Asiahomes Internet
26 Jun 2003
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Community educational stories for pet lovers, sponsored by  AsiaHomes Internet  

Hair mites infestation - To operate or not to operate?

The main reason for spaying of female cats in Singapore is the noisy caterwauling cries of a cat in her fertile period. This may recur every three weeks. They may want to go out to mate and become nuisances such that the neighbours can get irritated.

For religious reasons, some owners may just get the "pills" from the vet to stop the caterwauling in the interim period as they are against spaying.

Once there is a phone appointment to spay a healthy cat, most vets will accept the cat urgently.  

There is usually no pre-surgical blood test unlike the practice in Singapore medical hospitals for people. This will add to the cost of cat ownership and is not the industry's practice in Singapore to do such screening before spaying a cat.

I remember this case of a phone appointment well. The cat was left in the surgery by the hectic owner and I had not met her. It had numerous fine black spots on her hair. Being a white cat, the black spots along the strands of hair commanded attention. I thought they were flea dirt but flea dirt does not cling onto hair strands.

I checked them out under the microscope. They were live hair mites. Should the cat be packed home and not be operated till she was free of infestations? That should be the right thing for a veterinarian to do and is in the interest of the cat. 

But the vet does not suffers the incessant mating calls at odd hours, depriving the cat owner of sleep. Nor does he have to meet the angry neighbours with sleep deprivation!

In addition, cats hate water and many owners do not know how to bathe a cat with the insecticide shampoo. Insecticide powder are available and though it is stated for use in cats, kittens should not be given such powder as they die after licking them off. It is best not to use the powder at all.

In this case, the owner had already spent time and money bringing the cat to the surgery. Should I reject the surgery on health grounds?

What about the interest of the cat owner? She could just go to the another vet who would spay this cat and not talk too much.

These are the real issues of private practice and each veterinarian must make his own decision. The pressure on margins is increasing in all businesses in Singapore and the veterinary services are not immune to the competition from pet shops and other practitioners. 

Now, the decision must be made.

Was it possible to operate on this cat in this state? Would the hair mites wander into the operation area?

Would the cat become pregnant due to my insistence of elimination of all hair mites before spaying. There are just too many unwanted kittens in Singapore and over 10,000 stray cats per year are said to be euthanased.  

I decided to operate. I clipped off a wide area of the abdomen so that there would be no hair mites nearby the surgical site. 

After spaying, I  protected the wound with an absorbent dressing as well as a bandage. The cat should recover well from surgery.  The owner was informed about the mites but it would be up to them to treat the infestations which did not seem to bother the cat.  

Cat will be bandaged for 5 - 7 days and the owner will take off the bandage. The skin sutures used are absorbable ones and will  dissolve in 21 - 28 days. It is unlikely that the owner will bring the cat in for suture removal, hence absorbable skin sutures are used.

Singapore. Hair mites in the cat. Your vet may need to tranquilise the cat for the groomer to clip the coatA cat with hair mites seen as black specks on the white hairs. The mites are wide spread. To get rid of hair mites, it is best to clip off all hair to reduce considerably the mite population.

The cat may need to be tranquilised before the groomer can clip the coat properly. 
Consult your veterinarian early. Singapore. Hair mites in the cat. Clipped coat short to reduce hair mite population in the cat Cat clipped.

Cat owner education article contributed by:
Dr Sing Kong Yuen, Toa Payoh Vets.

Pictures of cat spay at Toa Payoh Vets

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Revised: June 26, 2003  · Asiahomes Internet


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