962. Scratched by an angry drooling cat
On April 24, 2012, I peeped into the consultation room and saw my assistant Min holding a lasso at a hissing cat about to be treated by Dr Vanessa 1 with subcutaneous fluid and
antibiotics before dental work the next day as the cat had not eaten for the past few days.
"Stop," I said. "You can't lasso the cat in an open consultation room."
Actually I had thought them what to do with aggressive cats which are rather rarely encountered and I presumed they have forgotten.
What happened was that this cat came in with drooling and bad breath and I had demonstrated to Dr Vanessa how I would examine the cat. I put the cat on the examination table, opened his mouth wide and shown the white torch-light inside the mouth.
The cat was rather quiet but he got quite fed up with me as I pried open his mouth again to check for oral tumours and ulcers and plaques in the fauces (back). He had pain in the mouth and here I had not respected him.
The careful thing to do would be to sedate him to examine his mouth but he was sickly and had a fever. I advised treatment with fluid and antibiotics first and dental work under anaesthesia the next day.
So, in the afternoon, there was Min, with bite scars from dogs and cats, holding the lasso inside the consultation room and preparing to get the cat out of the wooden crate.
I went into the room to show how I would restrain the cat by the scruff of the neck. "Take the cat cage into the room," I told Min as we need to put him into a crate. His owner had a small rattan box carrier and no angry cat would go in.
Min said: "My hand is weak, can't do it."
So Min could not restrain the cat for injection by me. He had some bad luck with cats as he had not been able to read "angry cat or dog behaviour" and got some serious hand injuries in the past year and I had to get him to see the human doctor twice!
This was despite the fact that he had worked in a Malaysian vet surgery the year before.
As the consultation room is very small, I asked her to leave the room. I took the cat out of the crate, placed him on the consultation table. No problem so far but the cat's tail and back hairs were up. He started hissing.
From the look of his eyes, I know I had no time. "Open the crate upper door," I shouted to Min. Just in time, I put the cat into the crate. He hissed and jumped up like a pole vaulter. His claws pricked in my left hand and my middle finger of my right hand. Min got some claw marks too.
It was a matter of seconds, like a lightning strike.
"The best way is to sedate the cat inside the crate with Zoletil 100 IM according to weight, and commence with the dental work," I said to Dr Vanessa.
"You must inform the owner of the change of plans," Dr Vanessa reminded me. So, she did the necessary and had the cat's 4 rotten back teeth extracted, did scaling and sent the cat home the next day. Not a single claw scratch for her!
As a routine, I do open the mouth of all salivating cats. Maybe, I ought to do it once and not more times. But no cat would co-operate as he has oral pain and a visual examination is important to plan for treatment.
Fortunately, we don't encounter many dangerous cats at Toa Payoh Vets as Min does the front-line. In this case, if he had lassoed the cat, all hell will break loose. It is important to reinforce instructions to staff several times as different situations occur and staff are people who think in different ways.