How to socialize a feral cat and live to tell the tale

A cat that lives outdoors and has had little to no contact with humans is typically referred to as a feral cat. Feral cats will usually resist being touched or handled by humans and they will try to run or attack when faced with human interaction. But there are ways to make a domesticate a feral cat using some socialization techniques. This is how to socialize a feral cat:

How to socialize a feral cat?

A little background

Feral cats will normally stir clear of humans and live in cat colonies around areas where they have access to food. While some cat colonies are actually managed and fed regularly by rescue groups, most of the cats tend to stay feral non the less due to lack of human interaction.

First protect yourself and other pets

Socializing a feral cat can take time and needs to be done right. When dealing with a feral cat you must take precautions since they may be aggressive to humans out of sheer fear. The cat will typically try to defend itself and the is you don’t do it right you may end up with some bites and scratches (needless to say if you are bitten or scratched by a feral cat take it seriously and get some medical attention). So make sure to put on some protective gear like heavy duty gloves and proceed with caution.

If you have other pets and are planning on bringing a feral cat home make sure to stop by the vet first. Feral cats may be carriers of diseases that can infect your other pets. They will also typically have many flees and ticks and you don’t want that spreading to your other pets. 

Take the cat’s age into account

The younger the feral cat, the easier it’ll be to socialize them. It is generally easier to socialize feral kittens under 8 weeks old. But in any case don’t expect it to be easy – even if the cat is young but has had no human interaction it may take some time for them to get used to the idea of having human companions. 

Concider location

Location matters a lot when it comes to socializing a feral cat. It is ideal for the socialization process to take place in a safe space where both human and cat feel comfortable. You need to be able to interact with the cat freely and the cat needs to feel safe.

It’s all about the grub

The number one tool to help the socialization process is food. Feral kittens and cats tend to have mighty big appetites since they’ve been living on the streets. This can be very helpful when you’re trying to socialize a feral cat. With food in your hands a feral cat may allow you to touch them and even hold them sooner rather than later. But food alone isn’t going to cut it. To completely socialize a feral cat, there is a certain process one should follow.

Steps How To Socialize A Feral Cat

You need to catch them

To socialize a feral cat you’re going to need to catch them first. Start by getting some traps from your local animal shelter, a Vet or a feed barn. You will need to be patient though because trapping a feral cat can be difficult and time consuming. You’d be surprised how illusive they may be.

Contact A Vet

Once the cat or kitten are secured your first stop should be the vet. The Vet will check their weight and determine how healthy they are. Other treatments like neutering and vaccinations will also be preformed by the Vet.

Give Them Space

As soon as you introduce the feral cat or kitten into your home, create a safe space for them in a confined area like the bathroom or spare room. So they won’t be around humans and other pets. Install a litter box and provide them with food, water, toys and a comfy place to nap.

Use the food card

Once the cat feels relatively comfortable in your home you can start playing the food card. Start delaying meals a little to have the advantage of hunger for when you’re starting to actively socialize them. Make sure you don’t just drop the food and walk away – the cat needs to get used to eating in your presence. Once that happens gradually bring the dish closer to you. Wait until the cat is done eating, then take with you what’s left but always leave water behind.

Ignore Them

It’ll be hard in the beginning but try to be cool and just be around them without touching them. It could take days or even weeks, but eventually the cat will warm up to you and you’ll get some snuggles. Be patient.

Get Them Accustom to Your Voice

Always make sure to speak in the cat’s presence. Even take a few minutes to read a book to them. Getting used to your voice will help them to get used to you.

Introduce Them To Play

when talking about how to socialize a feral cat playtime plays a big role. After some time the cat will become less scared and more curious. That’ll be your window to get closer with some playtime. Get some appealing cat toys like a mouse dangling on a pole and let the play begin. 

Handle Them With Care

Soon after the feral cat starts playing with toys in your presence, try initiating some physical contact. Be gentle and refrain from making any sudden movements. A nice pet on the head will do. Once you made it past the first petting session you’re golden. Just keep it up and your feral cat will become socialized in no time.

These were the steps on how to socialize a feral cat. Socializing a feral cat could prove to be hard and it requires time and patience. But once you get the ball rolling and the cat feels comfortable with you it’ll all be worth it.

Related article: How to tame a feral kitten gently and effectivly?