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How to Tame a Feral Cat: 5 Simple Steps

feral calico cat
Image Credit: Twinschoice, Shutterstock
Last Updated on November 16, 2023 by Christian Adams

So, you’ve found a feral cat and you’ve decided to adopt and tame it to make it a part of your family. First of all, make absolutely certain that your feral cat is truly feral and isn’t actually someone’s pet that ran away or got lost. But if you’re sure the cat is feral, there’s no reason why you shouldn’t adopt it, provided both you and the cat seem pleased with the ongoing situation.

Don’t capture the feral cat and force it to live with you expecting that you’ll get along. Instead, follow the five steps below to help you tame that feral cat and make friends. Then, you can invite it inside and offer it a living space in your home.


The Three Classifications of Cats

When you speak to experts in the animal rescue community, they’ll generally classify stray felines into the following three categories.

Toyger cat outdoors
Image Credit: Kutikova Ekaterina, Shutterstock


Socialized cats are entirely domesticated. They’re comfortable with humans and don’t retreat from contact. These cats have probably just gotten lost or ran away.


Feral cats have had little to no human contact throughout their life and they’re unlikely to trust humans. These are essentially wild animals and you shouldn’t attempt to tame them.


Semi-feral cats fall between socialized and feral cats. These cats are usually averse to human touch, but they may not be scared of human interaction. They could make eye contact and might be vocal with you. These cats are generally able to be tamed, given enough attention, effort, and care.

How to Tame a Semi-Feral Cat

vocal semi-feral cat_museumsmaus, Pixabay
Image Credit: museumsmaus, Pixabay

As we’ve established, semi-feral cats are the only strays that you might want to tame. Feral cats are basically wild animals and don’t make good candidates for taming. Socialized cats are already domesticated and are most likely someone’s missing pet. Assuming the cat you want to tame is semi-feral and not a lost cause, the following five steps will help you tame it and bring it into your home.

The 5 Steps to Tame a Feral Cat

1. Let the Cat Initiate Contact

When attempting to deal with a semi-feral cat, you’re best off leaving the cat alone. It might seem counterintuitive to ignore a cat that you want to take home, but if you don’t offer the cat attention, it’s more likely to be interested in you. In that case, it will initiate contact by reaching out or possibly being vocal toward you, indicating that you can continue the interaction.

2. Build Rapport With The Cat

Once the interaction between you and the cat has begun, you want to make the interaction enriching and non-threatening for the cat. The idea is to make sure the cat enjoys your interaction so it wants more. You can try offering food since rescuers of cats say that mealtimes are the best times to initiate interactions and build rapport. You can also offer the cat toys or treats, which will make the cat more likely to interact with you individually.

man feeding stray cat
Image Credit: evgenii mitroshin, Shutterstock

3. Desensitize The Cat To Human Contact

There’s a lot about human contact that’s scary to a cat, not just actually being touched. The sound of other people talking can be intimidating for a feline. Music, doors being opened and closed, and all sorts of other sounds can keep a kitty on edge. You’ll have to get the cat used to dealing with these distracting and scary sounds while interacting with it.

4. Invite The Cat Inside

Now that the cat is starting to get comfortable with you and the normal sounds associated with human life, you can invite it into your space. You might just leave the door open for a while after interacting with the cat when you go back inside. Or you could start leaving food or water just inside your door to slowly get the cat used to the idea of coming inside your home.

cat walking indoor
Image Credit: Larry Zhao, Unsplash

5. Give It Space, But Not Too Much

With the cat living in your home, you’ll need to offer it plenty of places to hide while it’s getting adapted to a new type of life. Provide places that belong only to your new cat so it can always feel secure when it enters one of these spaces. However, don’t give your cat too much space or alone time. The cat needs some guidance and some space, balanced out by your judgment.

3 cat face divider


Before taking in any stray cat, you must ensure that it doesn’t already belong to someone who’s at home missing their pet dearly. If you’re certain that the cat is a stray, make sure it’s a good candidate for training. Fully feral cats are too close to wild animals. If the cat is semi-feral, you can start the process of taming it by allowing it to initiate contact, and then slowly building rapport with the cat. Over time, you can build a relationship and invite the cat inside.

Featured Image Credit: Twinschoice, Shutterstock

About the Author

Christian Adams
Christian Adams
Christian is the Editor-in-Chief of Excited Cats and one of its original and primary contributors. A lifelong cat lover, now based in South East Asia, Christian and his wife are the proud parents of an 11-year-old son and four rescue cats: Trixie, Chloe, Sparky, and Chopper.

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