(Photo by Urban Cat League)

Socializing (Taming) Feral Kittens

Kittens born to community cats — whether the mother is feral or friendly — need to be socialized (tamed) by humans in order to be suitable for adoption. The socialization of feral kittens requires a daily commitment of time, the duration of which depends on the age of the kittens and the amount and consistency of the time you spend working with them. Community kittens can be socialized fairly easily if they’re handled at an early age — 8 weeks or under.

Feral kittens over 8 weeks of age can be safely spayed or neutered as long as they weigh at least 2 pounds. We recommend that unsocialized kittens over 8 weeks of age be trapped, neutered, vaccinated and returned to the colony.

Typically, the older kittens are, the longer it will take to socialize them, and it is intensive work requiring proper time and space. Depending on a kitten’s age and temperament, he or she may never become a good candidate for adoption. In attempting to socialize an older kitten who seems borderline feral, we recommend giving it 2 weeks maximum. If the kitten isn’t making progress by then, it’s best to spay/neuter, eartip, vaccinate, and return the kitten to his or her colony before it becomes unfamiliar territory.

If you cannot commit to working with the kittens according to our recommended guidelines — or adopting them yourself — please leave them outside. Semi-socialized cats and kittens are not good candidates for adoption or for shelter placement, and they may be at increased risk of abuse by humans if returned outside.

Following are some tools to help you get started:

Kitten Socialization Guidance for Beginners


Articles About Taming Kittens

Why Taming Feral Kittens Can Be a Good Idea
by Mike Phillips, Out of the Cage!
Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Best Age for Taming Feral Kittens
by Mike Phillips, Out of the Cage!
Monday, May 1, 2013

(Photo by Urban Cat League)

Videos: Tough Love: Socializing Feral Kittens

Mike Phillips of the Urban Cat League and NYC Feral Cat Initiative teaches you how to tame feral kittens to make them ready for adoption into homes instead of life on the streets.

(Photo by Urban Cat League)

Workshop: Taming Feral Kittens for Adoption

Using film footage of successful techniques, combined with insights into the biological development of kittens, we will provide attendees with information on how to tame and socialize feral kittens quickly and efficiently so they can be adopted into indoor homes.