Socialising Feral Kittens: Play is Important

Play is important in socializing feral kittens. It makes them forget their fears and allows the person to touch and interact with them.

This is a mini-breakthrough as far as I’m concerned. The power of prawns is the way to a feral kitten’s heart and then there is play. Play is a natural follow-up to providing great food to a feral cat as a way of enticing him out of his hiding den.

This evening, I spent about 25 minutes making noises with my hands like a mouse to trigger his inquisitiveness. Before that I had blocked up the areas around the sideboard in the living room through which my semi-feral cat made his way under the furniture. This meant that he had to hide under my desk which is adjacent to the back of my chair when I watch television.

This meant that Gabriel was nearer me as I watched television and as he peered up at me from under the desk, in his eyes I saw his innate desire to play combined with the domestic cat’s naturally inquisitive nature so here was my opportunity to tease him out from under my desk.

Having very, very gradually got him interested in the possibility that there was a mouse somewhere out there, I then introduced some string. String is a great homemade cat toy. We all know that. This video says everything that I need to say at this point.

Gabriel is still extremely cautious about making contact with me but during play I made sure that I occasionally touched him. Sometimes, he would hiss when I did this or back away and swat my fingers but I did touch him and so he did feel my touch. I made contact with him and I think this is important because it means he gets used to me. This is socialisation. This is about socialisation him to humans.

Gabriel was totally immersed in his play. It was a means for me to make contact with him physically and for him to forget his fear. The journey continues.

9 thoughts on “Socialising Feral Kittens: Play is Important”

  1. Well done Michael! That is a lovely video, Gabriel is such a gorgeous boy and it was lovely to see him playing. Do you know his story before he came to you?

    • I am becoming boring 😉 Just like a mum with her new baby…!

      He was a feral cat. Not sure but picked up form the street. Something like that. I’ll get some detail from the good lady, Lucy, who rescued him. His sister is much less wild. She was picked up one week earlier.

      • I think it’s never boring reading about cats and seeing photos and I think it’s lovely we can share your fostering ‘journey’ with you

    • Yes, I think you’re right. I have spent an hour this evening playing with him. A long time. I got him to play with string on my legs so he could smell me. He did – a lot. Time for bed, for me. Long day.

  2. Play gives them an opportunity to come closer, but still maintain what they consider to be a safe distance until they build up more confidence.

    It’s early days yet, but it you take it steady he’ll soon learn to trust.

    • Thanks Michele. You are right because I can see he is still very cautious. I played with string and dragged the string over my legs so he ended up playing with string on my legs and smelling me. I think it helped to get him used to me. I have given him 2 hours of play today. At least. It all helps.


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