The drooling cat claws the vet
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
29 April, 2012
Be Kind To Pets
On April 24, 2012, I peeped into the consultation room
and saw my assistant Min holding a lasso at a hissing cat about to be
treated by Dr Vanessa 1 with subcutaneous fluid and antibiotics before
dental work the next day as the cat had not eaten for the past few
"Stop," I said. "You can't lasso the cat in an open consultation
room." Actually I had thought them what to do with aggressive cats
which are rather rarely encountered and I presumed they have
forgotten. What happened was that this cat came in with drooling and
bad breath and I had demonstrated to Dr Vanessa how I would examine
the cat. I put the cat on the examination table, opened his mouth wide
and shown the white torch-light inside the mouth.
The cat was rather quiet but he got quite fed up with me as I pried
open his mouth again to check for oral tumours and ulcers and plaques
in the fauces (back). He had pain in the mouth and here I had not
respected him. The careful thing to do would be to sedate him to
examine his mouth but he was sickly and had a fever. I advised
treatment with fluid and antibiotics first and dental work under
anaesthesia the next day.
in the afternoon, there was Min, with bite scars from dogs and cats,
holding the lasso inside the consultation room and preparing to get
the cat out of the wooden crate. I went into the room to show how I
would restrain the cat by the scruff of the neck. "Take the cat cage
into the room," I told Min as we need to put him into a crate. His
owner had a small rattan box carrier and no angry cat would go in. Min
said: "My hand is weak, can't do it (hold the scruff of the cat's neck
So Min could not restrain the cat for injection by me. He had some bad
luck with cats as he had not been able to read "angry cat or dog
behaviour" and got some serious hand injuries in the past year and I
had to get him to see the human doctor twice! This was despite the
fact that he had worked in a Malaysian vet surgery the year before. As
the consultation room is very small, I asked her to leave the room. I
took the cat out of the crate, placed him on the consultation table.
No problem so far but the cat's tail and back hairs were up. He
started hissing. From the look of his eyes, I know I had no time.
"Open the crate upper door," I shouted to Min. Just in time, I put the
cat into the crate. He hissed and jumped up like a pole vaulter. His
claws pricked in my left hand and my middle finger of my right hand.
Min got some claw marks too.
It was a matter of seconds, like a lightning strike. "The best way is
to sedate the cat inside the crate with Zoletil 100 IM according to
weight, and commence with the dental work," I said to Dr Vanessa. "You
must inform the owner of the change of plans," Dr Vanessa reminded me.
So, she did the necessary and had the cat's four rotten back teeth
extracted, did scaling and sent the cat home the next day. Not a
single claw scratch for her! As a routine, I do open the mouth of all
salivating cats. Maybe, I ought to do it once and not more times. But
no cat would co-operate if he has oral pain but a visual examination
is important to plan for treatment.
Fortunately, we don't encounter many dangerous cats at Toa Payoh Vets.
In this case, if he had lassoed the cat, all hell would break loose as
the cat would spring and jumped all over the room in a rage. It is
important to reinforce instructions to staff several times as
different situations occur and staff are people who think in different
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Be Kind To Pets
All rights reserved. Revised: April 29, 2012
Toa Payoh Vets