Stray cat with health problems

Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra,

A stray cat recently appeared on my doorstep, skinny, cold, and hungry! I took her in & got her warm & fed. I reported her lost to the county and no one claimed her (it’s been over a month). I decided to keep her instead of putting her in the pound where her chances of survival aren’t good.

The problem is, I have very little money & cannot afford massive vet bills. She had fleas that I gave her medicine for and they are now gone. She is strictly an indoor cat, however I worry that she is pregnant from her time on the streets! I can’t tell yet, but I fear it’s coming! I also think she has tape worms, as I’ve seen little white squares on her bottom twice now, and she convulses several times a day (I read that is from toxins the worms give off?).

My question is… I would love to help her get perfectly healthy, vaccinated, and spayed, but I cannot afford it all right now. What should I be most worried about? (If she is pregnant, I already have homes lined up for up to 4 kittens) I feel so bad that I can’t do everything for her, but I don’t want to let her sit in a cage at the pound for a slight chance of being adopted (my county’s rates are about 1/10 at best).

What to do? Thanks Dr. Debra!

Tiffany Hanback


Hi – thanks for your email. It sounds like you have several different questions or issues. First, is she pregnant? Gestation in cats is about 63 to 65 days. I don’t know how long you have had her but if it has been a couple months and she is indoor only with no exposure to intact male cats – if she is pregnant her belly should be big!

As far as the fleas – I’m glad you have control. Tapeworms can be caused by cats that eat the fleas. The best medication is a prescription medication that you get from your veterinarians. Cats can live without tapeworms being a big problem however it is better for them to be treated.

What worries me most is the “convulsions”. That is not normal and not caused by tapeworms. Convulsions, commonly called seizures, are very concerning.

An article that might be helpful to you is on our is Seizure Disorders in Cats. There are several reasons cats may seizure and to be honest, none of them are good. I’d recommend that you take her to your vet. I understand that you have financial concerns but that is what would be best for her.

Another article that might be helpful is called Tapeworm Infection in Cats. These articles will take you through the causes and treatments.

The safest thing to do is to have him examined by your veterinarian to help you figure out the problem.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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