Any cat lover can tell you how devastating it is to find a cat living out in the street. And most cat parents try their best to give those feral cats a home and lots of love. However, not all feral cats can immediately start reciprocating the love and comfort they receive.
So, can a feral cat become an indoor cat? Yes, a feral cat can become an indoor cat. But the exception is only for feral kittens up to four months. However, they need lots of love and patience before they can become a purring pet. For a feral adult cat, becoming an indoor cat may be impossible, as they may not show signs of socialization even when placed in such an environment.
Despite the difficulty that arises from domesticating a feral kitten; it can be done, but the journey won’t be easy. This article will tell you everything you need to know about a feral cat and offer you several tips you can use to domesticate one.
Are Feral Cats Dangerous?
Before we dive deep into discovering if a feral cat is dangerous. You need to know the definition of a feral cat. A feral cat is one that’s born in the wild or raised without the presence of a human caretaker. These cats have a dangerous and short existence because of the external threats they face from fighting diseases, lack of food, to traffic.
Feral cats are rarely domesticated and may carry diseases that can also affect humans like cat scratch fever or toxoplasmosis. With all the risks feral cats pose, it’s safe to say that they can be dangerous. In recent years, animal experts have come up with ways that make it easy to deal with feral cats and slowly domesticate them.
One of the most commonly used programs is TNR. This program means Trap, Neuter, and Return, and it involves trapping, altering, vaccinating, and feeding them for a duration of time before domesticating or releasing them back into their feral colony.
Recognizing a Feral Cat
How Do I Recognize a Feral Cat Outdoors?
Some traits you can observe from a feral cat outdoors depend on several factors. And these factors are:
Socialization to Humans: Feral cats will not approach humans and are most likely to look for hiding places to avoid coming into contact with one.
Socialization to other cats: Feral cats live as a group and belong to a colony. So, you may spot more than one cat walking together.
Body language: The primary body language for most feral cars is crouching, crawling, staying low to the ground, and protecting their body with the tail. They will also not make eye contact.
Vocalization: Because of the lack of human contact, a feral cat won’t beg, meow, or purr.
Schedule: Feral cats are most likely nocturnal; but they do come out during the day.
Physical appearance: A feral cat’s coat may probably be well kept and clean.
How Do You Tell a Feral Cat Apart Once You Trap One?
When in a stressful or frightening environment such as a shelter or a trap, every cat acts differently. Understanding how to tell one apart can help you distinguish a scared cat from a feral cat.
Touch: A confined feral cat cannot be touched.
Cage behavior: A feral cat will most likely retreat and stay as far as possible. If they are frightened or jolted, the cat will try to climb the cage. And may become injured while trying to bang into the cage.
Relaxation level: A feral cat will remain unsocial or tense the whole time.
Responsiveness: They will most likely ignore the food, people, and toys. The cat will also not show any interest and familiarity with household sounds like opening cat food cans.
Anxiety: A feral cat will lash out and become aggressive when cornered or threatened.
With these signs, it becomes easier to tell if domesticating the feral cat is possible. If it isn’t then your only solution is the TNR process.
How Do I Help a Feral Cat Feel at Home?
Only feral kittens under four months can successfully become indoor cats. Once socialization and adoption happen, here are several things you can do to make your kitten feel at home.
Have a dedicated room
Bringing your feral kitten home means that they have to get used to living indoors. To help with this transition, it’s important to set up a room that’s exclusive for the cat. Make sure you include all the essential amenities your cat will require. It’s also important to spend some time in that room to help your cat get used to having you around.
Offer physical contact
Every cat loves receiving physical contact, and a feral cat is no different. Therefore, try to make physical contact a norm and let them feel comfortable approaching you. You can also try encouraging contact by placing some food on your fingertip and letting your cat lick. This allows them to create a connection with you. And, once they are ready for you to pet them, they will come looking for you.
Feral cats spend most of their lives outdoors, and it can be a challenge for them to get accustomed to living indoors. During this transition, try to exercise lots of patience. Move slowly and allow your cat to learn everything. And, within no time, the transition will be easier for both you and your cat.
Feral vs. Stray Cat
The primary difference between a feral cat and a stray cat is their socialization with people. As mentioned earlier, a stray cat is socialized to people, while a feral cat isn’t. However, unlike stray cats, the feral cat socializes and bonds with its colony members.
But it’s important to note that kittens born to feral cats can easily be adopted and domesticated at an early age with little work. It’s also easy for a stray cat to become feral if his/her contact with humans dwindles over time.
Another difference is the domestication process. For stray cats, under the right circumstances, becoming a pet cat again is simple. Domesticating a feral cat is only possible for four-month-old feral kittens.
For older cats, socializing is time consuming and you aren’t guaranteed results. The Trap, Neuter, and Return process TNR— is the best approach for feline cats who don’t show any signs of socialization within a specific period. With this process, you can vaccinate and feed him/her and return them to their feline family outdoors.
What Supplies Do I Require When Domesticating a Feral Cat?
Like any other cat, a feral cat requires several essentials on hand for them to feel comfortable. Some of these supplies are:
Living outdoors means that a cat is used to a particular way of doing things, including relieving themselves. Introducing them to litter boxes won’t be easy. Make sure you have one in every room to help make the transition easier for you and your cat.
Scratchers and trees
Another essential supply to have is trees and scratchers. If you have other cats, make sure you don’t choose a cat scratcher based on their preference. Remember, cats are different and it’s important to find one that suits your cat.
While this is something a feral cat isn’t used to, having some toys is an excellent way to keep them physically and mentally stimulated. While it may take some time for them to use, they will eventually need them. It’s also an excellent tool for you to bond and strengthen your trust.
While not all feral cats can become indoor cats, it’s still important for them to have regular vaccinations and healthy foods. After all, a healthy feral cat means a lower risk of cat diseases and a healthier you.
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Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of The Pet Rescue.