Feral kittens are kittens who have not yet been socialized to humans. Their behavior might seem avoidant, scared, or even aggressive -- but with enough patience and the right kind of care, they can often come around and become loving companions. Here are some tips for working with feral kittens:
- Be careful when handling feral kittens. If a kitten seems feral, use a humane trap to catch them -- don't try to pick them up by hand! This not only protects you, but also protects the kitten, who will have to go through a quarantine or worse -- euthanasia -- if they bite someone. Protect yourself and the kitten by using a humane trap.
- Make sure if you're trapping kittens, you're also trapping the mom and any other cats in the colony so that they can go through Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR.) TNR will prevent future litters of kittens from being born at this colony site.
- Feral kitten socialization is most successful for kittens under three months of age. After 3-4 months, the kitten will have a much harder time acclimating to humans. TNR is an appropriate option for older kittens who are not socialized to humans.
- Feral kitten socialization:
- Provide a hiding space like a box or kennel so they know where they can go to feel safe, but challenge them to come out of it.
- Offer desirable, stinky foods like tuna. While eating, gently begin to attempt to touch the kitten -- first with a tool to keep your hands safe. Once you are confident the kitten will not bite, you can start trying to pet with your hands. Over the course of several days you should start to see improvements in the kitten's tolerance of human touch -- especially if they begin to associate it with those food rewards.
- Work at the kitten's pace, but slowly challenge them to be around humans more and more. You don't want to absolutely terrify them, but you do want them to make progress. Slowly increase the frequency with which they are being touched, played with, pet.
- Introduce them to lots of different people so that they learn humans are safe, not just that you are safe.
Once the kitten is socialized and comfortable with people, you can follow my Fostering Tips to help find them an adopter!
See more videos about kitten care at my YouTube!