Feral is a term for a member of a domesticated species that is living out in the wild. Sometimes, feral animals have escaped from domestic status. Other times, feral animals are descended from those that have escaped from domestic status. Whatever the case, feral animals are often not good at interacting with humans. After all, a lot of them have either no or next-to-no familiarity with the latter. Never mind positive interactions with humans. Something that doesn’t exactly make for a very good base on which to establish a relationship. In any case, it should come as no surprise to learn that a semi-feral animal is in an in-between state. Once again, some of them were born into their current state while others entered into their current state at a later point in time. The important part is that semi-feral animals are living out in the wild for the most part but have some contact as well as some experience with humans. For example, cats that are tolerated because of their vermin-killing capabilities can be considered semi-feral. Similarly, a wide range of birds can be considered semi-feral because people keep on feeding them.
Can a Semi-Feral Cat Live in Your Home?
Since semi-feral cats are accustomed to humans, interested individuals might wonder whether they can make a successful transition to a human home or not. After all, some cats are so unaccustomed to humans that they have no real chance of becoming a pet cat, meaning that this is a question that needs to be asked. Fortunately, semi-feral cats aren’t feral cats, meaning that there is a realistic chance of them making a successful transition to living in a human home. However, interested individuals should keep in mind that said process can be challenging, meaning that interested individuals need to be prepared to put in serious time and effort into such projects.
Respect Their Boundaries
Cats can be rather cautious creatures. Semi-feral cats might be somewhat used to a human’s presence. However, that doesn’t mean that they will just put their trust in a human right away. As such, interested individuals need to respect the cat’s boundaries so that they can avoid upsetting the cat. To do so, it is a good idea to learn some of the warning signs that cats can give off when they are feeling either angry, scared, or otherwise upset. For example, a cat with ears that are low and sideways means that they are feeling scared while a cat with ears that are low and flat means that they are feeling angry. Similarly, hissing is a sure sign that the cat is feeling less than pleased. When interested individuals see these warning signs, they might be tempted to seek to soothe the upset cat. However, that could very well cause them to be bitten and scratched because agitated cats won’t react well to such actions. Instead, the best choice would be backing off until the cat has managed to calm down on their own.
Talk and Otherwise Act in a Calm, Gentle Manner
It isn’t possible for cats to understand the specifics of human speech. However, they can be quite good at figuring out the general gist of things by looking at a human’s tone of speech as well as body language. Unsurprisingly, this means that a semi-feral cat can become spooked if they hear loud, angry voices as well as see loud, angry gestures. Instead, interested individuals should do their best to talk and otherwise act in a calm, gentle manner to avoid scaring them.
Give Them a Safe Space
As predators that can be predated upon, cats have very good reasons for wanting safe spaces where they can stay. Due to this, interested individuals should make sure that semi-feral cats have exactly that in their homes. There are numerous ways to do so. However, one common method would be providing a semi-feral cat with everything that they need in a single small room that is relatively secluded from the rest of the home. As they become more and more accustomed to their new surroundings, it will become easier and easier to coax them out.
Spend Time in the Same Space
Of course, interested individuals won’t be able to get a semi-feral cat used to their presence without spending time in their vicinity. Fortunately, they don’t necessarily need direct intervention to get good results. Sometimes, the best course of action is actually letting a semi-feral cat stay in their safe space from which they can look out at interested individuals as the latter go about their normal day-to-day activities. By doing so, the idea is to make the semi-feral cat more and more used to everything going on around them, thus making them more and more comfortable with their situation.
Interact with the Semi-Feral Cat in a Direct Manner
Naturally, more direct forms of interaction will be beneficial as well. Generally speaking, interested individuals will want to start with something as non-threatening. For example, play-time is a good early choice. In contrast, touching the semi-feral cat would not be. Instead, interested individuals should save that kind of direct interaction for later once they have managed to build up a measure of trust. Even then, they will want to do so slowly while paying close attention for any signs that the semi-feral cat is feeling upset. Over time, interested individuals should be able to expand the period for which the semi-feral cat is willing to tolerate such interactions, particularly if they use positive reinforcement to get the cat to associate such occurrences with good things.
Positive Reinforcement Is Very Useful
Speaking of which, cats respond very well to treats, meaning that positive reinforcement can be a powerful tool for getting a semi-feral cat to adjust to living in a human home. However, interested individuals need to be careful with their timing. They want the cat to associate the things that they want the cat to associate with good things. Otherwise, if interested individuals give out treats at the wrong times, they could wind up teaching the semi-feral cat wrong behaviors that will take even more time and effort to correct.