How to make stranger cat "unafraid" of you

Some cats just seem distrustful of human strangers. They keep a distance from you, a flight distance. If you get close they run away, then stop and stare at you, and run away again if you get closer. What can be done to eliminate this problem? Throw some food at the cat?

Is this someone’s pet, or a feral cat - if the latter, it probably won’t ever trust you (it might accept food, but probably never cuddles).

If it’s a pet cat, and is trustful of anyone at all, then in general:
[li]No sudden movements[/li][li]Crouch, beckon with one hand held out, low to the ground.[/li][li]Make the typical clucking and ‘puss-puss’ noises[/li][li]Avoid direct eye contact[/li][/ul]

Food. A chick I used to know had a feral cat when she was a kid as a pet --apparently it scratched the shit out of most people except for her. I therefore believe a feral cat can be turned out given proper motivation.

Show it a paper towel tube so it knows you can’t ass rape it? No, just give it food.

If it’s a pet cat, act like you’re allergic to it.

Seriously, have you ever noticed it’s the person that’s allergic to cats that always seems to get their attention? It’s because that’s the person who’s not pestering and annoying the cats by trying to get all touchy-feely, so they come across as the most approachable. Well, that and the fact that cats are devious hateful bitches who extract great pleasure from bringing about misery in others.

That’s just about what I do, too. The sound is a click of my tongue against the roof of my mouth, I think it sounds like a squirrel to the cat. Enough to get their attention, anyway. Hold my hand at about head height (the cat’s head), fingers down and relaxed. If the cat wants to be friendly at all, he’ll usually come up, sniff my hand a bit, and the rub against it a few times. If I can, I’ll scratch them a bit on the jawline and the side of the neck, just below the ear.

If that doesn’t work, don’t sweat it too much. Cats have spent thousands of years running away from things that are bigger than them and want to do them harm. Domestic ones will still usually give you a chance.

Good advice. Those have always worked for me, especially the crouching and holding hand out part. I personally haven’t found it necessary to avoid eye contact the way they teach you to do with dogs. But anyway, once the cat sees you, you just have to make yourself seem unthreatening and wait for them to come. If they’re somebody’s cat, they’ll usually come. They may not like strangers, but many of them actually do like people and will give you a chance if you talk its language and show patience. Remember, to them you are just another potential servant.

It’s important to let them sniff you and rub their cheeks against your hand (where their scent glands are) before you try to pet one or pick one up.

I’m not at all sure it’s true, but I read somewhere that eye contact in dogs is pretty much as it is in humans - that is; prolonged staring can be threatening, but in general, eye contact means you’re paying attention.
Whereas (apparently) in cats, the act of breaking eye contact is a sign of trust - this seems to ring true to me - a cat that is at ease will often look at you, then close its eyes and turn its head away.

Indeed. A thing I would add to your list is to every now and again glance at the cat but do it like you are almost asleep: glance, close your eyes for a good three or four seconds, open them lazily for a half second, close them again sleepily, then look away.

I assume they consider such behaviour to be a very strong indicator that you know that they are there, but see the cat as neither threat nor prey.

Also, even better than clucking or puss puss noises is to get a leaf or twig and make little scratching or rustling noises. Like a mouse or insect might make.

These two steps work like crack to a cat and never fail, for me.

Give it a bath. Cats love baths.

(walks out of thread whistling the Looney Tunes theme)

Food, stillness and lots of patience. Put food down for the cat and sit down a yard or two away, out of what the cat considers ‘pouncing distance’, and talk soothingly to it while it eats. Avoid eye contact, make no sudden moves. Do this daily, getting a little closer each day. If the cat won’t come and eat, back up to it’s safe range for that day. If the cat is not feral, it may come up to you and sniff you and rub your hand with its face. If the cat is feral, you may never be able to touch it, but if you are very, very patient, you might.

I tamed a few very distrustful cats this way, but some of them were always outdoor cats who couldn’t be picked up, but would accept petting. Good luck!

recent stranger cat bite thread

when the cat is around then freshly kill a mouse, carry it in your mouth and present to the cat.

Cats do what they want so if it is a fraidy cat I don’t think it’s possible to make them unafraidy. It is what it is.

Sure they will lap some milk if you put it there for them but when they have had their fill they will go back to being little shits as usual.

Since the OP is asking for advice, let’s move this to IMHO.

General Questions Moderator

(bolding mine)

Why do you consider it to be a problem? No snark, just want to know the background.

  • purplehorseshoe, who can scritch both of the ferals we care for, and even (briefly!) pick up the female

This is exactly my technique, too. Food and stillness are key. Throwing things (even food) is pretty much guaranteed to scare the cat.

I don’t think it can always be done. My mom has extensive experience with cats (lived with two or three of them at a time for decades), and currently has an outdoor-only cat in her backyard who simply refuses all human contact. She’ll accept the food we put out, and is even so brazen as to come into the kitchen to demand it when it’s late. She mostly just ignores the dog, no matter how close he gets. And she’s lived in the yard since she was a kitten, so we know she hasn’t had prior bad experiences with humans. But she will not, under any circumstances, allow any human to get within arm’s reach of her.

My oldest (current) cat is the grown edition of a feral kitten that I rescued at about 1 month old off of my front porch steps in 2004. He has lived with me, indoors, ever since.

In February of this year, the last of my good friends finally caught sight of him for the first time (the friend was awake very early in the morning before anyone else was awake, and saw him skulking down the hallway).

On August 2nd (this year!), I marked a milestone down in my calendar. I was sitting down in the bathroom after my shower, and he voluntarily climbed down from the cabinet into my lap, where he stayed for me to pet him for about a minute, maybe 90 seconds. Then he jumped down to the floor. I was so shocked and happy that I actually cried, and I called my husband at work to tell him.

Please note, I have had this cat for 8 years now, and he has known only me and my home for that entire time. Contrast that with my most recent rescue, who when I was sitting outside on a curb talking on the phone, she ran up to me as a half-grown teen girl cat and put her front paws around my neck while she licked my chin and bumped her head under my hand.

Some cats just aren’t going to be quick friends with people, and if they’re feral, they’ve had a lot of life experiences to reinforce that predisposition.

Your best bet is to offer food, be around, and let the cat make the first moves. If the cat isn’t interested, you trying to force things is going to make it trust you less.

I’m jealous of all you people who have cats that won’t even come up to you. I’m not a cat person, but on (very rare) occasion I’ll take in unwanted cats who are usually feral off spring and they always end up broken.

They’re allowed to come here, they get free choice food from a container that I fill about every other week (or when they start whining about it). They have access to come/go between inside/outside. Their job is to hunt mice and leave me alone.

But, they always end up like furry handcuffs who think that laying on my keyboard is just the bestest place in the world.

So, I think that the person who said ‘act like you’re allergic’ is probably the closest, since that must be how I’m breaking my cats.

So, once the fear of humans is all gone, how do you fix them? A friend said to act like you want them near and they’ll go away, but that didn’t work. It actually made them a little bit worse on the keyboard thing. I don’t have the heart to throw them across the room, but on bad days, I’m like some sort of cat tilt-a-whirl ride, they climb up, I put down, they climb up, I put down. Oh, and water spray bottles? Please, they KNOW I would never spray water around my computer…

Every cat is different. But try tuna.

And that’s why we love them. :slight_smile:

I’d go with stillness and patience, too. Cats are very curious; they will eventually want to come up to you and figure out who you are if you don’t make threatening moves, more than likely.