More Meows is an Amazon Associate. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. We may also earn commissions if you purchase products from other retailers after clicking on a link from our site.
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 domesticated. If you attempt to domesticate a feral cat, you should seek professional consultation.
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.
If you are wondering what the best products are for your cat, check out this article that will break down all my recommendations for you: Things To Buy For A Cat Right Now!
Do Feral Cats Make Good Pets?
No, feral cats do not make good pets. Feral cats usually do not have socialization with humans and won’t adjust enough to become good pets.
However, there are some success stories out there. However, 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.
Can Feral Cats 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 Domesticate a Feral Cat?
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.
Feral Cat Behavior
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.
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.
How to Make a Feral Cat Friendly
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.
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.
Here are some of my favorite cat products
In addition to checking out some other More Meows articles, I hope you’ll check out some of my favorite cat products as well. These are affiliate links, so if you end up using them, I’ll get a commission at no extra cost to you. These are the products I really do find most helpful.
Litter Box: I started out with normal, traditional litter boxes for my cat. Then, I tried this automatic litter box on Amazon (affiliate link), which helped reduce the litter upkeep. Finally, I am now a believer in the Litter-Robot 3 Connect on Amazon (affiliate link). This robotic litter box is not for everyone based on the price tag, but for me the benefits (very little upkeep, works efficiently, clean, mobile app) far outweighed the cost.
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.
Cat Water Fountain: I love this cat water fountain on Amazon (affiliate link). There are three main benefits to having a water fountain like this for your cat. The first benefit is that it keeps water running so that my cat doesn’t need to drink still water. The second benefit is that it filters the water. The third benefit is that my cat uses it – keeping my cat hydrated is important.