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mites infestation -
To operate or not to operate?
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
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.
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
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
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.
cat with hair mites seen as black specks on the white
hairs. The mites are wide spread.
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
your veterinarian early.
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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