Domesticating Feral Free Ranging Cats
Free Ranger - Thunder
There are a number of things that must be taken into consideration before anyone decides to play the Good Samaritan and rescue an adult free-ranging stray cat that may be visiting their home. Unlike house cats, feral free-ranging cats lead extremely active lives while covering their very large territories and domesticating them requires extra special care. If domestication is not treated or handled properly, a free-ranging cat’s health can rapidly decline and they can die prematurely because of the stress of confinement and forced human contact. The ideal way to bring a feral free ranger into your home is to work on befriending the cat outside first, which can take much time and patience because they are usually extremely nervous around people they do not know and frighten easily. Once you have gained a level of trust outside then allow the cat to choose whether s/he wants to enter your home by opening the door and extending an invitation to enter. This approach will probably require numerous attempts but allowing the cat to make the choice to walk through the door to your home on his or her own volition will prove to be the best method.
The next step towards domestication is two-fold. The less traumatic way would be to allow the cat to have access to his or her way of life in familiar surroundings outside while gradually increasing his or her indoor way of life. If this were not possible then the second way would be to isolate the cat in a very quiet low traffic room with several hiding spots so that s/he feels safe while becoming familiar with the various scents and sounds in the house. When entering the cat’s room, move slowly and speak softly to provide reassurance. If the cat hides, then sit and speak to him or her and wait for the cat to come to you, which may take time and patience. After the cat has become comfortable and you are able to handle the cat easily in this room then leave the door open and give the cat the option to extend its territory when s/he is ready.
If other cats live in the house then a proper introduction is crucial. Cats have very long memories and one negative experience is all it takes to wreck the possibility of all coexisting together. NEVER allow the free ranger, especially an unneutered male (Tomcat) to enter a room with the other feline family members without your ability to control the situation. What many folks do not realize is that cats, in general, are solitary creatures unless they are born into colonies and raised together. However, Tomcats are the exception as most are loners so precaution is required when introducing them to spayed females and especially neutered males. Spayed and neutered cats sense the dangers of a Tomcat, and this danger usually forces them into a fight or flight response. If they fly into a fight then most times the neutered male suffers the consequences because he is not equally equipped to do battle with a Tomcat. If a spayed female attempts to fight then she will usually end up on her back with her belly up during the fight to show the unneutered male his dominance.
Under normal circumstances with neutered or spayed cats, the first step towards a proper introduction after the free ranger has acclimated to his or her new surroundings is to begin sharing articles with the scent of each feline family member with the free ranger while sharing the free ranger’s scent with the other feline members in their separate spaces. This can be done via brushes or toys etc. The next step would involve leaving the free ranger’s door cracked open so the other feline family members can introduce themselves. A cat’s natural way for becoming acquainted involves hissing and growling, which usually subsides within a matter of days. After they have calmed down, continue to gradually crack the door open a little wider and monitor their progress over the course of days or weeks that follow. If hesitant to allow the cats to have full access to each other then another option would be to attach a screen door to the free ranger’s room to monitor their behavior before providing complete access to one another. Do not demonstrate any favoritism; give all the same amount of attention and reprimand any that exhibit any kind of aggression after the initial getting acquaint hissy fit phase has passed.
Domesticating an adult free-ranging cat can be a very rewarding experience, However, each cat has its own unique personality and you have to be willing to do what is in the cat’s best interest. Some free rangers will not live confined under any circumstance, and others may not be able to live in your environment but will thrive in another environment. You will know within a matter of days or weeks what is and what is not going to happen. Therefore, if you choose to change a free-ranging cat’s way of life then the responsibility of meeting his or her psychological, emotional and physical needs become your obligation. Mother Nature may be cruel but she brings death swiftly and I know most humans would prefer to die quickly rather than painfully slow if given a choice.