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How to Socialize Feral Cats – 7 Helpful Ideas

Patricia Dickson

By Patricia Dickson

feral cat outdoor

As a cat lover, you know that most cats love to have fun, and you enjoy playing with your cats. However, what happens when those cats aren’t domesticated but are instead born in the wild? If a kitten is not socialized early on, it’s hard for them to be around people and other animals. Without human interaction, cats quickly become feral, unsocialized, and very afraid of people. As they grow older, it’ll be more difficult for them to be around any person.

Luckily, it is still possible to socialize a feral cat. We’ll give you some of our top ideas for socializing feral cats in the guide below.

What Is a Feral Cat?

Before capturing and socializing a feral cat, you must know what one is. It is a cat that was born in the wild and has never been socialized. A feral kitten is not the same as a stray kitten.

A stray is a domestic cat that has escaped its home or was abandoned and living independently. A feral kitten was outside and never had any human interactions. Feral kittens usually have mothers who are feral as well.

In most cases, the kittens will hiss, bite, and claw at any human who comes near them because they are scared. While it is possible to socialize a feral kitten, it will take time, patience, and love. We’ll give you a few of the best ideas for accomplishing this below.

The 7 Helpful Ideas to Socialize Feral Cats

1. Visit Your Vet

When you’ve decided to adopt a feral cat, it’s best to have them checked out by a vet before you bring them into your home. Feral kitties have been known to carry diseases that can also be transferred to humans and other cats.

The vet will be able to give the cat its vaccinations, a full health checkup, and hopefully a clean bill of health as well. Once you have a clean bill of health for your furry friend, you can start trying to socialize the feline to become a domesticated pet.

2. Create a Routine

Your little cat is used to living a life of unpredictability. This means you want to create a routine for them to follow as soon as possible. Try letting them out of the carrier or their room at certain times of the day, feeding them on a schedule, and providing them with regular play sessions with you and the toys they’ll grow to love.

Creating a routine for the kitty will help it get used to its new environment and help it feel comfortable and safe, something they haven’t had living as a wild cat.

White cat asking for food with an empty bowl placed on the living room floor
Image Credit: Chetorkina, Shutterstock

3. Give Plenty of Time to Adjust

Take a second to think of how you would feel in a similar situation. This cat was scooped up and taken into a place it didn’t know by something that looked like a giant to it. That’s why it’s essential to give the kitten time to adjust to you and your family and the new environment.

Never force the cat to interact with you or your other pets. Instead, let the kitty come to you in its own time. If you try to interact with the cat and it runs away or becomes skittish, leave it alone and try again in a few days. Once it realizes you mean it no harm, it’ll come around in its own good time.

4. Create a Safe, Cozy Space

When you first bring your feral cat home, you will need to set up a space where it can feel safe and cozy. It’s best to use a location away from the other animals and foot traffic in the house.

Make sure to put the cat’s food and water bowls and litter box in the room with them, so they have everything they need. It’s also a good idea to purchase a nice cat bed. This will make the cat feel safer and more comfortable in his new home.

a red tabby cat lying in the tent
Image Credit: kimberrywood, Shutterstock

5. Positive Reinforcement

Positive reinforcement is essential when trying to socialize and train a feral cat. You should never yell at, hit, or punish the cat in any way, and that goes for every pet, whether they are feral or not. Once the kitten begins to interact with you, use treats, toys, and praise when they behave.

For example, if the kitten doesn’t run when you try to pet it, give it a treat. If it decides to play with a toy you’ve given it, praise it for being a good cat. Positive reinforcement will help the cat realize you have no intention of hurting it.

6. Never Give Up

Training and socializing a feral kitten isn’t something that will happen overnight. It’s a long process that can be extremely frustrating for you and the kitten. Have patience, show the kitten that you love them, and before long, you’ll have another loyal pet as a part of your family. Never try to force your cat to be with you, or it’s going to backfire. Let it come to love you in its own time for the best results.

cat rubbing its head against the owner's legs
Image Credit: Jaromir Chalabala, Shutterstock

7. Contact a Professional Trainer

One of the best ways to socialize a feral kitten is by hiring a professional to do the job for you. If you’ve tried training the kitten on your own and it’s not working, it might be best to let the professionals handle the job instead. The trainer can also advise you on how best to care for the feral kitten you’ve decided to give a forever home.

Why Should I Give a Feral Kitten a Home?

Adopting and socializing a feral kitten benefits the pet owner and the cat. You get to give a cat a home, and the cat will love you in return. Even if you don’t want to keep the feral kitten you’re training, it will make it easier for the cat to go to a good loving home when the time is right.


Many feral cats in the world need to be taken in by loving families or shelters and socialized to be the loving pets they were meant to be. If you’re considering trying to socialize the feral kittens in your neighborhood, the ideas above should help you make that a reality.

Remember, socializing a feral cat isn’t a simple process. It takes patience, love, and positive reinforcement to domesticate felines. However, if you stick with it, you’ll eventually have a loving cat that will be forever grateful you gave it a forever home and a loving family.

Featured Image Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

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