Feral Cat Spay Neuter / Clinic
Tame Cat Clinic
Colony Caretaker Guide
Humane Trap Sources
Guidelines for Relocation
Caring for Kittens
Taming Feral Cats
Result of un-neutered cats
Adopting formerly feral cats
Low Cost Spay/Neuter
Frequently Asked Questions
Comments and Feedback
News and Events
How You Can Help
Foster Cats & Kittens
Socialize Shelter Cats
Help at the Thrift Shop
Feed Colony Cats
Visit our Thrift Store
Adopt A Cat
Who we are
What we do
Why we exist
How to reach us
FFSC at a Glance
Notes from My Friends
My Photo Album
DA's Position on My Case
My Catster Page
Frequently Asked Questions
Taming Feral Cats and Kittens|
Classification of Feral Cats
- Total Feral - no previous human contact or only negative
- Semi-Feral - some positive human contact
- Converted Feral - abandoned domestic reverted to semi-feral
Facts to Consider when Deciding For or Against
An adult feral cat can require a few months or up to a year
or more to socialize.
Call us if we can assist you in any way: (707)
The cat will usually bond with her/his socializer. Due to
this fact, many adult ferals are not good candidates for adoption.
If you have decided that it is in the best interest of the
cat to be adopted by someone other than yourself, it is important
to integrate that person into the cat's environment once the
cat is comfortable with you.
If you find that introducing new people results in regressive
behavior in the cat, you should seriously consider changing your
Semi-feral cats will usually be more receptive to socialization.
However, if the cat is older and has been on the street for many
years it may be as difficult to socialize as a total feral.
The semi-feral cat is also difficult to place. It will want
to bond with you. Quite often bringing new people into its environment
will be overwhelming and cause the cat to regress. If this happens,
it would be wise to rethink your adoption goals.
A domestic cat that has reverted to feral behavior will usually
be the easiest cat to socialize. It will also be the most likely
candidate for adoption. However, if the cat has been living on
the street for many years and has had abusive treatment from
humans, this will make the re-socialization process more difficult.
It is possible that a cat with this history would not be adoptable.
You have not failed if the cat you are working with can not
be socialized for adoption. You will have learned many lessons
about the unique ways and manners of this intelligent and tough
street survivor. Within your new wisdom you may find that your
perception of what is best for a feral cat is not always what
a cat is willing or capable of adapting to.
Total Feral Cat Socialization
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
- Speak and move slowly
- Do not make eye contact
If the feral cat is a member of your colony, it will observe
your interactions with other colony cats.
- Encourage the friendlier semi-ferals to come near you
- Speak and move softly
- Do not make eye contact
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. (Ask for 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.
- Cover the cage with a blanket
- Place the cage in a quiet area
- Do not place litter pans, food or water in the cage until
the cat is calm
For the first few days, only approach the cage to replace
litter, food and water.
- If the cat remains calm, begin talking softly to it as
you tend its needs
- If the cat continues to remain calm, begin sitting with
it every day for an hour in the morning and again in the evening.
(This is a good time to read that book you never seem to find
the time for. And, if you read it out loud, the cat will get
accustomed to hearing your voice.)
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.
- Wear a pair of heavy gloves
- Watch the cats body language - If the cat lunges at you
when you open the door, the cat is NOT ready for this step!
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
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.
- Wrap a wood stick with some soft cloth that has your body
odor on it (flannel pajamas are great)
- Move the stick slowly through the bars of the cage and
rub it against the cat.
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!
Semi-Feral Cat Socialization
The steps for socializing semi-ferals are basically the same
as those used for socializing a total feral. If the semi-feral
cat has had some positive human connection, the socialization
process should be easier.
Some of the factors that will have an affect on how a cat
responds to you are.
- The length of time the cat has been living on the street
- The cat's experiences while living on the street
- The cat's personality
- Your personality
If you have a cool, calm personality and the cat does too,
the socialization process will be easier than if you are stressed,
anxious or impatient with a cat this is doing hand-stands on
the cage walls.
If the cat is nervous and shy, the socialization process will
be more intense than with a cat who is more outgoing and friendly.
The successful socialization of a feral/semi-feral cat will
require persistence and patience on your part. It will require
that you become sensitive to the cats needs, knowing when to
take a step forward or when to step back.
Reverted Feral Cat Socialization
A reverted domestic is the easiest cat to socialize (provided
it has relatively positive experiences with humans and has not
been abandoned to the streets for too many years.)
Once again, the same techniques that you use in socializing
a feral/semi-feral cat can initially be used to help a reverted-feral
return to a domesticated state.
- Display non-aggressive body language
- Move and speak slowly
- Offer tasty treats
- Allow the cat to direct your rate of progress
- Be willing to change your socialization goals
- BE PATIENT
Feral Kitten Socialization
- Confine in cage
- Separate from others
- Approach often and with food
- Wrap and hold in a towel
- Play radio/tv
- Have both female & male friends visit
- Try to be with the kitten at least an hour in the am and
hour in pm
- Speak softly, move slowly
- Be PATIENT
A kitten that is born on the street to a feral mother can
become feral by five weeks of age. If the mother is fearful of
humans, she will teach her kittens at an early age to be fearful.
It is important to be cautious with kittens, because out of fear
they can inflict some painful bites and scratches.
Once you have trapped a kitten, it is important that you keep
it in a small confined space. A cage is the best place because
it will keep the kitten from injuring itself, and keep it accessible
If you have more than one kitten from a litter, it is sometimes
necessary to separate them. This is often difficult to do because
our natural tendency is to want to keep them together. However,
sibling kittens will bond with each other and what we want them
to do is bond with a human. It will take a great deal of time
and effort to socialize a feral kitten if it is kept with others.
There is the possibility that a feral kitten will not be able
to be socialized if it is not separated from other kittens.
Remember that the separation is temporary, and kittens can
be reunited with their own kind once they are socialized.
Food will play an essential role in kitten socialization.
Frequent approaching a kitten with a spoonful of baby food can
be very effective.
Wrapping a frightened kitten in a towel while you pet it helps
it to feel secure while getting used to being held and touched.
Pet the kitten on the head with your hand coming at it from behind.
Many kittens will flinch at a hand coming toward their face.
Most of the techniques used for adult ferals are applicable
for kittens. Many of the factors that govern the rate of socialization
for adults also apply to kittens.
Some kittens will socialize very quickly. Others will take
much more time and patience on your part. However, the majority
of kittens can be socialized and are good candidates for adoption.
Additional Socialization Tips
A radio played low on an easy listening station will help
the cat become familiar with human voices - both male and female.
Back to top of page.
A television with the sound turned low will accustom the cat
to the sights and sounds of this box that is usually found in
any home a cat could be placed in.