soft palate clefts, problems health and welfare
education for animal lovers, excerpts from The
Glamorous Vets, Singapore, sponsored by AsiaHomes Internet.
September 02, 2002
kitten with two holes in the palate
It is extremely difficult to find somebody to adopt a
stray kitten, let alone a sickly one. The kitten
started to sneeze a greenish discharge from its right
nostril after the owner gave it a treat of meat in gravy
during one of her infrequent visits. She was an
Environment enforcement officer and had to work long
I just could not imagine her, a gentle bespectacled fair
lady of average height, springing surprise
raids on the illegal hawkers who did not have licences to
hawk food prepared in non-approved premises and house hold
items. Hawkers did have look outs and there would be a
sudden frenzied rush to close the stalls and run away
whenever there were raids. Wares were dropped and I could
feel the fear in these people. Such scenes were
common in the 1970s.
Ms Tan had bought one of those attractive small packets of
such feed, the size of your palm, available in the
supermarkets and fed them to the kitten. I forgot to
tell her that the kitten should be fed dry feed only so
that the food would be less likely to enter the holes in
the palate which is the roof of the mouth and then get
inside the nose, causing sneezing.
clawed me whenever I tried examining its palate to see
whether the holes have become smaller as the cat grew
bigger. It must be painful at the back of the nose where
food was lodged and the area became infected by
"Anybody interested in adopting the kitten?" I
asked Ms Tan, now that the kitten had been here for ten
days. If Ms Tan could not afford the fees, the kitten
would be out in the streets again, at the hawker centre.
"No," Ms Tan said. "Furthermore, the kitten
is sick and who wants a sick kitten?" Notices
at supermarkets and at the internet classifieds elicited
no response. This was to be expected in Singapore which
still has laws prohibiting the keeping of cats in the
Housing & Development Board (HDB) apartments which
house around 90% of the population. The reason given
was that the "innate nature" of the cat to
wander would cause nuisance to other residents. Therefore
it is illicit to keep cats in HDB flats. If all
Singaporeans in the HDB flats were law abiding or
threatened with eviction from the HDB flats, there must be
at least a few thousand cats to be abandoned as no cat
owner would bring the cats to the humane societies to be
Another seven days passed quickly. The kitten did not
sneeze anymore when fed on dry pellets and water. How to
find somebody to adopt this kitten? Clients who came
to the surgery expressed no interest too as it was an
ordinary looking kitten.
An elderly man came with his wife regarding his dog
problem. I had not seen them for many years. Mrs Lee saw a
Pomeranian recumbent in the cage and asked me what was
wrong with it. Groomer Ken had just transported the dog to
the surgery. It had a stroke and could not get up and
would be euthanased on the instruction of the owner.
"You should not kill the dog," Mrs Lee said.
"Let it die naturally." I presumed Mrs Lee is a
Buddhist and to her, all life is precious.
"The owner had entrusted the vet to euthanase the dog
to stop further suffering," I said. "It would be
put to sleep soon."
Mrs Lee was involved with catching the stray cats and
neutering them. At the spur of the moment, I asked her if
she would adopt this kitten.
"No," Mrs Lee said without much of a thought.
The kitten was somewhere else as Ms Tan had taken it to
see the neighbours. I was not a good sales person as
this was outright rejection and the kitten was not
"The kitten needs a good home," I said to Mrs
"So do all stray kittens," Mrs Lee said to me.
"Lower your fees, give me your name cards and I will
get my friends to bring more stray cats to you to be
neutered." Singapore does not have a charitable
organisation which provides very low cost neutering and
vaccination of stray cats.
"But this kitten has a hole in the hard palate,"
I appealed to Mrs Lee kindness. I meant to say soft palate
but had slipped my tongue. In any case, I doubted whether
Mrs Lee knew what a palate is. I was appealing to
her heart of kindness.
"It needs a good home or it will be sent to the
hawker centre and will not survive. The person who brought
it in was not permitted by her father to keep it in the
HDB apartment." Most unmarried children in Singapore
live with their parents as the cost of rental housing is
prohibitively high here and Ms Tan who brought in the
kitten was one of them.
"The kitten has a hole in the heart?" Mrs Lee
asked me. Somehow, she felt different. Now, where
did Ms Tan go? I saw her some 5 shops away and
quickly got her to bring the kitten to Mrs Lee.
Mrs Lee adopted the kitten and was told that if it
developed medical problems, to return back to the
surgery. Feed it on dry pellets and water and no
liquid feed and it should grow up normally, I said.
This was all too sudden parting for Ms Tan. She cried as
she was not willing to part with the kitten. Yet it
needed a home and it was not easy to find one at
all. Nurse Ann cried. Mrs Lee cried too. These
were tears of sorrows and happiness from women who love
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