How to Get Stray Kittens to Come to You - Pet Rescue (2024)

Making stray kittens come toward you is the first step to adopting them or taking them to the shelter. Alas, due to a lack of experience in human interaction, these tiny furballs may hesitate to approach you. While you are 100% certain that you want to keep them out of harm’s way, you may be confused as to how to get stray kittens to come to you.

In general, food, sounds and toys encourages stray kittens to approach. Making one’s body seem smaller, avoiding sudden movements, putting on a smile and extending a finger wins their trust and confidence. Petting and playing with stray kittens establishes that approaching is a positive experience.

Whether you want to turn stray kittens into indoor pets or have them neutered and then released to help reduce the number of free-roaming cats going hungry and sickly unnecessarily, it’s a definite must to encourage them to have faith in you. It’s very much possible, although it may not go as trouble-free as one would like.

Continue reading if you want to know how to get stray kittens to come to you. Below, you will come across 12 of the most effective steps you may take to change the lives of little kitty cats for the better in no time.

12 Steps To Win Stray Kitten Trust

How to Get Stray Kittens to Come to You - Pet Rescue (1)

Refrain From Invading Its Personal Space

Before you can make a stray kitten come to you, you should win its trust and confidence. Nothing can make a baby cat fear and mistrust you more than you occupying its personal space.

It’s for this reason exactly why it’s a much better idea for you to let the kitten approach you instead of you approaching it. As soon as it realizes that you’re within the immediate area surrounding it, the stray kitten will either hiss and spit if it’s feisty or flee to safety if it’s a fraidy-cat.

Check that you stay a few feet away from the stray kitty cat as you attempt to make it come to you.

While felines don’t want humans to invade their personal space, ironically, they do not care at all about the personal space of humans, particularly those that they trust. For instance, my cats won’t hesitate to snooze on my chest the moment I lie in bed or nap on my lap the minute I sit in front of my computer to work.

Provide Strong-Smelling Food

Felines find strong-smelling food completely irresistible. As a matter of fact, if one of my cats gets sick and loses its appetite, all I have to do is add a little canned tuna to its kibbles.

Needless to say, if you want a stray kitten to come to you in a flash, offer it a treat with a strong smell.

Refrain from assuming that just about anything that’s strong-smelling will make a stray kitten approach you.

Onions and garlic and those that smell like citrus or mint can repel cats. Felines also hate the smell of certain herbs and spices, such as lavender and cayenne pepper.

Stick to canned fish or meat, preferably those without unnecessary ingredients. You may also give the stray kitten cooked fish or meat that you made from scratch if you want to grab its attention.

However, ensure that it’s not seasoned. And to keep the food off-limits to ants, place it in a small bowl and place the bowl in a shallow dish with water.

Crouch, Kneel or Sit Down

It’s perfectly normal for kittens to be shy and anxious from time to time.

Stray kittens tend to be more fearful than pet kittens because it’s not all the time that they are able to interact with people. And because they know that they are several times smaller than humans, it doesn’t come as a surprise why they are wary of them.

This is why you should give the stray kitten the impression that you are not a threat despite your size. To show the little feline that it could trust you, try to make yourself as small as possible.

It’s because of this why crouching down is a good idea.

You may also kneel or sit down — anything that can help considerably lessen the size difference between the two of you. Once the stray kitten sees that you are not that big after all, it will consider you a less threatening creature.

Basically, this is all that you need to remember on how to approach a cat without scaring it.

Whenever I’m taking snapshots of stray cats and kittens for social media posting, I kneel down or sit on the ground to keep my feline subjects from looking like deer in the headlights.

Extend Your Index Finger

Speaking of making yourself seem smaller and thus appear less threatening, you should gently extend your index finger toward the stray kitten at about cat-nose level.

This is the best way to start to introduce yourself to the tiny feline — it gives it the opportunity to get to know you by checking out your natural scent.

Cats introduce themselves to one another by touching and sniffing each other’s noses.

Well, it’s exactly for the same reason why the stray kitten will slowly, albeit hesitatingly, take a whiff of the tip of your index finger.

Consider yourself fortunate if it begins to sniff the rest of your index finger and hand because it’s a telltale sign that it’s willing to get to know you better.

By the way, I love petting stray cats and dogs. Before I play with my cats back home, I wash my hands thoroughly — I don’t want to scare or agitate them with the scent of cats and dogs I interacted with beforehand.

Avoid Sudden Movements and Gestures

The importance of gently extending your index finger toward a stray kitten to be smelled by it cannot be stressed enough. Otherwise, the innocent and fearful animal will get startled, causing it to run away from you.

Years ago, I made the mistake of not minding my movements while coaxing out of hiding a stray kitten that I wanted to take to the shelter for neutering. I suddenly uncrossed my arms when my phone rang to reject the call. Alas, it’s the abrupt movement of my arms, not my phone’s loud ringing, that scared the baby feline away.

How to Get Stray Kittens to Come to You - Pet Rescue (2)

When it comes to making a stray kitten to come to you, move like a sloth.

Any sudden movement and gesture will make the stray kitten assume that you are trying to attack it. The problem with startling the four-legged creature is that it can put it in grave danger. This is especially true if the two of you are right next to a busy street or an open manhole.

Pretend the Kitten’s Invisible

I have a couple of neutered cats that still display aggressive behavior from time to time, which is something to expect as they were fixed past two years old.

And each time they cross paths and have eye contact, they growl at each other — felines find eye contact extremely threatening and intimidating.

Because of this, you should avoid staring directly into the stray kitten’s eyes.

The best way to encourage a stray kitty cat to approach you is by acting like you are not aware of its presence.

You can pretend to be drinking your venti coffee or reading something on your phone while waiting for the kitten to come closer and closer to you. Again, do not make sudden movements and gestures to not startle it.

If you establish eye contact with the stray kitten and it doesn’t seem to scare it, try blinking slowly, which is how cats smile. You’re closer to your goal of getting the animal to come to you if it responds with a slow blink, too.

Keep this in mind: Looking away can help keep the animal from running away.

Make Interesting Sounds

It’s no secret that the hearing of both cats and dogs is more superior to the hearing of humans.

But between these furry animals, cats have more sensitive ears. As a matter of fact, felines in excellent health can judge within three inches the location of the source of sound situated three feet away.

Because of this, cats are phenomenal hunters. And it’s also due to this exactly why you may count on sounds whenever you want a stray kitten to come closer.

Cats find the sound their small preys make, such as birds, mice and rats, totally irresistible. If you want a stray kitty cat to approach you, all you have to do is mimic the sounds made by animals felines like to catch.

For instance, one of my cats tends to show up in a flash when I make a warbling sound.

Another type of sound that adult cats and kittens alike love is a whistle.

Fret not if you are not very good at mimicking the sound of birds or rodents. That’s because you may simply say nice words to the stray kitten. Just make sure that you say the words gently and in a high-pitched manner.

Distract With Everyday Objects

Stray kittens and little cats, in general, love to play.

It allows them to keep boredom at bay while honing their hunting skills, which will come in very handy once they’re fully weaned and can live away from their mommies. And since stray kittens love to play, you can entice them to approach you with the help of cat toys.

The good news is that kittens are not picky when it comes to toys. Even everyday objects can serve as makeshift cat toys, most especially those that make interesting sounds and have stimulating elements.

Car keys, hair ties, bracelets, hand wipes, plastic bottles, makeup brushes — if you have any of these in your bag, then you are not going to have a difficult time getting the attention of a stray baby cat, even if it has the shortest attention span in the whole animal kingdom.

Once, I won the complete trust and confidence of a stray kitten using just a dead leaf.

I have lots of cats at home. To save money, I don’t buy them cat toys available at online and offline pet supplies stores. What I do is crumple up small brown paper bags and store receipts I no longer need into small balls — they have a marvelous time stalking, clawing and pouncing them each time!

Put on a Pleasing Face

According to a 2015 study, cats performed more positive behaviors (purring, rubbing themselves against their owners, etc.) when their owners were smiling.

The participating cats also wanted to spend more quality time with their owners when they were smiling rather than when they were frowning.

But when the participating felines were presented with strangers, they carried out all sorts of positive behaviors no matter if the strangers they’re with were smiling or not.

The study’s result suggested a couple of things: Cats can read human faces, and they learn how to do it over time.

Especially if you encounter the stray kitten on a daily basis, it’s a wonderful idea to smile at it whether you are trying to make it come to you or not.

The goal is to allow the little cat to learn to read your face. When the time comes that you are ready to adopt it or take it to the shelter, things will go as smoothly as possible.

By the way, I have noticed long ago that my cats tend to stay away from me each time I go home feeling stressed and exhausted and with a long face.

Stroke Ticklish Areas

When a stray kitten approaches you, see to it that the furball will realize that coming to you is one of the best life decisions that it has ever made. And you can do this by stroking it where all kittens like to be stroked.

My cats head-butt my hands each time they are in the mood to be petted.

I figured out it’s because they love to be stroked on the top of their head and the areas around their pointed ears. They also love it when I stroke their cheeks and chin. A gentle scratch along their backs sends them into a frenzy!

Just a word of caution: Refrain from stroking a stray kitten’s paws, belly and tail.

These areas are extremely sensitive, and there’s a fine line between pleasure and pain when it comes to petting felines.

For instance, if the stray kitten lies belly up, it doesn’t mean that it wants you to stroke its abdominal area — the pawed creature just wants to say that it’s totally relaxed and comfortable.

Bestow Enough Time to Loosen Up

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While cats can change your life for the better, unfortunately, they do not deal very well with change.

Even subtle changes in their environment are enough to cause their stress levels to go sky-high. It’s because of this why your presence may stress a stray kitten, especially if it’s obvious that you are attempting to interact with it.

The goal is to keep the animal from being too stressed when you are trying to invite it to come to you. Otherwise, it may completely turn its back on you or take a long time to give its full trust and confidence in you.

Either way, it’s a good idea to keep the little feline from feeling stressed excessively.

If the stray kitten has dilated pupils and a puffed-up tail and it’s breathing through its mouth, stop anything that you are doing and give the baby cat enough time to calm down. Wait until everything goes back to normal before you resume trying to make the stray kitten to come to you.

What I do when my cats are stressed is I talk to them in a calm and soothing voice for a few minutes.

Exude Patience, Patience and More Patience

A Greek proverb goes: “One minute of patience, ten years of peace.”

You will have to keep in mind this wise saying if you are trying to get a stray kitten to come to you to keep it out of harm’s way. That’s because you will definitely need to have lots and lots of patience to succeed.

The amount of patience you will need will vary, depending on the stray kitten’s personality and where it is.

For instance, it took me about five minutes only to rescue an extremely terrified stray kitten trapped in one corner of my yard.

On the other hand, it took me nearly half an hour to rescue a completely relaxed stray kitten that’s taking a rest in the undercarriage of the car of my neighbor — luckily, the vehicle’s owner was down with the flu that day!

Just Before You Beckon Stray Kittens Closer

The mortality rate of stray kittens ranges anywhere from 15% to 40%, especially among orphaned baby cats. This is true even for those that are already 12 weeks of age and fully weaned.

Because of a lack of life experiences and survival skills, stray kittens need all the help they can get from humans.

It’s due to this why it’s a wonderful idea for you to spring into action when you come across a litter of baby kitty cats on the street or in your yard, whether you would like to adopt them or take them to the shelter for spaying or neutering.

While they may appreciate your help, however, stray kittens may feel terrified when you try to approach them. Similarly, they may hesitate to approach you the first time you try to encourage them to come closer.

Above, we talked about a total of 12 ways on how to get stray kittens to come to you. The success rate is exceptionally high if you carry them out the right way. Remember to have patience and refrain from giving up too quickly.

You may find it challenging alright, but being able to change the lives of stray kittens can be a rewarding and fulfilling experience.

The Pet Rescue is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to We also participate in other affiliate programs which compensate us for referring traffic.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent those of The Pet Rescue.

How to Get Stray Kittens to Come to You - Pet Rescue (2024)


How do you get stray kittens to come to you? ›

Stray cats are often hungry cats, so the best first move is to feed the kitty and provide lots of water. Once the cat learns you're a source for food, she will visit every day. For some very friendly cats, this is enough to gain their trust.

Is it safe to rescue a stray kitten? ›

Unless they're in danger, it's best to leave stray kittens outside so the mother cat can comfort them upon her return. Crate them in a carrier to keep the kittens safe and secure, and, if needed, to provide an easy way to move them to the nearest municipal animal control/animal services centre.

What to do with an abandoned stray kitten? ›

Your immediate role. Stabilize the kittens: Place the kittens in a warm, safe place with a gentle heat source (but one they can move away from if they grow too warm). Assess their overall health. Find help: Contact an animal welfare organization or shelter that can help you assess the situation.

How do you bond with a stray kitten? ›

These 6 steps will help you turn that frightened neighborhood kitty into a new furry friend!
  1. Let the cat make the first move. ...
  2. Keep her coming back for more. ...
  3. Slowly desensitize her to life with humans. ...
  4. Respect her space. ...
  5. Consider a calming remedy to help her with the transition. ...
  6. Be patient!
Sep 30, 2018

How long does it take for a stray kitten to get used to you? ›

The process of taming kittens can take a few days or a few months, depending on their age and their exposure to humans before you rescued them, individual temperament even within the same litter, and their state of wildness or previous trauma.

How do you know if a stray kitten is abandoned? ›

If kittens are very young (less than three weeks), and after four hours the mother has not returned, you may conclude she has abandoned her kittens. As tiny kittens easily become chilled and dehydrated, this would be the time for human intervention, which means bottle feeding them until they are 4 weeks or older.

What does a 3 week old kitten look like? ›

Three week old kittens will have ears that point upwards, like a miniature cat. At this age, kittens will be walking, exploring their surroundings, and even beginning to explore the litter box. Three week old kittens still require a heat source, but will be more active and may stray from it when not sleeping.

How can you tell how old a kitten is? ›

A kitten's weight in pounds roughly corresponds to his age in months, and he will gain weight at a relatively predictable rate until about 5 months of age. As long as a kitten is in good body condition, you can safely guess that a 1-pound kitten is about 4 weeks old and a 3-pound kitten is about 12 weeks old.

What do you feed abandoned kittens? ›

We recommend that you use only powdered kitten milk replacement formula from the start — or as soon as possible — to prevent diarrhea. Two major brands of formula are available: PetAg KMR® Powder and Farnam Pet Products Just Born® Highly Digestible Milk Replacer for Kittens.

Do stray kittens remember you? ›

The answer, thankfully, is yes! Recent research has shown that cats have an excellent long-term memory and they can remember people and experiences from years ago. In fact, some cats have been known to recognise their owners even after being separated for several years.

Can you tame a stray kitten? ›

Feral kittens can usually be tamed if they are rescued young enough AND they are socialized properly. Feral kittens should begin their socialization as young as possible (before 6 weeks of age). When rescuing feral kittens outdoors, it's ideal to rescue them at 4-5 weeks of age.

How likely are stray kittens to survive? ›

Eighty percent of kittens born in the wild will die before 1 year of age from the same causes that afflict all wild life - starvation, disease and trauma. This magnitude of suffering is incomprehensible. These cats are highly adaptive natural predators and survive at the expense of wildlife.

Should I touch an abandoned kitten? ›

It is a common misconception that a mother cat will not care for her kittens if they are touched, but don't worry she doesn't mind. However, don't be surprised if they're moved the next time you check on them! If you find neonatal kittens the best thing to do is leave them alone!

What is the fading kitten syndrome? ›

What is “Fading Kitten Syndrome”? Fading kitten syndrome, sometimes referred as “failure to thrive”, describes a kitten that “crashes”, suddenly becoming ill or unresponsive, even if it was previously healthy.

Can a 8 week old kitten survive without its mother? ›

It is a common misconception that kittens can be separated from their mothers as early as 8 weeks old. However, kittens separated at this time are still at risk for developmental, social, and health issues. Instead, kittens should remain with their mothers until they are 12-14 weeks old.

How do you take care of a stray kitten without a mother? ›

If your young kitten doesn't have a mother, you will have to help keep them warm by using something such as a heating disk or heating bad on low heat are placed underneath a blanket in their cage. You should also make a little nest out of soft blankets for the kitten to lay in for comfort.

What smells do kittens hate? ›

As a general rule, cats are sensitive when it comes to smells, but there are a few scents they hate that might just surprise you. They can't stand citrus and as much as you might love the smell of fresh herbs, cats hate rosemary and thyme. Banana and mustard are a big no-no too, as well as lavender and eucalyptus.

Where should a kitten sleep? ›

Your kitten will sleep best if they have a cosy, snug bed or blanket, placed somewhere they can sleep undisturbed while life goes on around them. Although adult cats like to climb and sleep on high perches, such as on top of furniture, it's safest for young kittens if their beds are low down to begin with.

What can I feed my 3 week old kitten without mom? ›

Kitten milk replacer should be the sole source of nutrition until 3-4 weeks of age at which time the weaning process may begin.

What can I feed my 5 week old kitten without mom? ›

Kittens should now be weaned and eating wet food mixed with baby cat kibble. Provide them with kibble and a dish of water at all times. In addition, feed the kittens half a small can of wet food per kitten in a dish, two or three times a day.

How do you take care of a 3 week old kitten without a mother? ›

Kittens should be kept in a box or cat carrier in a warm, draft-free place, completely isolated from other animals. Keep the container covered with a towel or blanket; a small towel or cloth inside the carrier will also keep them cozy. Change the bedding of their “nest” daily, since kittens tend to have accidents!

What age is a kitten no longer a kitten? ›

When Do Kittens Become Adults? Most kittens are considered adults around their first birthday. For some larger breed cats, like Maine Coons, it can take up to 18 months to 2 years to reach their full size. Between eight months and two years of age, kittens reach their full size.

What is the best thing to feed a stray kitten? ›

You can start feeding a stray a little bit of cat chow or canned food and plenty of fresh water. Stray kittens who are old enough to be weaned can have small amounts of kitten chow or canned food as well as fresh water. Choose a brand that is high in fat and protein but low in carbohydrates.

What do kittens look like at 4 weeks old? ›

Look how much Darling has grown! At four weeks kittens are sturdy on their feet and playing with each other, toys, and people. By now, Darling, Denby, Corduroy, Tweed, and Wembley look like fluffy, miniature versions of their mother.

What can you feed a kitten without a mother? ›

These kittens should be bottle-fed using kitten milk replacer (or KMR), which comes in either liquid or powder form. It's the equivalent to formula that you would use for a bottle-fed baby, except it's formulated for cats. The formula, bottles and nipples are all available over the counter at most pet supply stores.

Do stray kittens have diseases? ›

Feral cats live short, hard lives on the streets. They never die of “old age.” Contagious diseases such as herpes viral conjunctivitis, feline AIDS, leukemia, and infectious peritonitis are common in cats left outdoors.

What milk is best for abandoned kittens? ›

ALWAYS use a specially formulated kitten milk replacement. Some common brands include KMR, Just Born, and Breeder's Choice. However, your veterinarian is always available to make recommendations. A kitten should drink 8 milliliters of formula per ounce of body weight per day (see chart below).

What are the chances of a stray kitten surviving? ›

The greatest risk is to kittens, as only 25% of cats born outdoors survive past 6 months of age.

Is it wrong to take a stray kitten from its mom? ›

Never remove healthy kittens from Mama Cat before they are 4 weeks old. 5-6 weeks is the optimal age to take the kittens from a feral Mama Cat for socialization and adoption placement, and any time after 8 weeks for Trap-Neuter-Return (spay/neuter, vaccination, eartip, and return to their colony).

What to expect when adopting a stray kitten? ›

8 Things to Remember When Adopting a Stray Cat Know these things before you adopt a stray
  1. #1 Take It to a Vet First. ...
  2. #2 Treat for Fleas and Ticks. ...
  3. #3 Take Care of Medical Issues As Necessary. ...
  4. #4 Know What the Cat is Used to Eating Before Switching Its Diet. ...
  5. #5 Give the Cat Some Space. ...
  6. #6 Be Patient With the Cat's Behavior.
Aug 10, 2022

What are the dangers of stray kittens? ›

Among the zoonotic agents most often associated with free-roaming cats are the rabies virus and Toxoplasma gondii parasite.

Are stray kittens usually friendly? ›

Some stray cats will be friendly right off the bat, but with others, it may take time and patience to establish trust. “If a cat is not comfortable with humans, they will mostly scratch or bite if you attempt to handle them.

How do you tell how old a kitten is? ›

A kitten's weight in pounds roughly corresponds to his age in months, and he will gain weight at a relatively predictable rate until about 5 months of age. As long as a kitten is in good body condition, you can safely guess that a 1-pound kitten is about 4 weeks old and a 3-pound kitten is about 12 weeks old.

How do you tame a wild kitten? ›

Food will play an essential role in kitten socialization. Offer them “treats” often. It is especially effective to offer them a couple of spoonfuls of human baby food a day (meat only). Kittens LOVE baby food! Start by putting a little bit of baby food on their mouth or nose if they will not come to you.

What do you feed feral kittens? ›

Plain rice and sweet potato are good fixes for a starving feral cat. These food items will not only make them feel full but also aid their digestion process. These can be great options to offer. Just make sure to not provide them with stale food as it can do more harm than good.

Do mother cats disown their kittens? ›

A mom cat can reject one or multiple babies if the litter size is too large for her to handle. A number of kittens mean inadequate quantity of milk for all. The mom could then make the decision to save the most healthy be rejecting the weaker ones. The mother will do this (if it does) within 24 hours of giving birth.

Will a stray kitten have fleas? ›

A stray kitten will almost certainly have fleas, and may also have worms. Fleas carry parasites, so if your kitten has ingested any fleas while grooming herself, she's probably taken in a few parasite hitchhikers.

How can you tell if a cat has imprinted on you? ›

What are the signs your cat has imprinted on you?
  • Communicating with you — meows, purrs, and all the other happy noises a cat makes.
  • Kneading you (a.k.a. ...
  • Choosing to be close to you — following you around, cuddling and sleeping with you, being on your lap whenever they get the chance.
  • Greeting you when you come home.
Feb 23, 2023


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