Feral cats are different from stray cats.
Stray cats are usually the product of a person’s irresponsibility. Irresponsibility could be defined in two ways when it comes to strays: dumping a cat to fend for itself and/or neglecting to spay and neuter their cats. Stray cats can be timid, but are often easily tamed. Feral cats are cats that were probably born to wild parents and are wild themselves. Feral cats have had no human interaction and are very difficult to tame.
Because feral cats are difficult to tame, thus making them undesirable indoor pets, there are many rescue organizations that are dedicated to the trapping and spaying and neutering of feral cat colonies. Many times, these organizations trap the cats, have them spayed and neutered and then release them near where they were originally found. Then, they dedicate themselves to providing food to these colonies.
Feral cats are everywhere. You can find feral cats in rural or farm areas, abandoned buildings and even parks and alleyways. You might catch a glimpse of them, but chances are that you would not be able to catch them easily. After all, they have not been around humans so any contact would make them shy away from you. If you have feral cats in your neighborhood, you may wonder whether these animals can be kept as pets.
Taming a feral cat can be a difficult proposition simply because they are not accustomed to humans. Depending on the level of their interactions with humans, some cats might be classified as semi-feral, total feral or even a converted feral cat. Depending on what your cat is classified dictates your potential success in socializing it. In addition, it takes a lot of time, love and patience to tame these cats.
If you find a cat that is has been feral for a years, chances are that there is little to no chance of socializing it. With no human contact at all, these cats are overly independent and would never depend on a human for food or companionship. You might have better success with a cat that is semi-feral. In these instances, they have had some limited human contact. A converted feral cat would probably have the best chance at a normal life as someone’s pet. These cats were once domesticated, meaning that they probably started life as a pet and then was abandoned. The converted feral cat will more than likely eventually respond to human interactions such as love and affection.
If you want to attempt to tame a feral cat, remember that it can be hard work reaching out to the feral cat and getting them to trust you after being on their own. Sometimes, your efforts will not pay off for months, especially with older cats. If your attempts are a success, the rewards are well worth it because a strong bond can develop and loyalty and love is the reward.
If you believe you have the time and the love to attempt to tame a feral, there are some things to remember. First, these cats see you as an intruder and are very likely to spit, hiss, bite and claw. This is a normal response as they are defending themselves against a perceived predator – you. If they manage to get in a few bites or scratches, you should apply first aid immediately. After you have successfully trapped a feral cat, your very first step is to get it to the vet for spay or neuter and to check for any diseases it may carry. This is a necessary step and an absolute must if you have other pets in the house. After you have arrived home with your cat, you need to let it adjust to you and the surroundings by giving it a small, safe place to stay. Allow the cat to stay in a small bathroom or laundry room, where it does not feel overwhelmed. You will need to take time every day to spend time with the cat and allow the cat to adjust to you.
Remember, not all feral cats can be socialized; however with love and patience, your time and efforts may be worthwhile.