Socialise


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Follow these steps to transform your feral cat scaredy cat into a cat who enjoys human company.

Think you don’t have time? Think again. Cats can be socialised in as little time as it would take to walk your dog each day!

Step-by-step guide

Here we take you through how to help them move from the ‘I’m terrified and won’t even let you see me, let alone touch me’ stage, to the ‘please can I sleep with you’ stage.

Watch socialisation in action

New York’s Urban Cat League has three excellent videos which demonstrate and explain how to socialise cats. The videos show kittens, but the same principles apply to adult cats.

Milestones to expect

Most cats will follow certain steps as they progress from being a scaredy cat to being a tame cat. This page explains what to expect and when to celebrate!

Using a taming wand or feather

Many scaredy cats will find being stroked with a hand too confronting, initially. They might even lash out and scratch or bite your hand. For these cats, you can help them realise that touch can be nice, using a taming wand or feather.

Making crate life less boring

There’s no two ways about it – being in a crate probably won’t be on your cat’s bucket list. You can make their crate time much more interesting, with a few tricks of the trade.

Using play to break down barriers

Cats love to ‘hunt’ and pounce on things. Even though they’re in a crate, or confined to a room, you can bring out their inner predator. They may become so absorbed in the game that they momentarily forget you’re a scary human.

Managing fear-based aggression

If your feral cat scaredy cat is so frightened of people that they try to keep you at bay using aggression, you can still work with them and avoid being scratched or bitten.

Difficult customers

If your scaredy cat seems stuck, go back to basics and experiment with different treat foods.

Getting them used to being picked up

Of all the fears that a timid cat has to overcome, being picked up is probably the biggest. We explain how to start small and work your way up to picking them up, without terrifying them.

Getting them used to strangers

In time, they will come to love you and act like a ‘normal’ cat around you. When a visitor arrives at the house – well, that’s a different matter. They will very likely revert back to their old ways. You can ‘desensitise’ them to strangers gradually, preparing them for adoption.

Using flower essences

Using flower essences – like Bach Flower Essences and Australian Bushflower Essences (NOT essential oils!) – will gently support your kitty as they overcome their fears and learn to trust.

Massage and visualisation

Cats are incredibly sensitive animals, particularly to the energy around them. How you’re feeling can have a big impact on them. Here are some exercises you can do to help them.

Be inspired! Read about others’ experiences

Think you can’t do it? An increasing number of people are realising that feral cats scaredy cats can be socialised and become companion cats. Be inspired by reading about others who have done it and meeting their cats.