tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes) Toa Payoh Vets
28 Apr 2008
Community Education for first-time pet owners and animal lovers --- sponsored by and
ALLERGIC TO YOUR OLD CAT - Is euthanasia the sole option?

She held the 12-year-old cat close to her for a long time as silent tears slipped down.

"I have thought about euthanasia of my old cat for a very long time. Euthanasia is the sole option," Aisiah told me. "If he is rehomed, he may be ill-treated." 

Every time the old companion contacted her for a hug, she developed an itchy throat. She had to scratch her throat for a long time unless she swallowed a pill given by her doctor.

Her doctor had diagnosed "allergy to cats." She had another younger cat but she did suffer any itch in her throat.

"Have you tried to contact NANAS (Noah's Ark Natural Animal Sanctuary)  to rehome this cat?" I asked. NANAS is an animal shelter that will enable the cat to live to an old age. This old cat had been her closest friend for over 12 years. Was there another option other than lethal injections?

"Yes," she said. "NANAS said there was no vacancy in their cattery when I phoned some time ago. I would not mind driving to NANAS now if there was a place."

"Let me phone Mr Raymund Wee," I said. Mr Wee asked me to refer to Ms Lynda Goh who is in charge of rehoming for NANAS. However, it was the 2008 Chinese New Year holiday period. There was no immediate reply.

"On second thoughts, how are you going to visit this cat if he goes to NANAS as there are many dogs running around the grounds?" I asked.

"I have no problems with that," Aisiah said. Her religion had some prohibitions against contact with dogs but the NANAS dogs could be kept away while she walked to the NANAS cattery.

So, with 700 free ranging dogs in NANAS, she might be touched by jumping dogs trying to greet visitors and get a pat. A few dogs in NANAS appreciated pats and contact with visitors by jumping onto them. Their  attention might be difficult for Aisiah to visit her cat at NANAS cattery.      

"I have thought about putting her to sleep for a very long time," Aisiah pursed her lips.  Ms Lynda Goh had not responded to my phone calls for 15 minutes. 

"I have decided. Please start by giving my cat a tranquiliser first. My other cat must be euthanised too as I don't know whether he would miss this companion. If he is re-homed, he may suffer ill treatment in another home. I can't predict the future."

Rehomed cats and cats given free of charge to second owners take their chances. Not all end up happily ever after.

I was surprised that the other younger cat needed to be put down. This was a sensitive situation. Her husband was present to support her.

The lady in her thirties hugged the old cat for a long time as she sat on the chair in the waiting room. I had no other clients.

We had never met before. She held onto her old friend while her husband sat quietly beside her. Her throat started to tingle some 60 minutes later. She handed the cat over for euthanasia. She knew she had to take her anti-allergic medication. 

In retrospect, there was another option other than euthanasia. Her doctor might or might not have advised. De-sensitise herself to allergy to the old cat by the specialist doctors.  Euthanasia of an old pet that is healthy and well loved is such a rare event in my practice that I did not think of this option.  

Each owner has his or her decision to make when allergy to the pets occur. De-sensitisation may be another option but what about the medical costs? 

But how many general practitioners in Singapore are aware of this option? I doubt there are many. I may be mistaken.
In many of my encounters with clients with pet allergy diagnosed, the general practitioner advises the owner to get rid of the pet to solve the problem.  

This case of itchy throat is a different manifestation of allergy to pets in that cuddling the cat causes an itchiness in the throat. Usually, the owner sneezes or has runny noses and eyes. Avoidance of close contact with the pet usually resolves the problem for such owners. 

Later Lynda phoned me one hour later. There was a vacancy now but it was too late for the 12-year-old cat. There were financial obligations to maintain the cat.

However, Aisiah's decision was irrevocable. Death by lethal injection had made it irrevocable actually. De-sensitisation of Aisiah might have had been the alternative to euthanasia, I reflected sadly.      


Be Kind To Pets - SingaporeBe Kind To Pets educational stories for pet lovers
Telephone +65 9668 6468, 
Copyright © Asiahomes Internet, All rights reserved.
Revised: April 28, 2008  ·
Home - Toa Payoh Vets