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tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS 

Last Updated. 11 October, 2006  
Focus:  Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits



The veterinarian removes the womb and ovaries of the female dog. This is called ovariohysterectomy or spay. It is a major surgery.


Make appointments 6254-3326 for surgery.  The female cat must be healthy and not obese. She is active and has an excellent appetite.  Should have her last vaccination less than 12 months ago.  No food and water in the morning. Bathe the female cat the night before and clean her private parts and lower abdomen thoroughly. 

Bring the female cat in at 9 a.m. No food and water in the morning. Make sure the female cat has passed motion and urine. She has no ticks or skin diseases


The female cat is given a tranquiliser and a general anaesthesia using injection. The skin and muscles of the female cat at midline is incised. A spay hook fishes out the womb and ovaries.  Pictures are shown below.


The owner takes the female cat home at around 5 p.m. Make sure that the female cat does not jump and run around for the next 7 - 14 days. The wound is covered by a plaster to prevent licking. Check the wound daily for signs of itchiness. Replace the plaster on day 5 if necessary. If not, remove the plaster on day 10.  The stitches on the skin will dissolve after 14 days and there is no need to return to the surgery for stitch removal. Consult the vet promptly if the female cat irritates the wound or is not feeling well.


Small skin incision if a spay hook is used to sterilise the bitch. Toa Payoh Vets
A 1.5 cm skin cut is made. The muscles and peritoneum are then incised at the mid-line. A spay hook is inserted into the abdomen to fish out the uterine horn. The above picture shows the hook during the spay of a Jack Russell as no cat pictures are available. 
Cocker Spaniel 18 months, spayed, uterus and ovaries of 2nd heat Stray cat 10 minutes after the end of spay. Cats take longer time to wake up if injectable anaesthetics are used as in this case.
If the female cat is on heat, the uterus and blood vessels are fragile. In rare cases, there is bleeding as the vessels disintegrate under the clamping by forceps. The vet has to make a long skin incision to check for the source of and to control bleeding to prevent death.  No picture of cat ovaries available yet. Some pet owners are concerned about the length of the skin incision as they contrast and compare the incision lengths of their friends' spayed cats.  In cats, the incision is around 1 cm long unless she is pregnant or there are complications.
In 2005, in Toa Payoh Vets, absorbable stitches are used. They need not be removed as they dissolve later. There is no need to see the vet for stitch removal.  Antibiotic powder is used for the wound instead of antibiotic ointment.

If non-absorbable nylon stitches are used, please get them removed at day 14.
A water-proof plaster prevents the female cat licking her wound. Replace the plaster 3 days later.  If the female cat does not lick the wound, there is no need to replace the plaster. Usually the plaster can be removed at day 10. Any swelling of the wound due to licking should be referred to the vet.

The female cat goes home in the afternoon in uncomplicated cases. You can request for your female cat to stay over-night to rest at the Surgery at no extra charge.

1. It's possible to spay a cat during estrus, or heat, but it's not the best time. Most veterinarians prefer not to spay a cat in estrus because the uterine tissue can be swollen, fragile, and more prone to damage. Cats also have a tendency to bleed more when they're in heat. Because of this, estrus makes surgery more risky for dogs, as well as for cats.

Most veterinarians prefer to delay spaying a cat until she has been out of estrus for a month or so. And, since a recently spayed cat may still be attractive to males, performing the surgery during heat won't do anything to keep the neighbors' tom cats out of your yard. The best thing for your cat's health is to keep her safe inside for now and to have your veterinarian perform surgery when she is not making a lot of noises.

Pictures - Spaying a Jack Russell.

3. Why you should spay your dog or cat?
3.1 www.petrescue.com/spay-neuter.htm.
3.2 www.thepetcenter.com/sur/mam.html (breast cancer & spay). 

This page:  

Information on cay spay:  
Information on cat spay

Article contributed by: Dr Sing Kong Yuen, Veterinary Surgeon, Toa Payoh Vets. 


Tips for Expats with Cats. Sponsored by Asiahomes Internet 

Here are 12 TIPS for a longer life for your cats.

Singapore stray cat with left ear tip cut off. Cat flu at a cattery. 1.  Vaccination against cat flu, feline enteritis and feline leukaemia virus. Annual booster vaccinations are important, particularly if the cat will encounter many cats, e.g. at a cattery,  but are forgotten by most cat owners in Singapore.  Some cat owners do not want to vaccinate against the leukaemia virus to save costs.  Cat flu is common in Singapore  and cat owners may have seen the sneezing and runny nose of many stray cats or in their cats after boarding at a cattery. 

However, they seldom see cats suffering from feline leukaemia.  Feline Leukaemia virus (FeLV) is contracted at a young age and there may be no signs till the cat becomes older. The white blood cells become cancerous, multiplying in large numbers in glands like the thymus and causing death when the cat grows up.

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) are still important virus but there are no vaccines to prevent these two diseases in Singapore in 2003.

FIV attacks the immune system in a similar way to HIV in people. It is spread by cat bites during fights, particularly in entire male cats. Neutering or castration of your wandering male cat will reduce the chances of it being involved in cat fights.  Of course, it is best not to let your cat wander as many cats are killed by vehicles, especially those young ones trying to cross the expressways.

FIP is a feline coronavirus usually causing a mild diarrhoea in cats. However, in some cats, the virus mutates and the cat's immune system over-reacts. Excessive fluid accumulates in the chest and/or within the abdomen. You can see the cat with a big distended "stomach" and/or a cat with breathing difficulty.  There is no cure for this stage of the disease.  This disease is common in households with many cats living indoors and sharing litter trays. The FIP virus builds up in such and environment and mutates to cause the FIP. 

2.  Neutering of male and female cats. They are likely to live longer and not stray and get lost.

3.  Feed a good quality complete diet.  If your cat tends to get fat after neutering or is the "fat cat" type, feed a diet with low calories.

4.  Don't keep too many cats or use one litter tray per two cats in a multi-cat household to prevent the building up of the FIP virus.

5.  Seek prompt veterinary advice if your cat becomes soiled with substances that can be poisonous.  Some Singaporeans love to apply iodine or Chinese medical oils to cat wounds and these may be toxic to the cats as cat livers are not so efficient at detoxification.

6.  Never give cats "human medication" or drugs that have not been prescribed by the vet.  Drugs safe for people may kill cats. 

7.  Cats over 8 years old will need a detailed veterinary examination. Possibly a blood test by your vet.  Usually they have bad breadth and decayed teeth and will need dental scaling or extraction. 

8.  If your older cat drinks lots of water, this is not normal. Do consult your vet early as this may be a sign of kidney disease.

9.  White cats should be kept away from strong sunlight as they develop squamous cell carcinoma on their nose  and ears.  You can apply sunblock but they may not like it.

10.  Stop your cat roaming out of the house or garden.  This may be the best tip for your cats to live longer lives.  Vehicle accidents, viral and bacterial infections from cat bites are common.

11. One common case is of cats falling down from high rise apartments. Many do survive as cats seem to know how to land on their feet. They have a flexible body and joints unlike people.  However, putting up a wire mesh on windows may prevent such problems.  

12. Male cats having difficulty passing urine?  Do consult your veterinarian early as the cause may be an infection or an obstruction of the urethra by urinary "sand" or "stones". A special prescription diet and plenty of drinking water may be the solution. Some cats don't drink and are fed solely dry feed. This may predispose the cat to urinary tract obstruction.

Educational tips for pet lovers. Article written in Jan 28, 2003.
The vet nearly snipped the cat's left ear

"She looks pregnant," Mrs Forster said as her Queen's English crackled over the mobile phone.  She was an athletic looking woman who looked as if she would never miss a work out at the gym. Taller than the average Singaporean Chinese girl, she was lean and her biceps muscles were firm and strong to handle the strongest horse.  

She might have played golf a lot under Singapore's unforgiving blazing sun or just enjoyed horse riding as her light chocolate brown tan would be the enjoy of most fair Caucasians in Europe and many in Singapore.  

"Is it too late to spay her?" Mrs Forster enquired. Pregnancy in a stray cat was not a joyous occasion to celebrate for cat caring persons. Most Singaporeans at the riding club feed the stray cat but seldom would they think of spaying her.    

This common looking cat belonged to nobody, but there would always be a bowl of cat food and water for her near the chief instructor's office. The expatriate riding instructors, volunteers and riders would make sure that this cat thrives and now she was going to be a mother.
I was at the club treating a horse with colic, a condition known as stomach ache by some people when Mrs Forster asked me about spaying this stray cat.

She had been trying to get me to spay the cat and I had asked her to refer to the Club Manager who might have funds for stray cat spay or refer the cat to a Club retained veterinarian who provided stray cat spays. 

Spaying a stray cat involves a lot of responsibilities if something goes wrong, the whole riding club expatriates and horse lovers would know that I was an incompetent vet. 

I was not keen to do it. Firstly, the cost must be minimal and vets who do a large number of stray cats spay may find this feasible. 

Secondly, the cat is usually taken back immediately after surgery. Spaying is a major operation.  Infection control is very difficult.  She has no indoor and clean home to go to and being left outdoors, her operation site may get infected. The cat will lick the inflamed site and chew off the stitches as they become itchy. 

The operation site would be opened and gut would spill out of the burst open operation site. The poor cat tries to resolve the inflamed and itchy protruding guts by licking the guts. More guts which would become grossly contaminated by bacteria and dirt now. It would be a very painful death and the blame would be on the operating veterinarian.  

Now, Mrs Forster phoned me with a sense of urgency to make an appointment to spay the cat and I could not say no since she cared so much for a stray. She took a taxi to the clinic with an expatriate friend a a little girl. 

The little girl put the cat inside a blue plastic carrier which was the smallest I had ever seen and I thought this must be a new type of kitten carrier. It was actually for toys but the cat fitted in nicely as she was small by European standards.  

I put the cat on the examination table and felt her abdomen with my fingers for foetal lumps which had been palpated by Mrs Forster.
There were around four small lumps in the middle area of the abdomen.  

"The cat could be pregnant or those lumps could be stools." I said. The lumps were very small, around 4 mm in diameter and they could be faecal lumps as they were further up the dorsal abdomen. 

No vets like to spay pregnant cats. A long incision over 20 cm would have to be made to extract the golf-ball-sized or larger foetal lumps instead of a small cut for a non-pregnant cat.

More time would be spent and the anaesthetic risk of dying would be much greater. Somehow, it was not a good feeling to do an abortion of living creatures.   

A spay hook pulls up the uterine horn and ovary (left). Spaying a dog. Singapore Fortunately, the cat was not pregnant. My scalpel cut 5 cm into the skin and fibrous line joining the left and right abdominal muscle to open up the abdomen.  Then I  hooked up the ovaries and uterine horns easily. The ovaries were enlarged and very red. 

The uterine horns were still thin but were blood shot in colour and filling up unlike the one you saw in the picture of a dog being spayed.

Singapore stray cat - spayed completed 5 min agoThis indicated that the cat was in early pregnancy or in the middle of estrus or fertile period. The muscle and skin openings were stitched using 2/0 catgut. A simple operation lasting around five minutes.

However, the after care is practically non-existent in most stray cats. They get returned to the wild.

How does one identify whether a stray cat had been neutered?
In many countries, including Singapore,  the vet snips off 0.6mm from the left ear tip. The cat looks unbalanced in its ear shape.  I presumed this would be the case.  Fortunately I asked Mrs Forster about the ear tipping procedure. 

Singapore stray cat - spayed. Bandage cover spayed area. "No," she said firmly, as if I had asked a silly question. "The cat will be inside the riding club and no catch catcher would be around."  

Well, I  the European culture being kind to animals means that cutting the ear tip mutilates the appearance of this cat. It is cruelty no doubt.

I boarded the cat for five days without charge as I knew it would be unfair for Mrs Forster to pay although she would pay if asked. I knew that this stray cat would be left in the open area of the stables and given the freedom to roam the hills of the riding club after spaying in most cases and I did not ask about the post-operation care.  

The hot and humid climate of Singapore would introduce bacteria into her operation site within 2 hours, as fast as that. She would then tear at her stitches and made a big hole in her abdomen. That meant more expense for Mrs Forster. The cat might die from peritonitis, an infection of the inside of the abdomen despite intensive and expected free treatment. It was treatment or death and the veterinarian was held responsible for either outcome. 

This would be too much for Mrs Forster and not good for my reputation. That is why I usually insist on boarding for a few days after spaying a stray cat. 

The kittenish-looking cat did not eat for the first two days after surgery but cleaned up the cat feed after that. She meowed at me whenever I saw her. She was a quiet female resting in the cage. 

Her stitches would dissolve by themselves unless she removed them earlier. Another five days would be sufficient time for the skin to heal well and for the bandage to be cut off.   

Singapore stray cat spayed 5 days ago. Going home. Wound not infected. I could see that the bandage was not able to cover the stitch owing to the curved nature of the body. She did not bother licking the stitch during boarding as it was not irritating to her. The operation site was not inflamed as manifested by a reddish discoloration and swelling and therefore she did not bother it.

Mrs Forster was a kind expatriate as she used her own money and took the trouble to spay a stray cat so as to prevent unwanted pregnancies. At the club, a Caucasian riding instructress ensured that the cat was checked and the stitches were taken out by the cat herself two days later.

The cat was full of good health when I saw her a few weeks later. I met Mrs Forster waiting at the Club for somebody at noon one day and enquired about her cat. "She scratched me," Mrs Forster laughed. "But it was a playful scratch." Maybe this cat had an elephant memory and was afraid that Mrs Forster would dump her at a veterinarian. 

This was one of the few fortunate stray cats to be so well cared for by the riding people. It is extremely difficult to find homes for stray kittens and it is reported that Singapore's cat control agency and the animal shelter culled 20,000 cats and dogs a year. Culling usually meant euthanasia, death by lethal injections.  Some of the stray cats suffer cat flu but this is a hazard of freedom.

Singapore stray cat - spayed 5 days ago. Nothing to do. Cat flu virus affects upper respiratory tract of stray cat, Singapore
Looked more like a young kitten but she could be a mother at around six months of age.   A stray cat has cat flu symptoms. Unable to groom properly.

I just hope the animal control officer will not come to the club and round up the stray cats for euthanasia when the expatriates are not around. 

STRAY CAT VOLUNTEER CARE SCHEME (Equivalent to the Trap-Neuter-Release scheme in some areas of the U.S.A).

Sunday 5 pm dinner for Singapore stray cats with left tipped ears. Singapore from the year 2000, has a neighbourhood cat caring scheme whereby  the government cat catchers would not impound cats with the left ear tipped provided some kind soul would be responsible to look after them.  

Neighbourhood cat spayed and identified by tipped left ear. It was fortunate that I had asked Mrs Forster about ear tipping of the stray cat of the riding club. 

Stray dogs do not have such a scheme and it is every dog for himself whenever the dog catchers come around.

UPDATE: Since 2003, all Singapore stray cats will be impounded whether they have been spayed or not. Clipped-eared or tipped eared cats are not exempted from this policy.

Copyright Asiahomes Internet, 2005. All rights reserved. Revised: October 11, 2006  
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes) TOA PAYOH VETS 
 Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, rabbits
Date:   11 October, 2006  
  Be Kind To Pets is a community education sponsored by asiahomes.com
  Educational tips for pet lovers. Article written in Jul 31, 2005.
The malodorous cat

If I tell you that a bite wound cost me over $400 in veterinary bills, would you believe me?

Cat scratches and bites seem to be more serious than dog bites. In the case below, a tom-cat came up the apartment and bit or scratched the cat left outside the apartment to wait for the owner to come home from work.

The infected wound was so smelly that the owner had to leave the operating room for fresh air. It was as if flesh-eating bacteria was hard at work, eating away the cells and leaving a smelly grey abscess.

The owner wanted to bring the cat home immediately after stitching, but this was not recommended.  The cat was warded for around 8 days to enforce rest and prevent stitch breakdown. It would be extremely difficult to repair the wound if the stitches broke down at home and the big holes and extensive flesh exposure meant that the cat would be in great pain and needed more veterinary attention and costs or be put to sleep.  

Fortunately, the stitches did not break down and the owner was asked to remove the nylon non-absorbable stitches at home, to save on veterinary costs.  The lowest bill would still be over $400 for this case.  A bite wound from a stray cat should be treated by your veterinarian early to avoid such situations. 

Cat bite abscess can be large and malodorous. Toa Payoh Vets
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)285. Ju1 12, 2005. Very smelly abscess. How to stitch up such a big hole? The malodorous cat. tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)286. Ju1 12, 2005. Very smelly abscess. How to stitch up such a big hole? The malodorous cat.
tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)287. Ju1 12, 2005. Owner wants to take her home. It is best not to do so as it will be difficult to stitch up a second time.  The malodorous cat. tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)288. Ju1 12, 2005. Will the stitches hold for the next 14 days? In this cat, the cat recovered and went home without a hole in the backside. The malodorous cat.

        Copyright Asiahomes Internet
All rights reserved. Revised: October 11, 2006