Can Stray Cats Be Friendly? Read These Simple Reasons

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You always wanted a pet, and you see several cats roaming around the neighborhood with seemingly no place to go. Would it be acceptable to scoop one of these critters up to give them a loving home? Would a stray cat be friendly enough to have as a furry family member of your household?

Stray cats can be friendly if time is spent socializing them with humans. There are differences between stray cats and feral cats. Feral cats live like strays, but they frequently cannot be socialized or tamed.  Stray cats will usually let you touch them after some time getting to know you.

Do you have your visions set on a cat that has been hanging around your house? Maybe you have been feeding it, and it seems to enjoy your company. How can you tell if it is a stray cat or a feral one? Find out the specifics before inviting any feline into your house to prevent injuries, damages, or heartbreak.

If you are wondering what the best products are for your cat, check out this article that will break down all my recommendations for you: Things To Buy For A Cat Right Now!

Stray Cat

How to Tell If a Stray Cat Is Friendly

If you start walking towards a stray cat and it hisses or runs away, it probably is not very friendly. However, those are not necessarily deal-breakers. Some felines, even well-domesticated ones, will exhibit those actions when they are frightened rather than mean.

After some time, if you can recognize the cat in question showing these signs, it is likely a stray and may become more friendly to you as time goes on.

TouchWill be able to touch the cat after some time, either with a hand or another object.
Relaxation The level will increase over time.
ResponsesMay react at sounds of can openers or bags opening.   Shows interest in food or toys placed near it.
AnxietyDoesn’t growl or hiss from fear
In a cagePaws or comes to the front of the cage after settling in.
Table: Signs A Stray Cat May Be Friendly

Remember, none of these signs are likely to be noticeable right away. The cat, even if it is friendly, is going to feel somewhat threatened. Domestic cats are not used to the surroundings of nature, and even when you are kind and caring, it will be suspicious of your intentions.

To learn if a stray cat can become attached to one person, read our article: Click Here.

Scared Stray Cat

When you see a cat out in nature or even walking around in your backyard, it can be difficult to tell by looking if it is mean or scared. The behaviors that you are interpreting as being mean might just mean that they are frightened. Take a look at these methods for telling if the stray cat you are looking at is scared or simply unfriendly.

Mean or Unfriendly FelinesEyes will become dilated, and the animal will stare directly at you.Laid flat and rotated back.Puffs out in an attempt to look bigger.
Friendly, but scared – Candidate for SocializationThe cat will avoid making direct eye contact.No change or minimal flattening and rotation.Slinks down, curls up, or runs off.
Table: Is The Stray Cat Scared or Unfriendly?

The longer a stray cat is without human interaction, the more challenging it is to get it back into a socialized home. If you can get a homeless cat’s trust early enough on, it will still depend on you for food, shelter, and warmth, making it an amicable option for a pet.

If you are sizing up a stray cat, you need to do your best to ensure it is not carrying rabies, which is a dangerous disease.  To learn more about this, check out my article: Click Here.

How do You Socialize a Stray Cat?

So you found a stray cat that settled into a decent routine with you while he or she is still living outside. You feed it, say hi in the morning, and when you get home, and maybe you have gotten a stroke or two of its fur before it runs away. You should not give up if you want to build a stronger, friendlier relationship, though.

You must decide how much time and attention you want to invest in the stray cat, for starters. Be mindful of the idea that it could leave at any given time. Stray cats often return home after weeks or even longer in the wild. Others may get bored or distracted and walk off.

If you want to make the stray cat friendly, you will need a lot of patience. With that, you can try:

  • Sticking to a routine. Show up at the same time for visits each day. The cat will get used to the schedule and will not be as shy.
  • Keep the visits short. Spend about five minutes or so with the animal, and then leave it alone. You do not want to overwhelm or stress it out.
  • Secure the cat. Do not bring it into your home right away. However, you can keep it in a cathouse outside, or a small shed or garage. Be sure there is somewhere for the cat to retreat away from people.
  • Do not put it with other animals. If you want the cat to bond with you, you cannot allow it to bond with other pets first. Otherwise, the feline will look to the other animals for food and comfort.

You should never expect a stray cat to become friendly overnight. It takes time, attention, and effort to gain their trust.

Additionally, you will want to be especially watchful for signs of disease in the stray cat.  To learn more about if stray cats carry diseases, check out my article: Click Here.

Stray Cat

What Should I Do with the Friendly Stray Cat?

You have a few options when you find a friendly stray.

  • Check around the properties near your home to see if someone is missing their pet. The cat may have just gotten out and cannot find its way back.
  • If you are not looking to adopt the stray, get in touch with your local animal shelter to see if someone is looking for a cat or if they can take it in.
  • Start following the procedure outlined for socializing it, including feeding it if you want to bring it in around your family eventually.

Cats are a commitment, so do not jump into a decision without thinking about it thoroughly first.

To learn if stray cats can be affectionate, check out my article: Click Here.

Signs a Cat is Feral

Is there a way to determine if a cat is stray or feral before wasting your energy and money bonding with one? Sure. You can tell a wild cat using the same types of features you check for on a stray, but your findings will differ. Among other things, feral cats will:

  • Not approach humans and avoid people by running and hiding, regardless of how much time you try to work with them.
  • Crouch down and protect its body with its tail.
  • Never communicate vocally with meows or purring.
  • Have an ear tip.
  • Be larger with scars from fighting.

The functioning of a feral cat contrasts from stray cats in other ways too. They won’t become social or allow you to touch them. If you put one in a cage, it will move to the back and stay there. Feral cats do not recognize household noises, and instead of running, will more often fight back.

If there is a feral cat in your neighborhood, it is recommended that you call your local animal control authorities and not approach it.

To learn a little more about how a feral cat lives, check out my article on if feral cats drink water: Click Here.


Video: Making Friends With Stray Cats

When you are considering getting a pet and adopting a stray from the streets seems like a good option, make sure you know what you are looking for and dealing with. Stray cats will be friendly as long as you are willing to put in the effort and practice patience. Before you become too attached, ensure someone is not missing a cat.

Even if the cat you are meeting with tends to run away and become frightened by your presence, that does not mean you cannot socialize it using the proper techniques. Just make sure you are not dealing with feral cats, as these types of animals have never had human interaction and are unlikely to bond with any person, regardless of discipline.

If you enjoyed this article, please check out a couple of other articles:

  • Do Stray Cats Kill Kittens? Rare Cat Murder: Click Here.
  • Can Stray Cats Survive A Hurricane? The Revealing Ways: Click Here.

Here are some of my favorite cat products

In addition to checking out some other More Meows articles, I hope you’ll check out some of my favorite cat products as well.  These are affiliate links, so if you end up using them, I’ll get a commission at no extra cost to you.  These are the products I really do find most helpful.

Litter Box:  I started out with normal, traditional litter boxes for my cat.  Then, I tried this automatic litter box on Amazon (affiliate link), which helped reduce the litter upkeep.  Finally, I am now a believer in the Litter-Robot 3 Connect on Amazon (affiliate link).  This robotic litter box is not for everyone based on the price tag, but for me the benefits (very little upkeep, works efficiently, clean, mobile app) far outweighed the cost. 

My Cat’s Litter-Robot 3 Connect (with night light on) – See the link above the photo!

Cat Tree:  I have purchased a couple of this Amazon Basics Cat Tree on Amazon (affiliate link).  My cat spends a lot of time on and around this cat tree, which I position near my sofa.  She uses the scratching posts on this cat tree multiple times a day, which means she is not scratching the sofa instead.

Cat Water Fountain:  I love this cat water fountain on Amazon (affiliate link).  There are three main benefits to having a water fountain like this for your cat.  The first benefit is that it keeps water running so that my cat doesn’t need to drink still water.  The second benefit is that it filters the water.  The third benefit is that my cat uses it – keeping my cat hydrated is important.

Christopher Carlson

I have an Domestic Shorthair Tabby named Charlotte. She is full of energy when she isn't sleeping most of the day. I share what I learn about cats on this site.

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