Feral Cat Care

More Cat Care Information:

A feral cat is one who has always been wild, usually born to a wild mother and frequently found around farms, although they can also be found in cities. Taming a feral cat is very different than taming a stray cat.

General Cat Care #1: Before You Bring Your Cat Home
You will need food, food dish, water bowl, interactive toys, brush, comb, safety cat collar, scratching post, litter and litter box.
General Cat Care #2: Feeding
An adult cat should be fed one large or two smaller meals each day. Kittens from 6 to 12 weeks need to be fed four times a day. Kittens from three to six months need to be fed three times a day. You can either feed specific meals, throwing away any leftover canned food after 30 minutes or free-feed dry food (keeping food out all the time).

Feed your cat a high-quality, brand-name kitten or cat food (avoid generic brands) two to three times a day. Kittens can be fed human baby food for a short time if they won’t eat kitten food softened by soaking in warm water. Use turkey or chicken baby food made for children six months and older. Gradually mix with cat food. Cow’s milk is not necessary and can cause diarrhea in kittens and cats. Provide fresh, clean water at all times. Wash and refill water bowls daily.

Usually a stray cat was a pet that got lost or was abandoned by its owner and is now living in the streets as a wild cat, but this cat remembers having been somebody’s pet, and so it is normally not difficult to tame them again. Sometimes when the family moves to a new home, an older cat will miss the old home and escape from its new home and get lost. These cats are very easily domesticated again.

If the cat became a stray at a very young age, it may take some time and effort before it trusts you, but after you have fed it and treated it kindly on a regular basis, it is very likely the cat will adopt you as its friend and your house as its permanent home.

With feral cats the process is more difficult. They are independent, are used to looking for their own food and don’t like to be kept indoors, which makes them feel trapped.  They are not accustomed to being near humans, so their normal feral cat behaviour will be to reject your companionship. In order to domesticate a feral cat you need to think what you can offer the cat that could make him accept you as its companion. Even if you are willing to give it a lot of love and attention, the cat will need a lot more time to appreciate and accept it.

General Cat Care #3: Grooming
Most cats stay relatively clean and rarely need a bath, but they do need to be brushed or combed. Frequent brushing helps keep your cat’s coat clean, reduces the amount of shedding and cuts down on the incidence of hairballs
General Cat Care #4: Handling
To pick up your cat, place one hand behind the front legs and another under the hindquarters. Lift gently. Never pick up a cat by the scruff of the neck (behind the ears) or by the front legs without supporting the rear end.
General Cat Care #5: Housing
Cats should have a clean, dry place of their own in the house. Line your cat’s bed with a soft, warm blanket or towel. Be sure to wash the bedding often. Please keep your cat indoors. If your companion animal is allowed outside, he can contract diseases, get ticks or parasites, become lost or get hit by a car, hurt in a fight or poisoned. Also, cats prey on wildlife.

You will have a better chance domesticating a wild cat that lives in a city or around an inhabited farm, because this kind of cat is used to seeing people and from time to time being fed by them. When a cat has never had any contact with humans it is very difficult if not impossible to domesticate it, but a feral cat that is used to seeing people may eventually become your pet.

The catch is first to feed the cat in your back yard regularly, being careful not to feed rats instead of the cat you are interested in. With time and patience, gradually put the food closer and closer to the entrance of your house, but do it slowly, so as not to scare the cat.  Little by little you can place the food closer to the house, and then just inside, at which point it may end up adopting your house as its home because cats are very territorial.

If you try to trap a feral cat and take it home, be prepared for the cat to hiss, bite and scratch, because it will be afraid of you, and want to defend itself. Take it to a veterinarian at once for a health check and to have it vaccinated and probably neutered. Wild animals can spread serious diseases to humans through an infected bite or scratch, so you need to be sure that the cat is healthy.

It’s a good idea to give it a safe place to stay, if possible a small place that’s easy to clean, like a spare bathroom. Your new pet will not be house trained and can have digestive problems at first because of the change in its diet. It is better to spend some time with your pet every day so it can adjust to your presence. Try to be with it for about half an hour after it has finished eating.

Unless there is a very good reason for adopting a feral cat, it is often kinder to let them live out their lives in the wild. But if you do want to discover for yourself how to tame and care for a feral cat, you will need a lot of love and patience before your efforts are rewarded.

General Cat Care #6: Identification
If allowed outdoors (again, we caution against it!), your cat needs to wear a safety collar and an ID tag. A safety collar with an elastic panel will allow your cat to break loose if the collar gets caught on something. An ID tag or an implanted microchip can help insure that your cat is returned if he or she becomes lost.
General Cat Care #7: Litter Box
All indoor cats need a litter box, which should be placed in a quiet, accessible location. A bathroom or utility room is a good place for your cat’s box. In a multi-level home, one box per floor is recommended. Avoid moving the box unless absolutely necessary. Then do so slowly, a few inches a day. Cats won’t use a messy, SMELLY litter box. Scoop solids out of the box at least once a day. Dump everything, wash with a mild detergent (don’t use ammonia) and refill at least once a week, less frequently if using clumping litter. Don’t use deodorants or scents in the litter or litter box (especially avoid lemon scent).
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