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Would You Help a Sick Cat Who's Feral or Stray?

It was a challenge when one of my feral cats got pinkeye. Have you taken a feral to the vet?

 |  Feb 20th 2014  |   21 Contributions


Recently my cat, Momma Kitty, developed a cold in her left eye, otherwise known as conjunctivitis or pinkeye. It didn’t seem to bother her everyday activities. She slept the same amount, she ate the same amount, she socialized with the other cats and she even spent time outside sunning herself on the days we’ve had warmth and sunshine this winter. However, I felt concerned about her and wanted to help.

If she was a domesticated cat, it would be a little easier. I would pick her up, place her in a cat carrier and take her to our vet. However, she isn’t domesticated and wouldn’t allow anyone to pick her up and place her in a crate. She is feral or at least semi-feral. She will allow me to pet her while she’s eating and occasionally when she’s in her bed. But she won’t tolerate much more than that.

No way am I leaving my heated bed. (Photo by Tim Link)
 

On one occasion, when she was extremely matted, I did coax her into getting into a cat carrier. I placed her favorite pulled chicken inside the carrier with the door open. I did this for several days in a row prior to her visit to the vet. She was reluctant at first to enter, but she really wanted that chicken. After she entered, she ate and was free to go. I wanted her to get comfortable with the crate and not feel threatened.

After about four days of this routine, I stepped up my efforts. I stood beside the carrier while she entered for her chicken breakfast. Then, once she was inside, I quickly closed and secured the carrier’s door. I was hoping that she would tolerate being in the crate and remain calm. Instead, she hissed, banged the door with her paws and bounced her body all over the crate trying to get out. I covered the cat carrier with a towel that had her scent on it. That helped to settle her down a little.

I managed to get her to the vet, where they found it extremely challenging to get her to settle down long enough to get her shots, bathed and groomed. However, once she was sedated, everything went as planned. I allowed her to rest comfortably in the carrier the remainder of the day. The next morning, I opened the carrier’s door and she bolted out and ran to the woods in the back of our yard. She stayed there for three days and wouldn’t have anything to do with me for a while.

Since that adventure, neither Momma Kitty nor any of my other cats will step near the cat carrier or a humane cat trap (which is what I used when I took them to get spayed/neutered). If any of my feral cats see a cat carrier or humane cat trap being brought into the garage or placed outside in the driveway, they scatter like doves. They won’t return until the carrier or trap has been removed from sight.

Momma Kitty looking happy and healthy.

This time, when Momma Kitty had this cold in her eye, all I could do for her was monitor the situation and make sure that it didn’t get worse. I provided her a small, safe heater next to her favorite heated bed that we keep in the garage. I gave her Reiki energy healing every night. Outside of that, my hands were tied.

Fortunately, after a week of seeing her eye only partially open, the cold broke. Her eye watered for a couple of days and then was dry. The area around the eye is still a little pink, and she tends to close that eye in the sunshine. However, she seems to be on the road to recovery.

I have learned a lot from all cats over my lifetime. However, taking care of feral cats has opened my eyes to a whole new world.

What do you do when your feral cats get sick? Share your stories and tips in the comments. 

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Check out these other stories from Tim:

About Tim Link: All American guy, loves to rock out to Queen while consuming pizza and Pinot Noir, prefers to associate with open-minded people who love all critters, considered to be the literal voice for all animals -– author, writer, radio host, Reiki Master, Animal Communicator and consultant; visit him at www.wagging-tales.com.

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