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  • Post last modified:August 21, 2023
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Are Stray Cats Friendly? 10 Signs Of Friendly Stray Cats!

Did you know about 30-40 million stray and feral cats roam the streets of the United States uncared for daily? Maybe you love playing with your cat at home, but what about when you see stray cats every day on the way to work?

As he hides away, your heart melts, and you ache to stroke him, but you’re not too sure this is the right move.

And then you wonder, are stray cats friendly? Or will the little creature lunge at you and give you a scratch on your hand?

Well, read on to find out. 

Are Stray Cats Friendly Towards Humans?

Are stray cats friendly? Cat with a light brown and white coat looking into the camera.

The answer depends. Some can be very friendly and make you feel like they’ve known you all their life. And then some others may be fearful or aggressive. 

Since many stray cats have had to fend for themselves and may be stressed out or in poor health, which could make them less friendly.

Cats are scared beings, you know? You’ll just need some time to earn their trust, where patience and perseverance is the key. 

So be cautious and pay attention to their body language when approaching stray cats. Baby steps each day, and the two of you are going to be great friends someday.

How Do You Know If A Stray Cat Likes You? 10 signs to look for!

A person holding a baby kitten.

You are eager to know this, and as a cat lover, it is only normal and hence, very important to know the signs a cat likes you, so here you go. The following are some of the things she will do when this stray cat likes you.

1. Approaching You: Most of the time, it will be with her tail upwards. This is an obvious sign that the cat on the road likes you. In some cases, they will even show you their backside. It’s funny, but they are asking to be sniffed, and a cat will do that only if she likes you.

2. Rubbing Against You: Sometimes, they will also ask you for a rub. They will roll over on their back and expose their belly to you, a sign of complete trust and something that a cat will do only if she likes you. 

3. Slow Blinking: Have you ever noticed that cats are afraid to make direct eye contact? But it’s different if she likes you. Now not only will she directly look at you but also blink and blink and blink, slowly, as her way of telling you that she loves you.

4. Kneading: Ever experienced a cat making muffins on you? It’s called kneading, and it’s a sign of complete trust, where you have surprisingly become a mother to this street cat, and she sees a caretaker in you. 

5. Following You: A dog following you on the street can sometimes be scary, but when it comes to a cat, know that there is nothing that she is going to do. Except maybe give you a disapproving look or judge you for not petting her.

6. Meowing: Ever had a stray cat meowing and purring nonstop around you? Well, she is telling you that she really likes you and demands some attention from you. And then, when you don’t listen to her, she probably gets louder, which is her way of saying.

7. Giving You “Gifts”: Wait, before you rejoice, that gift will probably be a rat in your shoe, things that will make you squirm and jump, but who can blame her? These are the things that make her happy, and she is probably thinking it is going to make you happy too. 

8. Licking: Any animal that likes you will lick you. So, perhaps this is the stray cat you see at the bus stop every day approaching you to lick your shoe. She likes you. Sometimes, she will gently bite you. Don’t think that she’s angry; she’s just playing.

9. Sitting On Your Lap: Now, a street cat may not sit on your lap, for she is either too scared or too shy to. Rather, she’ll do something similar. She’ll sit on the ground, close to you, as comfortably as she can. Don’t hesitate to give her head a stroke.

10. Head-Butting: If you are a cat lover, this is your moment. When she is doing this, she is marking you with the sweat glands from her cheek and head, as if to say to all other cats, “This one is mine.”

Must Read: Why Do Cats Tails Fall Off?

Why Are Stray Cats So Friendly?

Black and White Bicolor Cat

According to a 2019 study published in Current Biology, researchers found evidence that domestic cats form attachment bonds with their human caregivers, similar to dogs, suggesting that cats possess socio-cognitive abilities previously untapped.

But, as mentioned earlier, not all stray cats are friendly, but the ones that do act friendly could be due to a few reasons. Below are some factors that affect stray cat’s behavior:

  • Early Experiences: This cat would have had an early experience with humans. For all you know, she is not even a stray cat, but a once domesticated cat who has either been abandoned by or has lost an owner, and now she is looking for the same love, hoping to get it from you.
  • Socialization: While most cats are scared, they also love and enjoy the company of humans, where an ice-breaker is all they need, and some rare ones don’t need that too. This could be that cat that is so friendly towards you. 
  • Health And Nutrition: Okay, putting it the honest way, one of the reasons a stray cat can be so friendly to you could be despair. After all, she needs food, nutrition, and something to live on and sustain, right? She will entertain and purr at you until you give her a treat or two.
  • Territory And Resources: Cats like to own things, and this can include people too, and this could perhaps include you. You would have done something to earn her love, so congrats on winning her heart. Not just humans adopt cats. Cats adopt humans too.
  • Human Behavior: Just in case you didn’t know, dogs are not animals with a language. A cat can read your behavior too. They will know if you want to extend love and affection to them and will probably respond to you. Let her know how much you love her by petting her. 

What Are The Signs Of An Unfriendly Stray Cat?

A Brown and Black Angry Cat.

If you are one of those who find cats cute, one of the first things you want to do when you see one of these creatures is to pick them up, without knowing that cats take their time too. 

See, the following are some of the signs that the cat needs an ice-breaker. It’s not that she doesn’t like you. It’s just that she would need some time to get to know you. 

1. Hissing or Growling

When a cat likes you, she meows and purrs. When she doesn’t, she hisses and growls. You sure have come across this at times, haven’t you?

A cat’s home range, territory, and success as a hunter are necessary in the wild. Due to this, they tend to be cautious and concerned about intrusions.

So, give her some time, and she may change her opinion of you. But for the time being, stay away unless you are okay with a few scratches.

2. Raised Fur and an Arched Back

When a cat is scared, it will raise its fur along its spine and arch its back upwards to make itself appear as large as possible.

Just like a tiger ready for attack, she is going to pose as though she is ready to pounce on you. 

If she is doing this, it means she is seeing you as a threat and is getting defensive against you. 

3. Swatting or Scratching

This is a sure sign of aggression.

A cat has five possible weapons (four clawed paws and its teeth) compared to a dog’s single weapon (its mouth). So, when a cat does this, know that it is time to stay away.

The poor creature is very nervous and scared, and a slight move on your part may get her to attack you.

4. Running Away or Hiding

Again, the cat probably thinks you are a predator and is trying to protect herself from you. She may be trying to find a safe spot to hide, or she may be running away.

Go slow. Give her some time and space to adjust.

Cats need their space too. Start by offering toys and treats. Speak softly and gently, and in time, she is going to trust you.

What To Do With A Stray Cat That Won’t Leave?

The front view of a cat walking.

One thing here is for sure. If you are reading this article, you are just not the kind that will use stones to chase the cat away. Instead, you are probably standing there wondering what to do with that poor creature that has gone astray. 

So, here are some things for you to consider today. 

  • Assess The Situation: One of the first steps you must take here is to determine whether the cat at your door is a feral or a stray. If she is a feral, she can fend for herself and is probably just coming for food or play. She may not want to be adopted or disturbed in any way, so let her have her way.
  • Provide Food And Water: Offer the cat a small amount of food and water to help them feel comfortable. Placing the food and water dish near the edge of your property or fence line can help encourage the cat to stay out of your immediate space.
  • Give Them Shelter: Providing shelter for the cat can help protect them from harsh weather conditions. You can purchase or create a simple shelter using cardboard boxes or plastic containers lined with straws or blankets.
  • Don’t Encourage It: While petting a friendly stray cat may be tempting, it’s important not to overstep its boundaries. Avoid making loud noises or sudden movements that could scare the cat away or provoke aggressive behavior.
  • Contact Local Authorities: If the cat is not microchipped or appears to be lost, contact the local animal control or shelter to report the found cat. They can assist in finding the cat’s owner or facilitate the cat’s care and adoption.
  • Try To Locate The Owner: Some ways in which you can go about this is by ads in papers, flyers, and so on. Also, alert local animal shelters and rescue groups to help find the cat’s owner.
  • Consider Fostering: And finally, if she is giving you all the signs that she wants to be a part of your little family, and you can afford the time and space, why not let her stay? You will be grateful for this decision you made someday. 

Someday, when you are back from a long day of work and emails, and the sweet stray that is no longer a stray snuggle against you, you will be grateful for having decided to adopt her on that day. 

Is It Safe To Touch A Stray Cat?

As you can see in the above video, the person talks about how he cared for a stray cat that was initially afraid of him. He gradually gained the cat’s trust and eventually became close enough to touch and pet it and bring it inside his home.

So, should you touch a stray cat the first time you see one? You can, but you need to go slow now that you have read all the signs of a friendly and a not-so-friendly cat. 

Take the time to gauge the situation and assess the temperament of that cat, and you can react based on that. 

Start by offering some food, extending her hand, and responding to her purrs and meows; in other words, become her friend. 

In time she is going to approach you with all the positive signs, and then you can go ahead and pet that cat. Also, always wash your hands thoroughly if you come into contact with stray cats.

Recommended Reading: American Shorthair vs European Shorthair

How Long Before A Stray Cat Is Legally Yours?

The laws and regulations about stray cats vary depending on where you live. Just because you care for a stray cat doesn’t necessarily mean you own it.

So, this is as long as the cat is not already someone else’s. Make sure that you search the cat all over for any tag or a microchip, and look around to see if there is a worried owner. 

However, in some cases, if no owner steps forward to claim the cat within a specific number of days (often between 3-7 days), the cat may be considered abandoned, and ownership may be transferred to the person or organization providing temporary care for the cat.

If all this is checked and the cat, too, seems to be comfortable with you, then go ahead and welcome her home. Feed her, shelter her, and give her the love she needs. 

Dangers Of Taking In A Stray Kitten

A cute stray kitten sits in a box.

While the cat is cute, and the thought of making her a part of the family is very inviting, there are the dangers of taking in a stray kitten that you need to know. 

  • Health Concerns: Some cats can carry diseases that can indeed be contagious and thus spread infection all around them. So, make sure that you first take the cat you found to the vet. You can then bring her home if everything goes well.
  • Behavior Issues: Since these are cats that have gone astray, they are scared and can thus be aggressive and mistrustful of you. If not, there could be other behavioral issues. She is going to meow all day, chew on the furniture around you, and attack the food. 
  • Financial Costs: Adopting a cat comes with its costs, and if you already own one, this wouldn’t be something new to you. There is the pet food for you to consider, and then all those medical expenses, visits to the vet, and expenses for his grooming and entertainment. 
  • Compatibility With Other Pets: Some cats may not get along well with other pets or vice versa. So, if this is the case with you, you could have your new stray cat being attacked by your other pets, or he attacking your pets.
  • Legal Issues: While there are not many legal issues involved with adopting a stray, you sure can’t bring home a cat that is already someone’s pet. So, make sure you spend ample time locating the real owner, lest they find out and it becomes a legal issue. 

These are the dangers of taking in a stray kitten. Once you’ve checked them all out, you can keep the stray cat.

Frequently Asked Questions: Are Stray Cats Friendly?

Still not done with the questions, are you? The following are probably some of the extra questions on your mind, and so here is an attempt to provide some answers to you. 

Q1. How Do You Tell If A Cat Is Feral Or Stray?

Ans: One factor that screams out is approachability. While most cats are scared beings, a stray cat is going to be more hostile and defensive, unlike a feral that could be cuter and even approach your way.

Q2. Do Stray Cats Become Feral?

Ans: Yes, but know that it is going to take some time and won’t happen in a day. As mentioned time and again above, when it comes to befriending a stray cat, patience, and perseverance is the key.

Q3. Can I Take A Stray Cat To The Vet For Free?

Ans: No, for no vet is going to treat a cat for free. Okay, some may do, and if you find one, you are lucky. But we live in a world where everyone works for their bread and butter, and that includes the vet you took the stray cat to.

Q4. Do Stray Cats Like Humans?

Ans: Some do, some do not. Cats are living beings like humans, each with his or her unique temperament, which you, as a human gifted with understanding, need to appreciate and respect. I hope that’s clear.

Q5. Are Stray Cats Happy?

Ans: You can’t say. It depends on the kind of environment in which she is straying. That said, if she lives in a neighborhood with every house throwing stones to chase her away, she will spend her days running and hiding away. But if she is blessed with people like you around her, chances are she is happier, even as a stray.

Q6. When A Stray Cat Chooses Your Spiritual Meaning

Ans: Okay, now, a lot of people may talk to you about good and bad luck, but the fact is that there is no such thing associated with a cat. And most of all, don’t blame that stray cat that adopted you for not having brought enough luck to you. Your success in life depends on your hard work and effort and not on a cat’s mood. Now, does that make any sense to you?

Closing Thoughts

And so now you know all there is to know about a stray cat. You are now in a better position to deal with the cat when you come across the creature on the road today. 

Looking forward to seeing, are you? Well, the stray cat could be equally eager to see you too. 


Hey there, pet lovers! I'm Pratik, a lifelong animal lover, and pet care expert. My passion for animals began at a young age and has only grown stronger over the years. Through my blog, I hope to share my knowledge and expertise with other pet owners and provide them with valuable information on pets.