Do Feral Cats Make Good Pets? Devastating News

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All cat lovers can agree that it’s challenging to ignore a fluffy feline found outdoors. But, often, such cases necessitate far more caution and awareness than one might think. These feral felines are not as cuddly as they may appear. So, do feral cats make good pets?

No, feral cats do not make good pets. It is theoretically possible to domesticate a feral cat, but it is rare.  Young feral kittens are generally the most successful at becoming good pets. If you attempt to domesticate a feral cat, you should seek professional consultation because feral cats behave like wild animals.

Of course, finding a cat outside can be incredibly perplexing, especially if it’s unknown whether the cat is aggressive, injured, or even ill. Thus, attempting to adopt it may be met with mixed responses.

Stick around to find out the basics of welcoming a feral cat into your home and how to go about keeping the cat calm towards you. It’s always considered a risk, and anyone who has not received vital shots (like rabies and tetanus shots) should steer clear of feral cats for safety reasons. 

Pro-Tip:  If you are thinking of buying a cat or are a cat owner already, then you should be aware that taking care of the litter box can be a real chore.  In this age of smart products, an automatic litter box has been created that actually makes life easier with taking care of the litter box.  If you want to make your life much easier with a litter box that means you’ll never have to scoop litter again, check out the best automatic litter box on the market (in my opinion) on Amazon. 

Can Feral Cats Be Pets?

Occasionally feral cats can be pets; however, most feral cats cannot become pets. Feral cats usually do not have socialization with humans and will not adjust enough to become good pets. The best time to socialize a feral cat is when it is a kitten because feral cats are much harder to tame as they grow older.

There are some anecdotal stories out there of feral cats living in homes safely. Feral cats can adjust to the new home and living situation more easily if the cat is a young kitten (generally, the younger, the better) than older feral cats who have wild tendencies and will not adjust easily.

If you’ve ever met a feral cat you would know immediately that they will be hard to socialize enough to be a pet. Feral cats run away from humans trying to touch them quite quickly. This is because feral cats are wild animals that know they must always be on guard to threats in their environment. The best thing a person can do for a feral cat is to work with their veterinarian to TNR, or trap – neuter – release, the feral cat. This will help keep feral cat populations lower, which is important, because feral cats do not live good lives.

Can Feral Cats Become House Cats?

No, feral cats can not become house cats. Feral cats are wild animals that are incredibly hard to domesticate. Feral cats will think like wild animals and not like a socialized and human loving cat. Young feral kittens are potentially young enough to become house cats.

It is a bad idea to try and make a feral cat a house cat.  If you want to save feral cats, my advice is to donate to nonprofit organizations trying to help feral cats.  If you are serious about turning a feral cat into a house cat, you need to be quite careful.  

To learn more about if feral cats want to be indoors, check out my article:  Click Here.

When incorporating a feral cat into the home, one should be wary of potential risks that may come with them. The cat should be quarantined somewhere in the home, especially if you have other pets present in the area.

The cat will need to be checked out by a veterinarian for health conditions, screenings, spaying or neutering, and will need to receive crucial vaccinations as soon as possible. While serious illnesses such as rabies are an understandable concern, other health factors will need to be assessed.

Feral cats live off what they can find in their environment, which often plays a role in developing health risks and living condition side effects. Depending on how old the feral cat is and how long it had spent time living outdoors, these effects and health issues could vary. This can range from diseases, parasites, malnutrition, bone or fur damage, skin illnesses, damaged or torn ears, broken or damaged limbs, and even missing eyes.

One serious risk that feral cats live with is fighting each other.  To learn more about if feral cats fight to the death:  Click Here.

Feral cats commonly eat small birds and rodents, and they scavenge rubbish bins or the carcasses of dead animals when desperate. For water, feral cats mostly aim for puddles, pools, ponds, birdbaths, or any source of still water. These food and water sources are likely to be tainted by a wide range of parasites, diseases, and bacteria. These risks pose a variety of health issues for the cat and anyone who comes into contact with it.

Also, feral cats will likely suffer from anxiety, stress, or fear, depending on the life experiences that they would have gone through before joining the home. In some cases, feral cats experience harsh encounters with humans, may have been abused, or may have gotten into rough altercations with other cats or dogs.

Feral cats will likely be more resistant to trusting humans and other pets in the area, and it may take plenty of time to see any improvement in behavior.

Can You Own A Feral Cat?

Yes, it is possible that in some states a caretaker of feral cats could be considered their owner. However, in other states feral cats are considered a nuisance and wild animals. Even if someone considers themselves a feral cat owner, any feral cat could move on to a new territory at any time with no loyalty to that owner.

In my mind, even if a feral cat caretaker trapped, neutered, and released a feral cat they truly would not be that cat’s owner because a feral cat is not domesticated. Even if a person chipped a feral cat I don’t think that would make them their owner. I just don’t think you can consider yourself the owner of a wild animal if it either isn’t domesticated or if it isn’t confined to an area that you own (like a cage), and that would not be much of a life for a cat.

Can A Feral Kitten Become A House Pet?

Yes, a feral kitten can become a house pet when they are taken quite young and socialized. Feral kittens should be contained and then shown human love consistently if they are to become socialized and not respond with biting and scratching. Feral kittens can still become scared so it is essential to approach their care calmly and lovingly.

Feral kittens haven’t had the long hardened life of a fully grown feral cat. Still, even a feral kitten that is more than a few months old is probably hardened enough to that feral cat life that they will be quite hard to domesticate into a house cat. People trying to make a feral kitten into a house pet should work closely with their veterinarian.

Petting a Feral Cat

Petting a feral cat is not easy because it is hard to catch a feral cat and then safely pick it up. Usually a trap will be necessary to catch a feral cat and you may need to use a towel to pick it up safely because feral cats will bite and scratch. Be mindful of a feral cat’s body language as that will tell you if the feral cat feels threatened while you try to pet it.

People need to readjust their expectations when wanting to pet a feral cat for a few reasons. The first reason is that most feral cats fear being touched by humans. Feral cats will often run the other direction if you approach them.

Additionally, feral cats are wild and lead tough lives, so they will bite and scratch if you do get close enough to try and pick them up. Finally, if a person is able to hold a feral cat safely then they should try to pet the cat approaching from the back of the head so that it does not get scared seeing a hand come towards it.

How To Get A Feral Cat To Let You Pet It

The best way to get a feral cat to let you pet it is to build up trust with the cat patiently and consistently over a long period of time. Feral cats are wild animals that are scared of humans which can result in biting, scratching, and running away. Feral kittens are more likely to be successfully domesticated which in turn would allow you to pet them.

If you look at things through the lens of the feral cat then you will see a wild life where everything is out to get you. This is why feral cats are scared of humans and it is difficult to break this behavior, even when love and kindness is shown. People love to pet cats but feral cats are stuck in a fight or flight world. It is unlikely that you will successfully pet a feral cat, but there may be a small chance if you are patient with the cat and show it love and kindness over a long period.

Can Feral Cats Be Socialized?

No, feral cats cannot be socialized due to living hardened lives as wild cats. Feral cats live in a world where they struggle every day and this causes them to be scared of everything, including humans. A better alternative to socializing feral cats is trap, neuter, release which will help control feral cat populations.

Many people would like to socialize feral cats because they love felines and think they are all cute and deserve good lives. I don’t disagree with this, but the reality is that feral cats are wild animals. It is important to be careful around feral cats because they will bite and scratch at people if they feel threatened. This behavior comes from being scared because they live tough lives.

Can you Domesticate a Feral Cat?

No, you can not domesticate a feral cat. Feral cats are wild animals and are scared of humans. Feral cats cannot be socialized with humans enough to be considered domesticated. Feral cats may come around to a caretaker that feeds them but they will still maintain wild behavior.

While domestication related to feeding and litterbox training might be achieved with coaching and time, the primary difference between domestic cats and feral cats, apart from living conditions and health risks, is that they do not appreciate being handled at all. This lack of socialization is understandable based on their upbringing. But, owners should be mindful of this since affection cannot be forced with domesticated cats, let alone feral cats.

Another area of concern is their cleanliness. While they can clean and groom themselves sufficiently, feral cats are infamous for leaving a trail of chaos behind them, such as toppled over waste bins with trash everywhere after feeding or plant boxes being dug up and used as litterboxes.

Household cleanliness will need devoted training and coaching to encourage feral cats, as they are likely to continue such behavior in the home – even with food and water bowls and litterboxes.

Can Feral Cats Be Tamed?

Feral cats cannot be tamed because they are wild creatures. Feral cats may get close to caretakers that feed them but they will not become tame enough to be considered domesticated cats. Feral cats may get scared and bite or scratch humans that try to pet them.

Feral cats have wild behavior because they are wild animals. They’ve been hardened by a life where they struggle to avoid predators and consistently find their next meal. All of this contributes to feral cats being hard to domesticate. It is unusual for a feral cat to become tamed because they are so wild.

When Is It Too Late To Tame A Feral Cat?

It is too late to tame a feral cat if it is no longer a young kitten. Only feral cats that are young kittens can potentially be domesticated and considered tame cats. Feral cats that are older than young kittens will be too hardened to become tame enough to be considered domesticated house cats.

Young feral kittens can become tame because they are still quite impressionable. Unfortunately, as a feral cat becomes older it becomes more hardened to being wild since they live hard lives. Feral cats frequently have to struggle to hide from predators, fight with other cats, and find their next meal, which makes their lives hard. Additionally, feral cats become scared of humans because they are not always treated nicely.

Can A Feral Kitten Be Tamed?

Yes, feral kittens can be tamed if they are young enough and contained in an environment where they are shown love and kindness by humans. Feral kittens need to see constant love by humans otherwise they will grow to fear people. Feral kittens that are not quite young will have become too hardened to be tamed.

The longer a feral kitten is in the wild, the harder it will be to tame it. If a feral kitten is in the wild more than a few months it is likely too wild to become a domesticated house cat. Feral kittens see the world around them and the struggles that come along with it, which harden the mind of the cat. This means a feral kitten in the wild will come to fear many things, including humans.

Can You Bring A Feral Cat Into Your Home?

No, you cannot bring a feral cat into your home because feral cats can contain parasites and diseases that can get other animals sick, especially other felines. It is possible that a feral cat will have feline leukemia virus, tularemia, rabies, or even toxoplasmosis. Feral cats should not be brought into the home.

It is a better option to trap, neuter, and release feral cats. Your veterinarian may also include some vaccinations for the feral cat once it is trapped. You should not considered bringing a feral cat into your home for the reasons listed above and also because feral cats will frequently fight with other cats. Your indoor cats may get injured by a feral cat and the feral cat may get injured too.

Where Do Feral Cats Sleep?

Cats sleep in defensible and secluded areas that they can either defend from intruders or escape from quickly. This means places like the crawl space under a house, under a porch, or an abandoned shelter are ideal for a feral cat to sleep. Feral cats will likely sleep during the daytime since they are frequently hunting in the evening.

Feral cats still need sleep just like every other animal. Feral cats will try to find a place that they can feel safe while they are sleeping. This is because there are predators out there not to mention other feral cats that can pick fights. It is quite important that feral cats find good places to sleep so that they have the energy to hunt during the evening.

Can A Friendly Feral Cat Be Domesticated?

Yes, a friendly feral cat is likely a semi feral cat and sometimes can be domesticated. Semi feral cats have some socialization with humans and may be domesticated. Fully feral cats cannot be domesticated and will frequently avoid humans. With consistent love and kindness a semi feral cat may be domesticated.

Semi feral cats probably had some good experiences with humans when they were very young which helped form ideas that they can be a little more trustworthy of humans. Fully feral cats are more hardened animals and may come around caretakers that feed them but will almost always avoid other humans because they know there is risk.

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My Cat’s Litter-Robot 3 Connect (with night light on) – See the link above the photo!

Cat Tree:  I have purchased a couple of this Amazon Basics Cat Tree on Amazon (affiliate link).  My cat spends a lot of time on and around this cat tree, which I position near my sofa.  She uses the scratching posts on this cat tree multiple times a day, which means she is not scratching the sofa instead.

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Feral Cat Behavior

Feral cats behave like wild animals that avoid predators and stalk prey. Feral cats will frequently sleep during the daytime and be more active at night looking for their next meal. Feral cats are excellent hunters that can catch small wildlife, such as birds, mice, and lizards.

It’s quite difficult to assume what kind of assistance a feral cat may need or if they want to be approached by a human at all. Most feral cats have extremely limited or no interaction with humans, and most scenarios would have likely been unpleasant for them. Thus, their reaction to humans may be naturally aggressive, fearful, and defensive, as they may assume that you will harm them instead of helping them.

Despite this common feral cat profile, some feral cats are timid, whether it be due to their breed or their life experiences. These cats may be more submissive to humans than showing aggression or may be shy and run away.

Unlike stray or lost cats who frequently communicate with humans, feral cats are generally quiet and do not communicate with humans using eye contact or vocalization.

Understanding Feral Cat Behavior

To understand feral cat behavior a person must put themself in the position of the feral cat. Feral cats in the wild fight for their survival every day and feral cat behavior reflects this. Feral cat behavior is that of an animal that must hunt for its food while watching out for risks with other feral cats, wild animals, and people.

Feral cats are more active at night, as they frequently use these low light hours to search for food with less worry of interacting with other cats and dogs – whether domestic or stray – as well as humans. Also, feral cats are accustomed to taking care of their health and hygiene needs and generally appear cleaner and groomed than stray cats, who usually have an un-kept appearance.

Most of the time, these cats do not necessarily ‘need’ the help of a human, as they are relatively equipped to continue taking care of themselves in the wild. But, if you happen to stumble across a fearful and shy feral kitten or young cat, it’s understandable that you may want to rescue them from the harsh environment.

Feral Kitten Behavior

Feral kittens behave like little wild animals. Feral kittens can be domesticated so that their behavior changes to that of a house cat; however, this takes time and consistent effort. The change in behavior of a feral kitten to that of a domesticated kitten will include purring, eating out of a person’s hand, lack of hissing, and lack of biting and scratching.

Feral kittens need consistent love and gentle handling to know that they can trust humans. It is important to work with your veterinarian for your plan on how to domesticate any feral kittens you may have. Feral kittens are still lovable but they will hiss, bite, and scratch. It is important to be ready for this since these animals, while young, are still wild.

Can A House Cat Turn Feral?

Yes, a house cat can become a feral cat. If a house cat runs away they will become a stray cat for a period of time. Stray cats are not yet wild enough to be comfortable to be on their own; however, stray cats that remain in the outdoors for a long period of time will become more hardened and can be considered feral cats.

House cats that run away outside are in quite a bit of danger because there are predators in the wild amongst other risks, like being run over by a car. Stray cats will frequently appear disheveled because they are struggling with their new life of constantly being in the wild. Over time that stray cat becomes more wild and more feral.

What Is A Semi Feral Cat?

Semi feral cats are usually younger feral cats that have had very little human contact and are comfortable in the wild. Semi feral cats are wild but more socialized than a typical feral cat. These cats have had some interactions with humans that might make them slightly more trusting of people.

Semi feral cats are not strays or feral cats but instead their own classification. They are closer to feral cats in that they were born in the wild, but they probably act a lot more like stray cats because they are less afraid of humans than normal feral cats. Semi feral cats may even get vocal around humans, probably a caretaker that feeds them.

Signs Of A Semi Feral Cat

Semi feral cats will exhibit behaviors that people will not see from fully feral cats, such as getting near humans, getting vocal with people, and eating from a person’s hand. Semi feral cats are not as scared of humans as feral cats so they will not fear being around them as much.

It is still a good idea to trap, neuter, release semi feral cats because they can still reproduce feral cats in the wild. If a person does think they have a semi feral cat and they want to domesticate it, they will have better luck than trying to domesticate a fully feral cat. Semi feral cats do have some socialization with humans.

How to Make a Feral Cat Friendly

It is not possible to make a feral cat friendly. It is possible that a feral cat can decide on its own to become friendlier with you. Feral cats are wild so they will usually avoid people and be less friendly. Feral cats tend to be friendlier with caretakers that feed them on a regular basis.

While feral cats can slowly become more adjusted and accustomed to the home over time, it is likely that they will never really be fully domesticated when compared to a cat that has been raised in a tame manner from birth.

Feral cats are often more ‘friendly’ to humans in communities where humans assist the feral cats by providing food and water, otherwise known as ‘doorstep colonies.’  If you do something like this, you need to ensure that you aren’t violating any laws.  Personally, if I wanted to help feral cats, I would donate to a nonprofit that focuses on them.

Meowing is normally considered a cat to human interaction.  To learn more about if feral cat’s meow, check out my article:  Click Here.

Suppose the feral cat lives in the area. In that case, there are a few things you could do before deciding to adopt the cat. This will also help build a relatively trusting relationship on the cat’s part while enabling you to observe the cat over time to assess additional factors such as behavior over time and the health of the cat over time.

This includes setting out some food and water for the cat in a place where you know they will be able to access it and somewhere that your pets would not. However, the issue with this is that you have no control over which feral or stray cats may come.

To learn more about whether feral cats drink water, check out my article:  Click Here.

Sometimes, feral cats roam in numbers, which may become a huge issue quite quickly if not controlled. Your home may become the feeding and meeting spot for the feral cat community, and this poses a ton of safety and health risks for you, your family, and pets in the area.

For such reasons, it’s also viable to set out some food and water if you see them roaming nearby, in the hope they may feed on it, after which you can remove the food and water to prevent others from drawing to your home as a source of nourishment.

They may approach the bowl at times, and other times they may not – both of these scenarios are fine. This still acts to build trust for you on the cat’s part, which may help make the cat feel more comfortable when you decide to adopt them.

If you are choosing to set out food and water, there is a good chance you may end up nourishing other critters, such as raccoons and rats as well.  For this reason, you may not want to leave food out.

To learn more about if cats and raccoons get along, check out my article:  Click Here.

Whether you’re considering adopting a feral cat you’ve observed in the neighborhood or want to help animals in need, there are quite a few ways you could go about welcoming a feral cat into your home.

But, one should definitely be mindful of their temperament, which is vastly different from domesticated cats and the potential risks of an interaction gone wrong. It’s always advised to consult a professional in order to make an informed decision and protect yourself with preventative measures beforehand.

How Long Does It Take For A Feral Cat To Become Friendly?

It takes an indefinite amount of time for a feral cat to become friendly. You should not expect a feral cat to become friendly. Feral cats can become friendlier with people who are caretakers of a feral cat community and feed them regularly. Feral cats are wild and act like wild animals that are fearful of anything that can hurt them.

You really shouldn’t expect a feral cat to become friendly with you. While anyone that has a feral cat hanging around would love for that cat to come up purring and rub up against their legs that is a romantic dream that is unlikely to happen because feral cats are wild animals. Feral cats are constantly in fight or flight mode and so they aren’t even thinking about making friends with people.


News Story on Feeding Feral Cats

Feral cats act like wild animals because it is the way they are.  They will normally not make good pets and will have serious trouble becoming domesticated.  If you choose to try and make a feral cat a pet, there are things you can do, but the feral cat will likely remain wild.  If you want to help feral cats, my advice is to donate to a nonprofit that focuses on helping them.

If you enjoyed this article, check out a few more:

  • Do Feral Cats Look Different? The Reason Is Interesting:  Click Here.
  • Do Feral Cats Purr? Quick Reasons You Need To See:  Click Here.
  • Do Feral Cats Abandon Their Kittens? The Full Truth:  Click Here.

Christopher Carlson

I have an Domestic Shorthair Tabby named Charlotte. She is full of energy when she isn't sleeping most of the day. I share what I learn about cats on this site.

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