My Baby Sky
This is my baby, Sky. Wait, no. This was my baby, Sky. He was a pure-bred British shorthair and the sweetest thing in the universe. Sky and I spent 195 days together. It was a short but meaningful period of my life that I’ll always treasure.
We will always remember his soft purrs, bright eyes and soft gaze. He had a palette of a king. No cheap treats for Sky! He also had the weirdest sleeping spots that looked uncomfortable, but he made things work. I remember how he loves hugs, but only for a short period of time. He subtly shows us love, like rubbing his head against ours. I guess he didn’t want to give us too much of an ego-boost by clinging onto us, but we knew he loved us as much as we loved him. He has done so much for me and my family, just by being himself. He had the gentlest soul, and he was so, so brave. Unfortunately, he was taken from us too soon.
I am still so angry about how he was taken from us. Every step leading to his death could have been prevented, especially the very first step by his unethical breeder. I’m here to share my story and prevent anyone from enduring the pain we and Sky endured. I wouldn’t even wish this journey upon my worst enemies.
The First Step Into Hell
I’ve always dreamt of having my own cat, and when I could finally spare the time and finances for one, I sprung for it. I was elated to own and care for my fur best friend, so in October 2021, I approached a local cattery and spent $7000 on a purebred British shorthair which later came to me as Sky.
We were told that Sky would be imported from China and subjected to quarantine in Singapore. Our agreement had implied that
- Sky would be microchipped by AVS requirement.
- Sky would be quarantined as per AVS’s important requirements (i.e. additional rabies vaccination and a minimum of 30 days post-arrival quarantine).
- Sky would be healthy (i.e. free of illness) at the time of sale and rehoming.
We also promised that Sky would come with:
- Full vaccination of 3 doses
- Full internal deworming (twice)
- Full external deworming (twice)
- Cat food
- Tofu litter
- Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV) test
As you might have guessed by now, the cattery did not fulfill many of what was agreed on paper. In fact, we found out that they breached on the following terms:
- Sky was not a pedigree kitten and did not have a CFA pedigree
- Sky was not imported from China
- Sky has never been subject to quarantine in Singapore
- Instead of 3 doses of vaccines, Sky was only given two doses one day apart
- Sky was never internally or externally dewormed
- Sky’s microchip was not detectable by at least 3 veterinary clinics in Singapore
- When I collected Sky in April (I bought him in October), I was not given the promised tofu litter and no FPV results
My first step into the cattery was essentially my first step into hell. Things got worse from here on out. Sky and I would suffer unjustly for the next few months because of the unethical actions taken by this disgusting establishment.
The Owner Gave Us A “Tour” In Hell
After collecting Sky in April 2022, the owner ‘Jamie’ verbally assured us that Sky was healthy, and that she could tell “by looking at his eyes”. When asked about the promised tofu litter and cat food, ‘Jamie’ blamed whoever drafted the contract and claimed that she did not agree to it. Since she was “unaware” of this contract, she did not provide us with these two items and had me settle with a bag of cat food. Jamie also told us that Sky had been “unofficially” microchipped, and we could get him an official one, but it wouldn’t be necessary.
I know these should have been big and in-your-face red flags, but I was a first-time owner, and no one around me had any experience with cats. I also wanted to give Sky a good home because I knew I could give him all the love and care that I could ever muster. I just wanted the entire fiasco with ‘Jamie’ to be over so I could focus on bonding with Sky.
The Problems Started The Very Next Day.
The day after I brought Sky back, I noticed he had soiled himself but did not clean up after. This resulted in stains on my bed and floor. I was concerned, so I communicated this observation to ‘Jamie’. I initially thought Sky had soft and wet feces so he could be suffering from cat diarrhea. However, upon closer inspection, I noticed his stools were rock solid. I didn’t know this back then, but a healthy cat’s stool should not be sticking on its butt or staining its surfaces.
This bowel situation persisted for 4 days, and I sought advice from multiple friends and pet supply stores to no avail. His stools were soft, wet then irregular, and it was becoming evident that there was something wrong with Sky’s health.
Not long after this incident, one of my neighbours pointed out that Sky’s paw had a skin patch resembling ringworm. I quickly booked an appointment with a clinic, where the doctor was helpful and concluded that Sky had no ringworms. However, she had concerns about Sky’s vaccinations since they were only one day apart. I immediately contacted ‘Jamie’, and she claimed that the China shipper prepared the vaccination record, shrugging these ‘documentation errors’ under the rug.
While on the phone, I told ‘Jamie’ that Sky’s stomach was getting bigger, but the vet felt that Sky looked malnourished based on his weight and teething phase. Hence, the growing stomach size was worrying. However, ‘Jamie’ was insistent that Sky looked healthy. Not long after, Sky also started to have stomach contractions, and of course, I turned to ‘Jamie’ again. She alluded to the contractions, coughing, and asthma and offered a replacement kitten for us. At this point, I had grown attached to Sky and wanted him to be healthy. I would not give up on Sky and tried to get him all the help he needed.
We Went For More Testing, and It Became Clear
I was so worried, so I decided to quickly get more conclusive results by sending Sky’s stools for testing. The results showed positive for Giardia, Corona antigens (Feline Coronavirus) and Clostridium perfringens (associated with gastrointestinal infections).
The vet had also communicated that Sky had high levels of ImmunoComb Corona, which significantly increases his likelihood of developing Feline infectious peritonitis (a viral disease that could be deadly for cats). The vet felt that these could have been contracted in the breeding grounds where Sky was from.
When we communicated the initial results to ‘Jamie’ and how the vet recommended legal intervention for us, ‘Jamie’ urged us to tell the clinic that they had followed through with all AVS regulations. She also reiterated that her shop offers refunds and replacements. We were so angry with ‘Jamie’ because she was acting as though Sky was just a product we could return and get a replacement for, instead of a living animal capable of emotions and cognition. We decided to stop communicating with her and focus on nursing Sky back to health.
Getting a Second Opinion
In July 2022, we brought Sky to seek a second vet opinion, and he confirmed that Sky was still suffering from Giardia and respiratory infections such as bronchitis. Sky was prescribed medicine from July to September and placed on a diet. He gradually regained his appetite and had healthy stools. We were so glad and relieved that he had recovered. We thought all was well and were delighted our boy could finally be happy and painless.
However, more bad news came along a month later. In October 2022, Sky started vomiting, and we immediately sought advice from the Animal Wellness Center. Sky was diagnosed with Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia (an immune system disease in which his body will attack and destroy its own red blood cells). The vets also suspected that Sky might have lymphoma cancer due to the large masses in his stomach. They also administered tests for FIP.
I cannot convey the anxiety and fear I had during this period of time. Was I going to lose my baby boy? Have we gone through all of this for nothing? Sky was such a good boy, and he fought so hard. Was it all going to be in vain? Are the next few months going to be even more painful for him? My heart ached at the thought of Sky going through this tiring and unnecessary battle with his health.
After worrying extensively for 3 days, Sky had his first blood transfusion. All seemed well enough. I was still worried, but at least I could relax a little – or so I thought. Because, on the morning of 1 November 2022, Sky started severely vomiting with dark brown vomitus. Despite the resuscitation efforts at the clinic, Sky left us that morning.
My baby. Gone. Just like that. My heart sank, and I could feel this increasing pressure pushing me to spiral into a breakdown. No matter how hard I tried to lift myself up or how hard my family attempted to relieve the stress, it just got heavier and heavier. I wondered how painful it must have been for our sweet little boy and how much he didn’t deserve this injustice. Even though all I wanted to do was be by Sky’s side as his soul slowly drifted away from the only family he has ever known. Even though all I wanted to do was plunge myself into self-pity and never get back up for the foreseeable future, I knew that I had to bring justice to Sky and any other living creature that may be harmed in a similar situation like mine. I knew I had to step up and give Sky’s death meaning.
Clawing My Way Out of Hell
I approached all the relevant authorities to get to the bottom of the issue. I knew that without evidence, I couldn’t bring justice to Sky and all the pets before him that had suffered similar fates as he did.
In January 2023, AVS confirmed that Sky was not imported from China, implying that he was illegally bred or smuggled into Singapore. If you’re interested to know, all pet cats important from China (a Category D on the country rabies risk category) must meet these conditions:
- Have rabies vaccinations at least 6 months prior to arrival, satisfactory rabies serology results, valid core vaccinations and internal and external parasite treatment before importation
- Additional rabies vaccination and minimum of 30 days post-arrival quarantine at AQC
From the time I got Sky, I had spent $7600.27 to treat his illness, all while wrongly believing that he was “healthy”. I wasn’t just blinded by ‘Jamie’ and her cattery’s empty promises to me, but I was also blindsided by AVS’s regulations and enforcement of their AVS-licensed pet stores. I thought I could trust stores that were AVS-licensed, but it seems like the fraudulent nature of these owners has managed to slip through the control of AVS. I cannot imagine how many pet owners may have gone through the same thing and how many furkids have suffered under the hands of these unethical owners that see them as just “products”.
I hope other furkid owners see this article and learn from my mistakes. Just because a store is AVS-licensed doesn’t mean that they are of ethical conduct. I urge you to please do your research and be firm. Once you realise something’s unorthodox with your pet, investigate further. I’m lucky that I had supportive friends and family during this period of time, and it gave me the strength to continue giving my 100% effort to Sky till he left us.
I hope my sharing also gave you some insights on what to look for before purchasing a furkid and everything that comes after. They deserve everything in the world, and they have done no wrong.
Do you know of any unethical pet stores in Singapore? How can we better defend these furkids from further harm?