May 1, 2011 is a bright sunshine Sunday. Monday will be a holiday as May 1 is Labour Day. So, there would be a long weekend for leisure and the causeway to Malaysia would be clogged with cars from Singaporeans desperate to escape the concrete jungles of Singapore.
As I had spent 2 hours (not joking) inside a tour bus from Singapore to Johor Bahru (a 3/4-mile causeway) during one of such weekends to tour Malacca last year, I don't bother to waste so much time now to go on holidays to Malaysia on long weekends.
Things come in 3s sometimes. I had recently written about the case of the hissing cat with urethral obstruction. No news from the owner for the last few days after my follow up 24 hours after leaving Toa Payoh Vets. I presume they are happy with the outcome and I don't want to pester them since they have been asked to phone me if they have queries.
So, on this bright sunshine morning at 9.30 am, I was surprised to hear a cat hissing at my assistant, Mr Min. He was trying to get the cat spayed by Dr Jason Teo yesterday out of the cage to go home. The mother and adult daughter had come to pick up the cat to go home. The daughter helped by putting her hand in to take the cat out. A sudden swipe of the daughter's hand and she got a scratch.
So, what should Mr Vin do. Remember my report on Mr Vin being bitten on both hands by a cross-bred while helping Dr Teo to treat the maggot wounds? He was trying to muzzle the dog which was already tranquilised by Dr Teo. The dog bit him twice as he swung the muzzle onto the dog's face. Let sleeping dogs lie? I had to get him treated by the doctor and to teach him that he ought to use a big towel to cover the sedated dog's head instead of trying to muzzle. This dog was muzzle-shy as some dogs are gun-shy.
Now, he encountered a cat that swung her right paw out and hissed at him as he tried to get her out of the crate to put her inside the owner's top-opening carrier.
The cat hissed louder as he tried again. What should he do? "Thinking on your feet" is not easy for Mr Min as he still has many years of experience to know what to do. So he was bravely trying to get the cat out. His present procedure of opening the crate door and getting the cat out, if possible, would only get him wounded and the cat escaping. Becoming more ferocious. New clients would be arriving and witnessing such incident. I could foresee such a scenario. It would be a waste of time on this public holiday and time-wasting is not good for anyone.
"Has the owner a carrier that the cat can walk into?" I asked. The carrier was top opening and I don't expect a cat to just saunter into it.
"My daughter can get the cat out," the mother said.
"No, she can't", I said. "The cat had scratched her hand!"
This was the type of situation that required thinking on my feet.
What to do without traumatising the cat and the owners?
To make a long story short, I asked Mr Min to take a big towel to cover the crate's front and top. Then bring the crate with towel to the client's car. Put the crate inside, sit inside the car and go back with the client to their home. He took off the towel when he had the crate inside the car. "No, just cover the crate," I said. "The cat would feel more secure without seeing you."
As some clients don't bring back borrowed crates and bags, I had Mr Min to accompany the clients home. He came back soon as the clients were living nearby in Kim Keat.
He was unhurt and I hope he learnt something from me. Provoking an angry cat by trying to grab her out is not the solution. Unfortunately, it takes experiential learning to know what to do and everyone has to do it. Read widely. Some wisdom is also acquired from reading what others do and from asking the senior vets whom you have worked well with.