can a feral cat be tamed

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. Feral moms usually give birth in quiet unseen spots where kittens will not be visible for several weeks.

How to Tame a Feral Cat

The age, temperament, and experiences the cat has had on the streets (including interactions with humans in the past) are some of the factors that will determine your ability to tame a feral cat.

However, there is one weapon in the human arsenal that will significantly improve your chances of taming a feral cat: food. It’s commonly known that the reason wild cats were drawn to domestication in the first place was because they were able to consistently obtain food. Therefore, if you’re considering taming a feral cat in your neighborhood, you should start by creating a routine around food. For instance, make sure the cat gets some food every day at the same time and location, maybe in a particular section of your porch or patio.

But when you see the cat, try not to look it in the eye (just like with dogs, eye contact can be interpreted as a threat). Instead, while the cat is eating, stay motionless and silent and either sit or stand quietly nearby. You can gradually work your way up to speaking to your cat in a soothing voice after a few days.

Try putting the food a little bit closer to you each day if the cat seems to be losing its guard and starting to trust you. You might also consider serving a few extra-special desserts with the meal. It’s crucial to remember that you shouldn’t touch the cat until you’re positive that they will consent to it. When you’re ready to try it, reach out and gently pet the cat without moving abruptly. Give the cat a few days to recover before attempting to touch it again if it withdraws from you. Additionally, attempt to let the cat sniff your finger or the back of your cupped palm (fingers tucked in toward your face) before greeting it. You can eventually work your way up to petting and even gently picking up the cat. But always remember to thoroughly wash your hands and arms after coming into contact with any feral animals.

What to Do If You Find a Feral Cat

If you somehow find yourself in the company of a feral cat, there are steps you can take to ensure the safety of the kitty and yourself, whether it made its way into your yard or you regularly spot a specific homeless cat lurking around your neighborhood. Because these cats have never experienced the joy of developing a meaningful relationship with a human, bear in mind that they frequently view all people as enormous predators and are generally not afraid to act accordingly by biting, hissing, or even scratching or otherwise attacking you.

Additionally, even though you probably want to do everything in your power to help the poor cat, you should never approach a cat that appears sick. There’s a good chance that a feral cat that has unexpectedly shown up at your back door has rabies, so it’s safer to call the local animal control agency and avoid running the risk of getting bitten or scratched and needing medical attention.

Above all, anyone thinking about taming a feral cat needs to be aware that it will probably take a few weeks, or even longer if the cat is extremely hesitant, so patience is crucial.

How Is a Feral Cat Different from a Stray Cat?

The degree of socialization that stray cats have received from humans is the primary distinction between them and feral cats. Although a stray cat may be living outside on its own after being abandoned by or split off from its owners, they are accustomed to interacting with people because they were once part of a household.

Feral cats are similar to stray cats in that they live outdoors alone, but the main distinction is that they are likely the progeny of other stray or feral cats because they have never been socialized to humans. Because they have not been socialized by humans, feral cats may become untamed and unfriendly.

Generally speaking, stray and feral cats act differently around people.

Feral cats:

  • Generally avoid humans
  • Can appear frightened or hesitant around humans
  • Most likely adopt a defensive posture, crouching and remaining low to the ground
  • Frequently make little to no eye contact and meow or purr when near humans.

Stray cats:

  • Might approach humans
  • Might be friendly or curious around humans
  • Most likely to act like a house cat in human environments, meowing and establishing eye contact.

Ferocious and stray cats can live alone or in colonies, and they will hunt and steal food from anywhere they can, including outside feeding stations for pets and trash cans.


Can a feral cat become a house pet?

Most feral cats are fearful or people and are not likely to ever become a lap cat or enjoy living indoors. Kittens born to feral cats can be socialized at an early age and adopted into indoor homes. Alley Cat Allies does not, in general, recommend trying to socialize a feral kitten over 4 months of age.

How long does it take for a feral cat to become domesticated?

It usually takes about 2 weeks (or longer for exceptionally skittish kittens) to fully tame feral kittens, depending on their age and state of wildness. Kittens can differ greatly in temperament even within the same litter. Some may tame up immediately and others take longer. Patience and commitment is required.

Can feral cats become friendly to humans?

Not all feral cats are truly feral! This process can take minutes, hours, days or even weeks, depending on how long it takes the cat to get over its fear and learn to trust humans again. Once such a cat is confident that it is safe and that humans mean it no harm, it will be friendly and affectionate again.