ELDERLY FERAL CATS: As
feral cats age their eyesight, hearing and
reflexes diminish along with other functions
of the body. Along with aging can come any
number of illnesses, immune deficiency
problems, dental and mouth infections, upper
respiratory infections during the cold
months and arthritis of the joints. Feral
cats go through the same aging process as
our domestic house cats, but it can be
sooner because of their circumstances. Feral
cats, with any of these problems, cannot be
put into a carrier and taken to the vet for
care. They are living out of doors and are
vulnerable and must be trapped if they are
to be vetted. Circumstances and quality of
care can accelerate their aging and it is
the responsibility of the caretaker to see
that they are given every opportunity to
thrive and be safe. It is also up to the
cat. There will be times when no matter what
steps you take; the cat will not be trapped.
All you can do is keep reaching out with
whatever support you can administer and love
Most aging feral cats sleep longer during
the day and have a tendency to eat less
and be more particular about their food.
The may become thinner and their ongoing
care will need be assessed and
administered by their caretaker.
1. Feed them separately. Provide a high
quality food and add special supplements.
2.Be sure they eat the food while you are
3.Keep their special food on hand and feed
it to them regularly
4.Provide plenty of warm and dry shelters
for everyone with fleece for the winter
months that are insulated.
5.As cats age, the shelters are their
haven. I have observed them sleeping late
into the afternoon in the July and August
6.Look for signs of aging, such as greasy
coats, imbalance, drooling, difficulty
hearing when you arrive, slowness and
stiffness in walking or watery eyes. These
are easily observed.
7.If possible, after they have eaten, hang
around to see if they are urinating and
moving their bowels. Examine the feces if
you can. Some disorders can be treated
onsite. If you are right there, a stool
sample can easily be collected and tested
at a vet’s office.
8.How do their coats look? Good
supplements can take care of dull coat and
9.Program (the only commercial flea
treatment I know of that can be put into
the food) can be given for a bad flea
problem along with garlic and other
10.Worms can be treated onsite with
medication and supplements.
11.Abscess and joint care is possible.
Research aging felines online and apply
what you can to the feral cats. There are
some excellent recipes in Anitra Frazier’s
book, “The New Natural Cat”, that can
added to the food for feral cats of all
ages. Consult a veterinarian for
medications and dosages.
Honoring the last days:
Taking good care of an elderly feral cat
is essential to the health of the colony
and the cat’s place within the family
structure. Making them comfortable and
tending to their needs is an important
part of feral cat caretaking. Magical
moments can take place between an aging
feral cat and their caretaker. It can
happen in many ways and it does happen
frequently. We have had elderly feral cats
cross the line and become totally ours to
pet and groom and care for as we would any
of my own indoor domestic cats. This is a
very poignant moment for everyone!
When the time comes for them to pass, if
they do not crawl off somewhere to suffer
and die alone, we can take them to the vet
and peacefully provide them with a loving
space with our arms and hearts around them
as they cross over to the Rainbow Bridge.