The main way nature controls cat populations is by death from disease, and most kittens in a large group will suffer respiratory disease which can be lethal if left untreated. A major cause of injury and death in adult cats is road accidents.
Feral cats that survive to adulthood are usually healthy, but some may suffer from chronic, debilitating diseases such as Feline Leukaemia (FeLV) and Feline AIDS (FIV).
FeLV is transmitted through all bodily fluids. It is present in saliva and can be spread through close contact (eg mutual grooming, sharing of food bowls) and through bite wounds
|.FIV is transmitted mainly through biting. Neutered cats fight less and are therefore less likely to be bitten, which is another good reason for making sure they are neutered.
Young kittens may be picked up or trapped and taken away for treatment. Older feral cats may need to be confined so that treatment can be given. In these cases, you need to consider the stress to the animal, the cost of treatment, the difficulties of giving nursing care and the likelihood of recovery. In discussion with your veterinarian, you may decide that it is not in the best interest of the animal or your team to treat that particular cat.
|Veterinarians can give an animal a calm and painless death by the administration of an overdose of anaesthetic. You need to have a discussion about euthanasia at the start of your programme, because it is an emotive issue and can cause great disagreement. Some people argue for the animal's right to life even if it is severely injured, incurably diseased or too old to fend for itself. Others argue that it is a greater kindness to put an end to an animal's suffering.|
|Sometimes you need to be unemotional and detached to come to a sensible decision. The vet will need to know who is responsible for making a life or death decision. As time goes on, you will probably develop confidence in the vet and leave the vet to take the decision once the cat has been sedated and can be thoroughly examined.|