Feral cat taming resources – other tips to help you

On this page

Non-scaredy resources

Coming soon

  • Socialising Mums with bubs
  • Rescue on a budget
  • Introducing cats
  • Holistic first aid kit
  • Treating common ailments naturally


  • Mums and bubs


  • Rescue on a budget

Cat behaviour

  • Introducing cats

Cat health

  • Raw feeding
  • Treating common ailments naturally
  • Holistic first aid kit

Ongoing support

The Feral Cats online group has extensive experience working with scaredy cats and can give you ongoing support.  We highly recommend joining if you’d like to learn more about scaredy cats and how to help them.

Other useful websites

Learn more about feral cats community cats aka scaredy cats – Alley Cat Allies

Neighborhood Cats

Neonatal kitten care
Taming – a four page summary

American Cat

General cat stuff from behaviourist Jackson Galaxy

Choose a scaredy-suitable carrier

A carrier with a lid that unclips is ideal for scaredycats. Instead of having to pull them out through the front of the carrier, you can gently lift off the lid to gain access. They may be able to stay in the carrier base, with their head covered with a towel to reduce their stress, for some of the examination.

Just make sure all the clips are in good condition and securely fitted. When carrying the carrier, we recommend holding your hand under the base, or wrapping a ratchet strap or ocky strap around it.

We love the Gulliver 2, made by Italian company Stefanplast. They are sturdy and easy to disinfect. They also have a flap at the top, through which you can put your hand to comfort them. The Reject Shop occasionally stocks these. Aldi also sometimes sells a similar model.

The Gulliver 2 cat carrier has five quick-release catches and a hole at the top to put your hand through.

Check out this video showing other good styles and how an easily removable lid enables them to stay in the bottom part.

Coping with vet visits

Few cats like leaving their homes. Even fewer like going to the vet. You can make things a little less traumatic for them.

Before the visit

Calm their nerves by putting a few drops of Emergency Essence or Rescue Remedy on their fur. Calms Forte also works well. You can dissolve a pill in water then gently squirt the liquid into their mouth using a dropper or drip a few drops onto their fur. We buy Calms Forte, and many other cat supplements for balanced home-made raw food, from iherb.com.

Spray the inside of their carrier with Feliway about 30 minutes before they go in it. Feliway is available from vets but is much cheaper online.

Tips for getting them into a carrier

If you can pick them up

If you can pick them up, and if you’re using a front-loading carrier, pop the carrier on its end, so that the door faces the ceiling. Pick them up and gently lower them into the carrier, bottom first. They will be in before they know it. If they splay their back feet apart, gently hold them together until they’re in the carrier.

When you tip the carrier up, it will balance on its ‘back’.

You can (relatively) easily lower a scaredycat into the carrier, back feet first. This is generally much easier than trying to put them in head-first with the carrier in its normal position.

A flap at the top means that you can stroke them while driving, or when at the vet, before the examination and easily apply more Emergency Essence or Rescue Remedy to their fur.

If you can’t pick them up

Planned visit  If you can’t pick them up, and if this is a planned vet visit, start feeding them in the carrier a few days beforehand. When it’s visit time, gently close the door while they’re in it.

If they need to be fasted, use a tiny morsel of food on vet day and make a trail into the carrier.

If you can't pick your timid cat up, get them used to eating in a carrier, so you can easily take them to the vet

This kitty had his meals in the carrier a few days before a planned vet visit.

Get them used to eating in a carrier to make vet visits easier

On vet day, the carrier door was closed once he was fully inside it.

Emergency visit  If you can’t pick them up, and this is an emergency visit, try:

  • gently coralling them into a small room with no other hiding places and encouraging them to go into the carrier, which is covered with a towel
  • slowly approaching and putting a large blanket over them, holding onto them securely then bundling them into the carrier with the blanket
  • gently and calmly stroking the back of their neck, gradually increasing pressure, then very quickly moving to a very firm scruff. Put them into the carrier bottom-first.

Attempting rugby tackles or chasing them around a room rarely works well. They will be very stressed and more likely to defend themselves by biting or scratching.

Once they’re in the carrier

Once they’re in the carrier, cover it with a towel or sheet. This will reduce their stress.

Recommendations from feline specialist vets

Melbourne Cat Vets is a cat-only clinic with vets who have additional qualifications in feline health. They share our thoughts that carriers with removable tops are best.

They have these other tips for coping with vet visits.

‘The Carrier:

A carrier where the top section can be completely removed is ideal. If your cat is particularly stressed some of the exam can be performed while in the carrier, where they feel safer. To help you choose the right carrier for your cat just give us a call before your visit.
Ideally bring out the carrier at least a few days ahead so that your cat can become accustomed to it, or better still, include it as part of your household furniture in a spare room.Leave the door open so they can explore as they please. The earlier you start this in life the better. You may even want to leave a few treats or toys inside so the carrier is associated with a positive experience (remember to remove the treats if your cat needs to be fasted before the visit).

It may also may help to spray the interior of your cat carrier with Feliway® (a “happy cat” pheromone) approximately 30 minutes before use. The carrier will be more inviting if you also place cozy blanket or jumper in it from home.
The Car ride:
If your cat is nervous it may help to cover the carrier with a light blanket or towel, as unfamiliar surroundings and movement will create extra stress during the journey.
It will also help if the surroundings are quiet and calm, so try to avoid loud music or loud conversations during the journey.
Once you arrive at the hospital:
We will, of course, do everything we can to make you and your cat feel calm and welcome. You may find your cat is happier with their box elevated, so please feel free to place the carrier next to you on the waiting room couch.’

At the vet

Before you open the carrier, triple check that all windows and doors are closed. Vets who aren’t used to working with scaredycats may not have experienced the tiny spaces cats can get through, or how agile they can be when frightened. We have been to a number of clinics where the examination was about to begin, with doors open.

If it won’t interfere with the examination, let Kitty stay in the carrier base. They will feel a little safer. Put the towel or blanket that’s in the carrier over their head so they feel less vulnerable.

Watch very skilled and cat-savvy vet nurses manage a grumpy cat during an examination. Similar principles can be used for scaredycats.

Teaching others

Personal training

If you live in Melbourne, Australia, we may be able to provide a training session for groups of five or more. This would primarily suit rescue group foster carers. It may also be beneficial to workers at shelters that are interested in increasing their lifesaving rates by socialising cats.

PowerPoint presentation

If you have gained basic skills in socialising timid cats, you may like to teach others. We are making available a PowerPoint presentation on the basics of socialising.

By downloading the file, you agree to acknowledge www.scaredycats.com.au as the author and copyright owner.

Download presentation.

Coming soon

Mums and bubs
Rescue on a budget
Introducing cats
Raw feeding
Holistic first aid kit
Treating common ailments naturally
Teaching cats to walk on harness and lead (for non-scaredies)