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Adopting a Feral Cat

| November 5, 2012
Adopting a Feral Cat

Adopting a feral cat is not an easy task. You need to have time on your hands and be patient.

Rescuing a feral kitten isn’t exactly an everyday activity one might undertake, but after my unexpected experience in rescuing a seemingly harmless creature, I feel it my duty to impart wisdom to fellow cat lovers.

I found my feral kitten when I was on my way out with my boyfriend one Wednesday evening. I was waiting in the car and out of the corner of my eye, I saw a small furry creature jump off from the top of my boyfriend’s car. Being a cat lover, I naturally went to investigate. If I had only known then what I know now, this is what I would have done, and these are the steps I urge one to take to ensure minimal drama.

1. Quick reflexes are essential
A towel on hand is an important item to have in obtaining a wild kitten.
The kitten ran into the laundry room, underneath an old fridge. It was quite a mission getting her out! When we had finally cornered her and had endured many hisses, scratches and growls, I quickly wrapped her tightly into a towel, making sure she couldn’t escape.

2. Know of an emergency vet nearby your home
We decided to take her to an emergency vet to be checked out. The vet examined her and confirmed she was a feral kitten, probably not more than 6 weeks old.

3. Know what you are getting yourself into emotionally
We had to leave her overnight at the vet due to lack of homing facilities at either one of our houses. The vet told me that if, come the following morning, we had not collected the kitten by 12.00 noon, he would have to phone the SPCA or animal shelter to take the kitten off his hands. The likelihood of someone adopting an undomesticated kitten was slim to none, and if the kitten wasn’t adopted after 48 hours, they would be forced to euthanize her.

4. Be aware of Rabies
Seeing the scratches on my hand, the vet advised that I go for a tetanus shot and anti-biotic injection. He then gave me the dreaded news: about a month prior to my finding this kitten, a dog in a nearby area had died of rabies. It was possible that a stray cat had attacked the dog, giving it rabies. He did a spot test on the kitten for rabies, and it came back negative, but the tests are only 70% accurate. He told me that if I decided to keep the kitten, I would have to go on a course of rabies vaccine myself. Rabies is a fatal disease, and once diagnosed fatality is certain.

5. Understand that feral cats live and hunt in dirty place and are very susceptible to disease
The vet then proceeded to tell me further news that the kitten was flea ridden, tested positive for Chlamydia and had worms!
That day, when I was sitting at home after all my injections, scratches and bank slips, I decided to put it all in perspective: After doing all the calculations, I decided that there was no ways I was going to spend close to R4000.00 on a cat I would never see again! The next phone call was to the emergency vet telling them to keep my kitten – I was on my way to
collect her.

6. You can’t own a cat without giving it a name…
I could have imported a Himalayan Persian for that amount. Instead, I adopted a Chlamydia-prone, wormy, flea-infested feral kitten. She is still alive; she doesn’t have rabies; she has the most expressive personality in a cat I have ever come across – and I named her Olive.

7. Prepare, persist and play
When I eventually prepared a room for her, it was disappointing to say the least. She stayed in a corner and hissed, growled and spat at me every time I went near her. After about a week of trying to interact with her, she eventually allowed me to pick her up, and when I did, she purred surprisingly loudly! The progression continued and she is now, almost, a domesticated cat!

Adopting a feral cat is not an easy task. You need to have time on your hands and be patient. Be careful what food you initially feed your feral kitten and be prepared to spend that extra cash on the scientifically formulated foods bought in a veterinary practice. It is safe to say that a feral should, without a doubt, be rescued if it is injured or hurt. Taming a feral cat is one of the most rewarding experiences one can go through.

Copyright & Credit:
Article by
Christie-Anne Baker
Article Source: ALL ABOUT CATS IN SOUTH AFRICA is a glossy, bi-monthly quality magazine focused on all things feline. Order the latest issue or subscribe online at
To read the rest of the articles in the From Aug/Sept 2010 issue order your copy from our previous issues page and have it posted to you…

Photo copyright and courtesy: Red~Star


Category: Blog

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