How to Gain a Stray Cat's Trust: 10 Steps

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How to Gain a Stray Cat's Trust: 10 Steps
How to Gain a Stray Cat's Trust: 10 Steps

Earning a stray cat's trust is a complicated but rewarding process. If you find a cat in the neighborhood and want to take it home, first learn to interact with it in a non-threatening way. Read on to learn more about feline behavior and the do's and don'ts when interacting with homeless animals.


Part 1 of 3: Checking that the cat is not wild

Earn the Trust of a Stray Cat Step 1

Step 1. Learn to differentiate a stray cat from a wild cat

When you encounter an untamed cat, it can be stray or wild. The interaction process with the two types is different, and in many cases it is impossible to gain the trust of a wild cat. Before continuing, find out where the animal comes from.

  • Wild cats are born on the street and have never lived indoors or been pets. Stray cats were once pets, but they have been lost or abandoned.
  • Wild cats act more animalistic, with behavior more reminiscent of raccoons and squirrels than pet cats. Stray cats are friendlier and tend to stay close to residential areas.
  • When they live on the street for a long time, even domesticated cats tend to develop wild tendencies. It may take several interactions with the animal to find out where it comes from.
Earn the Trust of a Stray Cat Step 2

Step 2. Pay attention to the animal's behavior and appearance

The way a cat behaves, as well as its appearance, can indicate whether it has been abandoned or was born on the street.

  • Strangely enough, cats with shaggy, messy coats are probably stray. Recently abandoned animals find it difficult to adapt to the streets and are often dirtier than wild ones.
  • If the cat approaches you, chances are it has been abandoned, even if it runs away when you try to pet it. Wild cats hardly ever get close to humans.
  • To make sure the cat is stray or wild, put it in a cage. Stray pussies, when trapped, play and lift their tails in a friendly way. Savages can also play in the middle of the street, especially if you feed them, but they will never repeat such behavior when they are trapped.
Earn the Trust of a Stray Cat Step 3

Step 3. Prepare to handle wild cats

If the cat you found turns out to be wild, be aware that it is virtually impossible to domesticate it, especially if it is over seven months old. The recommended policy is to capture the animal, take it to a veterinarian for neutering, and release it back onto the streets. This helps to keep the cat healthy and to control the population of wild animals in the region.

  • There are NGOs that carry out the work of capturing, examining, vaccinating, neutering and returning wild cats to the streets. Because they're not used to being domesticated, taking one of these cats home can be a traumatic experience for you and your pet. Don't try to tame a wild cat.
  • Contact NGOs and Zoonoses Control Centers for more information. Not try to handle wild cats on your own unless you have specific training and experience in handling non-domesticated animals. Wild cats can transmit disease and act aggressively when frightened. Let the professionals handle the pussy.

Part 2 of 3: Attracting a stray cat to your house

Earn the Trust of a Stray Cat Step 4

Step 1. Build his trust through eating

Feeding a cat is the simplest way to get it to interact with you. The animal will likely be hungry and will respond positively to food. That way you can approach him and get him used to your presence.

  • Choose foods with strong smells, as this increases the cat's chances of detecting the presence of the food. Canned ones usually have a stronger smell, especially those with flavors like tuna and salmon. Obviously, don't leave your cat's human-friendly food with you, as you can damage the cat's digestive system. The idea is to attract the cat, not make it associate your food with problems.
  • Leave the food in the areas where you saw the cat wandering. Consistency is very important. Leave the food in the same place every day, and the cat will learn where to go when it's hungry.
  • After a few days, leave the house while the cat eats. It may take a week or more for the animal to trust you and get close. Be patient and don't force interactions.
  • Do not physically interact with the cat for now unless he makes physical contact first - rubbing his legs, for example. Stray cats are often victims of abuse and may need time to lower their defenses around a new person. If you force contact, the cat may not come back for food.
Earn the Trust of a Stray Cat Step 5

Step 2. Choose a cat trap

As much as some stray cats enter people's homes on their own, most of them have trust issues. A humane trap is usually the best option for getting a cat home safely.

  • Some animal protection NGOs should be able to lend you a safe trap and instruct you to use it. The best option is to visit a shelter and ask for help.
  • If there is no shelter nearby, buy the trap online. Obviously, look for a humane trap that won't hurt or annoy the cat. It is very important to use a safe trap that will not traumatize the pet.
Earn the Trust of a Stray Cat Step 6

Step 3. Lure the cat into the trap

The cat will not simply enter the cage on its own, even if you put food for it in there. The capture process takes a while.

  • As soon as the animal seems more comfortable with your presence, start taking the trap with you when you watch it eat. Ethical traps, which do not harm the animal, can be purchased online or at pet stores.
  • Begin bringing the cat's food closer to the trap little by little over the course of a week or two. After a while, put the food inside the trap, but leave the door open while the cat eats. The goal here is to make the animal comfortable inside the box so that the experience is less traumatic when you close the door.
  • Move the food deeper into the trap, little by little. When the cat is comfortable with its entire body inside the cage, close it.
Earn the Trust of a Stray Cat Step 7

Step 4. Take the pussy to the vet

If you want to earn a cat's trust, you have to live with it for a long time. Before this is possible, however, you need to make sure your cat is healthy and does not contain any diseases that could harm you or the other pets in the household.

  • Before the appointment, keep the cat in quarantine, away from other animals and people. Keep it in a closed, warm room (not too hot, obviously), in a large cage. It's important to keep him away, especially if he has fleas and ticks.
  • The veterinarian can check that the cat has an identification microchip so you can find its previous owner.
  • The professional will also perform physical examinations and vaccinate the animal. The cat should be screened for diseases common among homeless animals such as fleas, worms, feline immunodeficiency and feline leukemia.

Part 3 of 3: Building his trust at home

Earn the Trust of a Stray Cat Step 8

Step 1. Create a room for the cat

Taking a stray cat home is different from taking an animal from a shelter. The new cat will likely be more shy and insecure about space and territory. Creating a room for him can help earn the pussy's trust.

  • Put the food, water, bed, toys and litter box in the same room. Gather everything that can help your cat feel more comfortable and safe in your home.
  • The room should be in a quiet corner of the house and should not be used by humans until the cat gets used to the new home. Put a chair or an armchair, with a blanket, so that the animal has a hiding place when it feels threatened.
  • Spend time with the cat in the room each day to get him used to your presence. Knock on the door before entering and give a quiet verbal warning that you are coming so as not to scare the cat.
Earn the Trust of a Stray Cat Step 9

Step 2. Respect the animal's limits

Stray cats need time to adapt to human interaction. Don't try to force anything too soon and let the cat lead your interactions.

  • Avoid eye contact. Cats tend to stare at humans, but it's not a good idea to stare at a stray cat, as he will see this as a sign of aggression. To make it clear that you don't want the pussy's harm, close your eyes for a while and look away.
  • Let the cat get closer to you. Wait for the animal to make the first physical contact before trying to pet it. Cats often demonstrate that they like someone rubbing themselves against the person's legs; wait for such a gesture before trying to touch the pussy.
  • Let the cat hide. He may prefer to stay under the armchair or chair for a few days, just going out to eat. Let him do this and don't force him out of hiding.
  • When the cat opens up for physical contact, don't touch its belly. This is a vulnerable area that can take away all the trust you've earned so far.
Earn the Trust of a Stray Cat Step 10

Step 3. Introduce the rest of the house to the cat

After leaving the animal confined to its safe room for a few weeks, let it explore the rest of the house.

  • Let the animal go at its own pace when exploring the house. Keep an eye on him, but don't disturb him while he's checking out new territory.
  • If you have other animals in the house, let them hear and smell each other before any physical interaction. Feed the old animals near the cat's room door. Encourage play under the door.
  • If possible, replace the door with a screen door, allowing the animals to see each other through an invisible physical barrier. This can be helpful if the cat is too shy.
  • Supervise the animals' physical interactions and keep an eye out for any signs of aggression.
  • Let the cat go to his safe room whenever he feels insecure and wants to hide.


  • Don't lure a cat with milk. Most cats contain enzymes in their stomach that prevent them from digesting dairy products. When drinking milk, the cat may start vomiting and suffer from diarrhea.
  • As good as it is to have furniture in your cat's safe room, reclining chairs can hurt your pussy, especially if it's young. Don't leave a cat alone with this type of furniture.
  • Place a notice in local newspapers and radios describing the cat. It's possible that the previous owner is looking for it.


  • Vaccines are important! Take the cat to the vet as soon as you bring him home. Some illnesses, such as rabies, are incurable after symptoms appear.
  • Cats show aggressiveness when threatened and can transmit harmful diseases to humans and other animals. Be careful when handling a stray cat, letting it get to you first.

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