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Have feral or outdoor cats tested

Sept. 22, 2012 at 10 p.m.


This column is usually urging anyone feeding a feral cat or a cat that lives outdoors but is tamed, to have the cat spayed or neutered.

One more thing it would be very wise to do before spaying or neutering the cat is to have it tested by a veterinarian to determine if the cat has a deadly, transmittable disease such as feline leukemia, or FIV, feline immunoviral disease. Both of these diseases are deadly to cats and are transmitted through fighting, biting and licking.

A test for the two diseases mentioned costs $37.50 and includes a heartworm test.

In previous years, there was no test for cat heartworm disease, and no treatment. That has changed; it can be diagnosed and treated. Probably, not every person who has a cat knows about the test and treatment for heartworms. Sometimes, veterinarians may not mention it or suggest it. When you take your cat to the vet, have a list of questions handy so everything you need to ask and have explained by the cat's doctor won't slip your mind.

Recently, I have been feeding a colony of feral cats that come to my house at least twice a day for food and water. The mother cat had a large, thin, male cat she usually came with to be fed. There was a trap on the patio and one day he was caught in it. He was taken to the veterinarian's office and was found to be positive for FIV, which was no real surprise as he ate very well, but was extremely thin.

As horrible as it was, he was euthanized and buried on the property. The female cat which had already had two litters was expecting yet another litter. She was careful to avoid the trap. But one day I looked outside and there she was, trapped. The vet called later with the devastating news that she was indeed positive and would have to be put down in order not to spread it to her kittens or any cats with which she came in contact.

One can only imagine the pain and guilt I felt with such a terrible decision. She was brought home and buried next to the large black male she was so fond of.

Then, the trap was left baited and set for whichever kittens came along. Surely enough, a female was trapped and taken to the veterinarian's office. I felt pretty sure she would be positive as well. Surprisingly, she was negative and has now been spayed. No kitties for her. That's a very good thing.

At least one thing turned out right.

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