How to Tame Wild Kittens and Feral Kittens
This is a guide on how to tame wild kittens, however you should note that there are really no such thing as wild kittens. Domestic cats who have started to live on their own are correctly called feral cats. Their kittens are correctly called feral kittens, as such this article is really on how to tame feral kittens.
Catching Feral Kittens
Since feral kittens are scared, and unfamiliar with humans, catching them is not always easy. Some people think its best to try to make friends with them while they are outside, but unless they are older, this is quite difficult and can take time, so the best thing to do is catch them when they are small.
Depending on their age catching the feral kittens can be a challenge. In some cases you can use a proper cat trap. Otherwise you need to catch them by hand, which can be tough if you are not determined to hold onto a frightened kitten. Catching them may be a matter of cornering them, or setting canned food out and waiting very still before they come for the food and then nabbing them. You may only catch one, and have to wait for an other opportunity to catch any more if it is a litter of feral kittens since the action of catching one may frighten the others away. If this is the case do not leave very much food out in your absence, or they wont be hungry when you return.
Report Finding the Kittens
Chances are that nobody reported missing their kittens but you still need to report finding them in case a neighbor did report them missing. In some cases people have been known to dump litters of kittens in other parts of town, even taking one of their neighbor's kittens and dumping them. Always report finding an animal to your local shelter or SPCA.
Cage the Wild Kittens
Feral, and scared, kittens cannot be allowed to run loose in your house. They should not even be loose in a room, because they will learn to hide. Rather they should be kept in a small cage, either one for kittens, or for guinea pigs. A large dog crate will also work well. Inside the cage you need to have a bowl of dry kitten food, water, and a shallow litter box suitable for kittens.
Early on you need to determine the age of the kittens, if they are very young they still need to be bottle fed which can only be done with kitten milk replacement formula (KMR), not cows milk. A veterinarian or experienced cat person can tell you if this is a concern.
If the eyes are not yet open, the animal definitely is young and needs proper care, in terms of being bottle fed.
Normally KMR would be fed up to six weeks of age, but if the kitten is five weeks of age or more it will be fine without the KMR as long as it is getting enough proper nutrition otherwise.
Taming a kitten is easier the younger it is and the more work you put in. Feral kittens are usually pretty determined to scare you off. They do this by hissing and may even try to claw their way to freedom. You have to hold tight and not let go of your kitten. It needs to be held for 10 – 15 minutes several times a day. When you find you can hold it for longer times you should and will note that eventually it will fall asleep in your hands or start purring.
When you put the kitten back into its cage you should give it a small plate of canned food. It should only have this canned food when you are there until it reaches a stage where it no longer hisses at your approach.
Your kitten, or kittens, should see a veterinarian as soon as possible, they will certainly need to be wormed, and have their vaccinations. The veterinarian will be able to sex the kittens for you if you hve not already done so. Talk to your veterinarian about the kitten's health, age, and when it will require being spayed or neutered.
Keeping vs Rehoming?
If you are not planning on keeping the kittens then you should be sure they are 100% tame before you surrender them to your local shelter or try to find homes for them. If they are still afraid and their new owner is not involved in taming them further they will likely not be properly enjoyed and kept as pets.
Authors Note: I have heard it said that you cannot tame a feral kitten after the age of a few months. In my experience this is not true and I have tamed some wild born cats that were more than a year old before I was able to catch them.