Can Stray Cats Be Friendly? Read These Simple Reasons

More Meows is an Amazon Associate. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. We may also earn commissions if you purchase products from other retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

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. Stray cats will usually let you touch them after some time getting to know you. People frequently confuse stray cats with feral cats, which often cannot be socialized or tamed. 

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!

Can Stray Cats Be Friendly?

Yes, stray cats can be friendly; however, they are more likely to be skittish and run away from humans that try to touch them. Stray cats are usually quite afraid of humans since they are former indoor cats that are now relying on themselves for safety and food in the outdoors.

How To Tell If A Stray Cat Is Friendly?

If you start walking towards a stray cat and it hisses or runs away, it may not be 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.

Stray Cat

Are Stray Cats Mean?

Some stray cats are mean, but most stray cats are good animals that are frightened of humans. Stray cats are animals that used to be indoor cats, but are now in the outdoors fending for themselves. So, they will not be immediately trustful of humans.

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?

Are Stray Cats Good Pets?

Stray cats can make good pets. 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.

Socializing a Stray Cat

If you are socializing a stray cat you should get advice from your local veterinarian. You will likely want to keep the stray cat in a separate closed off room with food, water, and a litter box. You should stick to a routine with interacting with the stray and keep visits short. Your veterinarian will likely want to treat the stray for parasites and give the cat an exam.

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 To Do With A Stray Cat

There are a few options when you find a friendly stray.

  • Check around the properties near your home to see if someone is missing their pet.
  • If you are not looking to adopt the stray, get in touch with your local animal shelter to see if they can take it in.
  • Start trying to socialize the stray cat, 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, signs of a cat being feral are:

  • 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.

Is It OK To Take In A Stray Cat?

Yes, it is OK to take in a stray cat if you know what you are doing. Stray cats are former indoor cats so they have some level of socialization with humans. If you have never taken in a stray cat before you should align your efforts with your veterinarian.

Can A Stray Cat Become A House Cat?

Yes, a stray cat can become a house cat. Stray cats used to be indoor cats and while they have lost much of their socialization, many stray cats can be re-socialized to become house cats again. People should coordinate with their veterinarian to ensure the stray cat receives the care they need.

Are Stray Cats Happier Outside?

Some Stray cats are happier outside. If a stray cat has been on its own for a long time there is a good chance that it will be happier outside. If a stray cat is happier outside, you should consider trap, neuter, return (TNR) to help get the stray cat a medical checkup and neutered.

Are Stray Cats Usually Friendly?

Stray cats are usually apprehensive and skittish around people as opposed to friendly. Some stray cats are friendly, and these may be stray cats that have not been stray that long and are still dependent on humans for food.

Can You Be Friends With Stray Cats?

Yes, you can be friends with stray cats but once you start feeding stray cats they will start relying on you for food. Do not expect your friendship with stray cats to socialize them into considering you a friend. Some stray cats will always be apprehensive of humans.

Can A Stray Cat Trust You?

Yes, it is possible for some stray cats to trust you if you are consistently nice to it. If you feed stray cats they will likely rely on you for food and could trust you more. Some stray cats will never trust you because they are not socialized with humans any longer.

Do Stray Cats Choose Their Owners?

Sometimes stray cats will appear to adopt a person and choose their new owner. Actions that may appear to imply a stray cat choosing their owner are following the person around, attaching to the person, and meowing at them.

What Does It Mean When A Stray Cat Comes To Your House?

When a stray cat comes to your house it means they are looking for food or shelter, likely outside your home. Stray cats are former indoor cats and some are more socialized to humans than others so they may feel more comfortable approaching humans.

Signs A Stray Cat Likes You

Key signs that a stray cat like you are approaching you rather than running away, meowing at you rather than hissing, and following you instead of going the other direction. Stray cats that appear to like you may be newer strays that still remember humans can feed them.

Why Do Stray Cats Follow Me?

Stray cats likely follow you because they think you will give them food and you appear to be someone that will not hurt them. Some stray cats are more socialized to humans than others and those are likely the stray cats following people around. Many stray cats will run from humans when they try to pet them.

How Do I Make A Stray Cat Trust Me?

You can make a stray cat trust you with time, patience, food, and love. If you can lower your expectations and focus on showing generosity and love to a stray cat day after day, then you might be able to make a stray cat trust you. Stray cats are usually afraid of humans, so it will take time and effort to build trust.


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 your cat doesn’t need to drink still water.  The second benefit is that it filters the water.  The third benefit is that it will keep your cat hydrated!

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.

Recent Posts