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Feral Cat Eye Help

Hi, all. Looking for some more experienced Friends of Cats to advise.

BLUF: Feral cat has a swollen eye but is wary of traps and humans. What is the best course of action?

Long Version:

DH and I have two feral cats (Omar and Shiva, both fixed and ear tipped). After 7 years, we have never had success with physical contact, though they are always “around” on the property and seem content in their busy feral cat lives.

That said, they’re very difficult to provide veterinary care for. We can deworm them for roundworms, but we’ve failed at providing more significant care. Four or five years ago, Omar went through a period of being on and off lame on a hind leg, but the cats are familiar with traps from their lives pre-us and we failed to trap him to take to the vet. Eventually, he healed fully and hasn’t had an issue since so we let it go.

Similarly, Shiva on and off has a swollen/shut eye (no tears or pus, just squinted shut or visible third eyelid covering part). It used to come and go, but the last few months it hasn’t fully cleared up, and is mostly shut again as of this AM. A new development has been the switch to feeding them the indoor cats’ raw diet, instead of Friskies and store brand kibble. They went from being politely interested in feeding time to greeting us with urgent meows and gobbling bites off the spoon as the food is dished out.

I believe it’s possible with a little work and planning to shove Shiva in a carrier or trap her and take her to a vet, but I also fully believe this will ruin their tenuous comfort and trust in us. I managed to graze the top of Omar’s head with one finger a few years ago as he came to eat his Friskies and it took him 6 months to get within 15 feet of me again… There would be no hope of being able to apply eye drops or cream to Shiva’s eye as ongoing treatment. Any oral antibiotics would get into both of them since they share a food bowl even if we put down two (they eat one and then the other together). She eats enthusiastically and doesn’t seem distressed, but clearly something is wrong with the eye.

Are there any options other than taking her in to the vet and hoping it can be a “one and done” treatment?

I can’t comment on what veterinary care might be feasable. BUT, to catch a feral cat, so that it can be taken to a vet, a live trap has been a never fail for us. And a can of really stinky fish cat food for bait. They can’t resist it. A big enough trap, so that a feral doesn’t feel confined when they go in. And once in, the door closes and they can’t get out. Sometimes either the SPCA or a cat rescue type organization can lend you a trap. They are not inexpensive to buy. But then, the vet visit will also be in the same scary price range. Good luck, and happy cat hunting.

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Feral cats are awfully prone to conjunctivitis from herpes. It’s usually self limiting but adding lysine to the food can often help a lot. Maybe give that a try before going the trapping route, since that sounds pretty traumatic for them?

Here’s an article about it:


That’s how we try to trap them! We have good sized live traps for raccoons and the cats were originally caught and delivered to us in live traps. I think they recognize the trap even when we place it strategically and put tuna or Friskies inside. We catch raccoons (so many), possum, and skunks, but never any cats.

This said, we haven’t tried with the raw food that they go crazy for. It’s worth a try if we decide we need to trap her.

This is helpful and manageable. Thank you! The lysine is super doable and I’m sure they’ll both eat it up mixed in with the food. Maybe the probiotic too, but I’ll take it one at a time.