How to Get Stray Kittens to Come to You

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

stray kitten
Image credit: Canva

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.

stray kitten
Image credit: Canva

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

stray kitten
Image credit: Canva

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.

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

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