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14 Signs a Stray Cat Likes or Dislikes You (Vet-Reviewed)

Written by: Patricia Dickson

Last Updated on June 6, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

stray cat_Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

14 Signs a Stray Cat Likes or Dislikes You (Vet-Reviewed)


Dr. Luqman Javed Photo


Dr. Luqman Javed

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Many people have a few cats that tend to hang up around their houses. Maybe they gather under your front porch or show up because they know they can get a good meal at your house.

While some stray cats are shy and avoid human contact as much as possible, others will follow you around, especially if you’re an animal lover who will feed them.

Sometimes, a stray cat will take a liking to you and want to be around you. How do you tell when a stray cat likes you? There are several signs that the stray cat around your property would like to be your friend, and we’ll discuss 10 of them below.

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The 10 Signs a Stray Cat Likes You

1. Head Butts

Cats sometimes mark their territory with the scent glands on their cheeks and head. So, if you’re sitting on the porch, and the stray cat that’s been hanging around comes up and head butts your leg with their head, it means they’re marking you and like you. The cat, in essence, is marking you as one of their allies, and that’s a great compliment coming from a cat.

2. Eye Contact

Cats often see direct eye contact as a threat, especially cats who live in the wild or aren’t used to being around humans. One way to test whether the cat likes you or not is by catching their eye and looking directly at them. If the cat blinks slowly or looks directly into your eyes, they probably like you. If the cat darts away and refuses to meet your eyes, you may still have a way to win the cat’s affection.

stray cat
Image Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

3. Grooming

When a cat sees someone as a family member, they tend to want to groom them. If the stray cat climbs into your lap and starts grooming you, you can take it as a sign that you’ve won the cat’s affection.

4. Meowing

A cat’s meow can mean any number of things. If the cat is well-fed, warm, happy, and still meowing at you, it could mean they’re looking for affection. This can be a sign that the cat has decided you’re one of its friends.

5. Playing

If you’ve ever noticed kittens playing, you’ve seen them wrestle with each other. If the cat jumps up into your lap and playfully wrestles with you or bites you, it’s a sign that the cat is comfortable enough to want to play with you. It’s essential, however, not to reinforce this behavior, as cats can definitely play rough and draw blood with their claws and teeth. A stray cat may also harbor pathogens dangerous for humans.

Public Health Notice

If a stray cat bites or scratches you to the point where they draw blood, you should thoroughly wash the wound for at least 10-15 minutes under warm water with a disinfectant and seek the advice of a medical doctor.

cat bites the woman's hand
Image Credit: Luis Echeverri Urrea, Shutterstock

6. Kneading

Every cat lover knows that a cat kneading your leg, lap, or any other part of your body means that they trust you and likely want to be friends. Kneading is often viewed as something like a child sucking on their thumb as a comfort habit. When cats do this to a human, it means they’re comfortable with their presence.

7. Purring

If a stray cat frequently begins purring while in your presence, it likely means they’re content and don’t mind your presence.

8. Bringing Gifts

If a stray cat brings you gifts, such as rodents or birds, it might demonstrate some extent of comfort with you. Cats bring prey to their kittens, and domestic cats bring gifts to their pet parents. A stray might be bringing you a kill as a possible gift.

red tabby cat hunting a small bird
Image Credit: rihaij, Pixabay

9. Raising Their Tail

You can tell a lot about a stray cat by noticing their tail. Many cats communicate with their favorite humans by displaying an upright, slightly twitching tail that may slightly bend towards you at the tip. If you see the stray cat approaching you in this manner, they may be telling you that you are their favorite human.

10. Sleeping on Your Lap

Of course, the biggest and most obvious sign that a stray cat likes you is if the cat climbs up into your lap and goes to sleep. Being asleep is a dangerous and vulnerable state for a stray cat, so sleeping on your lap means the cat is starting to trust you completely.

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The 4 Signs That a Stray Cat Doesn’t Like You Yet

There are also a few signs that your stray cat doesn’t like you quite yet.

  • The cat is antisocial and won’t come near you
  • The cat strikes a defensive stance when you come near it
  • The cat hides if you approach it
  • The cat hisses if you try to touch it

It’s important not to rush a stray cat to like you. If you see any of these signs, it’s best to stay away from the cat until it is ready, or you could end up injured.

a tabby mackerel cat hissing
Image Credit: strh, Pixabay

About Feeding Strays

Though many people feed strays in an attempt to befriend them, it’s important to note that this might not be allowed in some jurisdictions. Feeding a stray may also be viewed as controversial and unethical, as strays that are fed will continue to stay and breed in the area, leading to even more homeless cats. A well-fed cat might also have an advantage over other animals in the area and may be more destructive towards local fauna.

Generally speaking, if a stray is being fed with eventual intentions of being adopted, it’s considered acceptable. However, feeding strays with no intentions of a long-term adoption program is considered counterproductive to animal welfare.

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If you see a stray cat around your property, it’s best to leave the cat alone until it’s ready to trust you. You can put out food for the cat and even try to coax it to come to you from afar but never try to pick the cat up or force them to be near you. Please be mindful of the ethics and laws regarding feeding strays in your area before choosing to do so.

A scared stray cat can attack you, and cat scratches can become infected easily and make you sick. Therefore, it’s best to not force a relationship with a stray cat if they’re not ready to reciprocate the attention you provide them.

Featured Image Credit: Dimitris Vetsikas, Pixabay

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