A totally feral cat will be the one that stays as far from you as possible. It usually will not eat while you are present, but will hide or stay at a safe distance until you are gone.
If the feral cat is not part of a colony, try to feed the cat near where you first see it. The cat will usually scamper away, but may be curious enough to watch you from a distance.
After you have fed the cat, move far enough away so that it feels safe to investigate, and observe what it does.
If the cat eats the food, be at the feeding location the next day as close to the previous time as possible.
Continue to arrive with food every day at the same time and location to establish a routine. Cats are amazing time keepers, and once a routine is set, the feral cat will be waiting for you every day.
Once the cat starts staying in your presence, display non-aggressive body language.
If the feral cat is a member of your colony, it will observe your interactions with other colony cats.
After you have established a beginning bond of trust and you feel it is in the best interest of the cat to be socialized, trap the cat in a humane trap. (See our Humane Trapping instructions.) We do not see a lot of success in socializing a completely feral cat that is over the age of three months. We would recommend keeping the cat in the colony if they are over this age if at all possible.
When you bring the cat home, move it into a small, secure space and transfer the cat into a cage.
For the first few days, only approach the cage to replace litter, food and water.
Allow the cat to decide when you take the next step. If it is bouncing off the cage walls, slow down, back up a step.
When the cat can remain relatively clam in your presence, it may be ready for the next step. Attempting to touch the cat for the first time will take some preparation.
If the cat remains calm, move your gloved hand very slowly toward it. Continue to monitor the cats body language closely.
Ears down accompanied by a low growl means back off!
If the cat remains non-aggressive, stroke it gently.
If you have been successful in touching your cat, you are well on your way toward meeting your socialization goal. Continue to visit and pet the cat as often as possible. If you bring a tasty treat to offer during your visits, you will make faster progress.
If you were not able to approach your cat, try again the next day with a new technique added.
Move your gloved hand slowly toward the cat offering a spoonful of baby food or tuna.
If the cat is still too frightened to allow this closeness, try the next technique.
If the cat can not tolerate even this, it may be too soon to attempt touching.
REMEMBER, you are working with a frightened animal that can not read your intentions. Work slowly and allow the cat to direct your rate of progress!
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