Taming your feral or stray cat

By John Morrissey - SCP

Taming your feral or stray cat


It’s not easy to make friends with a stray or semi feral cat; a cat will be thinking who is this big thing trying to pick me up? Their defence mechanism will kick in and they will start spitting, hissing and their claws will be at the ready, not to mention some very nice sharp teeth. Here I will try to give some pointers on how to deal with these naughty moggies.

Firstly encourage the cat to relax – try lying down on the floor as you will seem much less scary to them. For kittens or strays, you can try initially feeding from your hand, then encourage them into your lap to eat. This could take a bit of time so don’t rush.

Initiate contact with some gentle petting or scratching behind the ears, don’t forget to make slow gentle movements and on their terms. As I mentioned above cats’ claws can be very dangerous, so use extreme caution while handling a feral cat. Do not attempt to handle a particularly defensive feral unless you are a trained or experienced cat handler.

Cats, like humans have different social needs, some very fearful cats will often bond to one or two people only, and remain fearful around others. This really is something to be considered if you have a young family.

First steps – on initial contact with a stray or feral cat it is advisable for you to approach slowly, cats will almost always give warning before striking. If you extend your hand out nice and slowly to allow the cat to sniff firstly, should it hiss, gently pull away, or if it shifts its weight onto one paw, withdraw your hand. The cat is not ready to be petted at this stage. Gloves can help protect your hands, but using gloves to handle a cat that does not want to be handled is bad, this will frighten the cat and slow the domesticating process.

Try not to look at the cat directly, before they are fully comfortable with you. To a cat, eye contact and watching is aggressive and will cause them to be nervous of you and the situation. While you sit with them, read a book or something, but don’t watch them. If you do look at them, try to keep your eyes toward their hind end and avoid eye contact as much as possible. Similarly, closing your eyes, or a slow blink is a gesture of trust toward a cat, and lets them know you are not aggressive. Speaking in a calming, low and soothing voice as you would a baby is always helpful with any animal, feral or not – it will speed up the process.

Adult ferals can be tamed using the same methods as kittens, but the process can take months, or even years, especially if the cat has had bad experiences with people. Some fearful cats may never allow themselves to be picked up, or petted for more than brief periods.

It may be the case that the feral cat could have been ill or injured and needs to be returned to the wild. Releasing feral cats anywhere but where you found them is not a good idea. Other cats will defend their territory and if the cat is not familiar to them, will chase it out. The best course of action is seek advice from Cats protection or RSPCA.


August sees the launch of Swansea Cats Protection calendar competition. You can enter as many photos of your favourite cat as you like, the minimum entry fee is just a £1 per photo. This can be donated via www.justgiving.com/Swansea-Cats-Protection

Please send your entries to swanseacatsevent@outlook.com don’t forget to include a write-up on your furry friend.


Homing Days

Homing days at Kenwood Kennels and Cattery in Llanmorlais, take place every Sunday 11.00 am to 3.00pm throughout the summer months. 

If you can give a loving home to one of our cats, please call down for a chat with one of our volunteers who will be happy to have a chat and show you around.

Helpline: 0845 2179648 Email: swanseacatsprotection@hotmail.co.uk Web: www.cats.org.uk/Swansea

Facebook: www.facebook.com/swanseacatsprotection

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