A semi-feral cat is a cat or kitten who has had little to some experience with humans in the past. They may have lived in close proximity to humans, and might be used to their presence but, they have not had an owner. These cats are often fed by people who leave food outside for them. Be aware, semi-ownership of cats contributes to overpopulation and excessive breeding of cats when trap and spay/neuter services are not used. All kitty’s deserve love (if they’re willing). So, follow these steps to lure your neighborhood stray into your arms.
1. Play hard to get.
It might seem a little bit strange to ignore the animal you are trying to socialize. But as most cat lovers know, cat’s are not put off by anything more than the desperation for attention. Force the cat to make the first move, but a positive interaction that was their idea is what will help to achieve the results you’re looking for.
2. Keep kitty coming back.
Provide a non-threatening, positive environment so that the cat and see that they enjoy spending time with you. The best way to do this? Interact with the during feeding times. Although, remember that some cats may have food aggression, so let them set the tone if that is the case. Treats and toys and encourage interaction as well. Be careful with certain toys and how you are using them so you don’t lose your kitty‘s trust or give them a scare.
3. Desensitize the kitty to life with humans.
Plenty of things we do on a daily basis may be startling to semi-feral cats. Human voices, opening and closing doors, or music may have your cat darting to the nearest exit. For cats who are easily spooked by human voices, try speaking softly during feeding. You can even leave a quiet radio playing talk radio in the background.
4. Respect their space.
Even once you’ve gained the kitty’s trust and she decides she wants to come inside to be your furry friend there will still be some work to be done. A whole house or apartment can be overwhelming, especially when the cat has never been inside of one before. This is why it’s best practice to keep the cat in one room or a few smaller rooms with everything they need in close proximity.
Make sure to clear the room of anything harmful such as sharp objects, heavy items that could be knocked over, or anything that could be poisonous or harmful for the cat to eat. Create a nice hiding spot and allow them access to a window with a ledge or a table next to a window so they can see where they are.
Make sure the cat has room to flee if you surprise them at any point, and never corner your semi-feral cat. This can trigger their fight or flight response – don’t force them to fight. Instead, allow enough space for them to run away from you if they need to.
5. Consider using catnip or another herbal remedy
Remember that every cat has a different reaction to catnip and there about 100 different types of catnip to choose from and try out! This stuff can be super helpful with giving your shy or anxious kitty a little “herbal courage”.
If catnip isn’t your kitty’s jam, there are plenty of other herbal supplements on the market for behavior modification. Some of them use essential oils or scents that mimic natural feline pheromones to make them feel at home. Use them to crack open that tough kitty’s hard shell or to bring out the playful personality in your scaredy-cat.