How To Soothe A Stray Cat – All You Need To Know

Published by Annie Anderson
Last updated: August 13, 2021

Animals feel lots of the same emotions that humans do – excitement, curiosity, happiness, but also those negative things such as stress, fear, anxiety, anger and so on. Cats are no different. 

Housing a stray cat can be challenging and many questions may arise. One of those is probably “How to soothe a stray cat?”.

Not to worry, you have found the right source of information regarding this topic. There are a few ways in which you can soothe a scared cat, and we’re going to get into it in this article.

Why Do You Need To Soothe A Stray Cat?

Many stray cats are not the friendliest in their behaviour towards people. Unfortunately, that is a by-product of their life on the streets and often, previous mistreatment by humans.

However, almost any animal that has been mistreated in some way or another or was forced to toughen up because of street life can be rehabilitated and taught how to love and trust humans and other animals again.

Soothing a cat is essential to be able to get it checked by a vet, transported to its new home and to get it to calm down and adapt to the new surroundings as soon as possible.

Bear in mind that a change of surroundings can be a stressful thing, the cat doesn’t know what’s going on and what will happen, so the fear is understandable.

Ways in which a cat might manifest fear are many, some of which you’ll easily be able to read as it being scared, while others might be misinterpreted as aggression, bad temper and so on.

Don’t jump to conclusions and deem a cat angry and aggressive without assessing the situation first. Most likely, the aggression shown is due to its fear and the instinct to protect itself.

If you know this, it will be much easier to decide on a way to approach it and what to do once you have it.

Ways To Soothe A Cat

Depending on the state the cat is in, you might need to apply different methods of helping it calm down. As previously mentioned, its emotional state can vary greatly and can also change very quickly, so always be wary of its behaviour and any signs of it changing.

Give It Time

Adapting to a new set of circumstances, new living space, new people and a completely new life is anything but easy. Depending on the severity of the trauma the cat might carry with it, the rehabilitation and adaptation can be shorter or longer.

The main thing you need to keep in mind is that you have to give your new cat as much time as it may need

Every cat is different, and some can take a couple of days, while for some it might take months to fully relax and get accustomed to its new life. It’s crucial to be patient.

Allow It To Relax

You need to provide the cat with a space in which it can hide and find peace in. As much as your intentions are good, being rescued is stressful to a cat. It doesn’t know that you are helping it and it’s very likely that it’s feeling more jeopardized than hopeful.

Because of this, the cat needs to feel some sort of comfort and security, to have a place which belongs only to the cat. Stray cats have gotten used to the uncertainty the streets bring, but like any living being, they need stability and a safe haven.

A quiet place would be ideal for a cat to be alone, wind down and take a breather. For this purpose, a bathroom might work best. This is a measure that should only be taken initially, upon bringing the cat home.

Buying your cat a den or a cat bed is a great idea because it will allow it to have its own space whilst still being with you.

Once the cat has initially calmed down, everything should be easier, although you should expect it to take a while before the cat has completely accepted its new life.

Be Calm

Cats can sense our energy and are prone to mirroring it. If your nerves are getting the best of you in this situation, the cat will probably feel it and it will only contribute to it feeling even more anxious.

So, prepare yourself first, keep your breathing steady and keep a positive but not overbearing attitude. Being too positive and excited can also have the opposite effect.

You’ll want to speak in a calm, low voice. Loud noises can only add to its frightened state, regardless of whether they’re reflecting positive or negative emotions.

The main thing a scared cat will want to sense from you is peace. If you exude that, it will reflect on the cat.

Encourage It

Once the cat has relaxed a little, you have a bit more room for action. You still need to build rapport with it and the cat still might be in an unstable emotional state.

The best thing to do here is to allow the cat to approach you first. This way, it will feel more in control of the situation, which will in turn make it feel more confident and ultimately more at peace.

If the cat is being apprehensive and unsure but is showing interest, try to encourage it with some food. This might happen after you’ve already spent some time together and the cat is starting to feel that it can trust you, but is still being careful.

Self Control

Getting a new pet is very exciting, but you mustn’t let your excitement lead you to making bad choices and jeopardizing progress.

A stray cat is always on high alert and its survival and self-preservation instincts are more pronounced than with pet cats. This means that they might misinterpret your well-intentioned move as threatening, which can have negative effects on the trust it has in you.

Here are some examples of what you should and shouldn’t do:

  • Try not to make any sudden movements towards it. Even though you might not even think about it, it can seem very threatening to the cat.
  • Do not follow your cat, whatever it has done (good or bad), do not do it. Sometimes, cats need alone time to rebalance.
  • If it’s hiding, let it be. Don’t force it to socialize, it can have the opposite effect.
  • Be careful with petting. They might not enjoy it and will perceive it as an attack on their personal space. Be careful not to misread its signs. Take your time and they will eventually accept your affection.
  • Train them with positive reinforcement. Every step counts, so rewarding even the smallest of improvements will go a long way.


Adopting a stray cat comes with no shortage of challenges. It’s important to adapt your behaviour to the situation and have all the necessary information in order to make the adaptation process as easy as possible. So, asking the question “How To Soothe A Stray Cat” is completely natural.

Hopefully, this article has all of the most important information you need. Here is an overview of everything we’ve covered.

Stray cats have probably experienced trauma and are definitely not used to living inside and sharing a living space with people. 

Their behaviour and their defensive mechanisms can manifest in many ways and they can sometimes be wrongfully interpreted as aggression. To avoid this, you need to look at the situation as a whole and not just the behaviour.

Soothing a cat is crucial in building a relationship further down the line, so don’t rush it. Let the cat lead the way and set the pace as it sees fit.

Always be calm and stable, cats sense our emotions and reflect them, so your anxiety can only add to the cat’s nerves.

Once you have established an initial truce, your cat should be the one to make the first move and approach you. If you see that it needs an incentive to do it, you can offer it some food.

Control your behaviour. Don’t let your emotions get the best of you. Expressing your excitement can have the opposite effect and only draw the cat further away from you. Be wary of your movements and reactions toward it, so that they aren’t misinterpreted.

Using positive reinforcement is key when training your cat. Punishment is a word you should eliminate from your vernacular when it comes to this.

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