Rescuing Feral Cats: What You Need to Know Part 1

There is nothing nobler and more rewarding than rescuing feral cats, but there are risks involved and you need to know those risks as well as the rewards before becoming a feral cat rescue person.

There is nothing nobler than rescuing feral cats, but it is not something everyone is equipped to do. A real close friend of mine, who has been doing feral cat rescue for years, asked me to write this series of articles. Too many people start without understanding the risks involved or the commitment that they are making to the cats they rescue. Before one can decide whether they are willing to take the risks involved that have to know what those risks are, so I am going to start by touching on some medical issues. Feral cats can offer medical threats to humans and to other animals. You need to know what they are and be prepared to accept them.


In this, the first part of the series, I am going to concentrate on zoonosis, which are diseases that feral cats can pass on to humans. I want to begin by stating that I am neither a veterinarian nor a medical doctor, the information that I am passing on here has been gleaned from reading and from talking with veterinarians and medical doctors. I have taken every precaution to make sure this information is correct, but always check with your veterinarian and medical practitioner if you have any doubts or questions. Neither is the list of zoonosis that I delineated below all inclusive; they are just the most common ones that you may encounter during feral cat rescue.

Zoonosis includes

  • Internal parasites e.g., roundworm and hookworm,
  • External parasites e.g., fleas and ticks, which can transmit Lyme disease and Rocky Mountain spotted fever to humans.
  • Fungal disease i.e., ringworm,
  • Viral diseases e.g., rabies and encephalitis.

An excellent place to begin learning about these diseases is the “Zoonotic Diseases in Cats and Dogs” fact sheet. You can find more information on zoonotic diseases can be found on the CDC web site.

If you have not been vaccinated against rabies, you positively need to get vaccinated before becoming involved with any kind of animal rescue. As the adage goes, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” As a personal side note, I was bit by a rabid dog when I was 8 years old, and I had to undergo the whole regiment of shots, a terribly painful ordeal for a child. I wish there had been a vaccination against rabies back then, and I wish that my mother had known about it and had me vaccinated. As it turned out, it had been my mother’s dog that bit me and gave me the rabies infection.

Coming in Part 2

In the next part of this series, I will touch upon the diseases that feral cats can transmit to your furry companions and the precautions you need to take to protect them. I will also touch upon first aid for yourself, and for the trapped feral cats or kittens.

I want to leave you with this thought: I did not start this series by concentrating on the dangers you may face to scare you away from becoming involved in rescuing feral cats because I hope and pray that you will become involved. I just want you to do it responsibly and to do that you need to know all the risks, as well as the benefits.


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Kaleidoscope Acres
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