Here is the email I received so you know what I’m talking about: (Note- I’ve altered some of the email to protect the person it came from just in case they’ve sent out the same email to other people)
FeralStat is a medicine which stops the females from going into heat. You just add a small amount of FeralStat once a week to the wet food when feeding a colony to stop the females from going into heat. FeralStat does not harm males or kittens that eat it.
FeralStat is great for situations like if you have several females in the colony which you cannot catch to spay or if is simply overwhelming or impossible to get someone to trap/neuter/release the colony. It cost about $65 for a 4-month supply (cheaper than feeding more cats). Sometimes it is impossible to get someone to help with trapping and releasing so FeralStat is a good option to prevent more kittens.
And the attached information went on to say: “FeralStat™ is a synthetic progestin that has FDA approval for off-label use as a feline oral contraceptive to postpone estrus in cats. In other words, it keeps female cats from coming into heat … Although it is designed for female cats, FeralStat™ has been given to male cats, pregnant females, and kittens who are sharing the food supply with no report of negative side effects.”
Again, my initial thought was: ingenious! Followed by: why haven’t I heard of this before? So, with the question of a sterilization drug in mind, I emailed our senior veterinary technician at my place of employment. I asked if she could please provide me with whatever information she could on the subject since I did not know anything about the drug.
She wrote me back saying:
I have never heard about this drug before and am in the process of researching it. I will also talk to Dr. C about it on Monday. So far, all I can find is a lot of mixed reviews. It has not been approved for cats by the ACC&D yet and there is not enough research on it to provide a lot of medical data. There is the belief that it can cause some long term problems in feral cats such as diabetes mellitus, mammary swelling and tumors, uterine disease, pyometra, and skin disorders. Contrary to the article sent to you, the ACC&D states that it has also not been FDA approved. There is also the argument out there that the long term risks are worth it to help lower the population of feral cats by not allowing reproduction and keep them from suffering death by starvation, weather and environmental changes, disease, hit by cars, etc. Here is the statement issued by the ACC&D and one other article.
I was also a bit disappointed that this information promoting FeralStat happened to come from an individual that works with a shelter and a spay/neuter van. Yes, such a solution is most definitely a step up from simply trapping and killing, but is it really safe? Is it really a good option to use, let alone advise people of? I mean, according to what my vet tech friend said (“ There is also the argument out there that the long term risks are worth it to help lower the population of feral cats by not allowing reproduction and keep them from suffering death by starvation, weather and environmental changes, disease, hit by cars, etc.”), their very excuses for using it despite the suspected side effects are the same vague, silly excuses used when trying to argue why trap & kill is better than letting the cats continue to suffer living lives outside – they’re just going to die awful, painful deaths anyway, best just to kill them now. Bull$hit!
As a victim of a vaccine that has continued to be used because “well, it’s good for most”, I felt a need to write a blog entry about this in case anyone else was given this disturbing, possibly very off-based information. It sounds like that this drug, in the long run, may be wonderful for colonies and colony caretakers (especially ones that have the “un-trappable” cat running around like most do), but dangerous for the individual cats long-term well being. Just because it’s good for most, preventing heat cycles and thus litters of kittens, doesn’t mean that it should automatically be sought out or given out.
Should I get any more updates from our senior tech at work, I’ll certainly share them. For now, I hope anyone considering the pros/cons of FeralStat gives this entry and the information provided to me some very good thought.