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Why Do Cats Follow Strangers? 4 Reasons & What to Do If a Kitty Follows You

Nicole Cosgrove Profile Picture

By Nicole Cosgrove

a woman petting a street cat

Have you ever turned around and noticed that a cat has been following you for some time? If so, you’re not alone. Many people report that random cats will follow them around, even though they’re complete strangers to the cat.

Why is this? The fact that any animal would follow a stranger is unique, especially animals as independent and introverted as cats. The main reason cats follow strangers is curiosity! Learn about the four possible reasons for this behavior below.

Top 4 Reasons Cats Follow Strangers:

1. They Are Curious Animals

The number one reason that cats follow strangers is that they are curious animals. Cats are highly intelligent, and they are impressive predators. Between these two facts, cats are curious and love following other creatures.

If a cat is following you, it is likely curious about you or where you are going. Perhaps, the cat even smells something on you that it is curious about. If you smell good, the cat may follow you to see if you lead them any food.

It doesn’t really matter why the cat is curious about you. What matters is that it is curious, and it will follow you to figure out more about your behavior, smell, and location.

two kids petting a cat on the street
Image Credit: Luidmila Kot, Pixabay

2. They Love People

Even though cats are sometimes stereotyped as introverted and completely independent, some cats actually love people. This is especially true of cats that are socialized from an early age and have no bad experiences with people.

Depending on where you live, the cat may be accustomed to people and like getting their attention. So, the cat will follow you around to see what you are doing and try to get pets in exchange.

This often happens for pet cats that are sometimes outdoors. Cats that are welcomed in human homes are not afraid of humans. Consequently, these cats will follow strangers because they know that humans will pet and feed them.

3. Strangers Don’t Force Anything

Have you ever noticed how cats tend to flock to individuals who don’t like them and avoid cat people? There’s a very logical reason for this. Strangers who are not approaching the cat don’t force the cat to do anything it doesn’t want to.

Whenever strangers aren’t forcing anything, the cat does not feel stressed or pressured. Instead, they can approach the stranger on their own terms in order to incite curiosity or even to get to know the person.

So, cats will sometimes follow strangers because they don’t feel pressured. Without this pressure, the cat can investigate humans without feeling scared or stressed in the process.

Petting a ginger cat outside
Image Credit: dashkabudich, Pixabay

4. Cats Know How to Beg

Cats are very intelligent. Even cats that have never lived with humans know that they can get food from people. For this reason, some cats will follow humans as a form of begging.

If you smell like food or are holding food in your hand when you notice a cat following or approaching you, it likely wants the food. If the cat isn’t begging outright, it is waiting for you to drop food so that it can pick up the crumbs.

What to Do if a Cat Follows You

If you look back and notice a cat is following you, try to keep an eye on that cat and pay attention to how long it follows in your footsteps. Oftentimes, cats that follow people are pet cats and aren’t afraid of humans as a result.

In the case that the cat only follows you for a short distance, the cat is likely not lost. Instead, it is just being curious and wandering around its neighborhood. On the other hand, the cat is likely lost if it looks dirty and follows you for a long distance.

If the cat seems like it was a pet and is now lost, try to capture the cat if you can. Not all cats will allow you to catch them, but many lost pets will. If you can get the cat, place it in a quiet, secure place, such as in a cat carrier or in a bedroom.

cat walking with the owner
Image By: Piqsels

If you can’t catch the cat, call the authorities for this job. Even if you do catch them, find out if there are any missing cat reports. The authorities could also help you check for an ID or get the cat’s microchip scanned.

You might not be able to find any ID or contact information. In that case, you can hold the cat yourself and post flyers. You can even report missing cats on Craigslist. If you cannot keep the cat in your home, take it to the animal shelter instead.


Although it may seem strange to see a cat following you, it’s actually more common than you may think. Cats are curious, which means they may follow you around just out of curiosity. In other cases, cats may love people and beg for food, especially from strangers who aren’t forcing anything from the cat.

Even though it isn’t weird for a cat to follow you, pay close attention to the cat. If it seems lost, try to get the cat in contact with its owners so that it is safe and off the streets once again.

Featured Image Credit: Piqsels

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