Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV)’s medical issues fact sheet concerning homeless cats is intended to provide a basic overview of feral cat medical issues.
This fact sheet is intended to provide a basic overview of feral cat medical issues. It should not be used to diagnose an animal, nor is it intended to provide veterinary advice. For more information on these issues, or if your cat is injured or sick, please consult a veterinarian.
Feral cats do not experience significantly more or worse medical issues than house cats. In fact, feral cats may actually be healthier as a population than domestic pet cats. This is because feral kittens will develop natural immunity to a variety of illnesses. Nonetheless, prevention and early treatment of medical problems play an important role in helping all cats to live long, healthy lives. Some people believe that feral cats lead "short, miserable lives" and that TNR programs should not be implemented for this reason. We disagree. As almost any caregiver can attest, feral cats that are cared for in managed colonies frequently live long, healthy lives. We believe that all animals deserve compassion and protection for their entire lives - no matter how long that might be.
Spaying/neutering improves a cat's health and behavior and eliminates the risk of certain types of cancer. Feed the cats regularly (dry food is important for dental health) and provide fresh water. Keep dishes clean.
If you notice anything unusual such as eye discharge, limping, or sudden unexplained weight loss, take the cat to a veterinarian. Be sure to call first as not all veterinarians are able to see feral cats. If your regular veterinarian does not treat feral cats, call other caregivers or feral cat organizations for referrals.
Depending on the nature of the illness or injury, the cat may stay in the hospital, return home for further treatment, or may be returned directly to his habitat. If you will be treating the feral cat at home, you should have a large cage, such as a dog kennel or crate, in which to confine him. Provide a small litter box and plastic food or water dishes. Follow your veterinarian's instructions for administering medication. Even if treatment is lengthy, a cat can be returned to her colony once she has recovered.
Feral cats may be harder to treat than most pet cats, but do not be discouraged from seeking veterinary care. Long-lasting injections, liquid medications, crushed pills, and other methods are available to make treatment as easy as possible. And the minor stress of confinement and treatment is well worth it-remember, you are helping to save a life!
Please call 408-262-2133 x108 for currently offered programs through Humane Society Silicon Valley (HSSV).