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Cat Training and Behavior (Domestic and Feral)/Stray cat asking for human attention?


Last week when I was walking to the bus stop for work, I saw an adult black and white cat crouching in front of the bank. I looked at him (not sure so I'll just assume it's a boy), he noticed me, and then he began meowing repeatedly and walked a bit, stopped, looked back at me and meowed, walked, and repeated. So basically he wanted me to follow him, which was kind of strange behavior for stray cats where I live; they mostly run away because people in my country generally detest cats. I followed him into a nearby alleyway which was a parking lot building. He crept under a ramp which was hallow and filled with random junk, and looked back and kept meowing. I wondered if it was a mother cat trying to lead me to her kittens, but I only saw a pile of junk. I didn't have any food to give him and had to go to work, so I just left him there. After that I left food (canned cat food on a newspaper) for the cat under the ramp three times after work; I never saw the cat eating but the food was gone so he presumably ate it, but later I noticed that some of the junk was moved around, so I was worried that the building manager might be watching and stopped putting food out there. The cat still shows up near the bus stop, except he remains under a parked car in front of the bank, never comes out. He still meows continuously, but moved to the other side of the car when I threw (accidentally, didn't mean to startle him) him some dried cat food and didn't appear to be eating it. I did have two house cats back in my home town so I'm somewhat familiar with cats, but I don't know what this one wants or what I can do for it. Since the bus stop has a lot of cars coming and going I'm worried he'll get hurt, and it's getting colder, I am thinking of letting him stay or at least until somebody wants to adopt him. But why does a cat keep crying, apparently wanting attention, under a car where people can't reach him to help?

It sounds like a recently abandoned cat that obviously has no clue what to do as you are correct and this behavior isn't common for a stray/feral cat. I would recommend acquiring a humane live trap and give that a shot or try to set aside some time and see if he/she will come to you. Or you can always contact the local animal shelter/humane society for assistance. You can always put up "found cat" signs around in the hopes that he's just lost.

Good Luck and let me know if you need anything else.  

Cat Training and Behavior (Domestic and Feral)

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Melissa Burg, RVT/Behavior Consultant


I have experience dealing with different cat behavior signs, including separation anxiety, possible aggression and the difference between fear aggression and actual aggression, this would include possible feral cats. I also am familiar with the several different approaches to introducing a new cat to the environment as well as how each cat or cat and dog and live comfortable and dealing with litter box issues and help you decide if the problem is medical or behavioral.


My experience began with my own cats and escalated while working with area animal shelters for the past 10 years. I was able to watch and learn how the cats would react to different stimulus and each other. My experience grew during college and became able to distinguish between medical and behavior issues.

"Pawfect Pets," a weekly column in my local newspaper with pet health and behavior and training tips.

I graduated with an Associate's in Veterinary Technology in 2009 and became RVT in the state of Iowa in 2012 with a focus on Behavior.

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