Saturday, July 30, 2005
July Committee Meeting
Long committee meeting - we ended at almost 1 am. We had quite a few issues to discuss and at the end of it, we were all pretty brain dead. We talked about how to concretely focus on our TNR programmes and plans we have to promote wider acceptance of sterilisation.
It was also the last committee meeting which our VP is attending as she'll be away next month and she's stepping down at the end of August. I realised we didn't even thank her for all her contributions, so if you read this, THANK YOU!
Friday, July 29, 2005
Abandonment - it IS a crime
Dropped by SPCA afterward, to drop off a copy of "The Real Singapore Cat" for them. I also spoke to the Operations Manager about the case with the caregiver who had a lot of trouble filing her report. They were writing to the police about it and I told them that I had managed to speak with the investigative officer in charge. We've agreed to keep each other updated.
I also want to see what happens with the case today of the missing cat picked up by the police - once the volunteer can confirm that it was definitely picked up by the police, then we have to find out where the cat went. It's definitely not at the SPCA or AVA.
There are some very kind officers who are very competent, but unfortunately there are also quite a few who seem not to know what the status of the law is with regards to abandonment and abuse of animals. This may be due to the fact that have a lot of new recruits, but we would be happy to speak to the academy recruits about this (and SPCA also apparently said the same). It was actually brought up with the policy people we met a while ago, but now those people have been changed and new officers are in place.
Cats in cages
I just came back from a few cases. I had to drive by this area where there was apparently an injured cat, but the owner of the shop where the cat lives has been feeding it, and he said the cat looks fine to him. He'll check and let me know if it's sterilised - if not we'll let him know about the subsidised sterilisation rates.
Then a volunteer and I went down to this house. We've gone down twice before, and spoken to the woman on the phone a few more times. She has some cats which she lets wander around. However, she keeps the rest in these small cages - two to a cage. She agreed after we spoke to her to get them sterilised and release them or alternatively to fence in her garden and she did send in some cats to be done. However she stopped - and someone wrote in to complain that the house was in as bad a condition as before.
No one was home today. I left a message and asked her to please call me again because now her phone has been disconnected. The house still looks occupied though.
Update on 'arrested' cat
The caregiver called. She's going to get more information from the people who witnessed it, but she said that she had also called AVA and SPCA and neither of them had the cat. The cat had a tipped ear.
One of the caregivers called Jolanda to say that she had been contacted by the people working around a certain area where there lived a very friendly cat. The cat has been there for many years and he is well loved by all.
Last Wednesday, the cat was picked up because the cat allegedly bit a child. The people in the area claim that the child provoked the cat according to the caregiver and the mother of the child called the police and the cat was removed by a policeman. Now the question is where the cat has gone to.
The police say they have no record of the cat being brought in. They think it may have been brought to the SPCA. AVA has no records of the cat either. Will check with SPCA, but if it's a cat with a tipped ear, I would be very surprised if they took it in. Unfortunately, the details are all so hazy - it's important to give the Society or anyone looking into the case as many details as are relevant to the case as possible.
Singaporeans - most violent people on earth?
Apparently, they must be, for neighbours are so scared to confront each other! The man who wrote in to complain about the man feeding in his backlane last night, sees this man almost every night. He says it's causing a nuisance, and there's a bad smell, BUT instead of first trying to talk to the man, he calls the police. That's right boys and girls, because calling the police, always makes it better. The police incidentally weren't able to do anything.
Now he's written to his town council, the police, his MP and to us. Now I know we have people like the Everitt Road group, but I seriously hope they're the exception and not the rule. I have to say most of my neighbours have been really nice people (with one exception).
So here's the thing, why won't people just speak to their neighbours directly? Many a time when we have gone down to mediate, a lot of people get upset because they wonder why their neighbours didn't just speak to them directly. If that doesn't work, then it can always be escalated to the proper authorities, but you've given your neighbour a chance to solve the problem first, which I think he or she will appreciate. If not, then call CWS, town council, police, etc.
Some people say it's because they don't want their neighbours to know who they are. Let me tell you that from what we've observed, most of them have a pretty good clue whom the complainant is anyway.
Thursday, July 28, 2005
"Why give those who complain the right to remain anonymous?"
Great article - and it was brought to my attention by someone who is complaining about their estate - and who gave their full address.
One thing I also found encouraging - the estate manager of the condominium I spoke to today said that he had spoken to people in other estates and asked what they were doing. He mentioned one estate uses the trap and kill method - but another was one of the estates that we work with, and he said that he heard they had a TNR method in place. The good news is that hopefully this word will spread - if managers talk to each other, and more TNR programmes are in place and are working, then hopefully, more estates will come on board!
Enthusiasm for TNR!
I have to say the part of my job which I really enjoy is meeting people who are all excited about starting TNR programmes. Jolanda and I both agreed that it makes you feel good to see people all harnessing their energy to try their best to do something for the cats.
I went down to meet these two ladies to drop a trap after going to the condominium. One lady asked her friend along - they've been sterilising and are down to the last few cats they cannot just pick up and pop in a carrier to be sterilised. They looked like really good friends, and I was really surprised to hear they just met a few weeks ago when some residents complained in their estate about the cats. Both of them came down and started explaining that they had been trapping and what they were doing, and that's how they met! The cats were fortunately left alone.
While I was demonstrating the trap, one of the ladies was visibly excited that this would allow her to get the last few difficult to get cats. Her passion and enthusiasm were wonderful to see. She mentioned there are a few more people who want to learn about TNR too and I told her, we'd be happy to come down and demonstrate if she could just get them organised.
I've noticed with the last few groups we showed the traps to, people were raring to go.
Also, for the record, I've noticed that quite a few people on the East seem to be starting programmes, borrowing traps and getting the cats done there. All the people I've been to see this week are on the East. Way to go people in the East! :)
Cats in condominium
I went down to meet a lady who contacted us and asked us to go with her to speak with her estate manager. They have been contemplating trapping the community cats there - the cats have been sterilised by this lady, though not all of them have been done yet.
The complaints are the usual - defecation, potential health risks, potential scratching of cars. We explained the concept of a TNR Management programme. Again I told him that this was not a question of cat lovers versus cat haters - but an effective solution which can result in a situation where EVERYONE is happy.
They have trapped cats in the estate before, but obviously, new cats just move in again!
The situation is also more complicated as quite a few of the residents also let their pet cats wander, so it's confusing for both the residents and the estate. Even if the volunteers or ourselves did mediation, it would be hard to tell I'm sure - as it is in other estates. The lady who rang us as well does let her cats out in the day, but she is now considering keeping them in all the time and says she will start doing so.
The manager says he'll put the proposal up to the committee, and I've asked to be allowed to make a presentation to the committee as well if they will let us do so.
Talking to management and booking early
I'm dropping a trap off this morning, then heading to another condo to talk to the manager of the condominium about starting a TNR project there with one of the residents. Most of the cats are sterilised, but apparently, there was a complaint, so now the residents who care for the cats are worried.
One of the people I dropped a cat trap off to two days ago called and said she needed a slot as she caught the cat. I had explained to her then it's best to book in advance, and to give us a week's notice to make sure we get a slot. I gave her the number to leave a message - and she called me this morning and said she caught the cat and needs a slot now. She said she left a message and no one had called her yet. I dropped the trap on Tuesday evening, it's now Thursday morning - and poor Jolanda has to scramble and try and find her a slot. So please, book early - you can always cancel the slot if you can't trap the cat (as I told this woman).
Wednesday, July 27, 2005
Michelle and I are getting our details worked out for the CHAMP conference in September. Marcus can't make it unfortunately, so it'll just be the two of us. We're going to be giving five minutes to speak on the International panel to explain about the work the Society does.
Now for something cheerful
After that last horrible post, I think it's time for something more cheerful. The same caregiver who picked up the poor cat told me she was trapping cats for sterilisation the other day, and someone came out to ask what she was doing. She explained what she was doing, and the man, who owns a shop where she traps the cats, gave her $750 to sterilise the cats!
So there are still kind people around - and people like the caregiver are making a big difference to show TNR works too.
This cat was dumped by someone whom he trusted and loved. After a few weeks on the street, and getting ill, this is what he looks like. The vet says he is very ill and that he cannot be saved. Poor, poor cat. Michelle, who sent this, said he is a very sweet cat. The caregiver is going down tomorrow to decide what to do.
Abandonment - yes you CAN file a report
I managed to speak with the Investigating Officer at the Tanglin Police Station who apologised and said it should not happen again. I sincerely hope that they will be better able to handle abandonment issues. The I/O said that everyone does of course have the right to lodge a report as a crime has clearly been committed if there is a case of abandonment.
One of our volunteers just called to say she found a blind cat which was abandoned some weeks. Someone tossed it out when it was ill, and she thinks it's suddenly gone completely blind because it looked alright when she last saw it two weeks ago. She mentioned that it looks like it has really gone to seed.
Jolanda's bag of tricks - she always carries it when she does TNR. She says it's a good idea to keep everything in one place - including sardines in a tin, a torch, a bottle with water, string, scissors, newspapers, wet wipes,a can opener, and other things. If you want to know how to use them in relation to TNR, you have to ask us to do a TNR workshop in your area because it's too complicated to explain here!
TNR workshop at condo
Jolanda and I conducted a workshop at one of the condominiums last night. Jolanda got there first and SMSed to say that they were expecting us and were really welcoming. The guards ushered us in, and even showed us where to park - she joked that she said, we're Cat WELFARE Society you know? They even offered to help with her traps. It was a really nice change to have people pleased to see us.
The residents were quite enthusiastic and we showed them the Alley Cat Allies video, and Jolanda did her demonstration. Jolanda is really good - she shows you all the little tricks of the trade, like how to get the last difficult cat, how to always wait till the cat is deep in the trap, and a lot of things she's learned through hard-earned experience. We're trying to see if we can film Jolanda's demonstration cheaply somehow - someone may be able to do it.
We also spoke to them about cat management and the cat cafe concept. They've already started sterilising the cats, but there is a group they cannot really get near, so the cat trap is coming into play there. They asked how to stop new cats from coming in, and we explained that sterilisation will do that naturally to maintain the population. One of the people there exclaimed that now he understood why no new cats were coming in from one side of the estate - the cats there were all done. They were only coming in from the other side where the cats were not sterilised yet!
They bought a trap and looked eager to start. We wish them all the best of luck!
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
Singapore Cat, GIRO forms and cat traps!
Just came back from dropping off the books to our sponsors with the Society's Vice-President. There were a group of kind people who sponsored the book, which really helped!
Our GIRO forms are just in too, so we'll be putting them in the next issue of our newsletter.
We also dropped off a cat trap to a lady who is trying to trap some community cats in her neighbourhood. When I went in though, I found one of her cats tied to a sofa. Her husband, I gather, has not been very supportive of her keeping the cats, and as her apartment is quite open, the cat runs out, so she put it on a very long leash - but still a leash. Must try and get some photos of a screen door for her to try that will allow air in, but keep the cat in too.
Jolanda and I are going to see a condominium about TNR tonight.
For people who complain community cats carry diseases
OCC-ENV-MED-L archives -- September 2004 (#121)
Number of deaths linked to community cats here last year - Zero. Number linked to (yes you read it right!) SOIL : 24
School cats kicked out
One of our members works in a school and she set up a cat cafe project - they sterilised the two cats on the school premises and had them fed away from the canteens. The cats were looked after by the staff and the children really liked them. I'm sure most people remember having one or two school cats when they were in school - they add a nice touch and most of the kids really love them (the one I had in school was called Oreo, Brownie or Kitty by different people - poor cat must have had a personality disorder).
Unfortunately, a parent wrote in anonymously to say that a cat had stolen food from her child and had scratched her child when the child was in the canteen. Our member looked into it and could not find any evidence that this had happened. However, the Principal has now told her to get rid of the two cats because the Principal is worried she'll get into trouble with the MOE.
This is a most unfortunate saga. The Principal has stopped speaking with our member and the member says it would not be a good time for us to speak to the Principal. The children have gone up to ask not to have the cats removed but the Principal is adamant. It's a most disturbing trend that because of one anonymous complaint, a humane method of implementing community cat management has been overturned.
This reminds me of another school that got a pest controller to remove their cat (which had been there for years) because a new manager came into the school. The children were so upset, the school called us and we traced down the pest controllers within the company who took the cat. They said that while they were having a coffee break, someone came up and asked to adopt the cat. Why they took the cat out of the van for a coffee break and why they just handed the cat out to someone just all seemed very fishy.
The children actually went to the area but could not find a cat. Eventually of course, another cat moved into the school and it remains there to this day as far as I know.
Michelle called a fundraising meeting and we met a lot of new, very enthusiastic volunteers! They had a lot of ideas for raising funds for the Society, and it was great to see the level of excitement and energy they had. We'll hope to see some of these ideas implemented soon - and I'm sure they will be with the volunteers onboard. We started at 7 and only finished off at 11:30 pm because everyone has so many ideas to share!
Monday, July 25, 2005
Your calls are important to us
Why do people keep having recording messages that say "your calls are important to us"? If I was so important, they'd be talking to me already! :)
Still waiting on line to see if I can finally talk to the officer at the police station.
This lady emailed - she's at her wit's end. She has an older cat (10 years old) and two younger cats, and the older cat is suddenly being viciously attacked by the younger two. She said that there was always a certain amount of bullying but that it's become much worse only in the last year (they've lived together for five years). The last attack saw her older cat attacked so badly, he almost died.
She has been to see several vets, but unfortunately while one did prescribe her some medication, it didn't seem to work. A lot of the medication takes a bit of time to see which fit your cat though, and also it often has to be hand in hand with some form of behavioural modification. Unfortunately, there aren't any behavioural therapists in Singapore - I know of a LOT of people with cats who have the same problem (though not so severe fortunately). This poor lady is really very stressed out - she doesn't want to give up any of her cats, but according to her, the vet said any more attacks and her oldest cat is going to be killed one of these days.
If I ever leave the Society one day, I'm going to seriously consider getting trained as a therapist!
Condos that wants to set up management programmes
We've suddenly gotten a few requests to talk to condominiums about TNR programmes. Jolanda and I are going down to one tomorrow night, another one tentatively next Tuesday night, and I've just got off the phone with the resident of a third condo that wants us to come down and talk to her management. It's great that there's more interest in setting up cat management programmes - let's hope that people are willing to give it a try. Another friend of mine has just said he'd like to introduce it in his condominium too.
If you're in a condominium and want to set up a management programme, contact the Society for more information. We're more than happy to come down and do a presentation for your management council or residents' council and explain about TNR. It's actually quite easy to set up such a programme in a condominium because it's up to the council to decide if they want to do it - so it can be implemented quite quickly as well. Of course some residents may complain, but then it's up to the committee to be able to explain - and the Society can help with that as well.
Trying to call the police officer - no reply.
I left the exhibition at Woodlands to go for a mediation somewhere in the vicinity on Saturday morning. I was told that a family was feeding their cats right next to the corridor and that the cats were running into their neighbours' home as a result. The neighbour's child is very frightened of cats and asked if the feeding spot could be changed but to no avail. She has spoken directly to them, but she says the situation is better for a while then starts again.
I spoke to a young man who denied that his family was feeding the cat. He had at least one cat at home, but they had a plastic screen up over most of the door. However, he said his family was not the one feeding the community cats outside.
I asked him if he had any idea who was doing the feeding, but he said he did not. I do find this a little strange because the spot is clearly visible the minute they pop out into the corridor and there are only two flats in the vicinity - the complainant and the person being complained about. I suspect the family may be feeding but may not want to admit it. I have asked them to please let us know if they have any information on the feeder - to just look out for them even because the complainant is getting more and more irritated and it's a matter of time before the cats are rounded up.
Sunday, July 24, 2005
How to get your paws on a copy of the Real Singapore Cat!
Friday, July 22, 2005
Ignorance of the Law
We're often told Ignorance of the law is no excuse - so what happens when the officers who uphold the law are themselves ignorant? After the fiasco with the officer the other day, the caregiver went down again to the police station yesterday which was really wonderful of her. I can understand she was tired after being put off. I had called the station and the person in charge said that there was no problem filing a report.
So the volunteer goes in the evening yesterday and the officer whom I spoke to is not there. She asks to file a report anyway and was turned away AGAIN - they told her yet again to go to SPCA. The volunteer was well prepared this time - she took out her statute and showed it to them, but according to her, the officer told her to go call the SPCA anyway because they wouldn't investigate!
I called to speak to the officer today but he was not on duty. I spoke to yet another officer, who again had NO idea that you can file a report for abandonment. When I quoted the statute, he checked with his supervisor who said that the volunteer could file a report.
I called the volunteer and told her the officer would be waiting to take her report at a certain time and told her to call if there was a problem. I didn't hear from her this afternoon, and so I've dropped her an email this evening. Hope it finally went well. If not who can blame her for not wanting to file a report?
Who's responsible for Community Cats?
I posted a little earlier today about how I was upset that this woman would not sterilise the remaining cat breeding in her block because she did not want to use a cat trap. I should clarify I had spoken to her at least a year ago or so, and she had told me that all was under control then, except for the mother cat, which she would do and which still isn't done.
Now the town council is coming and she's called me. Coincidentally she got my number which she lost because the Society had received a complaint and we went down to try and find the feeder. We were told there are a lot of cats around.
Anonymous posted to say I was being too harsh for the feeders and that they were being kind to feed the cats (you can see the posts below) but here's the thing :- if you keep feeding and don't sterilise, the cats with good nutrition are going to keep reproducing and then they're going to get rounded up and killed. How is this kind? If say you decided I don't want to feed these two cats, yes they might be hungry, and yes they still might breed but they wouldn't breed as fast, and I have never seen or heard of a cat die of hunger yet in the literally thousands of cats I've seen around.
Say you feed them though - these two cats breed because they're getting good nutrition. They're nice and fat - they give birth to three litters a year and of these litters say 4 cats are born. In two years, it's estimated, 2 cats and their offspring can give birth to 324 cats. In the meantime, they're mating and fighting and giving birth - which leads to the risk of FIV, FELV and FIP being passed on.
Then the town council gets complaints - which they inevitably will - and the cats get rounded up and killed.
So is the feeder responsible? If not the feeder, then whom? The minute you take on the responsibility of feeding the cat, the cat IS your responsibility. Would the feeder decide, I don't feel like feeding today? No, they'd probably say I HAVE to feed because the cat is waiting for me - as Anonymous said, the feeder in her estate has fed every night for the last 8 years. Isn't that taking on the responsibility?
It's great that people mean to be kind, but they also have to think about the bigger picture. If they don't intend to sterilise, then don't feed.
It's not to say the authorities do not need to be responsible, but if we keep waiting for them to do something, our cats whom we profess to love, are dying needlessly in the meantime.
What also irks me is that this feeder has said that she wants to sterilise the cat, but just refuses to try the cat trap. How will she know it doesn't work if she doesn't give it a shot? I've offered to drive the trap down and show her to use it. At the worst, it doesn't work and we try something else. If it does, the mother cat stops dropping kittens regularly.