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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sick Feral Kittens

Here's a question from Patti....

Back in August I spotted a tiny kitten lounging on my driveway. I felt sorry for it because of the heat and decided to give it water and a bit of food. (I know not to, but it was a kitten!) Anyway I set it out there, the kitten ran off, then I saw what turned out to be mama cat and another kitten. I opted to continue feeding all three of them. Mama seemed to bail after about a month or so. It was getting colder outside, so I fashioned an old cat carrier into a shelter with a blanket. They use it too. So here is the problem. The kittens both have been sneezing and the smallest one is really congested. They are so skittish, so I can't grab them up to take them to the vet. I talk to them to try to put them at ease. They will allow me to play with them using a toy I rigged up on a piece of yarn, as long as the railing around my front porch is between us.| Do you know of a way that I personally can capture them? Is there a humane device I can rent, or do I have to get animal control involved?

First of all, I never recommend feeding or taking care of strays. I know it pulls at your heart strings, but feeding them encourages them to come around and can lead to a small population of cats at your place.  Stray cats have a high incidence of leukemia and feline AIDS and when they come together there is an increased risk of fighting.  Depending on where you live, food outside can also encourage raccoons, skunks or other wild animals, some of which can carry rabies.  Though rare in cats, rabies can happen in them and you certainly don't want to be exposed to that.

Now all of that being said, there is something that you can do. I don't know that you can rent them, but there are humane traps that capture animals alive and safely.  You should be able to get them at a home supply place like Lowes or Home Depot, as well as possibly Tractor Supply or garden centers.  You put food in the back and when they go inside the door closes, trapping them.  Unfortunately, you may catch something besides the kittens, so be aware of that.  If that doesn't work you may have to call animal control.

When the kittens are taken in, have them tested for feline leukemia and AIDS.  If they are positive, their chances of getting better are very low, and you wouldn't want to release them back into the wild as they could spread the disease.  As hard as it may seem, the best thing to do in these cases is euthanize them.

I hope this helps.  Good luck!