When attempting to bond with a cat that is skittish or afraid, put him in a small area, and allow him to approach at his own pace. Treats and toys are often well received. In general, younger kittens and older cats that have been socialized are more receptive to attention.
When approaching a feral or antisocial cat, take things slowly, suggests WebMD. Cats are usually resistant to change and are easily stressed. Sit on the ground, avoid making direct eye contact, do not make sudden movements, and speak in a calm, low voice.
It can take a long time to bond with a cat, but one of the best ways to teach the cat to associate humans with comfort is to feed it. Do not leave food out in the room; instead, bring it to the cat, and offer treats or meals nearby, slowly moving the food bowl closer over time. Never speak in a raised voice or physically punish a cat because this teaches it to fear humans and can lead to aggressive behavior over time.
Complicating the process is each cat's individual preferences. While some cats might like to curl up on laps, others prefer to play and be active. Despite being friendly, some cats prefer to sit nearby but abstain from physical contact, while others prefer to make overtures from across the room.