Tuesday, December 28, 2010

279. The man who loved 3 stray cats

Yesterday, Dec 28, 2010 was my first day back to work, after a 14-day packaged tour to Europe (Italy, Switzerland and France) and a subsidised stay in Dubai from Emirates Air and the Tourism Board.

It was extremely tiring as the tour leader had to rush us from one place to another. There was a group of 49 Singaporeans and a few would not be punctual throughout this packaged tour as they took their time to take photographs and eat their meals belatedly, making the majority wait for them.

Surprisingly, the Divine Powers had been kind to us as there were no major traffic jams from Rome to Turin to Switzerland and Paris. Nor were there delays in flights back from Paris to Singapore. Yet the the heavy snow falls affected road traffic and flights in London, the US and Europe at around this time (Dec 13 - 27, 2010). One Singapore Tour Group had to spend the night inside the coach from Milan to Rome as snowfall had caused traffic slowdown. We were clear all the way.
The only thing we missed was seeing The Colosseum in Rome. The students protested violently against Prime Minister's Belusconi's decision to cut funding for University research and expenditure and increased fees. So they burnt cars and caused closure of the Colosseum. The Eiffel Tower in Paris was closed before we arrived as there was strong winds or something but when we arrived, we could visit the 2nd floor. Strong winds did close the railway service to the top of Europe - the Jungfrau mountain or Matterhorn in Lake Interlaken, Switzerland. We went snow sledging. I did not want to risk my life as any mistake in rounding corners on the right could fling me down the ravine. I was no spring chicken and wanted to back out as the younger ones and some older folks took the risk of sitting on the snow sledge downhill.

I was the last one left holding the snow sledge as the others who did not want to do snow sledging were holed up in a cafe. Well, I took the risk. It could be death if I fell into the steep slope on the right and knocked my head.

The snow sledge's downhill slide was to be stopped by putting two heels down onto the snow as if braking a car. My heels were not deep into the snow and so the snow sledge continued to slip downhill increasing momentum as the gradient was steep, at around 45 degrees. I banged into the left side (of the hill) and slightly bruised my left shin. I did crash onto the right edge and quickly hopped off to avoid falling into the ravine below as my sledge could not turn left for two times. Midway down, I nearly crashed into a group standing around. There, the tour leader was phoning for ski patrol for help. A Singaporean was really flung down a bit of the ravine. A tree stopped his tumble further down and he received 4 stitches above his right eye-brow. That was the main excitement of the packaged tour. Fresh snow had just fallen a few days ago.

After snowsledging, we went to Lucerne for the night. The tour guide took the group there from Lucerne the next day and it was clear. I did not bother to take another 1.5-hour coach ride and explored the Lucerne town and its inhabitants and tourists. The two sons went skiing nearby.

Back to my first day at work. A family was too early and was waiting for Dr Vanessa to do dental scaling. An old client came with two stray cats. "The vet would only sterilise them at 6 months of age," he said. "However, these two cats were meowing and behaving like adults at 5 months of age. I want to sterilise them. There is a 3rd cat somewhere. I will get him later."

I examined the cats. The male was 2.8 kg. The female was 2.4 kg. Both could be sterilised and so I booked them in. I am teaching my veterinary staff to be efficient and not to waste material unnecessarily. I pointed out to them that the new $7,000 surgical operating table of two weeks had more than 30 scratches. "So, at the end of two months, the whole surface would be all scratched," I said. "This should not be the case. You need to put a tower on the table to protect it until the dog is under anaesthesia and surgery." The seller had delivered the table without informing me when I was on holiday. Sometimes it is common sense. Stainless steel surfaces should not be clawed by dogs as the scratches would rust later. So, use towels to protect the surface when a dog is awake and not fully sedated.

The examination table of over 10 years and sourced from the same U.S. manufacturer was hardier and did not suffer any serious scratches.

"Gauze?" my assistant got the gauze ready. "There is no need to use gauze," I said to him again. "There is little bleeding during a cat spay." That is the situation I encounter when I spay a cat.

"The start and end of the surgery must be recorded," I told my assistant. This will enable me to audit my surgery as well as those of my associates and learn from the situations needing unusual lengthy surgeries. An animal has a better survival rate if the surgery is as short as possible.

ANAESTHESIA
2.4 kg stray cat. Xylazine 0.1 ml and ketamine 0.4 ml in one syringe IM. Effective. There was no need for an assistant to hang around. I took around 25 minutes for the surgery doing it at a leisuredly pace. It could be done in 15 minutes.

VET-HOPPING
This is common in Singapore. Proximity and pricing would be the attracting factors. 6 months of age is the common recommendation for spay of dogs and cats. In this female cat, at 5 months, the ovaries and uterine bodies were enlarged with thick red blood vessles. Therefore the cat was on heat at 5 months.

2nd VACCINATION AND EAR CLIPPING. The gentleman in his late 50s said: "Clip the left ear so that the AVA would not grab the cat and kill it. My family is attached to these stray cats and that is why I want to sterilise them." He wanted to hospitalise them for a few days although I said it would not be necessary.

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