Taming to Love: How to Rescue a Feral Kitten

With patience and persistence, you can tame a wild kitten and transform her into a loving pet.

By Sarah Magee

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I sit on the floor, so I'm less intimidating, several feet from the food and speak softly. The braver kittens often warily eat. I repeat this process, so they begin to equate me with tasty food. I also visit at other times speaking softly. I know I've made progress when I enter the room and they don't immediately run and hide. Instead, their natural curiosity fastens on me.

A Little Closer
As the kittens become more comfortable, I introduce a toy on a string. As they play with the toy, I draw it closer to me, so they don't even realize how close they've gotten to me.

I continue the process with the food, visits and toys, and when I think they're ready, I lightly pet their heads while they eat. In time I work up to more extensive petting. Pretty soon the kittens are tame and in love with me because I provide food and positive experiences.

The entire process usually takes five days, but very shy kittens may take longer. Then they are ready for adoption.

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Reader Comments

Rana    winter haven, FL

10/2/2011 5:33:35 PM

I have a feral cat that now sits in my lap. It took her about a month to adjust to me and my other cat. This cat had been outside ALL her life, and that was quite evident when she drank out of the spicket and refused to come out from the bottom of my bed, when I brought her inside. Slowly, though, she came to me, on her own accord. She made friends with my cat, on her own accord too. We just introduced everyone very slowly. They do come around, but you must be patient with them. If everyone you ran into hurt you when you met them, or they threw stuff at would be hesitant of coming near others too. So, just be patient and go slowly. Allow them to come to you, not vice-versa. And, if you separated the babies from the mom, try to get the mom too. Just think, how would you feel if you were taken from your mom?

sarah and John    brooklyn, NY

9/6/2010 4:23:20 PM

thank you foryour insight tooooooo young rerrels. we have him hime nowwith a crate,aaaaandall the immenities without being to invasuive too quickly,We daily pick hi up and oet softky and hug,our poroblem now is he has come home to a declawed tabby we rescued off the strets 4 yrs ago,we have an old lady cat as well she is more patienr as sheis 20 yrs,But we are getting no sleep he sleeps during day and is up all night wanting to play and crying,Help we lethim sleepin crate but today was first day we lethim out to run.Any6 suggestions on changing sleep patterns.He has been at hospital with dislocatted leg but iss fine now.Had shots rounf of shots this week,any ideas would be appreciated.

Tammy    Warren, MI

1/7/2010 7:50:34 PM

A baby kitten had been hanging around my house crying for hours everyday. I started by feeding it then when the weather got cold, I put my cat carrier on the porch with blankets and toys. One day I snuck up and shut the cage door and brought it in our house. It has been almost a month and we still cannot touch the kitten but it plays a lot and meows at us until we get too close, then it hisses. We have tried and tried to get it to come to us, but it will not. It uses the litter box and eats very well. I don't know what else to do. I am afraid that if I put a towel over it or force holding it will only back step the process. I have two other cats that will not accept it. It is safe living in our basement, but I don't know what else to try. Any suggestions would be appreciated.

Renee    Dewey, OK

10/18/2008 4:26:32 PM

Very good article, I've also read Feral Kitten Rescue Tips, also by Sarah Magee. Thanks so much for the info. I'm new at this and have 4 feral kittens just kidnapped from mom. I'm trying to determine their age. Their eyes are open; however, I only became aware of them because mom had let them nurse in the sun.. any guidance as to their age?? Thanks so much for any assistance you can provide.

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