How to Domesticate Feral Cats


There are hundreds of thousands of feral cats in the US, but most shelters only accept  feral kittens because they believe that adult feral cats are not able to adapt a domesticated life. At the same time, many no-kill shelters are constantly at full capacity. Overcrowding is a result of an out of control feline population. Most feral cats are captured, then spayed and neutered and finally returned back to their colony. Kittens will be transported to local animal shelters and await someone to provide them a forever home. Is it impossible to domesticate adult feral cats?

Feral cats are decedents of stray cats. They have had very little interaction with humans, thus are fearful and distrustful of people. Though it is much easier for kittens to establish a relationship with us, adult feral cats would find it nearly impossible.

However, there are ways to gain trust from these cats and techniques that can help you acclimate a feral cat into your home. You just need to have a big heart and an abundance of patience. By the time you have won over a feral cat, it would be the biggest reward you could ever imagine.

Click here to read an excellent reference about how to domesticate feral cats.

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2 Responses to “How to Domesticate Feral Cats”

  1. Mysty says:

    this was informative but not very helpful. I have had this feral long haired calico in my home now for 2 years. We got her fixed this year finally. She does not ever dash for the door outside, rather ever since we brought her in she dashes away from an open door. She doesn’t dash by us as often anymore. She still will not allow pets though and still bats at our hands and hisses if we try. She does come for dinner call and treats calls though but not close enough that we can pet her. She is staying up on the main floor more often now. She used to stay in the basement. But now she stays under the dining room table. She gets along well with my other cats. It is just us humans she is not sure of. I try to be patient and I talk to her all the time. Sometimes I have caught her sleeping and I give her a soft stroke then. She wakes up and hisses of course. But she no longer moves and hides. Am I doing the right things to domesticate her? She does use the litter box and has since the beginning. You can contact me via my email address to answer my questions if you would. I would greatly appreciate any knowledge you can impart to me. She is about 5 years old the vet said. Thank you in advance.


    • Travis says:

      Mysty: I know your question was asked months ago, but hopefully there’s a notification and this finds you.

      I’ve domesticated a few adult feral cats, and it takes a lot of patience. Depending on their experience some will turn into perfect, sweet little house cats, and some will be skittish scaredies that can still bond with their owners. It’s not uncommon for them to get make improvements over the course of years, as with your cat. Here are some tips that might be useful:

      1) Things like walking directly toward your cat, making direct eye contact, and reaching for your cat are things a cat will consider “aggressive.” Conversely, sitting down indian-style or lying down, closing your eyes or “slow blinking”, and speaking softly or meowing to your cat are things that let your cat know you mean no harm.

      2) Food time is the best time to bond. Sit down on the floor, and stay with her when she eats, as close as she will allow. Extend a hand and let her smell you. If she remains relaxed, this a good time to give her a pet. The more she understands that you are feeding her, and not just carelessly leaving food out, the more she will bond with you. For cats, food is love. One of our ferals drools whenever we pet her, because of this.

      3) Don’t approach, or even acknowledge your cat when it hides. When a cat hides, it usually corners itself in the process, which becomes very scary if knows it’s been found. Ideally, you should try to keep your cat’s favorite spaces relatively free of corners and hiding spaces, so it always has the ability to escape. This will help her confidence.

      It can take a long time to win over cats like this, and it’s good that you’re patient. Hope I’ve been helpful.

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