how to befriend a stray cat

If the cat comes near you, try holding a treat in your hand. The stray may feel comfortable to eat out of your hand, or it may not. In either case, do not attempt to pet or pick up the cat at first. Be patient; it takes time, sometimes weeks or more, for a stray or feral cat to begin to trust you.


  • Question: Will feeding a cat make it more likely for it to trust me? Brian Bourquin, DVM, veterinarian B,” as he is known to his patients, is a veterinarian and the proprietor of the Boston Veterinary Clinic, which has three locations in Massachusetts: South End/Bay Village, the Seaport, and Brookline. Primary veterinary care, including sick and emergency care, soft-tissue surgery, and dentistry, is the area of expertise for Boston Veterinary Clinic. The clinic also offers specialized services in nutrition, behavior, and alternative pain management methods like therapeutic laser treatments and acupuncture. Boston Veterinary Clinic is the city’s first Fear Free Certified Clinic and an AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association) accredited facility. Brian graduated from Cornell University with a doctorate in veterinary medicine and has more than 19 years of experience in the field. Answer from Brian Bourquin, DVM, Veterinarian Expert: Treats are great, but cats also enjoy attention. This is because they are not as food-motivated as dogs. Cats are drawn to tiny, moving objects, so try getting their attention with those.
  • Question Pippa Elliott, MRCVS Veterinarian Dr. Is milk a safe substitute for food? Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian that has worked with companion animals and performed veterinary surgery for more than 30 years. She earned a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery from the University of Glasgow in 1987. She has spent more than 20 years working at the same veterinary clinic in her hometown. Pippa Elliott, MRCVS Veterinarian Expert Answer No. Many cats are incapable of breaking down lactose, the sugar found in milk. As a result, the milk ferments in their stomach, resulting in diarrhea. Get some KMR (kitten milk replacer) from your veterinarian or pet supply store if a wild kitten is too young to eat.
  • Question from Pippa Elliott, MRCVS Veterinarian: “How can I pet a wild cat with kittens?” Elliott, BVMS, MRCVS is a veterinarian that has worked with companion animals and performed veterinary surgery for more than 30 years. She earned a degree in veterinary medicine and surgery from the University of Glasgow in 1987. She has spent more than 20 years working at the same veterinary clinic in her hometown. MRCVS Veterinarian Expert Pippa Elliott: The welfare of the kittens has to come first. Approaching the den may agitate the mother, who may then abandon the kittens if she is intolerant of people. If she is sociable, leave food offerings to help her become acclimated to your presence. It’s best to start petting the kittens and introducing them to people when they are two to three weeks old. With food, divert the mother’s attention, and tenderly caress the kitten without unduly disturbing the nest. The kittens are more likely to come up to you for food and cuddles as they get older and venture outside.
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  • If the cat ends up in your possession, you might want to think about getting it some toys. When you are too busy to play with it, you can keep it occupied with squeaky toys, a scratching post, or even a ball of yarn. [13] Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0 .
  • If you adopt a stray kitten, spay or neuter them. [14] This helps prevent unintended pregnancies and increases your cat’s loyalty and affection. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0 .
  • Make every effort to ensure the cat does not already belong to someone if it appears to be well-groomed and elegant. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0 .
  • When the cat is well enough to take care of itself, allow it to roam both inside and outside at will. Allow the cat to establish its territory at its own pace because the potent smell of a human home can occasionally make it seem intimidating.
  • Generally, if the cat is clean it is feral. It may surprise you to learn that feral cats adjust to their surroundings and learn to groom themselves. Conversely, stray cats are likely to be dirty because they are lost.
  • You might need to try something else at first because most feral cats won’t get used to eating human cat food.
  • Be relaxed when with a cat. They can sense fear which will trigger their predatory instinct.
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  • Prior to taking the cat to the vet, always make sure you thoroughly wash your hands after handling the animal. Thanks Helpful 20 Not Helpful 0 .
  • Never run towards any cat. This will be perceived by it as aggressive behavior, and it might attempt to bite or itch you. Thanks Helpful 13 Not Helpful 0 .
  • Refrain from posting about the cat in question online. In that sense, its owner may claim it, but so can poachers, hoarders, those who use cats in dog rings, and those who sell cats for testing. Don’t post a picture or description of it online if you truly want to place an advertisement. It should be able to be described to you by its real owner. Thanks Helpful 22 Not Helpful 3 .
  • Recall that you should only adopt a cat if you can commit to caring for it for the rest of its life; otherwise, find it a new home. It is preferable to find someone to adopt it rather than bring it to a pound if you need to find it a new home. These frequently become overrun by animals, particularly cats, and may have to put cats to death if they run out of space. Therefore, even if they don’t explicitly put your cat down, you might be the reason for the death of another one. Thanks Helpful 21 Not Helpful 3 .
  • If the cat is aggressive, dont try to befriend it. Even if you succeed, it will remain a wild animal and could be aggressive. Thanks Helpful 12 Not Helpful 3 .
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Let the cat make the first move.

Ignoring an animal that you are trying to socialize may seem like silly advice, but according to Becky Robinson, president and founder of Alley Cat Allies, snubbing a semi-feral kitty will pique its curiosity and force it to make the first move.

You can demonstrate your trustworthiness to the cat by waiting for it to approach you and then engaging in a positive interaction.

Animal rescue experts typically classify stray cats into three categories: socialized, semi-feral, and feral.

While feral cats have had little to no human contact and are essentially wild animals, socialized cats are completely domesticated and at ease around people.

Semi-feral cats fall somewhere in between. Although they usually don’t like to be touched, they occasionally vocalize or even make eye contact with people.

Taming a semi-feral cat is possible, albeit it’s a slow and challenging process. You can make that scared neighborhood cat into a new furry friend with these 6 easy steps!


How do you connect with a stray cat?

Always move slowly around the cat. Once the cat seems comfortable with your presence, try sitting with him for a few hours a day. Don’t try to touch the cat yet—just sit near and talk to him. Each time you visit, you can also try to sit closer and closer to the cat, being sure to pay attention to his signs.