Can feral kittens be tamed (domesticated)?
YES! YES! YES! I have domesticated a number of feral kittens myself and know many others who have domesticated many, many more.
They say that as long as you can get them inside and work on socialization by the time the kitten is 12 weeks old, you should be fine.
However, if you are like me (Lord help you if you are! LOL), then you can do much better than that!
I have one cat now, his name is King Tut, I didn’t find him until he was already 15–16 weeks old.
He lived inside for about 10 months, the whole time the best I could get was a few pats here and there when he was in one certain window sill.
He got outside one night and stayed outside for about 12 months. I tried relentlessly to trap him but it took me a year to actually get him back inside.
At that point, I felt he was too feral and got him a vet check up and placed him back in my feral colony (we even moved 30 miles away and relocated the entire feral colony, including King Tut, who I lovingly refer to as KT).
He lived outside for 2.5 years with no issues. He was a beautiful, strong cat.
At this point, there were only 2 cats left in the colony. KT and Romeo.
We were moving from Virginia to California. I couldn’t leave them, of course.
So, once again, I trapped them, took them both to the vet for check ups and transport certificates.
When they arrived along with my other cats and dogs in California it was decided that they would no longer live outdoors.
So, they came inside with my other cats.
I got lucky on this one because they got along very well with my other cats. Everyone melded into one family.
I still couldn’t love on or pet KT or Romeo at this point.
But over the period of about a year, Romeo came around and started trusting me to pet him.
It took longer for KT, about 2 years, but now they both come running up to me when I settle down in the floor to pet and brush everyone. Romeo will get in my lap sometimes and KT doesn’t leave my side until I get up. He LOVES being petted now.
It took years, but they have finally come around.
I still wouldn’t say they are as socialized or loving as my other cats, but it works for us.
Don’t give up hope!
It is also well worth mentioning that if you do rescue kittens from the streets, your next priority should always be to trap momma cat and have her spayed. It is the single best thing you can do for cats living outdoors because it helps to reduce the population of sick cats who are often injured and die way too early.
If you are interested in helping cat populations in your area, search for a local rescue group in your area who do something called TNR. This stand for Trap - Neuter - Return.
When rescues have help in TNR efforts, more cats are helped and less cats die on the streets.
I highly recommend checking into it!
Do you work with a local rescue already? Do you have tips on socializing kittens? Post below in the comments!