Q. I am feeding a colony feral cats and would like to try to tame the cats. Is this a good idea?
A. This is a common question that arises when we talk about Trap, Neuter, Return (TNR). Because they are not domesticated animals, most feral cats can not be placed into homes. But, it is important to remove kittens less than six weeks old so that they can be socialized and placed into loving, lifelong homes. The same holds true for friendly cats that have found their way into a feral colony.
However, we must acknowledge that a cat older than six weeks who has had limited to no human contact is not likely to be tamed. She will not thrive in a conventional domestic setting. Trying to keep a feral cat inside will make her miserable and could put your safety at risk. In these cases, the most compassionate and humane thing you can do is sterilize her, inoculate her against rabies, and return her to her familiar surroundings outside—under your watchful eye with plenty of fresh water, food and shelter.
As time goes on, your feral colony will become comfortable with your feeding routine and with you. But, you should remain cautious. Feral cats are extremely fearful of humans and may bite out of fear if you try to pick them up. Remember—you can do them a world of service by trapping them, sterilizing them, inoculating them and caring for them. Don’t endanger yourself or them by risking a bite. Resist the temptation until you get home. Then pick up your own pet and give her a big hug!
Do you have a question about feral cats in your neighborhood? Send your question to jmiklas@ThinkingOutsideTheCage.org.