7 Dec 2010 was an ordinary sunny morning. Suddenly a
Caucasian man in his late 40s entered my Surgery while I was preparing
to operate. I usually operate at around 9.30 am as that is the best
time when no clients or phone calls interrupt me.
"Can I help you?" I asked.
"Yes," he showed me his two pale hands criss-crossed with angry red
lone scratches. My cat ran away and is hiding inside some wooden
boxes. He scratched me all over my hands. My wife is there trying to
He was carrying his cat in his hands and on reaching the surgery the
cat jumped off the taxi and sprinted away. So, there was no cat for
I imagined a ferocious cat. I didn't want to be involved. It was a job
for the professional catch-catcher, a pest-controller, not for a vet.
My university professors in Glasgow did not teach us how to catch a
cat and I doubt any professor has time for such tasks as there are so
many subjects and animals to lecture.
"I can give you some cat food," I asked my assistant to give me a
small plastic bag of cat food. Then I went off with him to catch the
cat, probably cornered somewhere and ready to pounce on me or claw my
hands. I brought along a cat carrier bag, looked for but could not
find a cat net. I brought a dog lasso pole instead but this would be
useless as the wire is stiff and the cat would jump off in a split
second when I lasso his neck. It was better than nothing.
At the industrial park behind, the wife was down on her knees trying
to coax the cat out. The cat was too far in at the left corner (if you
view from the front) of the box. They are called wooden pallet.
Pallets are used to hold heavy things. It has a 6-inch gap between two
wooden planks so that the forklift truck can insert its two long iron
bars on the right and left end to jack up the pallet with its load.
The cat squeezed inside this gap. The pallet was the 2nd from the
lowest most and on top there were more pallets.
I lowered myself like a soldier in the prone position. Two yellow eyes
fixed on me from far inside. "Come this side to help me," the wife
thought of shifting the wooden pallets to one side and grab the cat.
The industrial worker was not helpful as he had to work and the
culture in Singapore is not to help animals in distress, generally.
There are more young adults more concerned with animal welfare than
ten years ago, but it needs time for the immigrants to be animal
activists. So, it was the owner and I that must do the rescue while
the other industrial park employees and bosses go about in their jobs.
- 3938. Cat in the pallet
"I better be at the right side," I replied. "If I go
to your side, the cat may just run out from this end." It is just like
military training during my national service. The military strategy is
to outflank and seal up the escape route, not to focus on one area as
the cat does have a way out if I go to the owner's side which is the
front left side of the pallet. If you see the images, the back and
left of the pallets are blocked and so the cat can escape only from
the right side since the owner is on the front end. He would rather
trust the owner than the vet starting at him too.
The wife could not reach the cat with her hands as she kneeled down.
What to do?
I pushed my lasso stick which was around 4 feet long inside the gap.
It was too short! I tried to push the wired lasso out. It was not
two yellow eyes of a black cat stared intensely at me. The sun was
blazing on my back. What should I do now? If I abandon the wife, the
cat may run out this side and disappeared forever. The expatriate
husband had disappeared and I presumed he had to work.
This was a problem that needed a solution. I looked for a longer
plank. There was one. I pushed it in. And patted the cat's backside.
The cat did not move. "Call him, talk to him without stopping," I said
to the wife. I gave the cat a slight whack. He moved a bit forward.
The wife managed to grip one of his fore limb. But she could not pull
him out as the other pallets were weighing down and blocking her
I went to the factory to ask a young man for help. He did help
reluctantly to pull out the pallet load. The wife had more space.
"Grip the scruff of the neck," I advised. "In this way, the cat can be
restrained." She managed to do it but the cat would not volunteer to
come out. "Try. Talk to make the cat relax. I better go away from
When she finally got the cat out, it was almost one hour. I had the
carrier bag opened. She dropped the cat in. "No surgery today," I
advised. "The cat had been stressed. Wait two days." The wife borrowed
the carrier and wanted to put it on her back while she cycled home.
"It's only down the road," she said. "It is not safe," I said. "Put
the carrier on the back seat which has a container. Then you can focus
on your cycling."
"I guess you don't do cat catching often," the wife said.
"Never did it for the past 30 years of practice," I replied. "I
usually ask my assistant to do it. But the assistant is not available
today." It was fortunate for me that I performed to expectations. Or
the cat would not be in the bag.
The cat went home to rest till he is back to normal eating and
drinking. Never carry pets in your hands when you go out as they do
"Never let the cat out of the bag" I remember my Primary Six School
English teacher's English idioms which I had to study for my Primary
Six Leaving Examination! That was some 48 years ago but I still
find that this idiom seems to apply to this situation. But this
idiom has a different meaning from my advice to put the cat inside the
bag (carrier) when you go to the vet. "Never let the cat out of the
bag" means "never reveal a secret accidentally".
BE KIND TO OLDER DOGS & CATS --- GET TUMOURS
REMOVED EARLY --- WHEN THEY ARE SMALLER.
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