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Taming Feral Cats

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Taming Feral Cats

Search Add New Question A feral cat comes into the house to eat as long as I leave door open for escape. Now he’s older and he has started to spray. How do I discourage this? We expect he will be trapped & neutered within a week or two. Pippa Elliott, MRCVS Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Pippa Elliott, MRCVS It is an unfortunate fact the entire male cats will spray urine in order to mark their territory. It’s a back-handed compliment I’m afraid, as he obviously sees your home as worth marking as his. Neutering will help but you also need to clean away any lingering odor (using an ammonia-free cleaning product) so that he is not drawn back to the same spot to mark it again. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 5 Helpful 30 A feral cat I feed is pregnant. What kind of shelter can I make for her to have her kittens? Pippa Elliott, MRCVS Veterinarian, Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons Pippa Elliott, MRCVS It’s likely she will chose her own shelter but by offering a safe option she may decide to use it. Try a plastic crate laid on its side and if you can, improvise protection at the front so she feels protected. Locate the crate in a quiet corner away from other animals and traffic, perhaps concealed behind trees or bushes. Also, try to face the entrance out of the wind and rain so that it doesn’t blow in. Avoid using newspaper or towels as bedding, as these easily become saturated if water does get in. A deep bed of good quality straw is warm and provides some drainage if the weather gets in. If you can, also provide a separate box for food and water, placed close by. This allows you to add more food but without disturbing the nest. Best of luck to you and your feral fur friend. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 7 Helpful 24 My feral cat started to purr and knead. Is this a step in the right direction? wikiHow Contributor Yes, purring and kneading behavior tells you that your feral cat is contented and happy. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 1 Helpful 21 Can you tame a 5 to 6 month old cat? wikiHow Contributor You can tame feral cats of any age if you have the time and patience. Gaining their trust is the hardest thing. Feral cats come with many problems. It is a long, hard road taming them. However, if you are a true cat lover, you will put up with all the problems they bring because once you have tamed them, they are the most loving, affectionate animals you could ever hope for. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 11 Helpful 80 My feral kitten is 7 months old, socialized with me, and has been inside for a month. He attacks me and the other cat for no reason. He can be sweet and loving but then (and not because of over petting) later he attacks. I have to stop this behaviour as I’m covered with bite and scratch marks. wikiHow Contributor Young cats play and being scratched and bitten is part of them playing with other kittens usually. Here is acting it out with with you and the other cat and testing boundaries. You can’t bring a young cat in and then put it back out. This is cruel. Both of your cats need a place in the house, which is their own bit of territory. Buy toys for the young cat and play with him. He’s young and full of life and needs lots of play. Wear an oven glove when you play with him to avoid being scratched and bitten. In time, it’ll calm down but always promptly remove your hand when he bites, so that he learns it is not appreciated. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 9 Helpful 59 How can I tame a cat without bringing it into my house? wikiHow Contributor Try buying or building it a small shelter, and be sure to leave some food and water out. The shelter should be able to fit at least two cats. The cat will most likely start sleeping in the shelter and eating and drinking from the bowls you set out. The feral cat will start associating shelter, food, and water with your property. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 4 Helpful 31 Yesterday I adopted a stray cat that’s older. It has not yet been to the vet, it did not let me pick it up. It purrs, eats, grooms itself and is toilet trained. How long will it be before I can pick it up? wikiHow Contributor Most cats don’t actually like being picked up. They merely tolerate it, but prefer not to be picked up. Let your cat come to you when it is ready. Your cat is already a part of your family if it is happy for you to pet it a little bit and ‘picking it up’ does not define its membership of your family. Also, take your cat to the vet for a check up, to ensure that it is healthy and not someone else’s cat. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 6 Helpful 40 There’s a feral cat that I caught in November. She’s about 5, and has been feral her whole life. She’s in a big cage in our barn right now, and she lets me pet her. I’ve never heard her purr or meow. How long before she’ll forget about being feral and come to accept me? wikiHow Contributor If the cat is aged about 5 and has always been feral, then she will not be able to forget about being feral. Although she may like some human company, especially if you feed her, she is a wild cat. Feral cats live in a large community, so keeping her locked up may be a little cruel. Why not release her? If she wants to stay with you, she will return. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 6 Helpful 35 I have been feeding a feral cat and it’s taken a long time for him to trust and come indoors. However, when he as eaten his food, he wants to rub round my legs but starts to growl if I move from him; it’s as if he is controlling me. wikiHow Contributor He is trying to control you because he is territorial and he is afraid of losing you. If you haven’t had him neutered, do so and keep him in the house for a few weeks so that he knows this is his home. Neutering him will calm him down. Also, you need to reverse the roles very gently so that he sees you as his leader and comes to depend on you. He is so used to depending on himself and being his own boss and he wants to be your boss. Buy him toys and play with him. Ferals usually have to be taught how to play as it is not a part of their everyday life in the wild. It may take quite a while to achieve the changes you want but if you persevere, it will be worth it. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 10 Helpful 36 If a feral cat is sick or dying, is it usual for them to hide all of a sudden? wikiHow Contributor Yes, it is usual for them to hide. A wild animal that is sick or dying will try not to show it because if appears weak or sick, it could be attacked. If they are dying, they will often go off to die in seclusion because that is their normal reaction for self-caring. Thanks! Yes No Not Helpful 12 Helpful 40 See more answers
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Taming Feral Cats

Taming Feral Kittens Please click here for a printer-friendly PDF version. Feral cats are homeless cats, many of whom were born in the wild; others are pets who were abandoned or have become lost. They are for all intents and purposes wild animals. Those adult stray cats which were once owned, or feral cats of quiet temperament, may sometimes be tamed with patience. However, the feral kitten is often easily tamed if it is captured young enough. Considering the short, miserable lives that feral cats suffer, those kittens that can be tamed and adopted by humans are indeed lucky. Want to stay up to datewith the Feral Cat Coalition?Get on our email list now! Feral moms usually give birth in quiet, unseen spots where kittens will not be visible for several weeks. With no human contact, they will be totally wild. When kittens begin to romp and play, they are first noticed by humans but are not easily captured. They may be captured in humane traps (available from the Feral Cat Coalition) and should be taken from the mother at 4 to 6 weeks of age. Older kittens can also be captured and tamed but the process gets slower and less successful the longer the kittens stay in the wild. They should not be taken from the mother before they are old enough to be weaned at about 4 weeks. Kittens taken too young are vulnerable to disease and may not survive. The mother cat should also be captured and spayed to prevent future litters. The process of taming kittens can take from 2 to 6 weeks (longer for some exceptionally skittish kittens) depending on their age and state of wildness. Individuals can differ greatly in temperament even within the same litter. Some may tame up immediately and some may take quite a long time. Any person attempting to tame kittens should be totally committed and patient. The taming process is certainly worthwhile. You are saving lives and producing affectionate loving companions. The steps involved in the taming process are: Containment (I) in a cage or large pet carrier Periodic and brief handling with a protective towel Containment (II) in a small room Exposure to other humans Placement in suitable adoptive homes Containment I A feral kitten may hiss and “spit” at humans. They are usually terrified of humans. The kitten which acts the most ferocious is just the most scared, but it is capable of giving you a nasty scratch or bite and will probably try to escape if given the chance. Remember that to the kitten you may be a predator; the kitten may think it is fighting for its life. All bites are serious. If you are bitten, seek medical attention and quarantine the kitten. Feral kittens should be checked out by a veterinarian and tested for diseases contagious to other cats before you bring them home. Keep them isolated from your pet cats, wash your hands, and wear a smock (or change clothes between handling visits) to protect against the spread of disease from the kittens to pets or from pets to kitten. If a trap was used to capture the kitten, transfer the kitten to a cage or a pet carrier large enough for a small litter box and bedding. Place it in a small room away from family pets and children. Be careful not to allow the kitten to escape during the transfer process. For the first two days, do not attempt handling. The kittens must learn to feel safe. Visit them frequently and talk to them quietly, but resist touching. Always move slowly. Food and water and bedding should be placed in the cage or carrier. Many cages and carriers have food and water bowls attached to the doors so that you can feed and water the kittens without having to place your hand inside. If you do not have a cage, or your carrier is too small for a litter pan, place the kittens in a small room, like a bathroom, in the carrier. Place the litter box in the room and leave the carrier door open so that the kittens have access to the box. Some people use worn clothing as the kittens’ bedding to get them used to the smell of humans. Handling After 2 days, select the least aggressive kitten, place a towel over it, and pick it up in the towel. If the kitten stays calm, pet it gently on the head from behind. Never approach from the front. A hand coming at the kittens frightens them which may cause them to hiss or bite. If the kitten remains calm, grip it securely by the nape of the neck, put the towel on your lap and set it on the towel. Stroke the kitten’s body while speaking in soft, reassuring tones, then release. Make this first physical contact brief. Go through this process with each kitten. After all have been handled, give them a special treat. Baby food or Hills “a/d” brand canned food off a spoon is always a great ice-breaker. Repeat this process as frequently as possible. Brushing with a soft pet brush imitates the action of the mother grooming the kittens and will help the kitten start to transfer its need for parental love to you. It is also extremely important for the health of the kittens to remove fleas as soon as possible. Kittens become anemic from flea infestation and can easily fall prey to illnesses in this condition. Combing with a flea comb also helps the bonding process. Never stare at the kittens for prolonged periods. This is aggressive body language to cats. Avert your eyes frequently and lower your head often to display submissive behavior. This will be less threatening to the kittens. Play with the kittens using “kitty tease” toys (a tiny piece of cloth tied to a string which is tied to a small stick) or lightweight cat toys. Don’t leave the “kitty tease” alone with the kittens as kittens will often swallow string. This can be fatal. Containment II Within a week the kittens should have made considerable progress. Each kitten will develop at a different rate. They should have access to the room and can be placed in the cage only if necessary. If there is one that is not becoming tame, place it in a separate cage in another room, away from the others. This will allow you to work with the baby more frequently and will increase it’s dependence on a human. It will also prevent perpetuation of wildness in the littermates. All members of some litters must be isolated as not to reinforce wildness in the group. A large room may overwhelm a timid kitten and cause increased fear. Bedrooms can be a problem. If kittens become frightened and go under the bed it can be difficult to get them to come out and stressful for them if you force them out. Also try to kitten-proof the room as much as possible before letting the kittens out into the room. Seal up any nooks and crannies where frightened kittens may enter and become trapped or inaccessible to you. Bathroom sinks often have spaces between the kickboard and the cabinet just large enough for the kitten. Block access to behind bookcases and heavy furniture behind which the kitten can become wedged. Be careful of open toilets and anything which could be climbed and pulled down on top of the kitten causing possible injury. Protect vulnerable knick knacks, clothes, and plants (some poisonous) from curious kittens. Exposure When the kittens no longer respond by biting and scratching, encourage friends to handle them as often as possible. It is very important that they socialize with other humans. Feral cats tend to bond with one human so they best adjust to a new home if they are socialized with other humans before being adopted out. Placement Kittens can be adopted out at 8 weeks or so if tamed and socialized to humans. When screening prospective “parents” remember that the kitten will do best if there are no small children in the home. All the work you have done can be easily shattered by normal kid activity and noise. This is vital to remember when placing the kittens for adoption. The most suitable home is a calm environment so the kittens will feel secure. The ideal home is one which will keep their pet indoors and will take 2 kittens together (actually easier to care for and more fun to watch) or that will have an adult home during the day. Be sure that you inform the adoptive family that the kitten must be neutered. This can be done as early as 8 weeks of age. You may want to ask for a refundable deposit from the adoptive family to encourage them to neuter. Or you may want to neuter it yourself and ask the new owner to reimburse you. Many forms and contracts exist for doing this. For example, FOCAS, the Humane Society, and the Department of Animal Control all have such agreements. It is important to make sure this cat does not have babies, or you may find yourself trying to find a family for its kittens.

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Taming Feral Cats

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Taming Feral Cats

Taming Feral Cats
Taming Feral Cats
Taming Feral Cats
Taming Feral Cats