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Ask the Veterinarian/Oral sedative for feral cat?


We've been housing a young feral cat, crated in our garage through the winter.  We are not able to touch him at all. He hisses and lunges when he feels the least bit threatened.  This little guy has a damaged eye, that's sunken in and draining.  We took him to a local vet who kept him for several days to neuter him and check his eye under sedation.  The eye is intact, so the vet would like to treat it medically.  We were sent home with oral antibiotics and steroids; however, his eye seems even more matted and inflamed than before. He really needs drops and regular cleaning in that eye, but we don't want to keep him at the vet for routine gas sedation.  Are there any oral sedatives that we could use in his food to sedate him enough to clean his eye daily?  If not, do you have any other suggestions??  The eye is only open a small slit, and I don't want it to close up and become abscessed.
Thank you!

Wow Rhonda,

This is a hard one! The problem with sedatives is that they don't just last a day but sometimes well into the next day. The other problem is that a really wild cat can override a lot of sedative in him- in other words the wilder they are, the less the sedative affects them.

If you got some into him somehow- you'd have to wait a few hours before you could handle him and he would still be very hard to handle and treat. They don't just "settle down" and get mellow. The only difference between a tame cat and a wild cat being sedated is that the wild one would just zig zag a little more while running away from you.

The only way to really treat a cat like this daily is to get a leash around his neck, or a catch pole, wear heavy gloves so that you don't get bit and then cover him up with a towel while someone else is holding the leash firmly- then slowly uncovering his face and then TRYING To get some ointment into his eyes.

Pretty hard to do and very, very dangerous!! Cat bites are not something to flirt with and this cat sounds like he will nail you good.

The best thing you can do is ask your vet for some acepromazine (it's an older sedative but works well) and see if you can get some into his food. It comes in an injection that you can squirt in their mouth (not the normal way to give it by the way, but it does work after a few hours) or into some wet food.

It also comes in pill form but you'll never get that into him, unless you crush it into powder and feed it in stinky canned tuna or meat. Cats do NOT like to eat food they can smell things in.

There might be some type of calming homeopathic drops you can use but check with your vet first and see if the ingredients are safe for cats. They will probably NOT sedate him enough for eye cleaning however.

Unfortunately this is one of those situations where it's almost best to board him for a week and and let the vet and his technicians handle this fractious cat. It would be the safest thing to do for you and him. In one week the eye should improve dramatically.

Good luck and please be safe!  

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Jana Connell RVT, CVT


PLEASE READ BEFORE SUBMITTING TO ME: I am NOT a vet and do NOT diagnose diseases. That is only for a licensed Veterinarian to do. I will give you suggestions and steer you toward calling your vet for help. You can call the vet's office and talk to the technician there or the vet at times. Don't be afraid to call them! If you have a serious issue with your pet please post it to one of the veterinarians in here- I will tell you the same thing in my answer. IF your pet is injured or in an emergency situation, CALL YOUR VET- Do not wait and post in here. Just call the vet's office and get them in to see the vet right away. Critical treatment time is lost if you seek answers here when you should have your precious pet at the vets!! Don't sit at home waiting for an answer when your pet is critically ill or injured!! I can answer most questions about small animal and wildlife care as well as small animal nutrition. I can also answer questions about all phases of dental care for small animals. I DO NOT answer questions about birds (unless it is wildlife or songbirds) or HAMSTERS/GERBILS/CHINS/GUINEA PIGS/REPTILES/FROGS/RABBITS/PET BIRDS OF ANY KIND so please submit these questions to the appropriate sections. I, as well as other experts in here, do NOT do homework questions- that is for YOU to do! Please respect these rules for all of us. Thanks!


I have over 42 years experience in the field of veterinary medicine. I specialized in small animals and did wildlife rehab for over 25 years, mostly raptors, squirrels and opossums. I am a Small Animal Nutritional Consultant with 6 certificates from Hills Pet Foods, CNM and Purina. I also specialized in Small Animal Dentistry which is a field I truly love. I also Teach Veterinary Technology to working technicians who are studying to take their California Tests to become Licensed Technicians. They have to take both the VTNE (Veterinary Technician National Exam) and the California boards.

Audubon,World Wildlife Federation, American Society of Veterinary Dental Technicians.


Licensed with California and Oregon, RVT and CVT. Certified Veterinary Dental Technician Have over 1500 logged hours of Continuing Education Credits(that means I keep up to date!).

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Nominated for Expert of the Month for the last 5 years.

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