Catching and Taming Feral Cats and Kittens
Can Feral Kittens be Tamed?
Have you found a litter of feral, (also known as wild,) kittens and don't know what to do? I've been in your shoes before. My heart goes out to these precious creatures. Fortunately, feral kittens can be tamed and turned into wonderful house pets.It just takes time and a lot of patience.
One key is the age of the kitten. Younger kittens generally adapt easier than older kittens. However, this doesn't mean that you can't tame an older kitten. I have. In fact, over the course of three years my kids and I managed to capture all of the feral cats and kittens in our neighborhood.
Mind you, I had absolutely no experience with cats when we started this venture. I was always a dog person, so my knowledge of cats was limited. However, I learned just how special cats are and how dogs and cats can easily live together.
In this article, I will share with you all of the information I have learned about feral cats and kittens and how to tame them to either become a part of your family or be ready to be placed for adoption through a local rescue group. Please feel free to offer any tips or advice you may have!
This cute white kitten photo is by Rudolphfurtado at Wikimedia Commons.
Tips on Catching a Feral Kitten
Most feral kittens are very fearful of people. As cute as they may appear, they will hiss, swat and exhibit very aggressive behavior unless the kittens are extremely young and the fear factor hasn't kicked in, yet.
In our case, we were lucky. A few of the kittens we caught settled in right away. However, when it came time to catching those that were about eight weeks old, the story was different.These were very aggressive kittens who would do anything to avoid capture.
Some of them, we quietly snuck up on and were able to catch. This was either by hand or by throwing a towel over a kitten and picking it up that way. We found that wet cat food with a strong odor of fish was a way to help get the kittens out of hiding.
We would put the food out, then wait for them to come to eat. Looking back, how we caught the neighborhood ferals was not necessarily the safest way to go about things as sadly, many feral cats and kittens carry diseases.
If I had to do it again, I probably would use a humane trap in which to catch them. To do this, bait the trap with wet food. Place a covering over the trap such as a dark colored sheet. Place the trap out in the evening and carefully monitor it. Have a cage ready complete with litter box, kitten food and fresh water, to transfer the kitten into once caught.
If you have other cats in the house, it is extremely important to keep the newly captured kittens away from them until they have been to a vet and have been tested for diseases such as HIV and feline Leukemia. I suggest finding a room that can be devoted to the kittens such as a bathroom or spare bedroom. You want to find a place where the kitten can roam freely, but without any hiding spots that you would be unable to get to the kitten.
Black kitten photo by phillwatson at morgueFile.
Tips on How to Socialize and Tame Feral Kittens
Information on Taming Wild Kittens
Taming and socializing a feral kitten is not always an easy task. Simple sounds around the house such as a door closing or the turning on of a vacuum cleaner are enough to make a kitten bolt and hide. It's best to keep a new feral in a quiet environment, separated from the noises of the home, until the kitten begins to feel comfortable.
Unlike domestic kittens, feral kittens are not used to human touch. This has to take place slowly. Start by extending your hand, allowing the kitten to sniff you. The sense of smell is very important to wild cats. To get the kitten to come close to you, place some wet kitten food near you to entice the kitten towards you. This is one of the tactics we've used.
Depending on the individual kitten, we've also used another approach. If possible, we would just pick up the kitten, hold it close to us while petting it and talking to it. If you're uncomfortbale doing this, you can try to pick up the kitten with a towel and hold it next to you while petting it through the towel. Over time, the kitten will begin to get more and more responsive.
For younger kittens, one trick I came up with was to put the kitten down my shirt around the belly area. Be sure your shirt is tucked in and that the kitten can't climb out. I would then spend time petting the kitten through my shirt. The advantage of this is that the kitten is in a dark place, while against the warmth of a human body.
Just like people, each kitten will have their own personality and how well a kitten socializes will vary from kitten to kitten. Some will go on to attach themselves to all family members, while some will only connect with one. Remember to take things slowly. Some of the kittens our family has rescued have been available for adoption with a local rescue group within weeks; a few we had to hold onto for several months before they were ready to find their permanent homes.
Cute kittens photo by trooney at morgueFile.
Why you Should Spay or Neuter a Feral Cat
Spaying Feral Cats
You may be one of those kindhearted people who will put out food and fresh water for any feral cats that may be on your property. Personally, I think it's wonderful because many ferals lead difficult lives. However, there is something that many people don't think of that can greatly help these cats. That is to get them spayed and neutered.
You may be wondering why you should put out money to do this, considering they're not really even your cats. The answer is to keep them from breeding. All too often female ferals have litters of kittens that will end up being homeless. While some of these kittens will survive, others will die at an early age due to a variety of reasons such as predators, weather or poison.
If cost is a factor, check to see if there are any feral programs in your area. If not, there's a good chance you can find some type of low cost spay and neutering clinic.
If you're wondering how to catch them, check to see if you can borrow a humane carrier from a local clinic. Should you see this as an ongoing effort, you might want to invest in a carrier to keep. The idea of all of this is to trap the cat, have it fixed and then return it outdoors to continue to live its life, without the worry of having litter after litter of kittens.
Kitty photo by jewels at morgueFile.
Cute Kitten Pictures
I admit it. I love looking at pictures of kittens. I thought these were cute and wanted to share them. Hope you like them, too!This adorable kitten photo is by rhinosboi at morgueFile.
Cutest Kitten Picture
How can you resist this face? I just want to cuddle this kitten.Sleeping kitten photo by alvimann at morgueFile.
Kitten Sleeping Picture - Cute Baby Cat
When I saw this picture, I cracked up. I'm also familiar with the bottle in the photo used for bottle feeding kittens.Cute kitten photo by sonsuz at morgueFile.
What Do Feral Cats Eat?
Feeding Feral Kittens and Cats
Feral cats can be quite the scavengers. They are not above going into a dumpster to look for food. They will also eat small animals such as mice, moles and birds. Lizards are also on their food list.
I remember one summer when there were several feral cats in the neighborhood. Although there are normally lots of lizards on my property during the summer, when the ferals were here, I never saw a single one.
If planning to put out food for some cats, first be sure that there are only adult cats and not kittens as well. The reason for this is that kittens are best off with kitten food versus cat food. If you think you have a combination of both, I recommend Felidae. This dry food is good for both kittens and cats and is considered to be a natural, holistic pet food. In addition, be sure to put out some fresh water particularly during the warmer months.
Should you be feeding any feral cats or kittens, not only are you helping to keep them healthy, you're also helping them to stay away from dangerous substances.
One day when I was driving my kids to school, I saw what appeared to be a dead kitten at the side of the road.When I checked, I found it was still breathing. I quickly scooped it up and brought it to the vet. Sadly, it was too late. According to the vet, the kitten had gotten into some kind of poison, most likely because it was hungry and looking for something to eat.
If you have some ferals around your property and you're concerned about what they eat, there's a good chance that one way or another they will find something to eat. However, to ensure that they get the proper food, you can always put out fresh food and water for them.
Feral kitten photo by Alvimann at morgueFile.
Dangerous Foods for Cats
There are certain foods toxic to cats. You may be a good Samaritan who puts out food for the local feral cats, but caution needs be taken if you plan on giving them a treat. The ASPCA has a list of food that can be unhealthy and potentially harmful to felines.
If you are planning to give table scraps, such as cooked chicken or fish, be sure that no garlic or onions were used in the preparation process. Caution needs be taken with both raw meat and undercooked meat as they could contain harmful bacteria.
Time and time again we see images of cats drinking milk. Although you may be tempted to place a bowl of milk outside for any feral cats in the area, many cats are lactose intolerant and drinking milk can not only cause diarrhea, but other digestive problems as well.
Some people wonder if it's okay to give alcohol to a cat. The absolute answer is no. Alcohol can cause a variety of problems including vomiting, diarrhea, nervous system problems and in some cases, even death.
If wanting to give treats to any feral cats in your area, take care that you are feeding them healthy food, not food that can be dangerous for them. If needing to know more, contact your local ASPCA for further information.
Tiny kitten photo by Alvimann at morgueFile.
Funny Cat Picture
I just love his facial expression.Funny kitten photo by imagefactory at morgueFile.
Isn't this one precious?Tired kitten photo by alvimann at morgueFile.
Taming Feral Kittens
Would you try to tame a feral kitten?
Funny Cats Video
Feral Cats as Pets
This is one of our success stories. We caught her at about 2-3 weeks of age. She was still quite wobbly when she walked. We named her Puss n Boots as she so reminded us of the character from Shrek due to her personality. She is now almost twelve years old and has been a wonderful family cat.
We just recently caught two feral kittens in our garage. They were so frightened. In less than a week they have become tame and love to sleep on my daughter's bed. We are currently looking for a home for them.
Update: They have found homes.
Feral cat pet photo by WriterJanis.