Advice for how to care for a feral cat in illness and old age? - Cat Forum : Cat Discussion Forums
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post #1 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-21-2013, 12:57 PM Thread Starter
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Advice for how to care for a feral cat in illness and old age?

Hi. I could use some advice. I have 3 cats who were born feral, all from the same litter. They are 11.5 years old now. They lived outdoors for the first 2 years, but have been living indoors since then. Although they're comfortable around me, they are still feral, as they weren't properly socialized as kittens. They hide from strangers and it's very difficult to take them to the vet. Fortunately, there haven't been any apparent health problems until now.

I found two tiny lumps, or papules, on one of my cats. I can't be sure that those lumps haven't been there awhile, but I only recently found them. One is on top of her left paw, and one is at the base of the back of her right ear. The lumps look kind of like bloated ticks, but they aren't ticks. They're not blisters either, and they aren't bleeding or discolored. They are hairless and kind of look like warts. I've attached a photo of the lump on her paw.

My cats were being cared for by my father during the last 4 years since I was overseas. The cat with the lumps grew obese and is somewhat lethargic now.

I love this cat so much and I know I should take her to the vet. I used to be able to trap her, but she is an incredibly smart cat, and none of the tricks I've used in the past will work twice. She also fights when she is picked up. Last time she was at the vet's office, many years ago, she ran amok in the exam room when the vet tech tried to grab her. I never took her back there again.

Today I had an appointment at a Long Island clinic that specializes in caring for ferals, but I had to cancel because I wasn't able to trap my cat. Now I'm considering using a vet who makes house calls, but my cat is still going to try to run and hide if she is approached by the vet and she'll still need to be trapped in order to have a biopsy done. So I'm not sure if that's the best solution.

I guess what I'm trying to ask is, how do you provide long-term medical care for your feral cats if they are ill and how can I provide my cat with the best quality of life as she gets older? Taking her to the vet is so traumatic, for both of us, because it stresses her out and it stresses me out to have to trap her and put her through that. On the other hand, if she is really ill, and if the vet says she needs long-term medical treatment and follow-up care, I know that's not going to be feasible because of the difficulty of trapping her again and again. And even if it was possible, it would put a lot of stress on myself and my cat and I can hardly bear the thought of it. But if I can't do it, then am I dooming my cat to suffer more than she would if she had to undergo treatment and be constantly trapped and handled by strangers?

Like I said, I know that I really need to have a vet examine my cat, but I think I'm just too weak-kneed right now at the thought of putting my cat through the stress to take the right course of action. Can someone help talk some sense into me please? Thanks for any help and advice.
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post #2 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-21-2013, 01:35 PM
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It's not uncommon for older cats (and dogs) to develop lipomas, which are benign fatty tumors beneath the skin's surface. My eldest cat has one behind the base of his ear. Lipomas are soft to the touch, typically movable, and are generally painless, unless located in an area where they rub or impede movement, such as between the cat's legs. Most small lipomas that I've seen are not hairless, but I'm hardly a vet, which is, unfortunately, the crux of the matter: Only your vet can determine if there's something serious going on with your kitty, which would probably require a biopsy.

The mobile vet may be your best option in this case, though you'll have to confirm with them that they are able to perform a biopsy ahead of time, as not all mobile vets are able to provide complete veterinary services. If you can corrale the cat into a bathroom a number of hours prior to the vet's arrival, trapping may not be necessary; although you will still have to catch the cat once the vet arrives, the vet should be able to, at least, examine the cat on the bathroom counter. Remove any items from shelves or surfaces in the bathroom and have a towel on hand to quickly wrap the cat in, so you can grab her without getting scratched to pieces. It sounds like you have plenty of experience, but scruffing the cat while holding her in the towel will allow you to control her head, in case she tries to bite.

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post #3 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-21-2013, 03:06 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks so much for your reply. It's reassuring to know this is doable. I certainly hope it's a lipoma or something else benign.

When I called the vet who makes house calls a few days ago, she also recommended that I trap the cat in the bathroom. I guess it's worth a try.

Your suggestion about wrapping my cat in a towel gave me an idea. What if I place my cat in a cat harness ahead of time? Would that give me better control of her and allow me to limit her movements safely?
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post #4 of 4 (permalink) Old 08-25-2013, 12:19 PM
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Were you able to get your cat seen by a vet? just wondering how it went.
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