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How Do I Calm a Feral Cat? 5 Steps That Can Help!

Have you ever interacted with a feral cat? Well, “interacted with” might not be the right wording. Feral cats will often not let you get close to them, let alone along you to touch them. In fact, a feral cat might ever run away should you make eye contact!

Even though it takes time, you can calm a feral cat so it’s more social around you and other people. This article goes over information about feral cats and the steps involved with calming a feral cat that’s not used to being around people.

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What is the Difference Between Feral Cats and Socialized Cats?

A socialized cat is a domestic feline that’s comfortable around people. Likewise, a feral cat is not domesticated because it has had little to no contact with people and is basically wild.

A semi-feral cat falls in between a domestic cat and a feral cat. A semi-feral cat doesn’t like being touched, but it may make eye contact with you or even vocalize in your presence.

How to Calm a Feral Cat in 5 Steps

1. Allow the Cat to Make the First Move

Don’t try to force yourself on a feral cat because all you’ll do is scare it. What you should do is give the cat time to make contact with you. When he attempts to come close to you, talk to him in a positive way using a soft and gentle voice to assure him that you can be trusted.

feral cats resting outdoor
Image Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay
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2. Provide Treats and Toys to Encourage Interaction

Once the feral cat comes near you without running off at the slightest movement or sound you make, reward him with treats. Make sure all your actions are calm, and keep your voice low.

By offering the cat a tasty treat like a piece of chicken, you’ll begin to earn his trust. At this point, the cat may come closer to you and connect on a one-on-one basis. He may choose to sit near you or wander around close by.

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3. Help the Cat Get Used to Being Around People

A feral cat will likely become frightened when it hears human conversation, music, doors opening and closing, and other sounds people make. This is why you should help a feral cat get used to being around you and others.

A good time to expose a feral cat to some human activities is during mealtime. While the cat is busy eating, perform some slow and deliberate tasks to get him used to the movements and sounds you make. If you’re near your back door or garage with the cat, go in and out the door but don’t slam it! Be calm and somewhat quiet, so the cat doesn’t take off and never return.

feral calico cat
Image Credit: Twinschoice, Shutterstock
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4. Make a Space for the Cat

Once your new feline friend is getting used to being around you, make a space for him to call his own. The space can be anything from a shed with an open window for easy access to a comfy cat bed placed on your porch. Just make sure the space you create for the cat is clean, warm, inviting, and something that will make your cat feel secure.

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5. Spend Time with the Cat

Once the cat has been given time to settle in, start spending some time with the animal in his new space. It’s a good idea to wear long sleeves, pants, gloves, and shoes when you’re around the cat to prevent scratches and bites.

Plan on spending time with the cat at the same time each day to establish a routine. Don’t approach the cat too quickly or make loud noises. It’s also wise to avoid making eye contact with the cat so he doesn’t feel threatened. Sit down and spend an hour or so with the cat as often as you can to get him used to you.

It’s a good idea to play with the cat once he feels safe spending time around you. Pick up a few cat toys like a string and feather toy or a plush mouse. Slowly introduce the toy to the cat, so he knows it’s not a threat. Then use the toy to entice the cat to interact with you.

cat laying on ground playing
Image Credit: Ingus Kruklitis, Shutterstock

How to Tell if a Cat is Scared or Aggressive

It’s easier to calm a feral cat if you know how it feels. You certainly don’t want the cat to attack you with his claws or teeth when you’re trying to tame him. You also don’t want to frighten the cat to the point where he heads for the hills and never comes back.

A frightened cat will hiss and growl to keep you at bay. The eyes of a scared cat are not usually dilated, and the animal will keep its head straight while hissing and growling in his attempt to scare you away.

An aggressive cat will have dilated eyes and make plenty of growling noises to keep you away. An aggressive feline will also cock its head while holding its ears back. The cat’s fur will stand on end to make the animal look bigger and more frightening.

If the feral cat shows signs of aggression when you’re trying to tame it, back off and give him the space he needs—otherwise you may get hurt.

How Long Does It Take for a Feral Cat to Adjust?

You’re not going to see overnight success when trying to calm a feral cat. The process will take several weeks, so be patient. Remember that the cat may have lived its entire life outdoors without coming into contact with any humans.

If you succeed at calming your feral cat, it can become your new live-in pet. Once you get the animal tamed, schedule an appointment with a veterinarian for a health check and vaccinations. You’ll also need to groom that kitty cat so pick up some cat shampoo and a slicker brush to keep your kitty’s fur clean and tangle-free.

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If you cross paths with a feral cat that appears to be scared of people, that cat was probably born wild. If you want to calm and tame the cat, follow the steps above and do everything as calmly as possible.

With time, perseverance, and patience, that feral cat of yours may end up becoming your friend. Don’t forget to give him plenty of time and space and allow him to warm up to you on his terms! Who knows? Maybe that feral cat will become your new BFF.

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Featured Image Credit: JancickaL, Pixabay