How To Tame a Feral Cat

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A little over two years ago, I had a feral cat living under my shed with her three new kittens. I began putting food out for them and, though I had never had a cat before, grew to love these three little ones and started thinking about taking on the challenge of capturing them and bringing them indoors. After their mom left them on their own, at about 12 weeks old, I began talking to them every day. Over several months I was able to reach out and touch them.

When winter came, I knew it was time to take action. They were alone and afraid, cold and wet. At that point they were very used to my presence so I didn’t have to trap them. I just tricked each of them, one by one, into a carrier and closed the door behind them. I put them in a room that I had cleaned out specifically to keep them in. There were a few pieces of furniture in there, litterboxes, food and water, and some kitty toys. I kept them in that room with the door closed for a few weeks. I would go in every day to change their food and water, clean out their litter boxes, and sit and talk to them, or play with them. In the beginning, they would hide under the bed and just bat at the wand toys from under the bed. As the weeks went on, they ventured out from under the bed and soon I was petting them in the room.

Once they seemed fairly comfortable in their little room, I decided to see how it went if I left their door open. I was expecting madness and mayhem, and got nothing! They peeked out of the door, but didn’t step out of the room. Every night when I was at home I would leave the door open, and as the nights went by, they started to venture out of the room, a little bit at a time, to explore this big new world.

Soon the three of them were wandering all over the house. I could pet them for a short while, then they would get scared and run back into their room. I never forced anything on them, unless it was for a trip to the vet. In that case, I had to force them into a carrier, like it or not. Otherwise, if they didn’t want to be touched, I didn’t touch them. If they ran away from me and hid, I didn’t chase them or search for them.

Over the months that followed, two of them, Tommy and Emma, eventually hopped up into my lap. Katie was much more timid and it took over a year for her to be comfortable enough to do that.

Today, a year and a half later, all three of them come running when I arrive home, and when I wake up in the morning. They seek me out several times a day to pet them. They are happy and content with their new indoor life.

I think the key to their happiness and the taming of Tommy, Emma and Katie, is the fact that I let them follow their timetable rather than forcing them to follow mine. It took a lot of time and patience, and it isn’t for everyone, but taming my three little friends has been a very rewarding experience.

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