12 Signs a Stray or Feral Cat Likes You: Understanding Cat Behavior

Video signs a stray cat likes you

Man trying to pet a stray cat

If you’ve ever come across a stray or feral cat and wondered if it likes you, there are several signs to look out for. Even though stray and feral cats may not readily express affection or be open to human contact, they can still show their appreciation in subtle ways. Here, we’ll explore 12 signs that indicate whether a stray or feral cat likes you.

The 12 Signs a Stray or Feral Cat Likes You

1. Eye Contact

Eye contact can be a sign of trust in cats. Making eye contact with them can be intimidating, but if a stray or feral cat holds your gaze, it could mean that they are comfortable around you and actually like you.

Stray cat out in the snow during winter

2. Purring

Cats usually purr when they’re content. So, if a stray or feral cat purrs while they’re around you, it could be a sign that they trust you and enjoy your presence. However, be aware that cats can also purr to self-soothe when they’re nervous. Look for other signs of aggression that might suggest the cat is nervous rather than friendly.

3. Following You Around

If a cat follows you around outside or seems to always be nearby, it’s a strong indication that they enjoy spending time with you and want to stay close. This behavior signifies trust in cats.

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Grey stray cat

4. Head Bonking

When cats bonk their heads against objects or people, it’s usually a sign of affection. If a stray or feral cat head bonks you, it means they like being around you and feel comfortable enough to express it.

5. Kneading

Kneading is when cats press their front paws into an object or person while purring in contentment. This behavior indicates that the cat feels safe, happy, and relaxed in your presence. It’s often referred to as “making biscuits.”

A stray cat lying on a sidewalk

6. Rubbing Against You

Cats use rubbing as a way to mark people, objects, and territory as their own. If a stray or feral cat rubs against your legs or other objects, it means they consider you part of their “territory” and feel comfortable with your presence.

7. Tail Up

When cats keep their tail up, it usually indicates that they’re feeling content and confident. If a stray or feral cat keeps its tail up while you’re around, it’s a sign that they like you and trust you.

A stray cat walking on sand seeking attention

8. Cheek Rubbing

Unlike rubbing their head against something, when cats rub their cheeks against an object or person, it’s a loving gesture. If a stray or feral cat cheek rubs you, it means they trust and like you enough to show physical contact.

9. Rolling Over

Cats often roll over on their backs as an invitation for belly rubs when they feel comfortable with someone. If a stray or feral cat rolls over while they’re around you, it’s a sign that they like you and want to engage with you.

Pregnant stray cat

10. Vocalization

When cats meow, chirp, or trill, it indicates that they’re content and comfortable with someone. If a stray or feral cat vocalizes when they’re around you, it means they appreciate your presence and enjoy being near you.

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11. Eating from Your Hand

Feeding cats is an effective way to build trust between humans and felines. If a stray or feral cat eats from your hand, it’s a good sign that they like and trust you.

Cat is chewing on a treat

12. Sleeping Near You

Cats typically sleep near people and things they trust. So, if a stray or feral cat chooses to sleep near you, it’s a clear sign that they feel safe and at ease in your presence.

Ways to Help a Cat Like You

1. Speak Softly and Gently

Cats can sense when we’re speaking in a harsh tone. Therefore, using a gentle voice around them will help make them feel more comfortable.

Woman holding meat treat cat

2. Offer Treats or Food

Offering treats or food is an excellent way to start building trust with your cat. Start small and allow the cat to come to you for their reward instead of trying to hand-feed them.

3. Use Toys

Playing with your cat is an excellent way to bond with them. It lets them know that you want to interact with them. Choose toys that mimic prey, such as balls with feathers or strings on the end, as these are usually most appealing to cats.

Playing with cat toy

4. Give Them Space

Cats often need time to adjust to new situations and people. It’s important to give them the chance to explore their environment at their own pace. Allow them some alone time if they seem overwhelmed or shy.

5. Avoid Picking Them Up

While it can be tempting to pick up your cat when you see them, cats don’t always appreciate this behavior, especially if they’re not used to it. Try using a soft blanket or towel instead, so your cat has something between you and them if they want to retreat.

Other Signs a Cat Is Happy

Signs a Cat Is Unhappy

Stray cat

Tips for Handling a Feral or Stray Cat

Managing an Aggressive Cat


Cats can make wonderful companions, but it’s essential to understand the signs of a happy or unhappy cat, especially when dealing with a feral or stray cat. By understanding a cat’s behavior and respecting their individual preferences and personalities, you can create a strong bond with them and ensure their contentment in or around your home!

Featured Image Credit: Vlad Bagacian, Pexels