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How to Get Wild Kittens to Come Out

| Updated September 26, 2017

Things You'll Need

  • Unwashed garment or sheet

  • Soft cat food

  • Small cat toy

  • String

  • Long stick

  • Radio

  • Long handled spoon

Wild (feral) kittens need to be reintroduced into domestication, where they belong. Even though they can survive in the wild, cats are not wild animals. The problem is getting wild kittens to come out from their hiding place, much less handling them. You must first gain their trust, which can be achieved through a combination of desensitization to your voice and your physical presence; your scent; and food offerings. Depending on the age of the kittens, adequate socialization can take a days to months.

Talk to the kittens briefly on a daily basis, multiple times a day, in a soft and reassuring voice. Allow them to gradually get used to you before trying to touch them. Move slowly when near them and avoid making direct eye contact for long periods of time, as scared feral kittens will interpret this as a sign of aggression.

Leave something with your scent on it near the kittens when you're not around.

Engage the kittens in play, from a distance, with a small cat toy or feathers tied to the end of a long stick. Move the toy slowly, as any sudden movement on your part may startle them.

Offer small amounts of soft cat food on the end of a long-handled spoon so that the kittens learn to connect you with food. Leave out dry kitten food and clean water at all times.

Place a transistor radio in the vicinity of the kittens, leaving it on low when you leave, so that the kittens acclimate to the sound of human voices.

Allow the kittens to approach you, using the food as a lure, until you are able to reach out and pet one. When the kittens seem comfortable with being petted, attempt to pick them up (one at a time, of course). This process will take as long as it takes, so be patient; remember, you are gaining their trust, and if you move too fast you will defeat the purpose.

Handle the kittens often, grooming them with a soft brush. Keep the interactions brief, and always follow up with soft food.

Prepare a cat carrier with which to transport the kittens. Place the carrier so that the opening faces up, so that when you have hold of a kitten you have only to drop him into the open door. Repeat with each kitten until you have found homes for them or have delivered them to a shelter.


  • If you want to ensure that the kittens are not euthanized, make sure you take them to a no-kill shelter or to a rescue group that will foster them until homes are found.