Dear Paws: I read your recent column on caring for feral cats, and I disagree that such animals can ever be tamed. I used to believe that as well, until seven years ago when a skin-and-bones tiger cat showed up on my patio. The starved cat that I thought was dead when I first saw him, is now a loving fat boy that sleeps with me every night.
I’m not saying it was fast or easy experience. It took a whole year before he would even sniff my finger, and much longer for me to convince him that having his ear scratched would be awesome.
I have two other cats that I am working with now. “Mitzi” will allow me to pet her, but does not like to be held, nor will she come into the house – yet. The other one, “Bullwinkle,” most likely will never come in, as he is deathly afraid of all dogs and I have three. He sleeps in our barn instead, and shows up every morning for breakfast. I had him neutered through our local TNR (Trap, Neuter, Release) program.
So, while not all feral cats will become “normal,” loving felines, it is possible. Good luck. – D. In Palmyra, New York
Dear D.: Thank you for the encouragement! It takes a tremendous amount of patience to convince a feral cat to approach you. (And on a side note, it’s something that should only be attempted by adults, not kids.)
As you noted above, participating in a TNR program, if you care for stray or feral cats, can be very effective in controlling feral cat populations. It can also reduce the chance of injury from fights over territory or members of the opposite sex. Readers, contact your local shelter or veterinarian to find out if a TNR program exists near you.