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How to Tame a Wild Cat

Deborah Neyens is an attorney, educator, and freelance writer. She shares a home with two cats, two dogs, five chickens, and one husband.

Taming a wild cat is certainly possible, though every cat is different. Learn how by reading about my own personal experience!

Taming a wild cat is certainly possible, though every cat is different. Learn how by reading about my own personal experience!

When I first saw the cat one June morning, it was scrounging for seeds spilled under the bird feeders in the backyard. It was a tiny thing—no more than a few months old. Its skeletal appearance and desperate need for food told me it was just days away from death by starvation.

"I have to give that cat something to eat," I told my husband.

"If you feed it, you'll never get rid of it," he replied.

"If I don't feed it, it will die."

I took a can of cat food out to the yard. The little cat disappeared into the woods as soon as it saw me, but I set the can down under the bird feeders. When I checked a few hours later, the food was gone.

The cat reappeared a couple of days later. I gave it another can of food. Again, it ran off, but later the can was empty.

It didn't take long before the cat was coming back every day, just as my husband had predicted. Not wanting to use up any more of the pricey food intended for my indoor cat with special dietary needs, I bought a big bag of inexpensive dry food and kept it with the birdseed in a storage bin on the patio. My husband agreed that having an outdoor cat wouldn't be such a bad thing; it would help control the burgeoning ground squirrel population that was decimating our garden and retaining walls. So my goal was to tame the cat enough to get it into a carrier and to the vet to be neutered and vaccinated. Then it could live out its days in our backyard and woods.

This is Birdie. She was a feral cat, but now she lives happily with us.

This is Birdie. She was a feral cat, but now she lives happily with us.

What Is a Feral Cat?

A feral cat is one that grew up in the wild with no human contact or only negative contact. In contrast, a stray cat is a previously domesticated cat that was lost or abandoned. While strays may approach humans for food, exhibit behaviors like purring and meowing, and even allow themselves to be touched and petted, feral cats are scared of humans and view them as any other large animal—a potential predator. Feral cats tend to live in colonies in abandoned buildings, junked cars, or other sheltered areas near a food source, like a restaurant dumpster. With threats of starvation, disease, bad weather, and attacks by other animals, the lifespan of a feral cat is less than two years on average.

Is Taming a Feral Cat Possible?

Some believe a feral cat cannot be tamed. Depending on a number of factors, including the cat's age, personality, and experiences in the wild, socialization is possible. It will take much time and patience. The older the cat, the more difficult it will be. Some cats may never become comfortable with human interaction, even after several months. Other cats may bond only with the human who socialized them, making them unsuitable for adoption elsewhere. There is a much greater chance of success taming a stray that has reverted to feral behavior than a cat that never had human contact, especially if its past interactions with humans were positive.

The Trap-Neuter-Return Method

Organizations like the Humane Society and ASPCA recommend using the trap-neuter-return method in dealing with feral cats. This involves humanely trapping the cats, neutering them to prevent the birth of more kittens, and returning them to their colonies to live out their days. A colony caretaker, a person or group interested in animal welfare, then provides food, water, and adequate shelter to the colony while monitoring the health of the cats. The non-profit organization Alley Cat Allies provides an online guide for conducting trap-neuter-return.


By July, the cat no longer disappeared when I went out to feed it. It would retreat a few feet into the woods, watch me as I set the food down, and come to eat as soon as I walked away. I started talking to her (I guessed correctly that she was a female) and gave her a name—"Birdie," because she was eating birdseed when I first saw her.

Birdie grew comfortable in my presence. She started coming when I called her. Although she wouldn't allow me to get close enough to touch her, she greeted me with little meows. When I spoke to her, she would roll around, stretch, and rub against the trees, but from a safe distance. I don't know where Birdie came from, but her behavior and circumstances suggested she was born in the woods to a stray that didn't fear humans and didn't teach her to be afraid.

Birdie—about a month after she first appeared.

Birdie—about a month after she first appeared.

Making the Decision to Socialize a Feral Cat

Before you begin the long socialization process, consider your goal. Do you want to tame the cat and find a home for it? A feral cat may bond with you but regress when placed elsewhere. It may not be a good candidate for adoption.

Do you want it to become your indoor pet? This may be possible if it is the right kind of cat and you are patient.

If you are planning only to feed the cat and let it live outdoors, you must accept the role of caretaker and see that it gets neutered and vaccinated, then continue to monitor its health, well-being, and provide medical treatment as necessary.

In deciding whether to socialize the cat, consider the following:

  • Does the cat appear healthy? There is no non-lethal way to test a cat for rabies, so observe the cat at a distance for symptoms of rabies or other odd behavior. Do not make contact with a cat that appears sick. Call animal control for assistance. Keep in mind that although the cat may appear healthy, it may be a carrier of feline leukemia or feline immunodeficiency virus, so avoid exposure to any other cats in your household until the feral cat tests negative for these highly infectious and incurable diseases. Wash your hands and change clothes after any contact with the feral cat.
  • Does the cat remain in your presence when you feed it? Has it shown growing trust by staying closer to you over time?
  • What is its body language? Is it crouched low to the ground with its ears back, which shows fear, or is its tail straight up in the air, which indicates that it is comfortable?
  • Does it display signs of being outgoing and friendly, like meowing and rubbing its head or body on objects?

An Unplanned Pregnancy

As the weeks passed, Birdie went from being emaciated to plump. In fact, she was getting downright fat in her midsection. Although she was no more than a kitten herself, I began to suspect my little Birdie was about to be a "tween" mom. Since I wasn't able to touch her, I couldn't get her to a vet to find out for sure.

Shortly before Labor Day, Birdie turned up one day in a foul mood and hissed at me when I approached. That was the last I saw of her for several days. When she finally returned, it was clear she had given birth. There had been a bad storm over the weekend and I wondered if any of the kittens had survived. Birdie appeared to be nursing, so I assumed there was at least one or two.

Facts About Cat Pregnancy and Birth

Cats can become pregnant as early as four-and-a-half to five months old. Signs that a cat is pregnant include:

  • Enlarged and pink nipples
  • Weight gain around the midsection
  • Increased appetite
  • More affectionate behavior
  • Nesting behavior

The average gestation period is around 65 days. When the cat is about to give birth, it may display signs of restlessness or make howling sounds. It will seek out a quiet, private place to give birth. The birth process can take from anywhere from two to six hours, with an average litter size of two to five kittens.

Where Are Those Babies?

Despite my best efforts to find them, Birdie kept the kittens well hidden. With several acres of woods behind the house, they could have been anywhere. I instead focused my efforts on taming her so she'd eventually bring the kittens to me and I could find homes for them.

Nursing made Birdie ravenous, and I used her hunger to my advantage. When I set the food down, I'd sit down right next to it. She had to come to me to eat, and she did. While she ate, I talked to her in a calm, low voice and hovered my hand above her head, moving slowly so she wouldn't get spooked. Each day I moved my hand closer and closer until I eventually touched the top of her head. The first time I touched her, she jumped away. So I tried again the next day, and the next. This continued for two or three more weeks until finally one day she didn't back off when I touched her. I was able to pet her. This was late September, nearly four months after I first saw her.

Establishing Trust With a Feral Cat

To socialize a cat, begin by establishing a routine around food. Feed the cat at the same time of day in the same place. The cat will grow to trust you as it begins to associate you with the positive experience of eating. As you feed the cat, talk to it in a calm, low voice.

Remain nearby as the cat eats. When the cat gets used to your presence, make it come closer and closer to you each day to get to the food. Don't watch the cat or make eye contact with it because it will see that as an act of aggression. Sit quietly and ignore the cat while it eats.

Don't touch or pick up the cat until you sense it is ready. Take your cues from its reaction; if it backs off, you need to back off, too. Go slowly, be patient, and be prepared for occasional setbacks.

If you move too quickly, the cat may react defensively. Try not to let this happen. If you are bitten, seek immediate medical attention. If you are scratched, monitor the wound and go to the doctor if it appears to be infected.

A socialized Birdie in October.

A socialized Birdie in October.

A Mess of Kittens

My next-door neighbor found the kittens a few days later in a hollow tree stump in the woods near her house. There were four of them, all healthy and plump. They were about four weeks old. Birdie apparently wasn't ready for them to be found because she moved them somewhere else and we didn't see them for another week.

At about five weeks of age, the kittens were ready for solid food. Then, when Birdie met me at the back door each morning, the kittens weren't far behind. They were living in a hollow log in the woods about 20 yards from the house. On those October mornings, I could hear the leaves rustle in the pre-dawn darkness as four kittens scampered up the hill to eat. They climbed over one another to get to the food and, when they had their fill, climbed all over Birdie until she plopped down on her side to nurse them.

The only thing more adorable than a kitten is four kittens, and that mess of kittens ("mess" is a more fitting term than "litter," in my opinion) romping through my backyard provided hours of entertainment for my entire household, including the dog and the many neighbors who dropped by daily to see them. I handled each kitten every day to get them used to human contact. I also started to work my connections and social media networking skills to find homes for them, knowing they'd be ready to leave their mama in a couple more weeks. By the end of October, when they were about eight weeks old, all of the kittens had gone to their forever homes.

Birdie resting with her four babies.

Birdie resting with her four babies.

Kitten Care

A mother cat will typically provide all the care and food a kitten needs during the first four weeks of life and needs no human intervention. At four or five weeks of age, kittens will be ready for other sources of food while continuing to nurse. If a mother cat has kept her kittens hidden from her human caretaker until then, that is the age she will lead them to her food source.

At six and seven weeks, the kittens develop motor skills and eye-paw coordination. This is the age they begin playing with objects—leaves, toys, their siblings' tails—and the mother cat teaches them to hunt.

Kittens burn a lot of energy and require a high protein diet. Feed them specially-formulated kitten food. (It's fine for the mother cat to have this, too—she also requires lots of calories.)

At about two weeks old, you should begin handling the kittens (gently, of course). If they are at four or five weeks old before their first human contact, they may spit and hiss. React calmly and make their first interaction with you a positive one. Arrange positive interactions with the other humans in the household and the family dog before eight weeks of age. (Avoid exposure to other cats in the household if the mother has not yet tested negative for infectious diseases.)

Kittens are ready to leave their mother by eight weeks. They may be separated earlier if appropriate care is given, but to have the benefit of their mother's milk and development of social skills through interactions with their litter, it is best to wait until eight weeks.

One of the kittens in the hollow log where they lived.

One of the kittens in the hollow log where they lived.

The Final Step

On the day the last kitten went home, I called my vet for the next available appointment to have Birdie spayed and vaccinated. I scheduled the appointment for first thing in the morning, knowing that when she greeted me at the door to be fed, it would be my best shot to capture her. I lost sleep that night, concerned that I wouldn't be able to pick her up, get her into the cat carrier, or that I'd be scratched and bitten in the process. Fortunately, the leather grilling gloves I wore for protection turned out to be overkill, as Birdie went right into the carrier with little fuss.

I had warned the vet in advance that I was bringing in a feral cat so he could be prepared for chaos, but again my concerns were unfounded. Birdie was extremely docile when released from the carrier for the examination. She checked out to be in relatively good health. She did have worms, which is typical for a cat living in the wild, and would require an oral de-worming treatment after her surgery.

I left Birdie in the capable hands of my vet for her surgery. When I picked her up the next morning, she seemed happy and relieved to see me. As I drove home with her carrier strapped in the back seat, she sat at the front of the carrier and meowed at me all the way home.

I confined Birdie to the screen porch with a litter box, intending to keep her there for a few days to recuperate before releasing her back to the woods. She took to the litter box right away, and spent most of the next few days sleeping on a little bed I made for her. I imagined she was catching up on her sleep after taking such diligent care of those kittens for the last eight weeks.

On the fourth day, I propped open the screen porch door so Birdie could leave. She walked out onto the deck, took a look around, and went right back to her bed. Over the next few days, she did leave for a bit, but always came back. On November 5th, with the weather turning colder and after completing her course of worm treatment, Birdie moved into the house to stay.

Birdie on the prowl with the kittens.

Birdie on the prowl with the kittens.

Bringing a Wild Cat Indoors

Before bringing a cat into your household or exposing it to your other cats, it should be examined by a veterinarian, tested negative for feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus, be up-to-date on vaccinations, and treated for any parasites. The cat should be neutered (spayed if female) by no later than six months of age to prevent inappropriate behaviors like urination, howling, and unwanted pregnancies.


If the cat has not been housetrained, this can generally be accomplished quickly by keeping the cat in a confined area like a crate or even a tiled bathroom with a litter box as its only option. After it begins using the litter box consistently, its space can be expanded. Some cats may try to use a potted plant as a litter box; if so, cover the dirt with aluminum foil.

Provide Toys and Things to Scratch

Offer the cat a scratching post so it can engage in its instinctual scratching behavior on something other than your furniture. Rub the post with a little catnip to attract the cat's interest. Provide a variety of cat toys for entertainment. These need not be fancy; most cats find even bottle caps to be amusing.

Birdie with her new best friend, Moe.

Birdie with her new best friend, Moe.

A Happy Ending

Although many people told me I could never adopt a wild cat, Birdie has never tried to escape. She doesn't even go near the door, although she will sit in a window to watch the birds at the feeders where she once scrounged for food. She's friendly, affectionate, and will curl up on any available lap. She and the other cat are inseparable. She tolerates the dog, at least as much as we do. She's a fully integrated member of the family.

As I write this, I have trouble imagining the healthy, happy cat curled up on the chair next to me as a scared, scrawny kitten eating birdseed to survive. I have come to realize we didn't adopt Birdie, she adopted us.

The cats "tolerate" the dog.

The cats "tolerate" the dog.


Ray on November 05, 2019:

Wild cats cannot be tames, they are wild. They aren't the same as feral cats. You cant domesticate a lynx, or a bobcat, or grumpy cat (ok fine, yes to grump cat, I mourn his passing though)

Mary on November 05, 2018:

I've had similar success with 2 adult and 1 kitten ferals!!! It is possible with patience. Also 2 strays. Funny how they don't want to back outside once you rescue them

Andrea on October 10, 2018:

We adopted our 2nd feral kitten. The 1st one was about 5 weeks old, her mum abandonded 3 because she had 7 and couldn't feed them all, we waited several days before taking her home, the mum was very agressive , this was 4 years ago, had no real issues with her, she used litter tray from day one, after a few weeks feeding her wasn't an issue. 2 months ago we adopted a feral kitten,she was about 8 weeks, we'd watched her for a few weeks and never saw her with her mum. She is a very friendly, playful thing, loves attention, cuddles until it's feeding time. She is obsessed with food, i still think its early days, hope she grows out of her mad panic when shes being fed. The other cat hates here, but is mainly out and only comes in for meals. If you have any advice on how to train her. Thank you and i loved reading about Birdie and her babies.

Chloe on July 22, 2018:

The same thing happened to me and my mom but tke kat got into the house and the door closed behind him/her we want to catch the kat but its under ons of our cobourd and doesn't want to move what sould we do? Please help we want to adop him/her

Lea on July 18, 2018:

Wonderful story! My baby G, has a similar story to Birdie's. She made the decision to move in. She is a cuddle bug as well. She rules the house. She is Queen. I love her as mush as love can love. I am excited to know that there is someone out there who loves Cats just as much as I do.

Brigitte hall on June 16, 2018:

I am so happy for birdie to have a wonderful home and so lovely. I have feral cats i am trying to tame and it can be done even with adult cats but can take a long time. The ones i tamed love me to death and i keep them inside. They all have been fixed had shots and flea control. Feral cats are not mean just afraid.

Micaiah on May 10, 2018:

I loved the story! ^^ I'm trapping, neutering and taming some ferals we have in the yard as well. :) This was helpful.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 28, 2017:

Hi David. Thanks for sharing your story. I am so happy to hear you got your cat back! I hope you have many more fun times with Ginger.

Minokomina on August 25, 2017:

Hello I'm David,

I have a tamed kitten named ginger.Ill tell you about her.

So I went to the pet store when I was 8,after I wanted a puppy. But I found this cat. It was really cute and tamed so i said I wanted the cat. Me and my cat are really close. Sometimes when I finish my homework I ignore TV and play with my cat. Me and my kitten really loves each other and sometimes when my cousin wants too play mine craft Xbox 360 sometimes i say YEAH and sometimes I say no and play with my kitten. After 1 year my cat was lost. I posted hundreds of poster and missing kitty on websites. After 2 weeks someone at my door asked. Is this your kitty? It was ginger I was so happy. After 1 week. I had summer. Then I was so happy i spent more then hours playing fetch and yarn balls and other fun games pets play. That was my story. I hoped you enjoyed!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 09, 2017:

Hi Angela. I'm glad you found my article to be helpful. Best of luck winning over your kitty.

Chris on August 08, 2017:

Great Story, just like Reader's Digest....thanks for the tips as I have two strays visiting me for food. Birdie is a cutie!

Angela Sanders on July 12, 2017:

I just found your article. I am going through something similar with a young cat that I have befriended with food. Your insight will help me through the next steps. I love the pics of everyone. all the best, Angela

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on April 30, 2016:

Thanks, Snakesmum. Birdie does have beautiful blue eyes. I've wondered myself if she has some Siamese in her. I'm glad to hear you gave a shelter cat a forever home.

Snakesmum on April 29, 2016:

Lovely story, and thankyou for taking the time and effort to ensure Birdie has a good forever home. You were very patient with her. She seems to have blue eyes, so I'm wondering if she is part Siamese. My current cat is from a shelter so I don't know her history, but she is very loving and happy.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on November 19, 2015:

Be patient, Elsie. It takes time, but it is so worth the effort. Thanks for commenting.

Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on November 18, 2015:

Beautiful story.

I have a ferrel cat I'm feeding every evening, but I'm still at the stage that everytime it see me it rans away, so I leave the food in the same place every time, it always comes and eats it when I'm gone.

Looking forward to the time when it won't run away. I don't have a cat.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on June 12, 2015:

Thanks for reading and commenting. My cats are strictly indoor cats and really have no interest in going outside (they never try to go out). We live on the edge of timber where there are foxes, coyotes, and raccoons. I would be worried about their safety.

Plinus on June 02, 2015:


This is a wonderful story, thank you! I do have one question though: why don't you let your cats out any more? Our cat used to spend all day outside, exploring and playing, and came in whenever he wanted to. He slept inside at night too, but I think he also enjoyed his adventures in the garden very much :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 08, 2015:

Suze, thanks so much for stopping back with the update. I am so happy to hear you were successful in taming Mittens. And I know what you mean. I look at Birdie sometimes and am just amazed that she is the same scrawny, scared kitten that hung out in my backyard for all of those months.

Suze on February 02, 2015:

Deborah, I came across this again saved on my computer after posting 4 months ago. I just wanted to thank you for posting this article. My little Mittens is now safe and sound in my house (since right before Halloween) and is totally acclimated to indoor living with my other cat. Your article gave some great tips and encouragement. It is hard to believe she is the same cat sometimes! Thanks again!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on September 11, 2014:

Good luck with your cat, Suze. It sounds like things are on the right track with her (the vocalization is a really good sign). Patience is the key!

Suze on September 11, 2014:

This article gives me hope. I had a feral cat about the same age as Birdie was show up about a month ago at my house. She has started talking to me and is letting me closer while she eats. I am hopeful I can get her to come inside after gaining her trust. Being patient is hard but can pay off in the long run. Thank you for the tips and encouraging words!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 07, 2014:

I understand, imtii. Some people have a fear of cats. I do appreciate you reading, commenting, and voting. Have a wonderful day.

Imtiaz Ahmed from Dhaka, Bangladesh on August 07, 2014:

I have a horrible experience with wild cats. So, I have a great fear when i see them in front of me. So, Taming one will be impossible for me. Though still your tips may help,but I am still not trying. I liked your writing so giving you a up vote :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 23, 2013:

Hi, FlourishAnyway. Thanks for the comment and suggestion. I already do have a link to Alley Cat Allies (it's at the end of the paragraph right before the first photo of Birdie). I will revise the hub, however, to make it clear to what organization I am linking.

FlourishAnyway from USA on August 23, 2013:

What a fantastic story. Birdie looks very healthy and happy with her friend, Moe. Your photos are precious. I have helped Trap Neuter Return feral cats for years and have several pets who are former ferals. Perhaps consider a link to Alley Cat Allies, the nationwide feral cat advocacy group or tips/benefits of humanely trapping as an alternative to using a carrier? It may help folks who can't get the cat into a carrier or don't want to run possible risks. Not a criticism, just an idea for making a great hub even better. I loved your success story.

Ferals are strong and devoted companions, having been alone in the world sometimes in some pretty ugly circumstances. I have a male feral at the low cost spay neuter clinic today. He is a "walk-up" at our house, much like Birdie and no longer feral. Thanks for speeding the important message of spay/neuter. Voted up and more.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on June 24, 2013:

Thanks, PegCole. Good luck with your feral cat. You definitely need a lot of patience. Let me know how sitting next to the food bowl works out for you.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on June 24, 2013:

Thanks, vespawoolf. And you are so right about how special she is to me (and my husband).

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on June 23, 2013:

Your wonderful story of Birdie and her evolution has given me hope for my feral cat(s). I love the way you took the reader through the steps of gaining the confidence of the cat and the pointers about not making eye contact. Your pictures really were awesome and the story, heartwarming.

It's been about a year that I've been feeding Brian Williams (the former Ms. Kitty) who shows up on our porch every night about 5:30 pm. She brought a companion a few months after her initial visit, who turned out to be not much more than a kitten, but like Birdie, began to widen in her midsection. I was able to gain her confidence and eventually captured her and took her in for the proper exams, shots and hopes for a home as my Labrador was definitely not welcoming. He nearly went through the window due to her ongoing teasing.

Brian still shows up for his daily meal and finally allows me within 5 feet instead of the 30 foot distance that used to be the norm. I keep hoping that he will let me take him to the vet for an exam and neutering so he will not father any more feral offspring.

I'll be trying your method of sitting near his bowl going forward. Perhaps there is still hope as the dogs seem to accept his routine visits to a degree.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on June 23, 2013:

What a beautifully written account of the taming and adoption of Birdie! I'm sure it makes her even more special when you reflect on your patient efforts to tame and care for her. I'm glad the story had a happy ending and Birdie decided to move in and end her feral living. Thank you for sharing! Voted up and shared.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on June 04, 2013:

Thank so much for reading and commenting, Paul. It's been two years since I first saw Birdie scrounging in the backyard for food, and she has become a truly beloved member of the family. : )

Paul Edmondson from Burlingame, CA on June 04, 2013:

I have to say this is an amazing hub. Thanks for the contribution!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on May 09, 2013:

Thank you for the wonderful comment, Riviera Rose. I sometimes look at fat, happy Birdie and find it nearly impossible to remember that scared, scrawny kitten who found her way into our backyard. And then I wonder if she remembers those days herself. I sure hope a sweet little kitty turns up in your garden someday soon!

Riviera Rose from South of France on May 07, 2013:

What a gorgeous, gorgeous story, I just loved this. What a beautiful girl Birdie is, what adorable kittens, and didn't she choose her adopted home well?! I am full of admiration for your patience and care. I'm currently cat-less (after 17 years) and, although not strictly ready for more cats, I'm quietly hoping that one (or two) will turn up in my garden, just like Birdie did yours. Thank you for making my evening!

Helen Lush from Cardiff, Wales, UK on March 29, 2013:

That's a shame. Cats are fickle creatures! :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on March 28, 2013:

Thanks, DaffodilSky. She's a great cat, so I'm glad I mustered the patience I needed to tame her. Although, sadly, somehow she's become my husband's cat and seems to prefer him to me. And after all I did for her! : )

Helen Lush from Cardiff, Wales, UK on March 23, 2013:

This is a lovely story. I admire your patience and common sense and share your love of cats. Very enjoyable - voted up!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 30, 2012:

Good luck with your stray, moonlake. Be patient; it takes some time to build trust. Hopefully, he can outwit the wolf!

moonlake from America on October 29, 2012:

We just saw a wild cat today. We took food to the spot where we think he is going. I tried hard to get him to come to me but he wouldn't. We want to make sure he is safe and warm for the winter. Our winters are very cold. We have a very big gray wolf coming and going in our yard and if he needs food he will get this little skinny cat.

Enjoyed your hub and voted up.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 29, 2012:

Thanks for sharing your story, Enelle. Good for you for not giving up on the older cat! What a great feeling it must have given you to finally gain his confidence. I hope you and your kitties have many wonderful years together.

Enelle Lamb from Canada's 'California' on October 29, 2012:

What a great story! I was adopted by two 'strays'. One was only 6 mos old, but the other was much older and had been on his own for a long time. It took quite a bit of persuasion on my part to gain his confidence, but I never quit and now he has his forever home, along with the youngest who is well past 6 months now!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 20, 2012:

Thanks so much, Sharkye. My husband and I consider ourselves lucky that Birdie chose us. She turned out to be one of the best cats I've ever had. And good for you and your mom for also helping feral cats! I really appreciate your comment.

Jayme Kinsey from Oklahoma on October 19, 2012:

Fabulous Hub, Deb! I love the challenge and patience it takes to tame feral cats. I always try to tame one or two a year so they can go to good homes. My mother was "adopted" by a feral cat that was a couple of years old and had already had three litters of kittens.

One day she brought one of her sick kittens to my mother (didn't even have its eyes open yet), and afterwards just sorta moved into my mom's yard. She trusted us to care for the kitten, and over the years she has gone from being untouchable to being social. Mostly all on her own. My mother was just going to feed her and let her stay to keep down the mice and stuff in the yard.

I love how you wrote this, breaking the personal account up with information and advice. And Birdie is a lovely cat who lucked into the ideal home.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 12, 2012:

Good luck with your cat and kittens, Kayla! When I look at plump, happy Birdie curled up on my bed now, it's hard to believe that a year ago she was living outdoors fending for herself and taking care of 4 kittens.

Kayla on October 12, 2012:

Thank you for this article! I am right now taking care of a feral cat, and she had 2 kittens about 3 months ago. They live outside, but I'm feeding them, and making them a shelter.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on October 01, 2012:

Thanks, Nat. The funny thing is that a year later, and Birdie is now my husband's cat through and through. I keep telling her that if it wasn't for me ... but she still seems to like him best!

Nat Amaral from BC Canada on September 29, 2012:

A very sweet story. You're a hero to these kittens and their mother. :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on September 03, 2012:

Image Jones, thanks for your comment and best of luck with Tuxedo! He sounds beautiful.

Image Jones from San Antonio, Texas on September 02, 2012:

What an inspirational story! I, too have an outdoor friend that I have been considering making an indoor one. "Tuxedo" (named for his white bow tie and gloves in contrast to his black body) has become quite friendly; even going so far as letting me pick him up, and trying to come inside when the door is opened. I was concerned that it would be too difficult getting him comfortable with my other two cats, and they with him. Bolstered by your patience and affection for Birdie, I just made an appointment with my vet in the hope of taking the first step in giving him a forever home too. Thank you!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 23, 2012:

Laptopfinger, thanks for the great comment. I've had 8 cats as pets over my lifetime and Birdie definitely is special. She had to be extra cunning to survive out in the wild with her babies at such a young age herself. And now she's been rewarded with the good life. So somehow I think she knows. : )

Christiano Odhiambo from Nairobi on August 23, 2012:

Birdie, you adopted the DeborahNeyens' family, made the mom write a great post of you, enough to cause phdast7 to leave the longest comment I have ever read. I wish you knew, the memories, joy and happiness you present to all readers of this hub. Congratulations DeborahNeyens for laying this out correct because everything just wows, it would be great without pictures, but now they make the hub magical. :-)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on August 22, 2012:

Thanks, Michelle, Julie, and adjkp. It did take a lot of patience, and probably would not have happened with someone who doesn't love animals as much as I do, so Birdie chose wisely when she showed up in my back yard.

Yes, Michelle, the three are now the best of friends.

Julie and adjkp, I wish you the best of luck with your adopted kitties!

David from Idaho on August 21, 2012:

We have three feral cats that have kind of adopted us. We are confident that one was a house cat that was abandoned in our country neighborhood, the other two we don't know where they came from.

The other two were very skittish of us at first but now they know we are OK and come right up to us, they even invite a pet or two.

Loved your story, voted up and useful/awesome.

Blurter of Indiscretions from Clinton CT on August 21, 2012:

I read this whole story carefully, start to finish, and loved it. Great job! We just adopted a kitten found in the wild (stray not feral mommy) and so I was curious to see how you had managed to get Birdie's trust. Sharing this!

Michelle Liew from Singapore on August 21, 2012:

Deb, you have great patience and a fantastic heart. It really took a bit of time but you finally managed to tame her! Thanks for sharing this lovely story, I hope that all three (Moe, Birdie and the little dog) are great friends now. From a fellow animal lover, Michelle

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on July 29, 2012:

Hi Tristin. You may want to talk to some of the local vets. I'm betting many would offer their services at a reduced rate, or even free, if the goal is to reduce the stray population. Or talk to the local chapter of the Humane Society or ASPCA and see what programs they might have available. Good luck.

tristin on July 28, 2012:

I want to help the local strays and get them clipped because every year there's a new litter of kittens but I don't have enough money to pay for them clipped...

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on March 31, 2012:

Thanks, Aya. My husband and I joke about Birdie's cuteness being impossible to resist. That's what saved her life. I think even a non-cat person would fall under her spell. Thanks for the pin.

Aya Katz from The Ozarks on March 30, 2012:

While I am not a cat person, I found this hub to be very useful and I'm pinning it!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 21, 2012:

Thanks, Alicia! I'm glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for commenting.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on February 21, 2012:

This is a wonderful hub! I love the photos, your story of taming Birdie and her kittens and all your advice. I'm very glad that the story had a happy ending.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on February 21, 2012:

Thank you Deborah. I hope we all have many more wonderful years with all of our beloved animals. :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 21, 2012:

Thank you for sharing your story, phdast7! I was holding my breath for the first several paragraphs hoping that it wouldn't end with you deciding he couldn't be tamed and releasing him back to the wild. I love happy endings! Sebastion sounds like an awesome cat. I hope you have many more wonderful years together.

Theresa Ast from Atlanta, Georgia on February 21, 2012:

Wonderful, wonderful story. I am so glad it had a happy ending. 12 years ago at the college where I work the library staff noticed a feral cat colony living in the woods near a storm drain. With great patience they trapped three kittens and took them to the vet. One of them came home with me.

He was very unhappy and destroyed my bedroom, pulling down curtains, pictures etc., and hiding under my bed whenever I came into the room. In the middle of the night he would start mewing louder and louder. I learned he wanted me out of the room so he could use the litter box. This craziness went on for five weeks, although I never tried to grab him and talked quietly in a calm voice.

One day after work I lay down on the floor and looked under the bed and there he was, as far away from me as he could get. I put me head down, closed my eyes and for the hundredth time stretched my hand under the bed so he would get used to my smell. A couple of minutes later I realized a wet nose was toughing one of my fingers...I was afraid to breathe, to move, I didn't want to scare him.

Within five minutes he inched close enough for me to softly scratch under his chin and behind his ears and I just kept talking. He stretched out next to my arm and started purring. After 20 minutes I slowly got up and climbed onto my bed and quietly started reading a book. Within ten minutes he had pulled himself up on the bedspread and climbed into my lap!

We sat together for two hours and that night he slept next to my pillow, he never went under the bead again, and he still sleeps on my bed every night. It was over, finally, like flipping a switch (although I don't think this was typical, I think 3-6 months to fully acclimate is more typical)

It took another two months to acclimate him to my other two cats. To this day he has been the sweetest, most affectionate cat I have ever had...but he is still a mighty hunter and reveals his feral past when he brings home moles and birds. Amazingly the tim=ny cretaures are not hurt and he will let them go and I scoop them up in a bath towel and put them abck outside. meanwhile Sebastion, the mighty hunter, marches around the house purring like crazy. :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 21, 2012:

Thanks, Ardie! And if you knew our dog, you would fully understand what I mean by tolerating her, but the picture is a good representation of that dynamic. : ) (She's not a bad dog, really, just pretty high strung. It turns out springer spaniel and coon hound isn't a real great combination!) I actually liked the idea of having a backyard cat to keep down the mice and ground squirrel population, but I guess I'm just too big a softie.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 21, 2012:

Thanks, Kelleyward! Birdie is still pretty shy around others, too, but she's starting to come around. We had people over for dinner the other night and she actually hung around (at a distance) instead of going downstairs to hide.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 21, 2012:

Thanks, Tammy. And good for you for attempting to tame those feral cats! Just remember, patience, lots of patience. Good luck. I hope you have as much success as I did with Birdie.

Sondra from Neverland on February 21, 2012:

I love the pic and caption to "tolerating the dog" because that's exactly what it looks like too!!! hahah I think its great you were able to take the time and be patient with Birdie to domesticate her. She is a beautiful cat and had such cute babies! I have feral cats in my woods too (15 acres) that I feed and some I have been able to get to like me and others I just can't. And that ok - I just let them watch me from trees :) This was a great Hub - Im off to share now

kelleyward on February 21, 2012:

This is a beautiful story. My mother did a similar thing with a feral cat she found. The cat loves her so much but still is pretty shy and scared around everyone else. Thanks for sharing those pics!

Tammy from North Carolina on February 21, 2012:

That is just too precious! I LOVE the photos. I moved to an apartment complex and there are strays and ferals. One is a large orange tabby who was declawed and left behind. Two look like twins and they are feral. One will run and hide as soon as he sees someone by the door. The other is slowly coming around. I always sat out when she ate and this works. She doesn't want to be petted, but she will rub on my legs and attack my fingers in play. I am not sure if she will ever get tame. She has poor social skills with the friendly cats. I really love this hub and the photos!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 20, 2012:

Thanks for reading and commenting, Kari. She's a great little cat. It was worth the time and effort.

Kari C. on February 19, 2012:

I love this story. Your patience and care are to be admired. And, who doesn't love a happy ending?! Thank you so much for sharing all of the details and helpful information.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on February 08, 2012:

Thanks, Gifted Grandma. Every time that sweet little cat curls up in my lap, I'm thankful I took the time to tame her.

GiftedGrandma from USA on February 08, 2012:

Wonderful! Beautiful story.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 30, 2012:

Thanks, Lori!

Lori Miene on January 30, 2012:

Great story. Glad Birdie has found a loving home and Moe has a new friend!

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 27, 2012:

Thanks, Alastar. I think the key was she was so young when she first found us (I'm guessing about 4 or 5 months old) and most likely her mother was a stray that wasn't afraid of humans and therefore didn't teach her kittens to fear them.

Alastar Packer from North Carolina on January 27, 2012:

Like your hub here Deborah. What is it with a cat that is born feral, never had human contact, but rather quickly becomes domesticated once taken care of?

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 27, 2012:

Thanks, Kathy. My husband was glad I found homes for them, too. He was worried I would keep all of them! (I was secretly sad, because I did want to keep at least one.) Thanks for sharing your story. I think that happens a lot on college campuses. Good for your family for taking her in!

KathyH from Waukesha, Wisconsin on January 27, 2012:

This is so awesome, thank you for sharing, I'm so glad those cute little kittens found good homes, and your Birdie is the luckiest kitty ever! :) One of our cats was a stray that had previously been around humans, she was found on a college campus, we assumed whoever had her in their apartment for the school year was only there until May, then opened the door and let her out to fend for herself... I'm so glad my son and daughter in law found her! :) We had trouble at first introducing her to our other cat, but now they are inseparable! :) Thanks for sharing your great story! :)

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 27, 2012:

You are welcome, instantlyfamily. Glad you enjoyed it. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Deborah Neyens (author) from Iowa on January 27, 2012:

Unfortunately, all pet stories eventually have a sad ending, JKenny. But yours is a great story, anyway. How awesome to have a pet at work! You would think Birdie would be a good mouser, too, but the real irony is that shortly after we brought her inside, a mouse somehow got into the house and took up residence in our kitchen. We finally trapped it. But where were the cats while all this was going on? I guess Birdie had enough of the great outdoors and doesn't have any interest in hunting for her food any more. She's a real sweetheart and I hope our sad ending doesn't come for many more years.

instantlyfamily on January 27, 2012:

This is awesome & useful. Thank you so very much for sharing this.

James Kenny from Birmingham, England on January 27, 2012:

What a great story. I remember having a similar experience with stray Cat that decided to call the Garden Centre, where I work home. Initially one of the managers used to feed her old bags of dog food in return for keeping the mice at bay. Eventually as time went on, she became less and less afraid, to the point where she would let most of us touch her. We christened her Tiger, it was a bit of a joke really, because she was the most gentle Cat ever. She used to follow me everywhere because I used to feed her and make sure she always had fresh water. I even managed to persuade the manager to fit a cat flap on the staff room door, so that she had somwhere safe to sleep on cold nights.

Unfortunately the story, doesn't have a happy ending. In February last year, she became very sick. One of the guys took her to the vet, and we learned that she had cancer, so unfortunately the only option was to put her to sleep. Still, she was a great companion and really lit up the workplace, I still miss her now.