Rescuing a feral kitten is a great service to your community and potentially a life-saving act where the kitten is concerned. However, there are several things to consider when rescuing feral kittens to help ensure that the process is safe and that the kitten remains healthy. The following is a guide for how to rescue feral kittens.
Why Feral Kittens Need To Be Rescued
The term "feral" refers to a creature that is wild or savage. Before humankind decided to domesticate cats, they were wild creatures, surviving on their own without a home or owner. Although many cats have become domesticated, there are still cats living in the wild, and most of them are not spayed or neutered. And there are former house pets that run away and revert to a wild state. This means that they breed and produce many feral kittens.
Those who survive in a wild state grow up and do the same in a vicious cycle that is leading to an overgrowth of the cat population. In different times, many of these feral cats and kittens could survive on their own, but in this modern world, there are more dangers and fewer hunting grounds. Rescuing a feral kitten helps to break this cycle and ensures that the cat can live a more comfortable life than its wild parents.
How To Rescue Feral Kittens Safely
• Age is important: While rescuing a feral kitten is a noble service, if not done properly, it can be dangerous for both the potential pet and the novice tamer. Experts suggest that five weeks of age is the appropriate time to attempt to rescue a feral kitten. Kittens younger than this may still need their mother's milk, and older kittens may be harder to capture. Of course, in captivity, where there is nowhere for older kittens to escape to, it is recommended that young cats stay with their mothers for longer than five weeks.
• Protect yourself: A guide to how to rescue feral kittens wouldn't be complete without discussing your safety. While kittens might not put up much of a fight, a feral kitten could potentially carry rabies or another disease or infection. To be safe, wear thick gloves and handle the kitten with a towel until you've had a chance to have it examined by a vet.
• Keep them separated: If you have other cats or animals in your home, keep the newly captured feral kitten in a separate room or cage until you've determined its health and safety. The Feral Cat Coalition (FCC) recommends using a cage that is spacious enough to house food and a litter box. Keep the cage in a room away from other animals to avoid the spread of any diseases or infections.
• Gain their trust: Bringing a feral cat food is one of the quickest ways to gain its trust. Once you have established that the cat is in good health, gently pet or brush the kitten from time to time, which simulates the mother cat's grooming tongue and provides comfort during this stressful transition. With time, food and affection, the kitten should eventually warm up to you and can be socialized with other animals in your home.
• Continued care: If you plan to keep the kitten, be sure to have it spayed or neutered and keep it up to date on all its shots and immunizations, even if you plan to keep it indoors.
If you plan to capture a litter of feral kittens in order to take them to a shelter, be sure that you choose a reputable no-kill shelter. Although kittens tend to be the first animals to be adopted, there is still a chance that they could be put down or mistreated at some shelters. Many animal lovers would argue that a feral kitten is better off left to its own defenses in the wild, even if this contributes to the problem of overpopulation.
Now that you know how to rescue feral kittens safely, you can help the cat population in your area by adopting and caring for these wild creatures. If you're able to capture the mother as well, take her to the vet to have her spayed before releasing her back into the wild, to prevent further overpopulation. Or if you're able, you could welcome her into your home as well.