Can wild cats be domesticated? How to Tame a Feral Cat

feral cat on the sidewalk

Feral cats (another name for homeless cats who have spent their whole lives outside) are born in the wild and have had minimal human contact. Many animal enthusiasts who come into contact with a feral cat wonder if they may be tamed, taught, and eventually accepted into their house as a pet, especially if the cat is living outside in cold weather or in a frequently frequented and/or possibly dangerous location.

The good news is that wild cats can be your new permanent feline companion. However, there are many crucial stages that must be completed first, since domesticating a wild cat is difficult for the faint of heart and will take a significant amount of time and patience.

What to Do If You Find a Feral Cat

If you find yourself in the company of a wild cat, whether it wandered into your yard or you regularly see a certain stray cat roaming around your neighborhood, there are some actions you can take to protect both your and the kitty's safety. Keep in mind that because these cats have never had the pleasure of forming a genuine attachment with a person, they typically regard all humans as huge predators and are not hesitant to act as such by biting, hissing, clawing, or otherwise assaulting you.

You should also avoid approaching a sick cat, even if you want to do everything you can to help the unfortunate creature. If a wild cat appears at your back door out of nowhere, there's a good possibility he or she has rabies, and it's far better to notify animal control than to risk getting bitten or scratched and needing medical treatment.

Above all, anybody considering taming a feral cat should be aware that it will most likely take several weeks—or perhaps longer if you've acquired a very fearful feline—so patience is essential.

How to Tame a Feral Cat

The age and personality of the cat, as well as the sorts of experiences the cat has had on the street (including past contacts with other humans), will all influence your ability to tame a wild cat.

But there is one weapon in our armory that can substantially improve your chances of successfully teaching a wild cat: food. If you wish to tame a feral cat in your area, start by creating a feeding schedule. For instance, make sure you feed your cat at the same time and in the same spot every day, possibly in a designated area on your porch or patio.

When you see the cat, though, avoid making eye contact (like dogs, eye contact can be perceived as a threat). Instead, sit or stand quietly in the nearby vicinity while the kitten feeds, being motionless and quiet. After a few days, you should be able to talk calmly and reassuringly to your cat.

If the cat appears to be letting down its guard and beginning to trust you, try bringing the food closer to you every day. You might also include a couple extra goodies with the dinner. It's crucial to remember that you won't want to touch the cat unless you're certain he or she will let you. Attempt reaching out to pet the cat without making any abrupt movements when you're ready to try it. If the cat resists your contact, wait a few days before attempting again. Allow the cat to sniff your finger or the back of your cupped palm (fingers curved inward to face yourself) before allowing it to approach you. You can eventually graduate to stroking the cat and even picking it up gently. Always remember to fully wash your hands and arms after touching stray animals.

Safety and Other Considerations When Bringing Home a Feral Cat

While it may appear that you may finally welcome your new kitty companion inside, you should avoid doing so, especially if you have other pets (or children). Instead, take the cat to the veterinarian for a thorough examination, immunizations, and spaying or neutering (this will, of course, require the cat trusting you enough to put it into a crate for the trip). This stage may take many attempts, but it is critical for your health and safety, as well as the health and safety of your new cat.

If your vet has given you the green light and you're ready to welcome your new feline into your house, start by creating a particular peaceful, somewhat secluded room exclusively for the cat. Consider include cat trees, towers, scratching posts, and hiding and sleeping areas in your cat's new living space. Don't forget the essentials, such as a cat food and drink bowl, as well as a litter box. Even cats who have spent their whole lives outside can usually comprehend the notion quite quickly.

Keep your interactions short until your new cat appears to be at ease in its new surroundings. Your new cat should eventually forget about their days on the street and be pleased to rest and play with their new family at home.