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Rebecca, Cat Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 14887
Experience:  More than 30 years of companion animal practice.
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We rescued a feral cat we have had years. He has always been

Customer Question

We rescued a feral cat we have had for 5 years. He has always been difficult to catch. I spent months on the front porch feeding him before he would let me touch him. I had major difficulty catching him for neutering. Once inside, picking him up was always difficult,
We moved to a new house last year. We put in the purrfect fence to contain all of our cats. In May, someone came from a lawn care company, and, unbeknown to us disconnected part of the fence. Our cats escaped, but we managed to catch them all but the difficult one who disappeared. Well last night I spotted him down the road from our house. I stopped and called his name but he snarled at me. After 2 hours I managed to walk him back home with a bowl of food. I couldn't lure him in the fence or through any door. I set my live trap and he wasn't falling for that. After being up all night tracking him, I finally fed him like I used to , and now he is gone again. I am unable to get a collar or harness on him and he escaped the one originally placed on him. I think he is uncatchable, but know he won't survive the winter if I can't catch him. I'm thinking of getting a tranquilizer of some sort to put in his food should I get the chance, and then following him around as I did last night and grabbing him when he is under the influence. Any suggestions on what would be safe and fast acting? Any other ideas? Thanks. I'm so close to getting him home but so far.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Cat Veterinary
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
The cat has been missing since May, and it is now August. I think he was lost, but isn't around the house now that he ate and the sun is up.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 1 year ago.


I am sorry to hear your cat has escaped and you can't catch him. It must be scary for him, too, to be away from home and out of his normal routine.

I am a veterinarian and will do my best to help.

The problem with oral tranquilizers is that they are not very predictable in how quickly they work, and work differently in every cat. If the cat is stressed, they may not work at all until he gets away and calms down, out of your sight. Then if you grab him, he may still wake suddenly and bite or scratch.

We do have drugs that would knock him out enough to safely handle him, but they are by injection only.

The other problem is how are you going to get the tranquilizer? They are all prescription drugs, some are even controlled substances. Do you have a veterinarian who will work with you on this? Legally, only a veterinarian who has a client/patient relationship with you can prescribe tranquilizers.

If I were going to use tranquilizers, I would probably try 2.5 to 5 mg of acepromazine first. It is pretty safe, and should work in half an hour or so if you can keep up with him after he eats it, if he will eat it in food. However, you can only get it from your veterinarian.

If I were in this situation ( and I have been! I have had feral cats I cared for that I had to catch) I would use the trap. Since you lured him once with food, and if you are patient, and the only food available to him is in the trap, it should work. It might take a day or two; most cats are caught during the night.

If he will take the food you bring, the trap should work in a couple of days. You can't leave any other food out, only the food in the trap.

This is a hard situation for both of you. I have worked in shelters, and have helped feral cats myself for years, and the trap has always worked better than drugs for me. Let me know what else I can help with or answer.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I was going to talk to my vet. I have no other way to get tranquilizers. I have never caught this cat with the trap despite withholding food. I think I need an answer from a cat behavior expert or cat whisperer kind of person. I appreciate your input but I need a more comprehensive plan.
Expert:  Rebecca replied 1 year ago.

I will opt out, and hope that another expert can help you. Best of luck to you. Please do not respond back to me, or rate my answer since that could prevent another expert from taking your question.