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Socializing feral kittens is a gradual process that requires daily interaction. (Photo by Meredith Weiss)

Socializing feral kittens is a gradual process that requires daily interaction.

Photo by Meredith Weiss

Socializing (Taming) Feral Kittens

Kittens born to street cats, whether the mother is feral or domestic (friendly), are wild and need to be "socialized" (tamed) in order to be suitable for adoption. The process of socializing feral kittens requires a daily commitment of time over several weeks or months, depending on the age of the kittens and the amount and consistency of the time you spend working with them. The more time you spend on a daily basis, the shorter the process will be.

Kittens eight weeks of age and under are ideal for the socialization process. Kittens who are not socialized to human touch before eight weeks of age require much more time to complete the process. Socializing kittens twelve weeks of age and older requires months of daily effort, and it is not recommended.

If you cannot commit to working with the kittens on a daily basis, please leave them outside. Since you do not want them walking up to humans (some of whom might not respond well and harm the kittens), do not acclimate them to humans by engaging them in play or touching them. Get them neutered, left eartipped, and rabies vaccinated before they are old enough to breed (6 months). Semi-socialized cats and kittens rarely get adopted, are not taken in by shelters or rescue groups, and it is dangerous for them to be released into outdoor feral cat colonies.

Following are some tools to help you get started:

Workshops

To learn about upcoming kitten socialization workshops, please visit our Feline Lecture & Workshop Series page and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Video: Tough Love: Socializing Feral Kittens

In this video, Urban Cat League teaches you through live demonstration how to tame and socialize feral kittens to make them ready for adoption into homes. The film is 28 minutes long and divided into 3 parts to view on YouTube.

Part One (8:17)

Part Two (9:56)

Part Three (10:00)

Online Articles & Resources

The Best Age for Taming Feral Kittens

by Mike Phillips, Out of the Cage!

Feral Cat/Kitten Socialization

Blog by Urban Cat League

Some Helpful Guidelines for Socializing Feral Kittens

by Urban Cat League

Taming Feral Kittens

by Feral Cat Coalition

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How To Domesticate and Care For Feral or Rescued Kittens (PDF)

by Feral Cat Caretakers' Coalition

Kitten Development

by Kim Lance

Kitten Progression: 1 day – 10 weeks

by Alley Cat Allies

Questions?

Contact us at (212) 330-0033 x3 or info@NYCFeralCat.org with your questions about kitten socialization.

Other Kitten Information

Bottle-Feeding Orphaned Newborn Kittens

Placing Cats and Kittens for Adoption in NYC