Caring for Feral Cats with FeLV and FIV

by Margaret McCann
(Blackpool, Lancs, England)

Some of you will be horrified by my account of how things are with me, some of you may be sympathetic. Five years ago we lived in a tower block/apartment on the sixth floor. We had three cats of our own, when I say ‘of our own’ I mean cats that had been chosen by us to keep as pets. We now live in a ground floor flat/apartment where we can have our back door open most of the year. After a few weeks, hungry, furry little faces began to appear on the back step, then nipping in and devouring our own cat’s food quickly or grabbing a mouthful and running off.

Our first feral we called ‘Sheddie’ because when it got to November he started to camp out in the shed, my Husband had cut a hole in the door for any strays to get out of the cold. Sheddie eventually moved into the house (flat) only to die four weeks later. We were very uneducated about FeLV and FiLV and all the other horrible diseases that cats can die of. Our (and his) comfort was that he didn’t die alone under a bush or something worse in the pouring rain.

Sheddie was only ill for four days when he passed. He was a young cat. FeLV and FiLV are rampant in Blackpool where we live. We will not turn a cat away if he/she comes to our door in spite of these feline illnesses. This area is rife with these illnesses and I doubt whether there is a cat without them unless they are house cats, but who knows if even they are safe.

We have homed over twentyfive stray cats in these past five years. Most of them I’d say have died of FiLV and FeLV, some have died within days and others that we have felt were suffering longer than they should we have had put to sleep. I am disabled, we are on benefits/welfare and can’t afford blood tests and fees for Veterinarians.

Useful links
Anxiety - reduce it
FULL Maine Coon guide - lots of pages
Children and cats - important

What I do know is that any cat that passes away with us is warm, fed and loved. Our original three are still with us, Bianca 17, Eric 13 and Tiger 8. We have 9 healthy cats living with us now and 12 buried in our back garden.

Thoughts please. NO VETS.

Thank you. Margaret.x.

Comments for
Caring for Feral Cats with FeLV and FIV

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Dec 28, 2011 good on you
by: edina

hi , well done you, i’ve brought up a feral cat , he was 1wk. old. I feed him from an eye drop, then a babies bottle , then Weetabix, now he’s 8mths. old. Pudding , that’s his name, was born in Sheerwood forest where we worked at the time. We are now back home in Blackpool, but in march we are all off to Keswick (we are caravan wardens ) Pudding will be coming with us of course, along with our 2 dogs, keep up your good work, I need to get Pudding DONE ! do you know of a good cheap vet ? good luck, Happy New Yesr xxx
my email…. ed*******@gm***.com

Oct 15, 2009 sad
by: Anonymous

my grampa has so many feral cats its not funny i have one that will sometimes let me pet it it is still a kitten and it died today for no reason while i was in a differnet town

Jul 22, 2009 ps
by: Ruth

I forgot to say Gillie sounds a lovely dog.
X for him

Jul 22, 2009 Take no notice
by: Ruth

Margaret take no notice of anyone criticising you,just keep on doing what you can, and I tell you it’s a whole lot more than some people do. The ones who say ‘you should do this’ or ‘you should do that’ are usually the ones who don’t lift a finger to help people or animals !

Take care

Jul 22, 2009 Thank you all.
by: Margaret McCann

I would like to thank you, Michael, Ruth and Kathy for your kind comments. Sorry Ruth, when I said no vets I should have phrased it better and said that I didn’t want any critical comments from vets, I’ve already been told off by them, especially by the PDSA. (peoples dispensary for sick animals) (
for our international friends).

But what can we do, they didn’t ask to get ill and I couldn’t sleep nights thinking of them out in all kinds of weather.We have all our little orphans spayed and neutered but to be honest once they come to live in they don’t seem to be interested in going out much.

We also have a dog (Gillie) who is 12/13 and he is just wonderful with his feline family.
Take care all.


Jul 22, 2009 Feral cats
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

Hi Kathy, it’s heart-aching working with ferals, I did it for Cats Protection and seeing the poor cats panicking in the trap cage was really awful.
We were lucky we had a vets surgery who would take the cats in as and when we trapped them,neuter them straight away,then phone us to collect and take them back where they came from.It made it the least traumatic for the cats as was possible.There was no money to deworm and deflea as the money we fundraised didn’t stretch to that but at least the cats couldn’t breed any more kittens to face a life of hardship.
Not sure I like the thought of fleabaths,most of us don’t use them here although I suppose it’s cheaper than thr drop on neck medication if there are a number of cats to deflea.It doesn’t sound good that a feral is bathed as they have thicker coats underneath due to living outside.Too many people in the USA bath their cats,it strips the fur of the natural oils, cats weren’t meant to be bathed.
You are doing great work, I do admire you paying for all this yourself !

Jul 21, 2009 YOUR GREAT

i commend you for anything you do to help these poor feral cats in this cruel world people are so uncaring and i too find out that some vets are all about the money not all but some are caring i too care for some feral cats some are so wild you cant even get any where near them we have a spay and stay program in my area.

i’m currently going to get one female fixed that just got rid or 4 kitties (landlord found them homes) but some are so wild i can’t put them through the stress of even being in a trap they wanted me to trap all of them so they could check them out but i just don’t see putting them even through that even though it would help them spay and stay is a great program for a low fee you get shots worming, flea bath, and spay or neuter and then you return them back to the wild which is the only life some of them know

Jul 21, 2009 Keep up the good work
by: Ruth aka Kattaddorra

I admire you very much for what you do for so many cats.You say you can’t afford vets and blood tests etc and sadly that’s what most things are all about today.But expensive tests and treatments are frightening to cats and may only prolong their lives a short while and I do think quality of life counts more than quantity of life.

I’m a retired vet nurse (hope that’s OK with you,me having my say)and with the vets I worked for it was about the animal, not the owner.We did what was best for the animal, but I’m afraid nowadays it’s about keeping them alive, no matter what they have to go through to stay alive,
really just the same as terminally ill people who would choose to go, if they could.

We can each only do our best and I think you are doing very good work and what you can manage to do, within your means !

Jul 21, 2009 My thoughts
by: Michael (PoC Admin)

Thanks very much for sharing. It is a very enlightening article. I changed the title because Google finds things better with the words “feral” and “cat” in it!

Your article is firstly uplifting in the way you care and do all you can to help very sick unwanted cats – fantastic. It is sad too. Sad to think of the miserable, depressed and uncomfortable lives these cats live until they meet you.

Note: sources for news articles are carefully selected but the news is often not independently verified.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 74-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare. If you want to read more click here.

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