tpvets_logo.jpg (2726 bytes)TOA PAYOH VETS

Date:   26 July, 2010  
Focus: Small animals - dogs, cats, hamsters, guinea pigs & rabbits
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, BVMS (Glasgow), MRCVS
First written: 30 June 2002
26 July, 2010 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129
"This stray cat's tongue has been hanging out the front of mouth for the past few weeks. What's wrong with him, doc?" asked Ms Tan who was concerned as she fed it regularly downstairs after her office work at the government ministry in charge of  problem teenagers who "stray" after schools, the latch-key kids of Singapore.  These kids have no purpose in life and mix with bad company, Ms Tan had told me. Staring at each other could provoke a fight between the teen gangs.

It is an unusual habit for any normal cat.  Cats like to keep very clean and don't hang out tongues.  Was its tongue paralysed after another cat battle in the hawker centre to establish its territory?  This was a six-year-old male cat and would have been wise to the battles for ground and female cats.

A half-inch pink tip would be seen hanging from his lips.  He had no appetite and objected strongly when I inserted the thermometer into his rectum to check whether he had a fever. He just swiped his claws into my right hand in less than a blink of the eye.   I got a 10-cm scratch for not being lightning fast enough.

"It may be having mouth ulcers or a severe tooth ache on one side" I said.   The tip of the tongue hung more to the right side, as if there was acute pain on the left side.  The cat's mouth dripped saliva in thick serous streaks and there was a strong rotting smell of bad breadth.  

"You don't expect the cat to answer your question, doc?" asked Ms Tan.

The cat clawed me again when I tried to open his mouth with my thumb and forefinger of the right hand.  No nonsense from any veterinarian, his brown eyes with pupils dilated widely, looked straight at me.

"Don't grip his front feet tightly as cats don't like it and get angrier!" I advised Ms Tan who was firmly restraining the cat.  I didn't want Ms Tan to get her face scratched as that might affect her marriage prospects. Beauty may be skin deep but a scratched face for a young woman will disadvantage her no matter what the feminists say.  

"I have no choice but to tranquilise him with one injection into his back muscle." I told Ms Tan. The cat did not attack her as she distracted him with a few words.  

Singapore 6 year old stray cat: 2 decayed molars extractedThe cat felt drowsy in 10 minutes.  I put him on a gas general anaesthesia to check for more decayed teeth.  Two loose and decayed upper left molar teeth were extracted easily within 2 seconds.  The redness around the molars indicated that the gums were infected with germs which undermine the integrity of the tissue and causing gingivitis (infected gums). 

Normal molar teeth of six-year-old cats have three deep roots which anchor them into the gum tissues firmly and cannot be extracted so easily.  The roots were decayed as you could see them on the lower left of the picture.  The lower molars of the left gums were enveloped with a thick crust of tartar but were still strongly anchored into the lower jaw.  The tartar was removed and all the teeth were given a ultra sonic scaling.

There were no mouth ulcers or gum tumours. The tongue no long hung out.  I don't expect to see this stray cat again as he will not get any annual veterinary check up or booster vaccination, being a street cat with the freedom to roam the void decks of the Housing and Development Board precincts and the street smartness to avoid being trapped by the government cat catchers.    


Teeth problems in the domestic cat are due to genetics and the diet, amongst other factors. 

In the wild, cats e.g tigers or leopards feed on real meat which cleans their teeth as they chew.  Some domestic cats fed soft food can suffer from severe gum and teeth problems caused by various factors including inherited weaknesses. Cats, usually over 6 years old, suffer from 2 major degenerative oral problems: periodontal diseases (gum diseases) and resorption cavities.  

In gum diseases, the necrotic mouth ulcers and bad breadth are due to bacterial infection of the mouth. If the bacteria reaches the back of the throat, the cat may lose its meowing voice and has a bad breadth. Antibiotics and teeth scaling may stop the bad smell of purulent stomatitis (mouth inflammation) but there is a need to extract the decayed back teeth.  Cats need to have their diet modified if they don't have back teeth but they manage well. 

In cervical resorption, there are cavities (holes) on the surfaces of the back teeth, close to the gum margins. They are not decay cavities but are caused by an auto-immune response.  The cat's body's defences destroy the teeth. The cat may lose appetite as it is very painful. Teeth extraction is the best treatment.     

"A Colour Atlas of Veterinary Dentistry and Oral Surgery" by Peter Kertesz.  Peter is a dental surgeon for people and is a dental consultant for animal organisations and international zoos including London and Whipsnade zoos for the past 20 years.  He lectures all over the world on veterinary dentistry. When it comes to treating animals, Peter has strong ethics.  He never performs surgery to please the owner and only treats pets that have been referred to him by a vet.
is his website.

Cats - cases at Toa Payoh Vets


Asia USA Realty (Singapore)
Pte Ltd  -
House-Hunting Case Studies


Education article for first-time realtors of and landlords supported by AsiaHomes Internet

Case study:  The leaking dishwasher short-circuiting the condo.

You may be very busy in your business, but you have to spare some time to sort out the problems of the new tenant.  In this case, the Landlord said he
had handed over the apartment in good condition and that he had cleaned everything, including the air conditioners and curtains.  The Tenant thought otherwise.  It became very difficult to discuss the problems of the Tenant with the Landlord as his mind was fixated in considering that the Tenant was demanding. 

Visual inspection.
Cleaning the air conditioners and the kitchen hood and hob as well as changing the filters may be overlooked by the busy Landlord who does not engage any cleaning services. Visual inspection will confirm the presence of dirt and stains. 

Old dish washer and dryer.
You reduce your costs considerably if you provide older units but you must ensure that they are properly installed and in working condition.  However, you must be prompt in attending to complaints of malfunction.  In this case, the Landlord did not believe what the Tenant was saying.  The dishwasher was installed below the kitchen sink.  The electric wire from the dishwasher was not clipped to the underside of the kitchen cabinets but let loose all the way to the electric point above the kitchen counter.  The Tenant's child could pull the wire as if it was a toy and be electrocuted.  The Landlord insisted that the appliance had been properly installed.

A few days later, the dish washer leaked out water and cause the apartment's electrical load to be shut down. 

The Landlord sent a "plumber" to check the problem instead of getting the seller of the dish washer to take it back.

There was no burst pipe, said the plumber who wanted to switch on the dish washer to "test it". 

What if the whole kitchen gets flooded again and somebody gets electrocuted?  A electrocuted plumber?  An electrically shocked Tenant?  How about the safety of the active  toddler?

Obviously the Tenant got very mad and threw him out of the apartment!  He couldn't speak English and the Tenant couldn't speak Mandarin but the body language of the Tenant told everything. 

The Landlord called me wondering why the Tenant was so furious.  I asked her to send the dish washer to the Seller to check it out.

In conclusion:

1.  Listen to the complaints of the Tenant carefully as your investment condo is still your asset.  You want the Tenant to protect your huge investment and therefore attend to any faults as promptly as possible.  Show the tenant you care and build up an excellent Tenant-Landlord relationship..     
2.  Provide new dish washer and dryer unless you have a proper qualified firm to test and check out the old ones.  The Seller of second hand appliances may not be trustworthy unless you have a long-term business relationship with him.

3.  In this case, the Tenant was willing to foot up 50% of the cost of a new washing machine and dryer and the Landlord gets to keep all. Therefore, the Tenant would not need to "reduce" the rent to buy the new items. As to whether he was legally entitled to do so, that's a separate matter.  

4.  There are solutions which your agent can provide. 

5.  However, every time your agent tries to convey the problems of the Tenant, you stop him further and keep hammering the agent for "not being present" when the Tenant moved in, like your other agents used to do and for not "stopping the tenant complaining". 

You still have not resolved the Tenant's problem and in this case, the electrical shut down was considered too risky even if you live there.  

I hope this case study will help many first-time Landlords to provide a good landlord-tenant relationship, even if they have no respect or liking for realtors.  Once in a while, there will be very demanding Tenants who want the newest and best appliances at below market rent.  They are hard to handle.  

The 2 emails below showed the sequence of events.  My comments are in italics.

Email No. 1.

Dear Judy,

As you know we moved into the apartment last weekend.  Unfortunately there are several issues which are not in line with the tenancy agreement.
I summarize for your convenience several points which must be urgently discussed and cleared. I am not in a position to state the completeness of this listing.  If there are additional items, I will come back to you, as soon as I am aware of them. * There I no hot water in the kitchen. It is absolutely not acceptable to have no hot water in a kitchen.  This condo does not have a water heater supplying hot water to the kitchen.  Caucasians are used to having hot water in the kitchen to sterilise dishes.

* The dish washer is not big enough. We have bought plates in Singapore, but we cannot put them into the dish washer because the dish washer is to small.  A dish washer of this size was not agreed.
4 stones or a rack would have been used to elevate the dryer.   Apartment is too small for a bigger dish washer. * The electrical cable for the dish washer in the kitchen is not professionally fixed. The installation is not in line with electricity requirements. We have a small child. Please repair this urgently. The long wire from the dishwasher runs loose from the kitchen floor to the power point above the kitchen counter.  The wire should have been clipped to the underside of the kitchen cabinets so that nobody trips over it.  *The washing machine is not working well. We tried several times to clean our clothes, but with this washing machine it is not possible.  It is a Japanese type top loading washing machine. The Landlord may need to check it out. * It was agreed that the dryer should be installed over or under the washing machine. This is not the case yet. It is not acceptable that we have to go on our knees to fill the dryer. The clothes also get dirty when putting them into the dryer because the entrance for the dryer is close to the ground.  4 stones to elevate the dryer or get a steel rack to put it above the washing machine. This is not practical as the Japanese washing machine is top loading instead of being front loading like European ones.

* Only 5 instead of 6 chairs for the glass dining table are in the apartment.

* The safe is not in working conditions.  It is true that the safe door would not shut when the electronic combinations were keyed in.

* The hood is not cleaned and in working conditions.  

* The air conditioners are not cleaned. I could see the oil or brown stains from at least one blower.

* In several rooms the light bulbs are not working.  The Landlord insisted that all bulbs were working and that I should be at the moving in to check. I would pay for the replacement bulbs.

* The toilet handle in the master bathroom is damaged. It must be repaired immediately, other wise no water will be available for the toilet.
   A loose W.C   lever needs to be sorted out. * The desk for the computer work is too long. The desk is installed in a wrong room.  The desk must be shortened.   A L-shaped desk with 2 components was bought taking up more of the space.

* The curtains, the boards especially in the kitchen were not cleaned. It took us more than 2 days to clean the boards before we were in a position to  use them.
  I have no doubt about the Tenant cleaning up the apartment. Please inform us lately at the evening of July 11 how to proceed. However, we propose the following urgent steps:
The landlord must install  the hot water in the kitchen and the cable for the dryer as required. In addition the damaged toilet must be repaired.
We will buy a new washing machine and a new dryer. The subsequent rents will be reduced on a monthly basis for a portion of the purchase price of the washing machine and the dryer. Again we need a quick decision, because we need washed clothes for our baby and ourselves. Persuaded the Tenant to foot $650, I pay $300.   Dared not bring this proposal up to the Landlord.  All other items have to be negotiated later.
Please be aware that we want to have a good landlord tenant relationship.   However, we willingly pay the full amount of rent in case we are provided with services and fittings in working and acceptable conditions.
Hope to hear from you soon.

Email No. 2

Yesterday evening (10.30 p.m.) the dish washer in the kitchen leaked lots of water. The water flooded the kitchen floor. The electricity was cut off in the apartment. The dish washer is not functioning as  there is still dirty water in it. This will cause infections.

I informed the management of the condominium, because I was not in a position to restart the electricity by myself.  The management  did not allow me to use the dish washer and  they will review today the apartment once more.

Please inform the landlord.  Something must happen immediately. As you know I have a small child and such dangerous matters are absolutely not acceptable. I am no longer willing to wait. If the landlord does not act, I will buy or repair everything by myself and reduce the rent for the respective amounts.

Please inform me as latest. Friday July 14, 2000 at 2.00 p.m.

The "plumber" was thrown out when he wanted to restart the dish washer and see if it "leaks" again. I advised returning the dishwasher to the Seller to check as it had a "one-month" warranty. 

There are professionals who test the older dishwasher, dryer and washing machine, especially American types before sending to the expats and installing them. Fees are around $200. However, you need to find a trustworthy one. 


Rarely do you rent out your investment condo with no complaints.  No rental agent wants to create more administrative work or pester the Landlord.  The agent representing the Tenant does not take sides but is a messenger. 

Some problems are urgent and you will have to get your contractors to resolve them fast.   You must have a team of reliable electrical and plumbing contractors if you want to be in the investment property business.

"Minor repairs" of $100 per item per occurrence do not apply during the moving in period.  The Landlord must be reasonable.

For first-time rental realtors, try and resolve problems even if it means you have to foot out from your pocket.  The tremendous good will built up is hard to quantify but one or two referrals from the expatriate Tenant are better than 100 newspaper advertisements.  And referrals are free of charge.   

Tel: +65 9668 6468, Email:
Asia USA Realty

More info at: Dogs or Cats
To make an appointment:
tel: +65 9668-6469, 6254-3326 
Be Kind To Pets
Veterinary Education
Project 2010-0129
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