Feral cats are born outdoors and have little to no contact with people. Animal experts advise that these cats are best left to live outdoors because there is little hope that they will adjust to life as indoor pets. However, semi-feral cats are also born outdoors, but they have had interaction with humans. These semi-feral cats are shy at first, but with patience, they can adjust to living with people and make excellent household pets. Here are a few essential tips for helping a semi-feral cat adjust to life as a house pet.
1. Provide a quiet, cozy space. When you bring a cat home, she'll feel more secure if she's limited to a small, comfortable space rather than having the run of the house. Dedicate one quiet room to the cat where she can get acclimated. The room should have the litter box, a scratching post and a few cat toys and food and water dishes. Keep the food and water bowls as far away from the litterbox as possible. Your cat will appreciate a few hiding spaces like an empty cardboard box or open crate.
2. Feed on a strict schedule. If you feed your cat on a regular schedule, she'll soon learn to count on you as her food source, which is a very positive association for a cat to make. The more punctual and reliable you are, the stronger her association is likely to be. In the days after you first bring your cat home, you may only want to briefly visit the cat to provide food and water and to attend to her litterbox. If you're present too frequently, it may overstimulate a sensitive feline. Talk softly to the cat when you're in the room to help her get used to the sound of your voice.
3. Introduce human contact gently. When your cat seems to have settled in a bit and seems comfortable with your presence, sit in the room with the cat for at least an hour a day. Talk to the cat or consider reading out loud. If she isn't comfortable being stroked, don't force the issue. Respecting the cat's preference is the best way to earn her trust. Gradually sit closer and closer to the cat. If the cat seems calm with you sitting very close, slowly reach out a hand to pet the cat. The safest zone for petting a cat is usually on the top of her head. Avoid attempting to pet the cat's stomach, tail or paws. Even if the cat seems to enjoy the touch, limit it to only a minute or two to avoid overstimulating her.
Once your cat is at ease, you can introduce her to the rest of the home. With patience and persistence, your cat's comfort level will grow, and she'll become a loving and loyal member of your household.
For more information, contact All-Pets Hospital or a similar location.