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The Behavior Department: The Way to Tame a Feral Kitten's Heart

A step-by-step approach to getting feral furballs ready for adoption

  • When feral kitten rehabilitation is done well, the result can be a happy (if feisty!) house cat. BETSY MCFARLAND/HSUS

Chances are that feral cats are arriving at your shelter or rescue operation. Sure, you do your best to promote spay/neuter, indoor lifestyles, and identification for pet cats. And ideally, community trap-neuter-return (TNR) programs would be providing services for feral cats, so that your shelter wouldn’t be tasked with trapping and caring for them when you’re already busy caring for sick, injured, lost, abandoned, or relinquished pet cats.

But the reality is that feral cats may well become part of your shelter population. In part, it’s a numbers game: Feral and stray cats produce approximately 80 percent of the kittens born each year and are a significant source of cat overpopulation. The kittens who don’t receive human care have a mortality rate of 75 percent, and those who survive will be feral without early socialization.

It’s more than likely that your organization will take in the occasional feisty little feline. But once you’ve got them, what are you going to do to tame them? How do you turn feral furballs into cats who’ll be welcomed into someone’s home?

 Read the full article.


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