Stray Cat Care?
January 30, 2013 2:20 AM   Subscribe

How can I care for this stray cat, in Japan, when I can't take her in?

I'm on a military installation, in Japan. I've already asked, and there's no base vet I can call.

There's this wisp of a cat that hangs out near where I live. Sometimes she gets scraps from passersby and I've been feeding her small amounts of wet cat food so as to not make her sick. She has no house she wanders back to and no collar. Her coat is scruffy (just started filling back in), her paws may be torn or have abscesses on them, and her tail looks more like a winter-dead branch covered in some fur than any body part belonging to an animal. Despite all this and having looked worse during the winter, she's rather sweet and isn't that afraid of people.

I'd like to put a flea collar on her at least, but I'm hoping there's more I could do for her. I don't even know how often I should technically feed her, since she -is- a stray and I don't want her following me or depending on me too much (I'll be gone several months out of the year, sporadically). She's not strong enough to defend any shelter I could least not compared to the giant fluffball or the sleek panthers I also see hanging around.

Also, again, please note that I'm in __Japan__ without a car. Therefore, "just running her over to the local shelter" would be a serious hassle. However, if I can find one close-ish, I'd be willing to walk a cat carrier over. Or could I possibly (am I allowed, basically) take a stray on the train in order to get her to a better situation?
Also, I'm guessing that since buying pets in Japan is so expensive, helping this cat get neutered and get her shots would be insanely expensive......which I can't afford.

Anyway, I'm just looking for some thoughts on how I could help this cat. No one I know here would be willing to drive me so I could take it somewhere (one unhelpfully said, after I gave it some of my baked chicken, "that's life...besides, there are stray cats everywhere"), so I'm doing this on my own.
posted by DisreputableDog to Pets & Animals (8 answers total)
Call a shelter. The Okinawan-American Animal Rescue Society looks like a good place to start for someone to speak to, although their advice for strays on base is not massively helpful (i.e. get the military police to help) because they have no jurisdiction. What this looks like to me is that you need help trapping it, and you probably do need someone's help to take it to the shelter or else do it all through public transport, unfortunately. But they might be able to offer a different perspective.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:26 AM on January 30, 2013 [2 favorites]

Also, on their website they have a whole bunch of useful links.

My mum used to pick up the odd stray when my folks lived abroad and - this was a sleepy backwater in Africa - found no shortage of people willing to help. Don't underestimate how many people might volunteer to help, and how many people miss their own pets left back home and want to get involved. You might be surprised.
posted by MuffinMan at 3:29 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Where in Japan are you? How committed to the cat? I know it's a hassle, but a trip to the vet (for vaccination/neutering/general checkup) could give the cat a much happier and healthier life. If you have a chance to get off base and ask around at veternarians, you might find a vet who will even do it for cost, or less, as most people don't care much about strays here, and vets like people that do. As for the insanely expensive thing, getting my first (stray) cat neutered ran us about 27,000 yen, which isn't cheap, but again, that, plus the vaccinations kept her alive and happy while the rest of her (less trusting, less willing to get suckered into a carrier) litter dwindled to zero.

As for trains, if you have her in a carrier, yes, I've seen people with pets on trains, as long as they were locked in a carrier. It's not common, but it does happen. Maybe the best case, if you're not going to be around for her on a permanent basis, is to talk to a vet and see if they know anyone looking to adopt.
posted by Ghidorah at 4:17 AM on January 30, 2013 [1 favorite]

Putting a flea collar (or any non-breakaway collar) on a cat is very dangerous - they can get it caught on something, panic, and suffocate themselves to death.

Please instead find a way to take her to the vet - they have stuff you can put between their shoulderblades which does a much better job than flea collars, anyway.
posted by zug at 6:13 AM on January 30, 2013 [5 favorites]

Yup - it's called Advocate, and made by Bayer.
posted by MuffinMan at 8:21 AM on January 30, 2013

Nthing the shoulder liquid. I'll check for some Japanese brand names on my way home tonight. We used that on our cat before she became an indoor cat, and it worked wonders.
posted by Ghidorah at 2:37 PM on January 30, 2013

I have a friend in Fukui City who cares for strays. He has actually rented an old house for some of them, has brought in three or so into his office (he is a teacher), and does all sorts of stuff.

Learning from him, I think the one thing you can do is provide the cat with a warm, dry place to spend the winter. Typically this would be a box that would be kept in a safe location (away from dogs or people that might want to harm the cat) with some warm bedding. Here are some ideas.

In my experience (we had a dog in Japan) vets cost about the same as in Canada, with the added benefit that they don't try to upsell you to useless crap like holistic candle therapy or whatever.

Probably simply feeding the cat a better diet, mixed with supplements of some kind will help a great deal with the health problems. If you're concerned that you'll be away for a couple of months every year, why not enlist a friend to help with the feeding?
posted by KokuRyu at 8:21 PM on February 1, 2013

Sorry for not getting back to you before. This is basically the flea medicine. You squirt the liquid between their shoulder blades, and it will spread throughout their fur. It's good for 2-3 months per application, and it works really, really well.
posted by Ghidorah at 5:01 PM on February 2, 2013

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