Thursday, March 31, 2005
Where angels fear to tread
Number of cats the Society was asked to take in today :- Ten
Few things in life are more daunting than giving a talk to 30 six year olds and that's just what I did this morning. I have to say my respect for teachers has just been reinforced. It certainly also makes you feel old, especially when you're introduced as "Aunty Dawn"!
The talk and videos went down quite well, though some things like the importance of sterilisation may have been a little difficult for them to grasp. When I asked about the benefits of sterilisation though, one little boy did say that it helps to stop cats fighting so much, so if that's one person who's learnt something, then the talk was a success!
It was also good to see that when I asked the class whether it was important to be kind to animals, all of them said it was. One little boy piped up that cats are also God's creatures - whether or not you're religious, I thought that was very sweet.
I received another email just when I got home, asking the Society to talk to a Primary Two class, so Primary two here I come!
Wednesday, March 30, 2005
Cats that the Society was asked to take in today :- One
The AGM is over for another year - and what a relief. Generally there is so much to be done to prepare for the AGM and everyone breathes a collective sigh when it's over!
It went quite well I think. Our President outlined plans of what we intend to do over the coming year, including the Spay Days we are holding. We also asked for volunteers. Some of our members brought up some of their concerns, including an on-going problem about abandonment of cats. Unfortunately, this is a problem that has no easy solutions and we need to all work together - along with the authorities - to tackle this. The first thing that I think needs to be done is to change the housing laws to let cats officially into HDB flats - then it'll be administratively much easier to enforce cat ownership which will make it harder for people to abandon cats or at least to deny the cat is theirs.
Three of our old committee members also stepped down, two of them our founders. We will miss all three of them being around, but they have promised to always be there for advice. We have three new committee members now and they're coming onboard with lots of energy and fresh ideas, so I'm looking forward to working with them too.
My Net access was down for most of the day - tough to get work done without Internet access. Hope it works properly tomorrow.
Tuesday, March 29, 2005
I've been busy today with last minute things for the AGM and also doing some administrative work - necessary but sometimes time consuming.
A fantastic thing has occured over the last few days though - quite a few people have written in to say that they have seen a stray, but instead of asking for help to 'rescue' it, they have asked if CWS can help to get subsidised slots to get the cats sterilised and they will get it done! I'm really, really pleased to see this happening - it seems that more people are taking the message of sterilisation being the means of reducing the stray cat population is being taken to heart. Let's hope this lovely trend continues!
Monday, March 28, 2005
When picking up cats does more harm than good
Number of cats the Society was asked to take over the long weekend :- Ten
Number of people who have written in to the Society to foster over the last week :- One
The AGM report is finished in anticipation of Wednesday's AGM. The report is a good stock-take of what we've done over the years, but it can be quite tiring to put together because of the sheer amount of information that goes in.
Also sent off some information to one of the condominiums that contacted us about trying to find an alternative solution to killing the cats in their estate. We have a cat management concept which we learnt about from the World Society for the Protection of Animals. This is called the Cat Cafe - and is the point at which responsible feeding is practiced by volunteers so that the cats can be sterilised and managed. I hope the condominium will let us do a presentation to convince them to try this new of sterilisation instead of killing.
Today I got an email from someone who picked up two cats and who says she cannot look after them any longer. She has wanted to find someone to take them over for a while. Unfortunately this is a very common request. The thing is - there is usually no one to take in these cats. We have only four or five fosters who are up to their neck in cats.
While I understand that people are kindhearted and want to help the cats, picking a cat up and then passing it to a welfare organisation is not an answer as most of the welfare groups are full. There are far more cats looking for homes than people who want cats.
Here are the situations where you should pick up a cat :-
1. You want to adopt the cat for its lifetime;
2. The cat is in a dangerous place and is imminent danger of being injured, abused or killed;
3. The cat is injured, paralysed or unable to live on the streets in the condition it is in;
4. The kitten has been abandoned.
These are the situations in which you should not pick up a cat :-
1. You want to give it to a welfare organisation or find a friend/neighbour/relative to take it - chances are everyone who wants a cat already has one, so your chances of finding it a home are slim. You might also deprive another cat of a home that desperately needs one, even if you can find a home;
2. When a cat is perfectly fine where it is - this may seem obvious, but many people pick up a cat which is happy where it is and take it home, only to find they cannot rehome it. If the cat is contented and safe where it is, please leave it there. If you feel bad, feed it and sterilise it where it is, but do not pick it up;
3. Where the mother cat has gone off to look for food - we have had many people pick up a kitten whose mother has wandered off for food. If you stand there, the mother cat will not return, and she can be gone for hours. Kittens need their mother's milk to survive, so please do not remove a kitten from the area unless you are absolutely sure that hours have passed and the mother has not returned.
While I would dearly like to see every cat in a home, this is not something that will happen anytime soon because there are just too many cats out there. Unless overpopulation is controlled via sterilisation, the number of cats needing homes will never decrease. In Costa Rica (which has an estimated population of 1/2 million cats), they found that when they started spending the money on sterilisation instead of sheltering, they needed less and less shelters because there were less cats on the street. In the US, shelters have reported that they have 50% less cats coming in when an aggressive sterilisation (rather than sheltering) policy is maintained. This of course means less cats are killed as a result.
So please, think twice before taking that cat off the street unless you personally are able to give it a home. Also, don't take in more cats than you can handle (like one lady someone wrote to us about today) but that's a story for another day.
Getting off soapbox now.
Thursday, March 24, 2005
Why cats should not be fed upstairs Part II
Number of cats that people asked the Society for help to rehome today :- Twelve
A committee member and I spent most of this afternoon distributing flyers over almost 200 units in two blocks in two different housing estates. The complaint was again about cats defecating upstairs.
The Society has mediation flyers in which we ask for information on whom is feeding the cat or cats, and asking the caregiver to contact CWS. If the complaint is not solved, it is likely that the town council or management committee will trap and kill the cat and CWS is of course anxious to avoid that. The good news is that today we managed to narrow the search down after speaking with residents in both blocks. Again, in both blocks we were told caregivers were feeding the cats upstairs. Let's hope the caregivers contact the Society so we can try and resolve this.
Some caregivers say that the cats will not know how to go downstairs to eat but feeding locations can, and have been successfully changed. The cats will learn to eat downstairs.
We learnt that one of the caregivers was not sterilising and this causes more problems with new kittens being born. If you want to feed, ALWAYS sterilise - I cannot emphasise this strongly enough.
We also saw some cats in a cage in the corridor today. Cats left without a means of escape are easy prey for abusers, so cats should always be kept indoors.
We also went to a third mediation, but no one was in, or if there was they did not come to the door, so we left a flyer.
A piece of good news :- a mediation that we did a while ago had a happy ending. We advised the caregivers not to let their cat wander in the corridor any longer and they agreed to do so while they looked for a home. Someone expressed an interest in adopting the cat through the adoption board but the family has grown so attached to the cat, they're adopting it for good!
Wednesday, March 23, 2005
Why cats should not be fed upstairs
Number of cats people asked for help to rehome (again not including the adoption board) :- Five
Two different incidents happened today to demonstrate that some kind-hearted people are feeding cats upstairs outside their homes, not knowing that it can cause a lot of problems for the cats.
One person who called is a caregiver and another was a complaint referred via through the town councils. Both related to food left in corridors by caregivers.
Some people feed their cats directly outside their flats, but this has the effect of luring the cats upstairs. Some of these cats defecate outside other peoples' flats, which understandly causes consternation to these neighbours. Some other residents just do not like to see the cats walking around outside the corridors. What happens as a result is that people start complaining to the town council and often the stray cats who live downstairs get fingered, even though these are usually not the 'culprits'.
Another problem is people who own cats but let their cats wander around. Again, the strays downstairs get blamed if these owned cats are complained about.
People who complain rarely can tell the difference between the strays downstairs and other cats. Logically though, cats have a lot of space downstairs where they defecate and then bury their defecation. There is very little reason for them to walk upstairs to defecate, unless food is involved.
If someone complains, the town council or management committee will act, and this may involve trapping the cats to be killed. The more co-operative town councils/management committees may allow for caregivers in the area to mediate first.
So the moral of the story today is, if you want to feed cats, please do it responsibly. Do it downstairs in an unobstrusive spot where people are not inconvenienced, and always pick up after. Lives will literally be saved by your actions.
For caregivers whose cats are being blamed for defecation, do ask the town council to let you speak with the complainant, or you can write to Cat Welfare Society for help.
Also, if you own a cat, please keep it indoors. It could save your cat's life and those of other cats too.
Spay Day Clinic!
Number of cats people asked the Society to take in today (not including cats to be posted on the adoption board) :- One
I've just come out of a Committee Meeting, the focus of which is our Spay Day Clinic. We'll be setting up a clinic for a few days a week to try so that we can try and increase the number of strays we can sterilise. We really need help for this and will be putting a posting up on our website to ask for volunteers - we need committed people to help as veterinary nurses, and veterinary assistants. If a few extra veterinarians could help out too, that would be wonderful. I truly hope that volunteers will come forward and offer their assistance, because without them, it will be very difficult to run the clinic. Once the clinic is up and running though, it will be fantastic to have our own clinic where we can do stray cats and hopefully we'll be able to get faster and do more cats as time goes on!
We'll also have some new t-shirts coming out very soon. They're beautiful, thanks to the gorgeous designs offered to us by some volunteers. Hopefully, they'll be out by the first week of April and I think people will like them. A straw poll of some friends of one of the committee members showed a high approval rating.
I also spent time speaking to some of the town councils officers today. Two town councils called asking for help with three different complaints. One of them mentioned that the caregivers were doing a good job looking after the cats, but that there was one persistent complainant who had been following the caregiver around and writing complaint letters to everyone, asking them to stop her feeding. Another town council was not aware there were volunteers there, but now they've agreed to work with the volunteers before removing the cats in the area. As for the third complaint, two committee members and I will be going down on Thursday to distribute flyers to try and get information on the complaint as the complaint is anonymous. We don't normally entertain anonymous complaints, but as this one came through the town council, we will make an exception. I'll be going door to door in two different town councils covering around 110 units in each area. I can hardly wait :)