Sick or Injured Cats

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Carrying out Trap-Neuter-Return (TNR) improves community cats’ lives, but there might be times when you have to help a kitty beyond getting him neutered. You might come across a community cat who looks sick or injured and requires medical attention, and in some cases he may need immediate medical attention. Remember, community cats are healthy, and look it! This information is designed to guide you when you find a cat who needs more than TNR. It’s important for you to have an action plan in place to provide the best care and make the right decisions to save the life of any sick or injured feline.

Whether it’s a friendly stray cat or a cat who is not socialized to people, there are steps you should take to properly prepare before you begin trapping so that you are ready to spring into action if you find a kitty in need of medical assistance:

  • Find a full-service veterinary clinic or hospital. Get to know the veterinarians and animal hospitals in your area, especially those familiar with caring for community cats. If you already have a trusted veterinarian and veterinary team, direct him or her to our information for veterinarians on helping community cats. It’s important to let a veterinarian know ahead of time that you might bring in sick or injured cats for treatment. The veterinarian should be knowledgeable about TNR and community cats and understand that the cats will need to be returned back to their original outdoor home once they recover from treatment. You can also search for feral-friendly and low-cost veterinarians near you through our Feral Friends Network.
  • Ask about the hospital and veterinarian’s euthanasia policy. Alley Cat Allies’ advocates that an animal should only be euthanized for terminal illness or an untreatable injury. Unfortunately, some veterinarians who haven’t been trained to work with community cats believe in “euthanizing” (i.e. killing) community cats rather than treating them. Be sure the best decisions will be made for cats by asking questions and being aware of your veterinarian’s community cat policies.
  • Consider options for long-term care. Based on the severity of illness or injury, a cat might need to be placed in a long-term holding area for recovery. Whether it’s in your home or the veterinary clinic, plan for this beforehand so you don’t have to scramble at the last minute. And it’s always wise to plan ahead for how you’ll pay for upcoming veterinary bills. Use our tips on developing resources for cat care to help create an emergency medical fund or for ideas on how to negotiate a payment plan with your veterinarian.
  • Trapping sick or injured cats. Our guide on hard to trap cats has a section on tips for safely trapping sick or injured kitties. One of the best methods is using a Drop Trap, which gives you more control over when the trap is sprung so you can safely enclose the sick or injured cat inside.

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