The Expense of Caring for Feral/Homeless Cats

spac

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For those who take care of ferals, strays, and homeless kitties, do you find that you need to sort of "cut corners" in regards to veterinary care?

What I mean by that is doing things like buying the dog Frontline Plus and using it on the cats vs. buying the cat Frontline Plus because of the huge price difference. Or buying Ivermectin injectible for farm animals and using it orally to treat ear mites because everything else is too expensive. If you just had 1 or 2 cats, it wouldn't be that expensive, but if you're taking care of a colony, then everything is super expensive.

The issue I'm having is that I have 13 cats in my colony, all over the age of six and things are getting expensive. I have 2-3 that need a dental cleaning and another one needs blood work because he's being weird. I just got blood work done on another one yesterday.

The vet changed the blood work that they do and wants to include all this fancy expensive test that the cats don't need. I'm not sure there's a point of doing the Idexx ProBNP heart test. I can't afford that for every cat. I also can't afford yearly exams. I don't know what's wrong with doing a basic CBC and chem test. The test they want to do is $200. Maybe that's a good price, I don't know. It does the ProBNP, FIV/FeLV, heartworms, CBC, Chem 10 (no calcium, phosphorus, or potassium), urinalysis, and stool sample.

I guess what I'm asking is do you have to cut corners and sacrifice certain aspects of veterinary care to be able to afford that all the cats are taken care of?

I didn't ask for all these cats. They just showed up at my doorstep, literally. I guess I could've ignored them or called animal control to come pick them up. Is it better for me to try to take care of them, or have the majority of them go to an animal shelter? I feel like veterinary clinics don't understand the choices I have to make. Maybe this is because this area is becoming more citified and people don't really take care of strays/ferals like they used to. I don't know.

I'll also add that I live very frugally so that I can afford to feed these cats and otherwise care for them. I'm not one of those people who complains about the high prices then turns around and goes out to restaurants, the movies, or vacations. I don't do any of that stuff. I'm so frugal the average person could not stand to live like I do.

I would like feedback on this issue though.
 

Willowy

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Yeah that can be an issue. Fortunately for me, a lot of the vets around here are still farm vets and are reasonable about stuff like that. Are there any large animal vets in the area that also see small animals? They may be more accommodating. Otherwise you just have to work up your bluntness to say "no, I can't afford that and I don't feel that it's necessary".
 

fionasmom

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I only "have" 6 ferals right now and the quotes mean that all but one of these cats could never even be retrapped to be taken to a vet in the first place. The other 5 won't get within 10 feet of me and start hissing and swatting even at that distance, so I have resigned myself to the fact that they are given shelter, if they choose to use it, and good quality food in enough quantity where they should not be hungry. A few months ago I had to go to the ER after a pretty good bite from one of them that I thought I could handle; I take responsibility for having been careless with the cat and don't blame her.

If any of your cats are possibly adoptable you should try to see if homes could be found for them. If they are not and are not ever going to reach that level you have to keep reminding yourself how much you are doing for them. I would continue to use any off label medication that is safe and insist that you don't need all the bells and whistles on testing. Vets are good at making us feel as if we need to do the utmost and I finally learned to tell my vet(s) that I will not do any testing that is academic only, meaning that there will be a result but the result won't be treated. There is a lot that a basic CBC and chem test will tell you and I would absolutely not proceed further than that until you see those results and then only on an as needed or as you are inclined to do basis. Is the vet giving you some kind of an ultimatum?

Is there any lower cost help in your area that possible rescue groups or TNR groups could help you find? Since you are not asking them to take the cats, they might be helpful with advice on saving some money or steer you to vets who are more in tune to working with feral colonies.

You have absolutely done the right thing to have cared for these cats. They have had food and someone they know will help them. I get the feeling that they are more bonded to you than the ones I have right now and see you as their caretaker. That is huge and whatever you are doing is enough, even if you can't provide medical care in all cases.
 
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