Marble Took a Trip to the Vet Today!

I have three cats: Marble, Dapper and Thumper.  When I leave for the US next week Marble is going to be coming with me, while the other two remain in the Philippines to keep my wife company.  Obviously, you can’t just show up at the airport with your cat and expect to hop on the plane.  It takes some preparation and that preparation began today.  The process for taking a cat out of the Philippines and into the US is mercifully painless compared to how hard it was to bring my cats here from Singapore.  I’m going to write up another comprehensive guide to exporting cats from the Philippines to the US later, but for now I thought I’d share this.

Part of getting Marble ready for her trip was getting her clean and presentable to minimize the chances of her being deemed unhealthy during the inspection at the vet for a health certificate.  She was overdue for a bath anyway.  In fact, all three of my cats were overdue, so yesterday we forced them to endure a good scrubbing.

Marble getting toweled dry after a bath.

Marble gave us the least trouble with her bath, though she was the only one to inflict damage.  I have a nice new scratch on my left foot from her trying desperately to evade the water we were pouring on her from a dipper.

Thumper licking herself dry after her bath.

Thumper never stopped struggling during her bath and wound up looking like a drowned rat by the end of it.

Dapper getting brushed after her bath.

Dapper wasn’t too bad during her bath, but she was the noisiest.  She made sure we knew how pissed she was by continuously growling.  She even hissed at us once.  I thought for sure she was going to turn into a whirling ball of claws and shred our legs, but we escaped without injury.  The cats kept jumping up onto the bed while they were still wet.  They usually do that, so we decided this would be a good day to wash our sheets and just left the new sheets off the bed until after they were dry.

I’ve heard a lot of people talk about the horror of giving their cats a bath, but ours aren’t too bad.  I think the reason for that is that we’ve gotten them accustomed to it.  We typically give them baths about once every two or three months, sometimes more often depending on how quickly they get that nasty greasy feeling on their fur.

Marble in her carrier, on the way to the vet.

Today, Marble went on a big adventure.  She didn’t seem too thrilled about being in the carrier again, after the fiasco that happened at Changi Airport a few months ago.

Tricycles, a popular mode of transportation in the Philippines.

Overall, she was pretty behaved as long as she could see us, though she didn’t care for the tricycle ride.  I don’t blame her.  Sometimes riding those tricycles can be a little stressful for me too.  At first, she kept looking around to try to find a way out of the carrier, but eventually settled into a corner and just looked at us with pleading eyes.

The actual visit at the vet wasn’t too hard on her at all.  We took her to the Our Lady of Assumption Dog and Cat Clinic in Antipolo.  Ya… like I’ve said before, religious terms and phrases are everywhere in the Philippines.  Her booster shot was pretty quick and didn’t seem to bother her too much.  I was surprised at how behaved she was.

Something that concerned me about our visit there was the type of shots they had available.  In Singapore, our cats got a Fort Dodge Felovax 4 in 1 shot and a rabies vaccination.  The next shot they were supposed to get was a booster for the 4 in 1.  The vet didn’t recognize it though and after placing a call found out that the 4 in 1 isn’t supplied in the Philippines at all.  He said it’s because those types of problems aren’t present in cats here.  I don’t know about that for sure.  Maybe they’re just not treated here.  Hopefully this won’t cause me to run into a problem of her having to be quarantined in NYC until she gets a proper booster shot.

Regardless, she got her panleucopenia booster and we’ll be picking up her health certificate tomorrow to take to the BAI in Manila for her export permit.  They do 1 hour processing on the export permit and it’s supposedly free.  Not bad!  So far, from what I can see, the total cost for exporting a cat from the Philippines to the US is about 230 USD.  Of course, I have to stay in a hotel in Manila the night before my flight and I’ll need to find one that will allow me to have her there, so the price difference might up my total cost.  We’ll see how that goes.  I need to start calling around to hotels tomorrow.

Preparing the Cats for Immunization

With my upcoming move, I’m working on getting my cats ready for export.  It’s a long and annoying process that’s adding stress to an already stressful situation, but luckily things are working out fairly well for us so far on that front.

First off, some kind people were willing to donate funds towards helping my wife and I cover our expenses.  That’s really a great boon, given how much the whole process is going to cost.  We’ve pretty much got our plan down as to how to ship them over to the Philippines with minimal impact to our budget. I’m going to create a ‘How-To’ guide on moving cats from Singapore to the Philippines once we manage to get it done successfully ourselves, that way, hopefully, others who are in the same situation won’t have to stress out about visiting multiple sites to figure out what they need to do.

When I take them to a vet to get a health certificate I’ll be getting them their rabies shots, but first I’m going to get them current on their other shots and make sure that they have a shot record that also annotates their receiving dosages of heart worm and de-worming medication.  I don’t want any hang-ups when we arrive at NAIA in Manila.

I’m planning on doing that this week, but I ran into an issue.  I was short one cat carrier.  So, I messaged someone I know in a local cat advocate group called Mettacats, and they were kind enough to give me a loaner.  It’s a good thing I asked them about it too, because they let me know that the carriers required on planes are a bit different than the regular type and I would’ve wasted money buying another one.  I need to research that some more so I can make sure they’re ‘packaged’ appropriately for transport.

The Mettacats member has a clinic in Pasir Ris that’s close to where I live so I walked up there this afternoon to collect the carrier.  She was busy but had left instructions with her staff to get it out of the storeroom for me when I dropped by.

On the way back, I got a lot of interesting reactions.  The carrier was empty, but just the prospect of seeing a pet brought smiles to people’s faces.  It’s interesting, walking down the street and having kids and adults leaning close to peer into the carrier.  Too bad there was nothing interesting to show them, but maybe it’s lucky my cat Thumper wasn’t in there.  She looks sort of like a monkey-bat-cat.

Anyhow, I’m looking forward to getting this step in the process out of the way and I’ll update again, with pictures of them suffering at the vet, after the trip!

The “Kets” (Cats)

It was brought to my attention that it’s been quite some time since my furry little friends got to sit in the spotlight here on my blog, so this post is dedicated to them!

We moved recently, and any move affects not only the owners, but the pets as well. Singapore is an interesting place to live for a foreigner, where you constantly have to look for a place to rent out. Having cats adds to that challenge, as a lot of house owners are either afraid of cats, think cats will damage their property, or just don’t want the added hassle when there are plenty of potential tenants that don’t own pets. So, finding a place that was suitable for my wife and I, and that would allow pets, was something of a challenge.

Thankfully, we were able to find a decent place. The downside is that it’s not quite as cozy for our pets. Don’t get me wrong. The place is clean and they have plenty of spots to nap, but the room we’re renting is smaller, and the cats are confined to the bedroom. The owner doesn’t want them running around the whole house and on top of that, the windows and doors aren’t cat proof, so they would make their way out to the street and get dirty, sick, or hurt. We can’t have that! Vet bills are too expensive, and I don’t want to have to worry about them! So, they are confined to our small bedroom for at least the next 3 months. Then we could go about finding another place, if need be.

Getting them over here wasn’t much of a problem, but at first I think they were under the impression we were abandoning them. When I let them out of their cage, the first thing they tried to do was run for the door every time it was opened. Since then, they’ve settled in and are a lot more relaxed.

What’s kicking their butt is the heat. In the last place we lived, I kept the air conditioner going most of the day, so they got used to a cool environment. Here, that’s not an option, as our bill is all inclusive and we have to respect the owner’s desire to only have the air conditioner on at night.

Some photos of the cats, suffering in the heat:

(Sushi and Dapper passed out on the bed.)

(Thumper, draped over the scratch post.)

In the evenings when we turn on the air conditioner, they’re not used to it and they get cold, especially little Thumper. She likes to sleep by our butts when we’re in bed, and when we’re not she gets under the blanket herself:

Sushi

If you’re wondering who Sushi is, since I don’t think I’ve mentioned her before, she’s our new cat. One night about a month ago my wife and I were walking home from dinner at the hawker. We had seen her before and given her something to eat, so she remembered us. I suppose she was hungry, because when she saw us she came to us. Then she literally followed us all the way home, right into the elevator, and right into our house. So, she became part of our group. After she ate, she panicked at first when she realized there was no way for her to get back out, but now she likes living with us. She’s a bit funny though. As soon as the food bowl is empty she freaks out, stalking back and forth, meowing, and jumping up onto the furniture to peer out the window, as if she’s afraid there will never be food here again and she has to go out to hunt for more.

She’s definitely not going to be winning any beauty contests!

But she’s very sweet, and when we moved she made sure she was coming with us!

Sushi really knows how to relax!

Mr. Muggles

You may have noticed that there are no pictures of Mr. Muggles here. I guess I never really blogged about it because it was so sad. In fact, that’s probably why I haven’t blogged about cats in a while.

Mr. Muggles got sick shortly after our return from the Philippines. We got up one morning and he was very … still, I guess. Not his usual playful self. When we checked him out he seemed very cool to the touch. The previous day I had noticed him throw up twice, but I didn’t think much of it, because cats do that sometimes. I decided to take him in to the vet. That afternoon, when I got him to the vet, I was told that they would keep him overnight, and that he should be fine.

Well, he wasn’t fine. We never saw him alive again after the photos above. The next day the vet called us and told us he died. I can’t help but feel that those bastards didn’t keep him warm enough, didn’t make sure he ate, and didn’t give him enough attention. We took him to the vet because I thought they could give him better care than I could, and I still think I could’ve kept him alive if I’d put in the effort. Instead, he’s gone. For their “services” they charged us 100 bucks, and then they had the nerve to ask for another 250 for a special cat cremation where we would receive his ashes in a jar. I told them they’d done quite enough, and we went and collected him later that night and took him to the SPCA. It was a bit unceremonious, but we felt the SPCA would be a bit more gentle and respectful of his remains, since it’s an animal welfare organization, and it was much more gentle on our wallets.

I can’t say I’m all that impressed with vets here as a whole. Every time I take a cat to the vet, I get charged a lot of money with little to no results. I think I’ll just start doing things myself, unless it’s something that requires surgery.

Kets

If you’re wondering about the title of the post, it has to do with how the house owner’s son pronounces the word. When he first heard we were moving in, and that we have cats, he got very excited, and as we brought each load of stuff into the house, he would run up and ask us, “Where your kets!?”

The boy has developed a real liking for our cats, and on days when he doesn’t have school, he sometimes spends the afternoon up here in our bedroom playing with them, which is fine with me. The cats seem to enjoy the attention as much as he enjoys playing with them.

He says he wants “kets” of his own, but his mother won’t allow it. I can understand that. Cats can be ludicrously expensive when you have to add in vet bills on top of regular maintenance bills (litter, food, etc). So, taking on a cat is a big investment.

So, our “kets” have a new friend, a new place to live, and they seem to be getting along fine. ^_^

Poor Dapper, I Took Her Horny

Dapper’s Coming of Age

Shortly after returning from a trip to the Philippines at the beginning of last March, our eldest cat, Dapper, went into heat for the first time.  For anyone unfamiliar with the term, it means her hormones kicked into overdrive, turned her into a little hornball and caused her to be non-stop noisy.  In the picture above, you can see her showing off her cat cooter, a typical symptom for cats in heat.  For a week at a time she would be going nuts, and in the process she would keep us up all hours of the night.  It was starting to make us go nuts as well.  No amount of verbal reprimand or slipper throwing would quiet her.  So, after the second time she went into heat I decided something had to be done, and that something was spaying.

Spaying would prevent her from going into heat again, which meant that she wouldn’t be meowing all night and we could get a decent nights’ rest again.  Dapper was one of those unusual cases, in that she would go through a heat cycle, be normal for 3 days, and then start up again.  From what I read, cats typically only go into heat once every 2 to 3 weeks.  Dapper’s hormones must have been working overtime.

Other benefits to getting her spayed would be that she would be in compliance with the Singapore standard.  Cats here are supposed to be spayed at six months, and Dapper was already close to her 1st birthday.  In addition, spaying supposedly lengthens a cat’s lifespan.  Dapper has been with us for a year, and I’d like to keep her around as long as possible.

So, in the spirit of keeping her safe, and keeping us sleeping at night, I looked into getting the operation performed.

Penny To The Rescue!

My wife and I have a friend named Penny that lives in Yishun.  She’s something of a fanatic when it comes to taking care of cats, but in a good way.  She lives a quiet life and dedicates the vast majority of her time and funds to caring for, as well as spaying/neutering the local feline population.  I’m not quite sure where she gets her funding from, but she seems to have made it her mission to spay or neuter the entire feline population of Yishun, and she’s well on her way to accomplishing that goal.  I imagine she gets donations from individuals who have money, but no time, whereas Penny has time, but lacks funds.  So, that works out pretty good.

On average, she manages to spay or neuter an average of 8 cats per week.  Typically, having a cat spayed or neutered can run you between 80 to as high as 179 SGD, depending on where you go.  Shocking, right?  Due to the volume of cats she brings in, she has a special deal worked out with Mount Pleasant Animal Clinic to have the operations performed for 50 SGD per cat, or 70 SGD if they’re brought in pregnant. 

We took advantage of this fact and talked to Penny about having Dapper brought in for spaying.  Doesn’t hurt to use a discount if you have one available right? She was happy to help out and we agreed to meet the following week in Yishun.

Horny Remover

With the problem more or less resolved I was relieved, and started teasing Dapper that I was going to “take her horny.”  This is sort of a personal joke based on an “Engrish” picture I found posted on the internet, which showed the window of a spa or beauty parlor that offered “horny removal” as a service.  I imagine they were talking about callouses, but from a native English speaker’s perspective, “horny removal” on the window of a spa that also advertises full body massages is seriously funny!

Dapper Fights Back

Well, Dapper had one last trick up her sleeve for me, and it wasn’t good.  The day after I made arrangements to have her spayed she went into heat again.  I had read that having a cat spayed while they were in heat could cause complications, and could be more expensive, so I was worried that it would cause problems with the arrangements I had made. 

My wife was urging me to put off the operation, but I decided to wait it out and see what happened.  With Dapper going into heat so frequently, lining up a time when she was ‘normal’ and when Penny was available seemed like a tricky business.  Thankfully, the night before her operation, her heat cycle ended.

Curiosity Spayed the Cat

The morning of Dapper’s operation I got up early to make sure everything was ready.  I’m sort of a night owl, so I didn’t get much sleep, but I was anxious to get the whole thing over with.  After getting ready, I brought down the cat carrier from on top of the wardrobe.  Being the busybody she is, Dapper immediately came to investigate.  I decided to try to take advantage of the situation and opened the carrier door and took a step back.  Sure enough, she went ahead and poked her head into the carrier, giving me a hassle-free opportunity to push her the rest of the way in and get the door closed.

Surprisingly, she didn’t seem too upset about being locked in the carrier and was quiet as I took her out of the house.  I expected her to have a fit and start meowing, since the last time I took her out of the house in the carrier it was to drop her off at a cat-sitter while my wife and I were on vacation.

Taking Dapper’s Horny

So, Dapper and I made our way to Yishun and met up with Penny, who was waiting for me at the McDonald’s at Northpoint Mall.  She had three other cats with her, each in their own carriers.  We hopped onto a bus which would take us to the clinic.  We were an interesting sight, carrying two cat carriers each, and with my being a caucasian foreigner on top of it.  Despite it not being necessarily illegal, it’s still an uncommon sight to see cats on the bus, much less four at a time.  Most of the passengers were amused and some even made “meow meow” sounds to try excite the cats.  Dapper took it all well, and laid down quietly in her carrier.  I think she enjoys the vibrations from the bus.  Penny’s lot, on the other hand, were noisy and terrified.

We reached the clinic after a short ride and I stroked Dapper for a while before passing her into the hands of the vet.  Hey, you never know.  What if something goes wrong, right?  Dapper is a very sweet cat, even if her horniness was driving me crazy.  I left the clinic hoping for the best and went around the corner with Penny to sit down for a while.

Thursdays With Penny

There is a hawker area right next to the clinic and Penny offered to buy coffee.  I’m an avid coffee drinker, so I couldn’t turn her down.  It turned out to be a great way to spend an hour. 

We got to talking, and Penny’s a very interesting woman.  We’d spoken briefly before, but never at any length or about anything other than cats.  She’s very outspoken and she has a lot to say, not just about cats, but about Singapore, and life in general.  The most amusing point of our conversation was that she hopes to travel to Australia and snag herself an eligible bachelor that she can settle down with.  Coming from Penny, with her blue-highlighted hair and no-nonsense attitude, it seemed so out of place that I still smile when I think about it.

As we finished our coffee and it got close to lunchtime, we decided to get going and agreed to meet up again at 3:30 to pick up the cats.  I took the opportunity to go back to Tampines and meet up with my wife during her lunch break to check out the new mall, Tampines 1.

Dapper Comes Home

When we went back to pick up the cats, Dapper was awake in her carrier, if you want to call it that.  She was in an anesthetized daze, watery eyes and all.  Of course, that’s to be expected right after a surgery.

When I got her home later, she seemed unsure of where she was, and she couldn’t seem to stand up, so I put her in her cat bed and put the food and water bowls right next to her.  She tried to walk a bit later but kept falling over.  Eventually she made it to her litter box and after about 20 minutes managed to … well you know.  Then she went back to her bed and slept for about 8 hours.  Every so often she would wake up and try to walk around.  Then she would go back to the cat bed and go back to sleep.

I stayed up, keeping an eye on her and eventually tried to spark her appetite by giving her wet food.  She sniffed at it a bit, but didn’t seem to be too interested.  I think our kitten, Thumper, wound up eating it all.

Who Are You?!

One interesting thing to note about this whole trip to the vet is that when I brought Dapper home, Thumper initially had no idea who she was.  Dapper was only out of the house for about 10 hours or so, but Thumper initially reacted as though we’d brought home an entirely new cat.  It was strange and a bit upsetting.  Thumper made that strange mewling sound that cats make when they’re pissed or trying to look tough around strange animals.  Dapper seemed a bit perplexed by Thumper’s reaction but wasn’t very interested in anything other than sleeping at the time, so she ignored her. 

Eventually, Thumper started trailing after Dapper, watching her whenever she would visit the food bowl or the litter box.  I think Dapper came back carrying the scent of other cats and Thumper viewed her as an outsider, a crazy one, that was helping herself to her and  the real Dapper’s territory.  Eventually those other scents must have faded, because the following day I woke up to find the two of them curled up next to each other.

Get Well Soon!

It’s been almost 6 days now since her spaying.  She still seems a bit odd, compared to usual, but every day she seems to get a bit more active.  Today, she started to playing with Thumper again, which is nice.  Thumper was starting to get annoyed because he would try to get Dapper to play with him and she would smack him in the head and lay back down.

One thing I definitely miss about her is her friendly meow when she wants you to pet her, or when she greets you at the door when you come home.  Since her spaying she’s only meowed once, and that was tonight.  Hopefully, she’ll be back to her old self before long.

I can’t help but wonder what the longterm effects of the spaying will be on her personality, but for now she seems to be coming back to herself, much to my wife’s relief.  According to her, spaying isn’t a common practice in the Philippines, so I think she was more worried about the whole thing than I was.

What Now?

It seems like every time we get one thing taken care of with our two cats, another problem crops up, resulting in another visit to the vet.  Dapper came back from her spaying with a dry, hacking cough.  I think she might have picked it up from one of the other cats at the clinic, and fromw hat I’ve seen on the internet it’s probably an upper respiratory infection.  Coupled with the fact that she’s recovering from surgery, it’s starting to get bad.  So, tomorrow she has to take another trip to the vet with me.  I wonder if she’ll be as willing to get into the carrier on her own this time?

Taking on pets is definitely a big responsibility, both in time and care as well as financially.  Still, she’s part of the family and I can’t stand to see her coughing and hacking like that, and I’m anxious to get her checked out.  At first I thought it was a side effect of the surgery, but now I’m almost positive it’s not, and I don’t want to take any chances.

Hopefully this will be the end of their vet visits for quite a while though!