A cat that lives outdoors is called a feral cat. A feral kitten is one that has not had much contact or no contact with humans. Feral kittens will generally resist being touched or handled by humans, and in an attempt to touch them, they run or attack. These kittens normal stay hidden because they are fearful of humans. They normally live in colonies outdoors around areas where they have access to food.
A managed colony is one cared for and given food regularly by humans. What most animal rescue groups do is to find these kittens then provide food and shelter for them. They also provide care for these cats through trap-neuter-return programs, providing health care and socializing and adopting out young kittens. They also try to control the populations of these feral cats through different techniques. Trap-neuter-return programs are used by some in order to prevent the cats’ continuous breeding, while some others suggest euthanasia.
Socializing a feral cat takes time and needs to be done carefully because it may hiss and “spit” at or even attack you. Their hostile behaviour is because they are scared of humans and if care is not taken, you could get a nasty scratch or bite from the cat as it tries to escape. The kitten sees humans as a predator and will try to defend itself.
If bitten by a feral cat, it should be taken seriously, and you are required to get medical attention. Feral kittens mostly have diseases contagious to other cats so they should be treated by a veterinarian before taken home. They should also be kept away from your other pets to prevent the spread of diseases from them to the other pets. Wear a smock when handling a feral cat and always wash your hands before and after handling a feral cat.
It is easier to socialize feral kittens under 8 weeks, but kittens without any positive interaction with humans take a longer period for them to be socialized. Location matters a lot when it comes to socializing a feral cat matters. The best area to socialize feral cats are places the socializer can comfortably interact with the kittens, as well as the kittens. Normally, these cats will have to eventually agree to socialize themselves, but most times they require an incentive which is most importantly food, to socialize.
The number one tool to help the socialization process is food, as kittens have an insatiable appetite and this is what can be used to draw them close to you. With food in hands, they may allow you to touch them and even hold them, which is something they normally won’t. To completely socialize a feral cat, there is a certain process to be taken.
Steps To Socialize A Feral Kitten
It is advised that you make use of a very humane trap to trap these feral kittens. You can get one from your local animal shelter, a Vet or a feed barn. If you’ve never used it before, strictly follow the directions for usage. You will need to be patient when trapping a feral cat because it is pretty hard to trap them. When you successfully trap these kittens, douse them with treatments against fleas and ticks, because they will probably have these on them and will spread it through your home.
Contact A Vet
They should be immediately taken to the Vet who evaluates them. The Vet checks their weight and almost determine how healthy they are. If these kittens weigh more than 2 pounds, they will need to be sprayed. Other treatments like neutering and vaccinations will also be given by the Vet.
Give Them Space
As soon as you introduce the feral kittens into your home, mark out a safe space for them in a confined area like the bathroom or spare room so they won’t be around humans and other pets. Put a litter box and provide them with food, water, toys and bed. Initially, they will hide from you and stay far away from you because they are scared but as time goes on, they will adjust.
Once the healthy kittens start using the litter box and get to always eat in your presence, you should take advantage of this and moderately start delaying meals to have the advantage of hunger.
Ensure that when you feed them, you don’t just drop their food and walk away. As they begin to eat in your presence, gradually bring the dish as close as possible to you. Remain with the kittens till they are done eating. Then take away all remnants but always leave water behind.
Trying to bring feral kittens to you when they are not ready to will definitely result in hostile behaviour from them and you get nasty scratches all over your hands and arms. The best approach initially is not to approach them. You should ignore these feral kittens until they’re ready to come to you. These could take days or even weeks, but they will finally try to investigate you.
Get Them Accustom With Your Voice
Always make sure you speak a lot in the presence of these cats. Taking out some minutes to read a book to them is one perfect way to do that because, with this, they get used to your voice.
Introduce Them To Play
After some days or weeks, the kittens will try to know you. It is not wise to immediately grab at them because this can scare them and ruin the whole progress. What you do is surround yourself with toys, usually those like a feathery mouse dangling on a short pole. This will surely attract them towards you the more.
Handle Them With Care
As soon as they start playing with toys in your presence, try initiating physical contact. Don’t try grabbing them or making quick moves, but do it gently.
Socializing feral kittens could prove to be hard so it requires time and patience, but once you start handling them more often, you’ve made a huge progress in socializing these feral kittens.