I think this is a very good question. What if you see an injured feral cat and you want to help by taking her to a veterinarian? True feral cats are essentially wild. They are totally unsocialised. This means they aren’t domesticated which in turn means that they are fearful of people. They’re going to scratch and be incredibly difficult to handle. You’re going to get harmed if you try and handle a true feral cat without protection and good planning and forethought.
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You also have to get your feral cat into a cat carrier and then take a bewildered and frightened creature in your car to a veterinarian. The whole thing is fraught with great difficulty. I don’t think that there is an easy answer.
It is worth recognising, though, that all over America and other countries volunteers operate TNR programs. In these programs they trap feral cats before taking them to a veterinarian for the spaying and neutering operation. So, it’s done all over the place very successfully.
That might answer the question but I think the question has been asked by a person who is not involved in TNR. And they have probably got the cat in their home and therefore the cat is not that unsocialised. But when you put a semi-domesticated feral cat into a cat carrier they might go berserk which would be distressing.
All I can suggest is that you use a cat carrier which is soft rather than metallic or rigid plastic. If it is made of a soft fabric, it is unlikely that they’ll harm themselves when they jump around inside the carrier trying to get out by head-butting it.
And you might place catnip inside the carrier and you might also spray inside the carrier with a pheromone spray such as Feliway. These two chemicals are mind altering. They may calm the cat. Feliway is known to be pretty successful in calming cats. Catnip is purely mind altering but it makes cats feel better and in this instance it may be distracting enough to prevent the cat from being impossible to handle and behaving in a crazy way.
Once you get to the veterinarian, they have the equipment such as gloves and the tranquillising drugs to handle true feral cats. They can check out the cat and diagnose any problems in the usual way. They must have policies and methods to deal with unsocialised cats because they deal with wildlife as well.
I must say it is not something I would like to get involved with because a true feral cat could really be very difficult. But if you find a feral cat on the street and you want to help perhaps the best course of action is to try and locate a local group of volunteers operating TNR and get them to trap the cat.
That might not be possible. I know that in America there are quite a large number of TNR groups managing feral cat colonies. In the UK, I don’t know of any and I have a strong feeling that TNR is much less commonly practised in the UK and in countries other than America where they lead the way on this method of managing feral cat colonies.
I suppose, in the UK you might call the RSPCA who could take over the job of rescuing the cat and take the cat to a vet for you. However, I wouldn’t expect miracles from the RSPCA. Personally, I don’t have any confidence in them. I would doubt that they’d come to your assistance.
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