You are walking down a street and suddenly you see a stray cat. Of course, you want to pet it. Cats are just so cute! But be careful! You don't want the cat to run away!
Stray cats are not your domestic pet cats with whom you can cuddle to your heart's content. The stray cats are more in touch with their feral nature, making them more skittish and distrustful around humans. But whether a stray cat or a home cat, all of them deserve a good pet. And we'll tell you just the right steps to go about gaining a stray cat's trust and not get your face clawed in the process!
How to pet a Stray Cat
- A stray cat is not a domestic cat
Before you approach a stray cat we need to put some ground rules. The first one is that you need to understand that a stray cat is different from a domesticated cat. While a domestic cat is born around humans and is hence familiar with them, a stray cat is not. They are born away from humans and live the wildlife of a stray. They are territorial in nature too, so don't even think about just marching up to them and expect the cat to not runoff. Getting a stray cat's trust is a slow process and being prepared on all fronts is the first step towards approaching a stray cat.
- Feed the stray Cat
It's said that the way to someone's heart is through their stomach. It applies to stray cats as well! Stray cats have to scavenge for food most times, so offering them food will make them more comfortable around you. And this would be your perfect chance to be in their territory without scaring them off.
- Make sure the food you choose for the cat is strong in smell. This will ensure the cat will sniff it from a distance and come close to you.
- The food must be cat-friendly. Tuna or chicken are good options for your carnivore stray. But make that whatever meat you choose, it should be cooked but with no added spices. Giving cats uncooked or spiced food is not a good idea as it will upset their digestive system. A cat with a bad tummy will be very less likely to be around you than a cat who is happy with your food, so be careful!
- Leave the food in areas where you have seen the cat often. Be consistent about it as it will take around a week for the cat to be able to trust you. Feeding the cat every day will make it faster for you to earn the stray cat's trust.
- Don't try to touch the stray cat while it is feeding on the food you gave it. Yes, it might be tempting to just pet the cute kitty but don't do it. Would you like to be petted while you are having your meal? Of course not! So let the cat have its meal in peace and just respectfully stand at a distance, giving the stray cat sufficient space.
- Make a comfy bed for the stray cat
It might be very possible that feeding the cat was not enough to get the cat's trust. What to do then? Well, you have to go a step further to get on the stray cat's good side! Some stray cats are more distrustful than others and you have to pull out all the stops to earn the cute kitty's trust.
Now that you have ensured the stray cat's tummy is full, maybe it's time you do something about its sleeping arrangements. Stray cats live outside in the streets so they don't have a warm bed to sleep in as most domesticated cats have. So giving stray cats a comfy bed is not just about earning their trust, but is also generally a nice thing to do.
- The most simple shelter for your stray cat is to just leave your door slightly open so that the neighborhood stray cat can sneak inside when it rains or is too sunny or cold outside. If you have a backyard with a shed, even better as it will give the cat its own space without disturbing your house members.
- You can always get together a big basket filled with warm blankets and keep it near the cat's territory. Make sure it is kept under any sort of roof so that it's protected from the rain.
- If you want to be really extra, you can always buy a pre-built cat shelter from Amazon (or any online purchasing platform you prefer). Some of these cat shelters even come with fancy options like heating pads to keep the stray cat warm even in the most bitter cold.
- Let the cat make the first move
So you have been feeding the stray cat daily and have even made a nice bed for it. What now? Are you finally allowed to pet the adorable kitty? Sadly, not yet.
You might be the one to make the first move in all your relationships but here you have to let the cat make the first move. This includes: (1) not interacting with the cat while It's having your given food; (2) not stroking the cat while it's sleeping in your given bed. Something you really should not do even to your domesticated cat, mind you. It's plain rude. Let the kitty have its sleep-time.
In simple words, patience is the key here.
- It might take days, if not weeks for the cat to trust you enough to make the first move. Don't try to rush the cat. Appearing too interested in the stray might shoo them away. So just keep cool and be nonchalant in your approach.
- Normally the cat will approach you by themselves, nuzzling your leg to get your attention and show they are comfortable around you. But if your particular stray cat is a more stubborn breed, maybe some more coaxing might be required.
- Extend your hand as an invitation to the stray cat. Do not try to pet the cat, but just extend your hand to show you are safe to be approached. If the cat trusts you enough at this point, it will sniff your hand and run its head against it. This is your cue to finally pet the stray cat!
- Want to adopt a stray cat?
This is of course an extra step, but after investing so much effort and time in your stray cat it's only natural you might want to adopt it. We encourage the adoption of stray cats too, but there are a few steps you need to take before you're able to take your stray cat home as your pet.
- If the stray cat doesn't let you carry it then use a lure trap to capture it. Make sure the trap provides no harm to the cat. Place food and blanket inside the trap to keep the cat comfortable and the experience less traumatic.
- Take the cat to a veterinarian to get it checked and vaccinated. This is important as you want to keep your family and the stray cat healthy and safe.
- Keep the process of earning the cat's trust at your home as well. A stray cat has lived their whole life outside in the streets and is not accustomed to home life. Give the cat ample space to play around. Don't forget to spend time with the cat too!
Stray cats can be aloof at first but chip away at their walls and you'll find a beautiful relationship with them that is built on trust and patience. Whether you want to just pet a stray cat or you want to take it further and adapt them, you will be influencing their life greatly. Stray cats lead a hard life in the wild world of the streets, fighting every day for their survival. By earning a stray cat's trust you can show them that the world is not so scary and make them feel loved.