STRAY CATS INFORMATION SHEET (CATS PROTECTION LEAGUE (WGTN) INC)
Thank you for your enquiry about the desexing of a stray cat. Strays are a little different to owned cats, so we have put this information sheet together to help you, and Cats Protection League Wellington (CPL), try to avoid any potential issues.
Firstly… you need to be sure the cat is actually a stray. Sometimes cats that look like strays are well cared for owned cats with a long term or age related illness, or they have several ‘homes’ in the neighbourhood. Have you checked www.petsonthenet.co.nz in the lost cat section? Asked around your neighbours? Put a paper collar with your phone number on it asking the owner to call you? (only possible if the cat is handleable)
Once you are sure the cat is a stray, and if you meet the desexing scheme eligibility criteria, you can apply for the cat to be desexed. When you take the cat to the vet clinic you will need to sign a general anaesthetic consent form as the carer of the cat. You need to be able to keep the cat indoors while they recover – this could be up to 14 days for females to prevent infection or hernia. During their pre-op checks the vet may find other health issues. Stray cats are at greater risk of FIV, or there could be problems such as bad teeth, kidney disease, etc.
FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)… FIV is similar to HIV in humans and can progress to Feline Aids. FIV cannot be transmitted to people, but is passed to other cats through bite wounds. FIV can cause severe health problems for cats. The cat’s immune system is compromised over several years, and while some cats show no obvious signs of the disease, others could develop weight loss, diarrhoea, painful gums and dental disease, eye problems, chronic infections and neurological disease. As the cat’s immune system is too weak to fight off infections they are at risk of prolonged illness, poor quality of life and premature death.
All strays being desexed through CPL will be assessed by the vet as to whether they are at risk of being FIV positive and if so an on the spot test will be carried out at CPL cost. (Please note that if they are not considered at high risk this is not a guarantee they do not have FIV). If the test is positive, and the cat is unhandleable, our recommendation is humane euthanasia to prevent future suffering of the cat and likely transmission to other cats. Your desexing fee would be put towards the cost of euthanasia and CPL would cover any remaining cost.
For handleable strays that test positive for FIV you need to consider the risk to other cats (including possibly your own), whether you could keep the cat inside to prevent spread to other cats (CPL recommendation is that all FIV cats be kept as indoor only), whether you will be able to monitor the cats health on a regular ongoing basis including vet treatment if needed.
Other health issues… Health issues can be short term and easily treatable, or ongoing. You need to be prepared that you may need to make a decision on the day of surgery based on the advice of the vet. For example, if a largely unhandleable cat is found to need ongoing medication this is not a viable situation.