Live in groups and colonies||Sleep, live, and wander alone|
|Move silently and stealthily||Walk tall with a prominent tail|
|Never verbalize unless scared or angered||Will meow to ask for food or attention|
|Well-groomed, sleek fur|
|Ignore toys or food||Investigate toys or food|
Feral cats may also have a clipped ear tip, which means that the cat has previously been captured, neutered, and returned to the wild. Feral cats reproduce often, and TNR attempts to control the population.
According to The Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 75% of feral kittens live less than 6 months. Without human assistance, theyre at risk of accidents and illness.
If you capture them early enough, a feral kitten may be tamable.
Helping vs. Domesticating Feral Cats
You can assist feral cats without bringing them into your home. Leave food outdoors and offer shelter in cold temperatures. Open your garage doors or strategically place boxes outside.
To trap a feral cat:
How Is A Feral Cat Different From A Stray Cat
The biggest difference between stray cats and feral cats comes down to their level of socialization to human beings. A stray cat has been abandoned by or separated from its owners they may now be living outside on their own, but because they had a home once, theyre used to interacting with humans.
Like stray cats, feral cats also live outdoors on their own, but the key difference is that they have never been socialized to humans and are therefore probably the offspring of other stray or feral cats. This lack of human socialization can make feral cats wild and unapproachable.
Feral and stray cats typically behave differently when humans are near.
- Can appear frightened or hesitant around humans
- Will likely take a protective stance, staying low to the ground and crouching
- Often exhibit little to no eye contact, purring or meowing around humans
- Might be friendly or curious around humans
- Likely to behave like a house cat, meowing and making eye contact around humans
Both strays and feral cats can be loners or part of a colony, and they will hunt or take food wherever they can whether its from garbage cans or your pets outdoor feeding station.
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Working Cats Captured But Not Tamed
Rather than taming feral cats, some cities are seeking them to help fight off rampant rodent populations. Tree House Humane Society in Chicago, Illinois has a Cats At Work program that provides people and businesses with feral cats whove been captured, spayed or neutered, and microchipped to act as ratters.
These cats are not trained or tamed, so there is no guarantee that they will stay at the home or business where they are sent. But since they are spayed or neutered, they do not contribute to the feral population in a significant way. Chicagos Empirical Brewery is one business that has used feral cats from this program successfully.
Los Angeles, California has another program like this called the Working Cats Program that has found homes for hundreds of feral cats.
Many of the people who obtained feral cats from this program report that they grow domesticated over time. In fact, they claim that the cats are so tame that you couldnt distinguish them from cats raised in lifelong human homes.
Using these cats as rat deterrents also reduces the need for hiring expensive exterminators or relying on dangerous chemicals.
How Can You Help Feral Cats
The first step is to inform your local cat protection or feral cat rescue shelter. Theyll offer advice and will likely follow an official trap, neuter, return program.
TNR specialists will catch the cat using a baited cage. Theyll then sedate the cat, check them for a microchip, examine them for diseases and treat them for worms and fleas. They will also spay or neuter them so the animal cant add to the local feral population. Some of these programs may clip the cats ear, which helps animal control officials quickly and easily identify stray and feral cats that have already been spayed or neutered. Finally, the cat may also have to be shaved if their hair is matted or badly infested with parasites. Then, they will be returned to the outdoors or possibly relocated to another area.
While trying to tame a feral cat isnt a good idea, you can find plenty of cats in shelters and rescues that need a warm, welcoming home, including older cats that tend to get along with other pets you already have. If youre ready to add a pet to your home, consider saving a rescue cat theyll be sure to thank you with lots of love.
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Concern For Their Well
Domestic cats who live in homes with humans who take care of them usually live longer than feral cats. They have veterinary care, they dont have to fear predators, and they dont need to struggle for resources.
Someone who cares deeply for cats may find this to be a good reason to capture and tame feral cats.
There are also special cases like injured feral cats who will suffer or die without veterinary help, and they cant be returned to the wild. In these cases, taming may be the most humane way to deal with a cat.
Just be aware that animal control and shelters often wont take care of feral cats needs, as theyre usually seen as un-adoptable.
You may be able to get in touch with someone who can help an injured feral cat by calling a local trap-neuter-release program and asking for assistance, but dropping an untamed feral cat at the vets office isnt usually a viable option.
Taming Feral Cats Vs Stray Cats
Feral cats are different from stray cats. Stray cats are usually the product of a persons irresponsibility. Irresponsibility could be defined in two ways when it comes to strays:
- Dumping a cat to fend for itself
- Neglecting to spay and neuter their cats.
Stray cats can be timid but are often easily tamed. Feral cats are cats that were probably born to wild parents and are wild themselves. As feral cats generally have had no human interaction, and are very difficult to tame.
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What Goes Into Taming A Feral Cat
The taming process is, most often, stressful for feral cats. Theres no way around that. Being captured, taken from the life they know, and forced to interact with humans will likely cause anxiety.
You may be able to take the process slowly and move at a pace that you think the feral cat will be comfortable with, but at the end of the day, the cat will probably experience at least some fear and stress.
The taming process can take weeks or months, or it can end up never happening. However, if you believe that giving a cat a longer life with a home and food is worth that period of stress, maybe youre fine with taming a feral cat. A general rule is that the younger the cat is, the easier they will be to tame, though that varies.
Sometimes the process goes quite smoothly. Many cat lovers claim that certain feral kitties adapt to indoor life very quickly. Luck definitely plays a factor, but you might find a feral cat who makes themselves at home right away.
How Do I Tell Feral And Stray Cats Apart Once I Have Trapped Them
When in a frightening or stressful environmentsuch as a trap or a sheltera friendly stray cat may act like a feral cat, avoiding people and possibly even showing aggression to avoid being touched. Who can blame them? The cat is in a new and unfamiliar place.
Here are some ways that will help distinguish a feral cat from a scared stray cat when they are frightened, confined, or in a new place.
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What Do I Do Next
Make sure you have all the information needed to make a good evaluation. Once you have evaluated a cat and feel like you have a sense of the cats level of socialization, the next step is to get the cat neutered. From there, use your evaluation to do whats in the cats best interest, which may include:
Can Feral Cats Be Domesticated
Adopt, dont shop is a popular refrain among cat lovers. While homeless cats deserve a loving family, feral cats are a special case as theyve never lived with humans and are afraid of us.
Although animal rescue agents disagree, most vets believe that feral cats cannot be tamed. If a feral cat stands any chance of house training, it must be young. Older feral cats are completely wild. If you attempt domestication, itll be a long and arduous process with no guarantee of domestication.
You dont need to adopt a feral cat to improve its quality of life. Consider a Trap, Neuter, Return policy. You can still provide food and shelter to feral cats on your property, but you need to be aware of the risks involved.
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Build Trust With Food
To tame the feral cat, you need to establish a positive association with humans. The best way to do this is through food. Feed the cat at the same time every day to create a routine and a sense of safety.
At first, youll need to keep the cat caged or kenneled while you place the food for your own safety. Feral cats have no socialization with humans, so they can be aggressive while theyre learning to trust you. Always take precautions before you try to handle them.
While youre in the room with the cat, talk to them. It may seem strange at first, but cats get to know humans through their voices. The more you talk with the cat, the more likely they are to recognize you.
Is It Possible For A Feral Cat To Become A House Pet
You might be able to tame or domesticate a feral kitten.
Taming a feral cat, on the other hand, is not generally encouraged and taming an adult feral cat is usually impossible.
Feral cats arent accustomed to human interaction and will never be as docile and sociable as a tamed cat.
A wild cat will almost certainly never want to live in your home.
but they may eventually get the confidence to sleep in a less-confined place with easy access,
such as a garage, shed, or utility room as long as there are no humans nearby.
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You Need A Lot Of Patience & Time
It goes without saying that feral cats need a lot of time to come around to the idea of living in a home environment, but with this said, all the hard work is definitely worth it. The key to successfully gaining their trust is to let them come to you in their own time and that nothing should be rushed. The majority of our feral feline friends will eventually come around even if it is not 100% and they can still make very loving and affectionate pets but the younger they are when you start the better.
The Best Places To Pet Your Kitten To Begin With
When you feel the time is right to pet your kitten, you need to make sure you only try to do this on areas of their bodies which they will not find too threatening which is on the back of their heads and down their necks. Offering your little friend a lot of their favourite treats works wonders when you are trying to make first physical”” contact with them. With feral kittens, this process may take a bit of time but the same cannot be said of older, adult feral cats. They will need much, much longer to come around to be touched or petted.
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What To Do If There Is A Mother Cat
Mom should be trapped and spayed but not until her kittens are able to eat on their own. If she is feral, she should be re-released into the wild after her spay recovery. An adult feral cat cannot be placed for adoption and made a pet. It is highly unlikely that she could ever be tamed. Visit this page for more resources about feral cats and groups that can help with lending traps.
If surrendered to a municipal shelter , she would be euthanized because she cannot be handled by people and wouldnt be a safe pet to have in a home. If someone attempted to handle her, she might injure them.
How To Tame A Feral Cat
There are several factors that will determine your ability to tame a feral cat, including the age and personality of the cat, as well as the kinds of experiences the cat has had on the street .
But there is one thing we humans have in our arsenal that will greatly increase your chances at training a feral catand thats food. Its widely understood that wild cats became domesticated in the first place because they became content with the idea of having access to regular meals, so if youre thinking about taming a feral cat in your neighborhood, youll want to begin by establishing some sort of routine around food. For example, be sure to offer some cat food to the cat at the same time and in the same place every day, perhaps in a certain area on your porch or patio.
However, try not to make eye contact when you spot the cat . Instead, remain still and quiet and either sit or stand quietly in the general vicinity while the kitty eats. After a few days, you can build up to speaking to your cat in a calm and reassuring voice.
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So Can You Tame A Feral Cat Or Is It An Impossible Task
As youve discovered, many feral cats are often strays whove either been abandoned by their owner or got lost. These can be easily tamed once given a loving home. Some can be reunited with their previous owners if theyre microchipped and simply got lost. Others though, will need rehoming.
If your cat is a semi-feral, it will have had some interaction with humans in the past. Youll find with a bit of love and patience shell soon settle in and become a loving pet. However, as youve seen by reading this post, true ferals can be very hard to tame. Theyve had no contact with humans and are wild animals.
Youll need a lot of patience and you wont be able to put a timeframe on how long it will take to socialise your cat. However, many do eventually become tame and settle into a loving home.
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Wishing you a purrfect day:)Kathy