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Adopting Feral Cats: Tips to Help Wild Cats Adjust to Life in Your Home

Adopting Feral Cats

It’s been nearly two months since we adopted our newest family member, Sheena, a feral cat that we had been feeding in our neighborhood.  Over time, she had gotten close enough that we were able to pet her and even pick her up on occassion. 

No matter how close we got to her though, she never seemed to fully trust us. That is, until we finally had the opportunity to adopt her.

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After a lot of training and creating an environment where she could thrive, Sheena has become an amazing house cat.  In fact, I doubt most people would have any idea that she was ever a feral cat at all.

But that doesn’t mean that bringing Sheena into our home wasn’t without it’s challenges.  We had to adjust her to a pet food diet, litter train her, figure out how to calm her when she felt confined, and get her to stop destroying the blinds.

It wasn’t easy, but we’re proud to say that Sheena finally feels at home and has everything she needs to thrive and feel contented.

Below, we’re going to give you some of our tips on how to train your own adopted feral cat, plus a checklist of items you’ll need when you bring a feral cat into your home for the first time.

Litter Training a Feral Cat

We tried several different options to litter train Sheena, but the best method for us was simply quarentining her to an area where she only had access to her litter box, food and water.  Giving her no choices about where to do her business, really helped her to catch on much faster than she would have otherwise.  Click the following link to learn more about our litter training process for feral cats.

Creating a Safe Space for a Feral Cat

Since feral cats are used to being in the wild and often have to defend themselves against other wild cats, predators and even humans, they often suffer from PTSD like symptoms.  Jumping at the slightest sound, hiding in tight, dark spaces, or lashing out at people or other pets.  Because of this, it’s important to give a feral cat a space where they can feel safe and escape their new surroundings when things become overwhelming.  We did this by creating a home out of boxes where Sheena could seek refuge and keep an eye on us without feeling that she was vulnerable and out in the open.  We’ve put together a tutorial to help you build your own cat box.  Click the following link to learn how you can build our own DIY Cardboard Cat Condo.

Keeping Your Cat From Destroying Blinds

Since feral cats are used to living outdoors, they often becoming excited and even anxious when near windows.  They often try to get out of the window, meow at windows and doors constantly and tear up your blinds trying to peak out and see what they’re missing.  Sheena destroyed at least three pairs of blinds before we figured out a way to get her to stop.  And, I’ll be honest, it wasn’t the solution I was looking for.  This one was a compromise.  Click here to find out how we stopped our cat from attacking the blinds.

Between her training and rested lifestyle now as a house cat, we’ve seen Sheena go through a complete transformation.  She’s happier, more rested, calm and no longer jumpy or anxious.  But most of all, I know that she understands now that she is a part of our family.  She has her own space for play and food, her own window and even her own spot on the sofa.  If she had any doubts about where she belonged, we’ve certainly taken care of those by setting up our home to a place of peace and security for our little Sheena.

Adopting a Feral Cat Checklist

As promised, I want to share with you a checklist of some of the most important things you’ll want to bring into your home when you adopt a feral cat.  We’ll cover a basic shopping list and then some things you might have not considered.  My hope is that this information will help you to be prepared when bringing a feral cat home, so that you can give your cat the best chance of becoming a long-term member or your family.

Feral Cat Shopping List:

  • Food & Water Bowls (preferrably something sterdy)
  • Wet & Dry Cat Food (you’ll want a few options to help your cat transition more easily)
  • Hairball Treatment (daily treats that include hairball remedy are a great option)
  • Cat Bed (tunnels and caves are great for creating a safe, warm space for your cat)
  • Litter Box, Scoop & Mat (we opted for a basic, open top litter tray that wouldn’t feel too closed in)
  • Kitty litter (an inexpensive, non-clumping, odor-locking litter works great)
  • Collar (something light and not too confining, their first collar should be one they can easily get used to)
  • Cat Carrier (even if you don’t think you’ll need this, you probably will– invest in something sturdy)
  • Small Spray Bottle (it’s not a bad idea to have one of these around so you can prevent your cat from doing damage to your home)
  • Cat Brush (feral cats are usually new to this experience and it’s a great way to bond quickly with your pet)
  • Cat Toys (anything with feathers or that makes crinkling noises). For a special occasion you may even try a cat pirate costume.
  • Cleaning Supplies (in case your pet has an accident or to remove hair from clothing and furniture)

Feral Cat Adoption Checklist:

Before you take a feral cat into your home, you need to be sure that all of their pressing needs are met and that they’re healthy, sanitary and ready to interact with your family.  Here are some major things you’ll need to do and some other to consider when adopting a feral cat.

  • Schedule a checkup at the vet
  • Get your cat spayed or neutered
  • Make sure they have all of their necessary vaccines
  • Treat your cat for fleas, ticks, ear mites, worms and other parasites
  • Ask your vet about the proper care and dietary needs of your feral cat
  • Consider having your cat declawed (this is something I would do once you’re sure that your cat is content living indoors)

If you have other questions or thoughts, please leave them in the comments section below this post or reach out to us via email at hola@biculturalfamilia.com.

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