Feral cats are a neighborhood staple throughout much of the country, and there are certain situations that these cats may need to see a vet.
If you need to take a feral cat to the vet, you need to plan ahead and take appropriate precautions. Not all vets will deal with the feral cats. Call them and make an inquiry, double-checking if the cat will be fine in a regular carrier, or it will need to be placed in a cage trap. Place the cat in a carrier/trap, covered with a dark blanket, and take the cat in for an arranged appointment.
The rest of this article will go over different things you should consider when taking a feral cat to the vet. Continue reading to ensure you cover all aspects of taking a feral cat to the vet.
Should You Take a Feral Cat to The Vet?
There are typically three reasons that you should take a feral cat to the vet.
Most common are those taking part in a trap-neuter-return program.
Another major reason is when the feral cat requires necessary veterinary care.
Finally, if you are able to capture kittens that are young enough or befriend a cat into being semi-feral, you may wish to take them to the vet.
If your feral kitty has a notched ear, it is likely that they are already fixed, and you do not need to try to catch them for this program.
The Trap-Neuter-Release program involves trapping feral cats, neutering them, and then returning them to the same location.
This reduces aggression, especially among males. This also maintains the current hierarchy of the feral cat population. Finally, this reduces the number of additional cats as they can no longer breed.
Necessary Veterinary Care
Feral cats are exposed to different hazards, and they may be injured in such a way that veterinary care is necessary.
Sometimes cat fights can be so aggressive that they would benefit from vet care and antibiotics. Sometimes they are hit by a car and a vet is needed to assess the damage and potentially humanely euthanize them.
Sometimes the cat has obvious parasites that a vet may need to treat.
Kittens and Semi-Ferals
12 weeks is generally considered the magical age between feral and non-feral. If you can catch a kitten before 12 weeks of age, there is a good chance they can be tamed.
Additionally, feral cats can become semi-feral and warm up those they recognize. In this case, a trip to the vet may be beneficial for appropriate preventatives and treatments.
Related Post: When Is It Too Late To Tame A Feral Cat/Kitten?
How to Get a Feral Cat to Go to The Vet?
Generally speaking, there are two ways to effectively get a feral cat to the vet. Truly wild and feral cats may need a traditional, humane cat trap.
Those that you have gained trust with or that you need a specific cat in a short time frame can be coaxed or placed into a hard-sided, plastic carrier.
Humane Animal Trap
For feral cats that don’t trust you or to catch any cats in a feral cat community, the humane animal trap is a good idea. These traps are typically metal cages with a trigger plate.
Oftentimes you can obtain them for a deposit you get back upon return from your city’s Animal Care and Control.
You may want to use a large towel or blankets to make the cage dark and to help calm the cat once caught.
Hard-Sided, Plastic Carrier
For a more trusting cat or to capture a particular cat, a hard-sided carrier is a good option. Oftentimes, feral cats can be enticed inside with food, in particular canned cat food or catnip.
If you are in a pinch, you can transfer the cat in yourself by wrapping them in a blanket.
Related Post: 8 Simple Ways To Get A Feral Cat Into A Carrier Safely
Will a Vet Treat a Feral Cat?
Not all vets will see feral cats. Consider what the feral cat needs and then plan accordingly. Many rescues work with certain vets for trap-neuter-release cats.
Some rescues will trap them themselves and then reintroduce them to the original location. Often there is a nominal fee for a cat to make it possible.
Additionally, some Animal Care and Control offer the trap-neuter-release program as well. Be sure to investigate your particular city or area.
If it is a semi-feral cat that needs more routine vet care, reach out to vets in your area and ask them if they will treat a feral cat.
There is more risk involved for them to safely see a feral cat, and they may have certain protocols that you need to follow.
If it is a severely injured cat, you can reach out to different vets. Sometimes rescues and fosters will help with this, even if the cat is feral.
Additionally, if you reach out to these rescues or others online, donations are sometimes given to the vet for treatment, such as if a feral cat was attacked severely or hit by a car.
How Does a Vet Handle a Feral Cat?
In order to reduce stress, veterinarians will recommend that you cover the carrier or trap with a dark cloth to make them feel safe or hidden.
Vets will likely label the carrier so all who come in contact are aware that the cat is not a typical house cat. This message can be as simple as “this cat bites, do not approach”.
For actual handling, clinic staff will wear padded gloves and handle cats that are anesthetized. If it must be moved without anesthesia, a net can be used to maintain safety.
Typically, the vet will look for tattoos or microchips, in case the cat is an owned cat. A tip will also be cut in the tip of the ear, to show others that the cat has already been neutered and is a feral, community cat.
Related Post: How To Safely Sedate A Feral Cat At Home?(Natural Ways)
How Much Does it Cost?
Cost varies depending on the individual vet, treatment needed, and location. Usually, you will be looking at a bill of around $50-$200.
Urban areas tend to cost more, although there may be more rescues or programs in place to help with the cost.
Some vets offer payment plans as well. You should shop around to see what aid is available and who is experienced with feral cats.
By having read this article, you now have several things to consider when it comes to taking a feral cat to the vet.
There are many reasons to take a feral cat to the vet and many ways for you to go about getting the appropriate care for your feral cat.
My name is Katie, and I have had different pets at home for as long as I can remember. While I can definitely say I love all animals in general, my heart belongs to cats and dogs. I know you are supposed to choose one or the other, but I could never really decide. I’ve also owned hamsters and fish when I was a kid, and they filled my childhood with very delightful memories.