Kittens that are not exposed to humans at an early age will only learn from their mothers and will become feral. However, if caught and handled at a young age feral kittens can be rehabilitated and placed into loving homes.
How to Get Started
Adult feral cats are not socialized to people. Never attempt to handle an adult feral. If kittens are caught at an early age they can be socialized and placed into a loving home. Depending on the kittens age it could take anywhere from a few days to even weeks to socialize them. Kittens that are four weeks of age that have finished weaning can be taken away from their mothers. At this age it is pretty easy to socialize a feral kitten. Kittens that are left with the colony after four weeks will take longer to socialize and you will not be able to socialize kittens if they are still with their colony.
You may need to confine the kittens in a crate, carrier, or cage. You can also use a small room that does not have carpeting or rugs. Make sure you remove anything the kittens may crawl under, destroy, or could get potentially injured by. Do not let feral kittens run loose in your home. They can hide in small spaces. Large rooms can be frightening and its best to separate them
from any household pets in case the kittens are harboring any diseases.
Make time to spend with each kitten individually. By separating them you can see who needs more socialization. Make sure you include a small litter box and food and water. Place something in the carrier or room that will help keep the kittens warm, like a blanket or stuffed animals. Just remember kittens are messy so don’t use anything that you don’t want ruined.
Food is the key to taming kittens. Allow kittens to free feed on dry food if they are old enough. Please refer to the Feeding section of this article to determine the kittens feeding needs. Give the kittens tasty wet food twice a day and wait patiently for them to eat in front of you. They may hesitate at first but eventually they will associate your presence with food.
Older kittens will need more time to establish trust so go slow. One way to gain the trust of older kittens is by feeding them wet food from a spoon. Don’t make any attempts to pet the kittens let the kittens approach you for affection. Always take caution when handling kittens. Use low voices and approach kittens in a non-threatening manner. Once the kitten gains some trust you can start to incorporate toys into your socialization process. Never let the kittens to scratch, bite, or play with your hands.
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