Calling all Han Solo fans, today is for you – it’s National Star Wars Day! If you’re looking for a new four-legged friend to re-watch The Last Jedi with, you might look outside! We have our very own Chewbaccas on planet earth: feral cats.
Feral cats are cats that have not grown up around humans. They assume large animals are hunting them and thus have a great fear of humans. Just like Chewbacca, they can be short-tempered and don’t tolerate socialization well. But with time and a lot of patience, these cats can make wonderful house pets. If your find yourself in the possession of a feral cat, here is how you can tame it:
Step 1 – Safe Indoor Space: Prepare an enclosed area in your home for the cat to adjust to her new environment. This should be a small and quiet room away from other people and pets. Provide some old pieces of clothing to acclimate her to human scents and create hiding places in the room to make her feel safer.
Step 2 – Daily Routines: Spend time with the cat and establish a routine. Enter the room and feed her every day at the same time. Do not stare or make eye contact, as cats can perceive this as aggression. Talk quietly as you fill her food and water and change the litter box. Don’t rush things, and don’t try to handle her at the beginning. Simply spending time in the room for a part of each day will help her to grow accustomed to human interaction.
Step 3 – Gentle Play: Begin to play with the cat but don’t handle her yet. You can buy some small cat toys and play with her. If the cat seems calm around you, it may be time to begin acclimating her to your hand. Place your hand flat on the floor and let her come to you. The cat must initiate the contact, as she is exploring and trying to decide if you are a threat.
Step 4 – Gentle Pets: Pet the cat. Very slowly place your hand flat on the floor near her, and then carefully lift your hand to her eye level. Slowly start petting her. The first time you pet the cat, keep it very brief and stop before she has a chance to panic. Repeat this after several days, slowly increasing the amount of time you pet her.
Step 5 – Increase Contact: Pick up the cat. It is best to pick up the cat by scruffing her, which means grasping the skin at the base of the neck, close to the ears. Never scruff a cat by reaching from the front. It may be helpful to wrap her in a towel to prevent scratches and bites. You can set her in your lap and pet her, keeping her head turned away from you.
Step 6 – Routine Care: Once your cat is comfortable with you, take your cat to the vet and keep her groomed!
Don’t be discouraged if taming the feral cat takes time. While kittens can be tamed in just 2-6 weeks, it can take an adult cat over a year to be tamed. Before starting to tame a feral cat, make sure you have the patience and can devote enough time per day to taming your cat.
Taming a feral cat is a long and slow process, but it most certainly can be done! Good luck, and may the force be with you!