Me and My Pet Pal III

There’s more to being a pet owner than spending sufficient time to care for your pet and ensuring that it is happy and healthy. It also means that the people you live with need to be comfortable about having a pet in the house, and navigating the ups and downs as they come.

We meet three cat owners who shed light on how it was like welcoming and adjusting to having a feline family member.

 


Maintaining the Peace




Kelda Wong talks how her Tabby named Cheetah (1 month old in the picture), and Ragdoll named Nala became an integral part of her life. Kelda found Cheetah as a kitten under her apartment during a thunderstorm, and made him part of her family.

 


Q: How did your family feel about having cats?

A: As the one who brought Cheetah home, I was in charge of his care – from playing to feeding and cleaning. I had to ensure Cheetah was mentally stimulated so that he would not scratch the furniture around the house. My parents were indifferent to Cheetah at the start but my mum eventually warmed up to him. My dad too started to develop an affection for cats as well, and later Nala joined the family.


Q: What are some of the challenges of owning two cats?

A: With two cats at home, it meant double the trouble! I had to divide my attention between the two of them. It’s definitely additional work! There’re more mouths to feed, more messes to clean up and fights to break up! There was a lot more fur, dust and dirt around the house. We could only plan for short trips and had to find pet hotels for them while we were away, which added to our expenses. 


Q: Was it tough to help Cheetah and Nala get along with each other? 

A: Nala was more timid so we had to ensure that Cheetah didn’t bully her. We took turns supervising them and interrupting their fights when they got too aggressive, provided more hiding spots around the house, and rewarded them with treats whenever they interacted in a friendly manner. They still fight at times but they mostly get along and play well with each other now. 


Q: What advice do you have for prospective pet owners?

A: Make sure your family is on board before you get a pet, as it’s a lifelong commitment! My cats provide me with comfort and companionship. They bring so much laughter and life to the house so I’m never lonely, even when my (human) family members are out.



Forging Closer Bonds

 

Calester Kang shares how her Domestic Short-haired cats, Ginger and Pepper, brightened her life after adopting them from a family friend who could no longer afford to take care of them.

 


Q: Why did you decide to take both cats in, and how did your family feel about having the cats?

A: Ginger and Pepper are siblings from the same litter and had already bonded, so it was best not to separate them. My family agreed to the decision but emphasised that it would be my responsibility to ensure they were healthy and well-looked after.


Q: How did you help Ginger and Pepper settle in their new home?

A: When I adopted them, they were only 4-month-old kittens and were very timid and afraid of humans. As they adapted to the environment, they became more curious and started to explore every corner of the house. I installed mesh to our windows and front gate so they would remain safely indoors, and provided lots of toys and scratching posts to ensure they were mentally stimulated. Even though they have so many toys, they still prefer chewing on the edges of cupboards!


Q: What do you like about cats?

A: Cats get a bad reputation for being aloof but cat owners know that they can be loving and friendly too, though they may show it differently. I like that they’re more independent but still make loyal companions. I set aside time every day to play with the cats so they would also bond with me, instead of only with each other. They like to follow me around the house, meowing and rubbing against my legs to get my attention. 


Q: How have Ginger and Pepper impacted your life?

A: They bring me so much happiness and motivate me to work hard so I can buy the best food and toys for them. They never fail to welcome me home and make me feel loved by snuggling up to me when I’m watching television. Watching them play with each other reminds me to live in the moment and be grateful for the little things in life.


Q: What advice do you have for prospective pet owners?

A: Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Do not panic if you’re unsure of something. There are forums and online groups where more experienced pet owners are always willing to give advice. Also, do look for a vet who you’re comfortable with as the vet plays a big part in your pet’s health and well-being.


Through Thick and Thin

 

 

When Haniza Yusuff (right, pictured with her husband and daughter) brought her mixed Maine Coon called KoKo home in 2016, she did not expect to have multiple heartbreaks as KoKo suffered from health problems. She shares how she overcame the distress to emerge a stronger and better-prepared pet owner.

 


Q: How has owning KoKo changed your life?

A: When I was growing up, I would just play with my family’s cat. I did not handle the housekeeping. Now, with my own cat, I had to learn to take charge of the cleaning, caring and feeding. It was not difficult, but it was tedious. The endearing moments I’ve shared with KoKo make it all worth it.


Q: What are some issues KoKo experienced?

A: I sent KoKo for sterilisation at a veterinary clinic when he came of age (at about 3 months). Four days after the procedure, I noticed that he was gagging badly and had difficulty breathing. The skin around his body was bumpy. It turned out that KoKo’s trachea had torn during the surgery and he suffered from emphysema! I immediately checked him into a hospital that night and he stayed for a month before he could return home. It took two months before he was given the all-clear, after the vet confirmed that the tear had closed.


Q: But that wasn’t the end of KoKo’s health problems, right?

A: In 2019, KoKo was refusing food and had not urinated for several days. I heard him violently coughing up his hairball. The X-ray revealed that his intestine was clogged up, so he had to undergo another surgery to remove a part of his intestine that no longer functioned. It was a difficult time for my husband and me. It felt like the traumatic experience in 2016 was taking place all over again.


Q: How did that happen?

A: The vets believed that excessive self-grooming or worms – KoKo was never dewormed – could have caused his condition. Koko has since been de-wormed and is groomed regularly. As a pet owner, it’s important to do your own research and ask questions, even if you trust the vet. That way, you can have a better idea of the risks involved in surgery and the medical conditions afflicting your pet, and what he or she is going through.


Q: What advice do you have for prospective pet owners?

A: Taking care of any pet means accepting the good and bad that come with the responsibility. The costs of the vet visits are not cheap and there will be times when it seems like the cons outweigh the pros. Make sure your family is on board before deciding to get a pet. If you do decide to add a furry member to the family, nothing beats the warm fuzzy feeling of watching your pet grow with you, and your child too.

 

 


For More Pet Information

 

Thinking about getting a pet? Here are five key considerations before you bring one into your home. To learn more about the ins and outs of responsible pet ownership and animal welfare, follow @AnimalBuzzSG or visit the Animal & Veterinary Service webpage here

A happy pet is a healthy pet. Find out how vaccination is essential to animal health, preventing diseases that are transmissible to humans and improving overall public health.

Visit NParksSG, our refreshed YouTube channel that serves as a one-stop repository for close to 300 video resources. It also provides you a platform for existing and future digital outreach including DIY gardening and related crafts, virtual tours of our green spaces, and livestream events. 

If you are heading to our green spaces, do the right thing and be socially responsible. Maintain a safe distance from other park goers and keep to not more than two person in a group. Always wear a mask except when you are engaged in strenuous exercise or when consuming food, drink or medication.

Do check out the visitorship levels of our parks using our safe distancing portal before you head down and avoid the ones with high visitorship.

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Text compiled by Victoria Cheong


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