Monday, October 31, 2005

Holiday tomorrow

Was everyone on holiday today? I went to the bank and get photocopying done and it seems that everyone is already on leave. I went to get flyers photocopied for mediation and to get a new CWS company stamp done (or should that be charity stamp?).

Have a good Deepavali tomorrow everyone!

Callas and Shireen


PICT0022
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Behind the scenes, Shireen the foster makes sure Callas is okay. Shireen did an amazing job, taking in FIVE NEWBORNS! All of them are oing well, and only Callas and one more sibling, Bombay are still up for adoption.

Callas


PICT0024
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Callas the kitten is a tv star! She was held by the journalist who was doing a piece on abandonment.

Stressed cats?

I just spoke to a young woman with 4 cats in her home. She seems to care for her cats, but does not quite know how to look after them. She mentioned wanting to put them into a shelter but can't afford that. Right now, they are kept in a cage and she said they just have enough space to turn around. They also have no litter pan because she encourages them to use the toilet floor. She lets them out for an hour or two a day if she's busy and they have to avail themselves of the toilet facilities at this time.

She also mentioned they're dropping fur all over the place. It might well be they're just incredibly stressed and if they're let out, it may help. It's compounded by the fact that the she has tenants she rents to and that they have complained about the defecation all over the toilet floor. I've advised her to try a litter pan and to let the cats out. If they have a proper place to defecate and they are less stressed, the constant fur shedding may stop. She mentioned the vet said they might have fleas as well but she says that the creams and the like have no worked. I asked if she might go to the vet again but she says she doesn't usually take them as she does not have much money.

Volunteers


PICT0026
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Back to World Animal Day in the afternoon, and these kind ladies were the volunteers helping out. Lillian was co-ordinating in the afternoon.

Buster


PICT0018
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Dr Teo holding Buster, who was sterilised.

The Spay Day team


PICT0019
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

As I mentioned these were friendly foster cats to be sterilised, NOT community cats. Do NOT try this with a half awake community cat!

Surgical equipment


PICT0016
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Five cats - lots of equipment!

Cleaning up


PICT0015
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

And you thought Spay Day was all glamour - Rebecca cleaning up after the event.

Waking up


PICT0011
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This cat was being monitored so it could go home. There was some problem with getting community cats (one of the caregivers had an eye operation and couldn't trap) so we did cats that were waiting for adoption.

Spay Day


PICT0012
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

From Bishan Park, I dropped in for Spay Day, which were in the very capable hands of Jolanda and Rebecca. By the time I got there at 12:45 pm, all the cats were done! Five cats in 3 hours - Spay Day is getting faster!

Nap time


PICT0008
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

It was extremely, extremely warm yesterday and the cats were quite hot. Unfortunately, we were near the speakers as well, and while we asked them to turn down the volume, it was still quite noisy. Some of the cats that looked stressed out, went home early. Others like this one, decided to take a nap. We gave them cold water in addition to positioning the fans around them.
One cat was adopted - the others have had interested parties who might want to take them home.

Viewing the cats


PICT0006
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

We put up a little barrier so that people don't crowd the cats. We know the cats are very cute, but continually having people playing with them can be very stressful. Here one of the fosters chats with a potential adopter.

Cat on leash


PICT0004
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

One of the volunteers brought her cat on a leash! He's very friendly but not all cats take to leashes.

If you're going to volunteer, please turn up

What an exhausting day yesterday was. We set up at Bishan Park for World Animal Day just past 9 am, but there was a problem picking up the merchandise, so the transport person had to drop all the cages, and then go back to pick up the merchandise.

We also were a bit stuck on the adoptions side. As I mentioned, the person who volunteered to be in charge on Friday pulled out at the last minute, which meant that we had to scramble and get everything organised. Apparently, she told the head of adoptions she didn't realise she had to do so much. It DOES a certain amount of co-ordination, but it isn't that difficult. With some of the other committee members, we pulled it together in less than a day.

Please, don't volunteer and then pull out at the last minute - being an almost completely run volunteer organisation, it really makes things difficult for the rest of the volunteers. I've had to pull double duty shifts in the past when I was volunteering because people just didn't show and didn't bother to call. Of course, if there really is a good reason you can't come (and emergencies of course do happen), we will completely understand, but not turning up for no good reason means someone else is going to have to do the work. Either don't volunteer, or else, show up when you're supposed to.

At any rate, we got the cats down, the show set up and everything up and running by around 11 am. Thanks to all the volunteers who DID come - some of whom came at the last minute to help out when we asked for help. You guys are the best! Some people stayed the whole day from morning till night too.

World Animal Day


PICT0027
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

World Animal Day at Bishan Park organised by Action for Singapore Dogs.

Reply to Today Letter

TODAYonline

Today printed our response.

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Preparation for Adoption drive


Toyogo
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went down this afternoon to buy stuff for the adoption drive tomorrow. Tomorrow is a busy day - we have both World Animal Day Celebrations AND Spay Day!

Appeal for help from regular newspaper readers

As some of you may have seen, some articles recently appeared about the bird flu and people are now questioning whether cats are responsible. There has been NO indication of this so far, but that doesn't stop people from speculating. The problem is that this may lead to a lot of damage - I'm sure everyone here remembers SARS. At the end of the day, how many people were infected by cats? Zero. However, the panic that started, as everyone knows led to a very tragic consequence of cats being killed and the Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme being shut down.

The best thing that we can do it to keep on top of the news and try and rebut any misleading information. To do that though, I would really appreciate help monitoring the newspapers. I do read the Straits Times and surf the Net, but obviously I can't read everything. I missed the Today article for example, till I saw it on Vegancat's blog. If some of you could monitor newspapers which you regularly read and let me know of any articles of interest, it would be of great help. They do not need to be limited to articles on bird flu. This would include newspapers in languages other than English.

I have never read so many medical articles then during the SARS outbreak (I have an incredibly thick file on SARS articles from newspapers and journals) and if someone has access to PubMed and can scan through the medical articles and help with that, that would great as well.

Please let me know if you can help or write to me if you have any questions.

vegancatsg: Irresponsible Journalism

vegancatsg: Irresponsible Journalism

Just read this off Vegancat's blog - this article is worse than the photo in the Straits Times. I am writing a reply now.

Brownie


Brownster
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Brownie, recently adopted community cat, weighs in with her opinion at the committee meeting.

Comm meeting


Comm meeting
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Last night's committee meeting (though it wouldn't be wrong to say today's since we ended just past midnight!).

Friday, October 28, 2005

Stress

I just got back from a meeting with Marcus to meet an IT person who may also be helping us out with the website. We talked a little about the adoption board, and what needs to be done, and they suggested having a joint site with the other groups.

The volunteer who was supposed to be in charge of Sunday's adoption drive just pulled out, so now we're running around trying to find a way to run the drive anyway. We're calling people desperately to see if we can find a way to run the drive somehow. We need cages and litter trays too.

This on top of the article in today's papers, which was pretty terrible. The sad thing is people are going to look at it and blame cats because of the preconception and the photo of the cat. The thing also is that it's easy to blame cats - people don't consider that for example, there's no way they're going to stop migratory birds. Cats are easy sitting targets really.

Community cat


Community cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Nice, healthy community cat - he was sterilised, but his ears weren't tipped at the time. The best way to ensure a healthy cat population is to introduce TNRM programmes in the area.

Cats at condo update 2

Jolanda organised the slots and we got someone to pick up the cats at the condo. Jolanda called the boy yesterday afternoon. I called him in the evening, gave instructions as he was eating dinner and couldn't talk to me. I was told to call back at 8 pm. I called on the dot. He wasn't in. I gave instructions to yet another family member who said they knew what to do.

This morning, the cats still weren't handed over to the transport man. They asked that it be done in the afternoon, which obviously can't be done. *tearing hair out*

ST Article (28-10-05)


ST Article (28-10-05)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Who wants to bet no one sees the fact that it says that no one has caught bird flu from cats, but will focus on the cats instead?

Infighting helps no one

I was speaking to one of the caregivers and asking if anyone fed in her neighbourhood. This is a neighbourhood that has quite a lot of feeders, but few actual caregivers, which is a problem, and it's compounded by the infighting.

The problem is that quite a few feeders look after their own cats, but should you need help in the area, or with the next block, no one will help. If the cats in the next block are in trouble and will be rounded up, they won't help. I can understand that there are limitations in time and money, and that a line has to be drawn somewhere. In fact, we have caregivers who do the opposite and do too much, and are exhausted and don't do a good job managing the area. However, this is more about their attitude - I've asked feeders if they could just go down to the next block and check out the situation and been turned down flatly.

This caregiver herself said she was fed up and is going to just look after her own cats now. This is the neighbourhood where rather strangely after a volunteer group meeting, different feeders pulled me aside to tell me that they were feeding better food (and more cats) then the other feeders.

If only they could all get along, the cats would benefit so much.

First look at the the bookmarks


Bookmarks
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Jolanda's hair


Jolanda's hair
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Jolanda's hair all nice and blow dried!

Pretty bizarre

I went from the warehouse to meet Jolanda and one of the caregivers. The caregiver said she had someone who sponsored a lot of her sterilisations, and he wanted to meet us. I asked what we were to discuss, but she said she didn't know, he wanted to meet us but wouldn't say why. The man runs a hair dressing salon.

We went down and the man praised the caregivers - apparently, he donates money to them to get the cats sterilised, which is really nice. He then said he wondered if the caregivers could be given police powers to enter peoples' homes if they suspected abuse or abandonment, but I told him it was unlikely.

Then - and this is the bizarre part - he said that he wanted to give Jolanda and myself a free hair wash and blow dry. We both said we had to go, but he was quite insistent. It was very nice of him, but rather strange (though in a nice way). I'm also one of those people who doesn't particularly like going to the hairdressers, so I was kind of wishing they'd hurry up and I could get home to work! :)

Definitely one of the more unusual experiences I've had. That was it actually - he just wanted to meet us to give us a free hair wash I think!

Small shirts


Small shirts
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The shirts are in - and so are the bookmarks. Spent the afternoon packing for Sunday's event and sorting the shirts out.

Vet clinic and radio show

We are negotiating with another vet clinic to try and work out subsidised rates for sterilisation. Once the details are out, I'll definitely post details here.

The producer of the radio station called to apologise about this morning. She said the session went on a little longer than she expected and there were a lot of advertisements to air. It was nice of her to call.

I'm heading to the warehouse now - will be packing merchandise for Sunday's World Animal Day celebration and also awaiting the bookmarks and shirts. At least I THINK the bookmarks are coming - still no news from then yet.

Meeting after that.

IPC status

Our IPC application was turned down again, this time by the Singapore Environment Council for the second time. I'm writing to ask why and whether there's anything we can do to reapply. We were rejectd by the National Council of Social Services for essentially not being people orientated enough. It's really difficult to apply for IPC (and hence get tax deduction for donors) if you're an animal welfare group it seems. I'm so disappointed.

Exaggeration and Abandonment

I was sent an email by a town council saying that a cat had 'attacked' residents. Fortunately, the resident who complained in this case had left her contact details so I called her up and asked about the complaint. It turns out the cat has chased her dog - no attacking. She also said it chases residents. I love how complaints get incredibly distorted - if this was an anonymous complaint, we would never even have gotten to the bottom of this.

I'm trying to find the caregiver in the area, but this cat has just arrived two weeks ago. The complainant confirmed that there are several other cats in the area and that they have been there for quite a while. This is the only cat that tries to go upstairs. One of the caregivers I called to find the caregiver in the area said to me she's quite sure that this cat has been dumped. The cat is probably trying to find its way home.

Another caregiver I spoke to in a different area mentioned the increased dumping in her area too. She said because of the holidays next week, some people don't want to board the cats. Some just leave the cats out when they are away, assuming someone else will feed them. She's expecting an upsurge in dumped cats next week.

Millionaire Magazine


Millionaire Magazine
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The article in Millionaire Magazine is out and here's the profile on Marc! Interestingly, I don't see any price on the cover of the magazine, so I suspect the magazine may not actually be for sale!

Interview

So I wake up at 7 am to make sure I'm quite lucid for the show. If any of you heard it, it was pretty interesting - they spoke to Ricky from ASD, Dr Leow from AVA and Jessica Seet, but unfortunately, I was asked one question and they ran out of time. It was quite strange because the phone just went dead, and I thought, oh no, my phone line just dropped! Good thing I had the radio and I heard them say they were out of time.

Jumping back into bed for 15 winks!

ACM Cat sign


ACM Cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The sign - took this another day when I walked by.

ACM cat statue


ACM cat statue
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I love this statue which is at the Asian Civilisations Museum at Armenian Street. The Museum adopted the community cat, who lived there till he died, and they erected this statue for it.

Fundraising team


Fundraising team
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The fundraising team meeting at the Substation. Webgal is also in the photo - who has been doing such a great job with the adoption board! Thanks all!

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Meetings

We're meeting the fundraising and IT volunteers tonight. Marcus is meeting the IT volunteers, Michelle the fundraising team, and I'm just tagging along!

Singaporean Pets Pant for U.S. Pet Food

Singaporean Pets Pant for U.S. Pet Food

Note that they made a special mention of community cat caregivers - who says community cats don't generate revenue?

Radio Interview

Doing a radio interview tomorrow morning - at 7:20 am! Yawn! I'm really grateful for the opportunity, but at the same time, if I sound like I'm half asleep, and there are long pauses between questions, it does mean I've nodded off! I'm not a morning person :)

T-Shirts & Bookmarks

The small t-shirts, and hopefully the bookmarks will be in by tomorrow. I'll be going down to the warehouse and will be packing for our exhibition this weekend, as part of ASD's World Animal Day celebration at Bishan Park.

Sometimes one person speaking up CAN change the world

Two Sets of Parks Memories, From Before the Boycott and After - New York Times

BBC NEWS | Europe | Rome dogs win right to daily walk

BBC NEWS | Europe | Rome dogs win right to daily walk

Sometimes it's not even about the enforceability, it's just about the recognition. I wish our caregivers could be recognised for the great work they do!

Thanks Chris for sending this in.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Irresponsible owners

One of the feeders called me a while ago. She told me that the person she had asked us to speak to a while ago about sterilising her cat did not do so, and the cats had given birth three times since. She is thinking of taking the cat, sterilising it and then abandoning it some place else! The feeder said that if she sterilised it and returned it, the woman would suspect her and the woman might try and hurt her. However, the woman might well think that she's taken the cat away anyway!

The woman with the cat apparently told the feeder that she was being nosy and should get her own cats sterilised first. While I certainly don't condone what she is doing (letting her pet cat repeatedly give birth), she does have a point - the feeder has not sterilised her own community cats.

On another front, the girl who had the mother cat and three kittens outside her flat on the sofa called me. The cats, if some of you may remember, were taken away by volunteers to be sterilised and they said then they didn't want the mother cat. She wants one of the cats back now, despite the fact that she didn't call me back when she was supposed to and I had tried to call her. She said her phone was disconnected.

What more can they do?

Some of you may remember the case of the family in the condominium which refused to sterilise their cats and which agreed to do so last week finally.

I spoke to the son last night and reminded them to starve the cats again and to get them ready in the morning. He emailed me early this morning to say that he managed to catch one of the cats. However when the other caregiver in his estate went over this morning, no one was at home. This was compounded by the fact that caregiver's father just went into hospital and she rushed back to pick up the cats because she said she would do it.

The son did email and apologise - but he said that the person at home must have 'dozed off'. Now we'll have to try and find someone else to do the transport. It's really tough in that one of the volunteers there was going to pay for it, another wanted to do the transport, everyone loaned their carriers and all the family had to do was get the cats ready.

What more do the other volunteers have to do seriously?

What do you feel most strongly about?

Marcus, Michelle and I met with one of the companies that is looking to work with us to promote a new cat food that is coming on the market. We are very careful in that we can't endorse any food, but if there are opportunities to work together to spread awareness, we're certainly open to the idea.

There were some ideas bandied around. What was interesting was that one of the ladies asked what most people felt most strongly about in regards to the community cat situation.

I said I thought it was more the unnecessary killing then say abuse - that while abuse is horrific and everyone wants to stop it, that in terms of sheer numbers, the fact that so many cats are dying unnecessarily is more important to most people. Which of course leads to sterilisation. Thoughts?

Lunch meeting


Michelle & Marc at Amara
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Michelle giving me the hairy eyeball at the lunch meeting.

Sponsor

Marcus, Michelle and I are going to see a potential sponsor a little later in the morning. Jolanda and I had spoken to them a few months ago, but unfortunately nothing came out of that.

It's quite a tough sell asking for sponsorship for sterilisation here. It seems that there isn't a lot of emphasis on that, despite the fact that for example, Singaporeans are known to be big buyers of food for community cats. Let's keep our fingers crossed.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Booking of slots

I spoke to a woman who was told to contact CWS by the vet she went to. She wanted to send in some community cats for sterilisation, but she had called the vet directly first.

The woman said that she wanted to sterilise the cats, but she wanted to call herself and then have CWS confirm. I explained it wasn't possible, and she said this was bureaucratic and she only had time this one week, etc. She also said she brought her own cats to the clinic.

I explained to her that we can't take bookings that way because firstly, it can be annoying for the vet clinic. For example, if three people call the clinic, then ask CWS to confirm the slots, we are talking of a minimum of four phone calls to the clinic here. If CWS calls, Rebecca or Jolanda will call once. As such, the vets have asked that we do the booking and others do not call and ask for slots directly. In fact, we clarified with the clinic who said that as this was the first time this person had heard of CWS' slots, they were okay with helping this one time, but in the future she had to go through proper channels.

More importantly, it's not fair - it is like jumping queue, and isn't fair to the other people who call the hotline directly. As some caregivers know, if there is a sudden cancellation, someone may be given a much earlier slot than the next person in line - and it really should be a first come, first served situation. It should not be dependent on whether the person knows the vet or goes there for their home cats or not.

All committee members and everyone else also has to go through the same system of emailing or calling the mailbox as well, so no one gets preferential treatment.

Jolanda and Rebecca always try to get the slots as early as possible for everyone, but we also want to be fair to all, and not annoy the vets. It's not a perfect system, but it's the fairest one we can think of for now.

Sculptures


School 1
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Sculptures at the school I went to.

Compassion and responsibility

I went to one of the school's today to talk to them about starting a cat cafe programme on campus. They wanted to know about cat cafes and how to start a management programme in the school. It's a lovely school and the teachers have actually sterilised some of the cats there, and got other cats adopted out, but I am sure there are more cats there. They estimated 3 and the school is much too big to support such a small number. The Principal said that it's also a question of not wanting the population to grow too large. She also mentioned she was having problems in her own apartment with people leaving food out for the cats and I said we would help with that if we can as well.

She mentioned quite a few of the students feed and they gave a school assembly talk to them about how feeding can sometimes be misguided. I told her that this was the best way of getting the students to learn not just compassion but responsibility as well - and it would definitely be a better lesson than just something learnt in a book. They'll be considering it and will revert.

School


School
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The school I visited today to discuss setting up a cat cafe. It looks like a lovely place for cats to live in!

Vacuum effect

This is going to sound very obvious but the vacuum effect works whether the caregiver or the management/pest control/TC removes the cats.

Often we do hear of caregivers who are understandably worried about their cats being removed because of neighbours, town council, etc. They will of course want to remove the cats from the area which is perceived as dangerous, but the thing to remember is that, whether the caregiver or the pest control removes the cats, the effect is the same - new cats will come in.

One caregiver told me she removed some cats because she was concerned they were going to be trapped, and she moved them to a farm. This was in a stable colony she had been feeding for some time. That night, when she got back from the farm, she found three new cats she had never seen before waiting for her. She had to get them sterilised, and she feeds them too, as well as maintaining the cats in the farm, so she's essentially paying double.

One town council asked the caregiver to remove the cats in an area - the caregiver did so. Within two weeks, a new influx of new, unsterilised cats had moved in.

Here's the thing - try your best never to remove your cats as long as they are safe. There are situations when they aren't of course, and you may have no choice. However, try to convince whomever wants to remove them about the vacuum effect, because chances are extremely high that you're going to have a new lot of cats move in.

Don't remove the cats if you don't have to. You're then either going to have to (1) remove them too, (2) care for them, sterilise them and feed them or (3) ignore them because you can't cope anymore. It's going to take up a lot of your time and money too - because you'll now be looking after MORE cats overall.

Furr Angels! - Heroes: Sunshine on a Winter Day, Nursing Home Cats

Furr Angels! - Heroes: Sunshine on a Winter Day, Nursing Home Cats

This is an interesting website on the Eden Alternative Vegancat mentioned with some lovely cats in the home.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Happy Birthday CWS!

CWS was registered 6 years ago today. Happy Birthday CWS!

We're trying to arrange a get together to celebrate and of course all of you are invited once we can get a venue confirmed!

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Pets in Singapore


Pets in Singapore
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

From the Straits Times, 21st October - the cover photo of a feature on pets in Singapore. Isn't this a wonderful photo?

Indianapolis sets national precedent in the US

Indianapolis sets national precedent

Note that the vet quoted mentioned that cats in TNR colonies are in better health since TNR programmes were started.

Here's a link to IndyFeral :-

IndyFeral

Friday, October 21, 2005

Grey


Grey
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Grey is a lovely boy - also needing a new home.

Abyssinian


Abyssinian
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

After the meeting, I went to take some photos of cats for adoption - this lovely boy is very playful and friendly. He's also either an Abyssinian or an Abyssinian mix. I'll be posting him on the adoption page of the CWS website.

TC meeting

I met with the volunteer and her town council Property Manager and several of the officers today. The talk started out in the usual way - ie that there are cat lovers and cat haters and the town council needs to find a way to solve complaints. I explained that this really isn't an effective or efficient way of looking at the situation. There is a problem - and we believe that the best and most effective way of solving complaints is also the most humane - running a Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage programme.

The Property Manager was quite adamant at the beginning but eventually agreed to call if there is a complaint before removing the cats. I hope she does do so. There were another five property officers there - the three men (two of whom were older) looked pretty bored, but one of the younger women was nodding imperceptibly while I was speaking. Younger officers on the whole seem to be more open to the idea - so maybe with more newer officers we may have a better chance of selling the idea of TNRM to them.

Town Council visited today

 
 Posted by Picasa

Meeting TC

I'm going with a volunteer to meet with her town council this afternoon. Hope it goes well. She's just starting out and I think she also needs more information.

You don't love them just because they're family.

I spoke to a woman this morning who wants to get the cats she has been feeding sterilising, because one of the lots of kittens were taken away by pest control. One of the reasons is that she and her friend feed the cats upstairs - her friend has a makeshift home for them on the second floor, she had another on the 8th floor. She kept insisting it's not safe for the kittens to be in the void deck when they are young. Certainly there is a risk of leaving them in the void deck, but leaving them upstairs is infinitely worse. In both cases, people complained of the cats defecating - and the woman said that her friend cleaned up, but couldn't do it around the clock. This means that people ARE going to complain - and they did in this case - and the cats get rounded up.

She also mentioned what a few people have mentioned - that cats should have family because they especially love genetically related cats. As far as I have seen, this is not true at all - I have a pair of siblings that absolutely hate each other, and other cats which are not related which bond for life. I've seen this in other cats too - it doesn't mean cats that are related aren't necessarily very loving, but it also doesn't mean they will be friendly just because they're related. I personally think it has to do with temperament rather than blood. I would think it is the same as with people :)

A Look at Owner Requested Euthanasia - Maddie's Fund newsletter

Maddie's Fund - Newsletter

I like the Tompkins County SPCA approach.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Third party help

I've often mentioned that it's a good idea for neighbours to speak directly with their neighbours if they have a problem with the situation. However in some cases, the complaint about the cat is just one of the matters under contention - in some cases, it may not be about the cats at all, but that the cats are the easiest ones to complain about and strike out at.

In this case, if you are one of the caregivers involved in a situation like this, please do NOT attempt to speak to your neighbour (or another resident, or even someone who is always in your estate for some reason). What you should do is ask a third party to come in.

We have a case today where two neighbours are not getting along and the community cats are one of the issues raised - emotions are running high obviously. If either party tries to talk to the other, I think the situation will just get uglier and the cats may well suffer. One neighbour has already asked for a cat trap to trap the cats. Unfortunately, the management committee does not seem to want us to go in and help (despite my phone calls and emails).

World Animal Day celebrations


WAD 05 Publicity Poster small
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Action for Singapore Dogs has invited a number of welfare organisations down to celebrate WAD next weekend at Bishan Park. We'll also have cats up for adoption.

Reply published in Today

TODAYonline

Why sterilise?

I just spoke to a rather irate man who received a flyer one of the TNRM groups sent out listing me as the contact person. The flyer was about Sterilisation and it's importance and the man was very upset - he said Sterilisation was against his principles because it took away their God-given right to reproduce. He asked how CWS can call ourselves a welfare group if we want to sterilise the cats.

I told the man that we sterilised because we didn't want the cats to die because they are being rounded up and killed, and we think they have a right to live. I also explained that we had statements from Buddhist and Muslim groups to support this.

Also as I told him, if the cats weren't being killed, and everyone was happy, we'd be more than happy to stop sterilising. Sterilising them is to stop them from being killed.

He asked who was killing the cats, and I mentioned they are rounded up by town councils. He suggested we sue them because it is cruelty, but I pointed out to him that the method of killing them isn't 'cruel' in that the animals are not suffering when they put the cats down by lethal injection, but that we object to killing them AT ALL!

At any rate, he's going to call the town council now and ask if this is true, and he asked if he can complain about rats now to his TC.

Animal Blessing

Catholic News � Blog Archive � Loving stewards of animlas

Brownie's Blog: Animal Blessing Day (2005)

Apparently there is Animal Blessing Day in come churches here too.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Putting the FUN into fundraising


Marcus, Michelle, Leonard and Daniel
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Daniel and Leonard with Marcus and Michelle - an album would definitely increase awareness of the message as well as funds!

M&M


M&M
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Marcus & Michelle barely able to contain their excitement! :)

Compilation album for CWS!

Marcus, Michelle and I met Daniel from Electrico and Leonard, Producer Extraordinaire today to discuss a compilation album the two of them have been planning to produce for CWS.

They have spoken to a number of local indie bands and so far something like 17 bands have agreed to help out! It's a regular who's who of the Singapore music scene, with bands like Electrico, Astreal, Force Vomit, and lots of others contributing music to it. What's even cooler is that we'll be able (in addition to raising funds from the album) do writeups on sterilisation and the like in the liner notes. Also, Daniel and Leonard are suggesting that every band have a photo of one of the band member's cats - and it seems that every band has a member who has a cat!

If all works out, the album should be out in the second quarter of next year. AND if we're really lucky, we may be even able to have a launch party with it. Leonard is also editing our Trapping video so we're really excited about that too!

Going to the post office to pick up mail after was an anti-climax! :)

Cat Tails


Cat Tails
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

A different kind of cat tail - sold at Starbucks.

Article on tomorrow.sg poll

TODAYonline

An article on the poll at tomorrow.sg. Our financial reports were online when the poll started - but for some reason, I think the people running the poll might not have been able to find them, so Marcus had to write in and link them to it.

Thanks Imp for pointing this out!

Adoption board

Some of you may have noticed that CWS updated the adoption board on the CWS website. As I mentioned in an earlier posting, we were getting a lot of photos and writeups and the problem is that with more postings, the amount of time any one posting is up is shortened considerably. Obviously this means every cat has less exposure.

One thing done is to take all the photos and descriptions of adopted cats off the board and just have a notation at the top. Another thing is that we've asked the fosters to please limit to posting to 5 cats at a time. Hopefully this means less overall posts, which means each cat can stay on the board longer. People also tend to scroll from the top - and if it gets too long, the cats on the bottom may not have as good a chance of being noticed.

Thanks to Webgal and Marc for the great work maintaining the technical side of adoption board and our adoption volunteer who has been administering it!

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Cats at condo update

The family agreed to sterilise the cats! We're going to arrange for the slots ASAP before they change their mind.

Angry adopter

I had a rather irate adopter on the phone last night. Apparently, there was some miscommunication with the foster, who had taken the cat back to their home following a checkup and planning to keep the cat. The adopter called up Sia Ping and was very upset as she was under the impression the cat was to be returned, and then I spoke with her. The foster however mentioned to me that they had informed the adopter over the phone that they were taking the cat back because they were worried about some health problems, but the miscommunication must have kicked in at this point. The foster had also written the adopter a letter, which had not arrived for some reason - and they were fuming mad and asking where the cat was.

Sounds like there was some sort of communication breakdown. It's difficult especially when it's about a very emotional situation like having a cat taken back by the foster.

Sometimes a third party has to step in at this point because emotions are just running too high.

Cat at condo update & Mediation FAQ

I spent the afternoon working on a Mediation FAQ - think it might be good to put a few pointers down for some newbies who may not have done a Mediation before. We're happy to come down with you for Mediations as long as we have the manpower to do so - right now, it's a few volunteers doing most of the mediations. I always feel that Mediation is an important part of Management and that if Sterilisation is the backbone of TNRM, Management is the glue that holds if all together.

I also spoke to the boy whose cat was caught by the management of the condo this morning as it was out on the step again. He kept asking whom the complainant was, and I explained that it wasn't about who complained in this case (the manager mentioned a neighbour whom I did not know) but that there was substance to this complaint - the boy himself had mentioned that the cat was making a lot of noise. The boy agreed but said he had left the less noisy kitten outside. He did sound upset that the kitten had been taken, but said that his mother did not want to sterilise the cats and did not want to let the kittens in. I said I would call back again and try and catch his mother.

Service in Singapore


Service in Singapore
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Article in the Straits Times today. 17% of people polled (though it is a small survey pool) said that they had encountered poor service in government offices in the past year, second just to hawker centres.

Demonstration of Quick-Spay Technique

Demonstration of Quick-Spay Technique

Dr Mackie was one of the vets at CHAMP - I think he estimated he had done around 200000 cats.

Update on cat in condo

The kitten is back outside again. I'm going to call the family.

Sterilisations on the quiet

I got off the phone with a caregiver this morning who mentioned she has been sending the cats in to a private vet. She said that a van comes around to pick up the cats and then they take them to a secret clinic where the cats are operated on at night. They are then returned the following night after work. The sterilisations are cheap and she says she has not had any problems so far. However, no one is allowed to know where the clinic is (the clinic is scared people will dump cats there apparently) nor whom the vet is.

This is rather worrying, because last month we did have a complaint I blogged about (and before that another complaint earlier) about a 'secret' vet doing sterilisations. According to this caregiver, the cats returned have all been done properly and she is happy, which is great.

It is strange though that a vet does not want to let anyone know where they are - the caregiver had offered to send the cats in herself but was told no one is allowed to know the address. She also said that the volunteer who picks the cats up is her good friend, but when she asked whom the vet is and where it is, the volunteer said that if she told the caregiver, she could get people into trouble.

Now there will always be some blotched surgeries (though there really shouldn't be too many at all), but if you go to a vet that is registered under the AVA and you think there really was negligence, you can get the AVA to act on the complaint. If you send your cat somewhere and the cat comes back ill or worse dies, whom are you going to take action against?

If someone does offer you cheap sterilisation, make sure it is done at a proper licensed vet.

Monday, October 17, 2005

There IS something you can do

I've been trying to talk to this family in one of the condos on the TNRM programme. I mentioned them before - they have 7 unsterilised cats at the moment, 3 of which are pregnant (probably 2 now - one has probably given birth).

The manager of the condo called me today - there were two kittens meowing their heads off for the last few days. The neighbours are fed up and want the kittens taken in or trapped.

I called and managed to get the mother and she kept complaining about the other neighbours. She said she might sterilise one of the cats, but was only being kind and didn't want to spend the money to sterilise the rest. I told her that the kittens are going to be taken away and killed if she doesn't take them in and her response was to tell the management to go ahead and do so.

She said that people leave notes on her car, that the neighbourhood has gotten snobbish since they privatised, but when I told her that the management was agreeable to not trapping them if the cats are sterilised, she wasn't interested. She said, in her words that they could "all go to hell".

When I tried to tell her that these cats are all going to get caught again, it didn't seem to make an impression on her. She said there was nothing she can do. There is though - she could just get them sterilised. It would literally save these cats' lives.

I spoke to her son, and he said that at least one of the kittens is the offspring of one of the pregnant cats (which the mother had earlier mentioned). He also agreed they are very noisy. He says his mother is not happy when they're in the flat, and that he wants to give them away. He was more concerned that they were going to be killed than his mother - but if his mother comes home and turns them out again, what is he going to do?

I've asked if I can come down and speak with them personally - the mother keeps rushing somewhere when I call. I'm really worried that because of this one family, the whole TNRM programme in the estate is going to fail. They have 7 unsterilised cats now (9 if you count the kittens), but if they aren't sterilised, they're going to have far more than that - or else the management is going to come and trap and kill the rest of their cats.

People often say there isn't anything they can do if the management/TC decides to trap - but there is. Fewer numbers, means less complaints, means the chances of trapping is much less. Plus, you can go to the management/TC and tell them that you want to start a TNRM programme and not to trap the cats. No management/TC is going to agree to having an ever increasing number of cats in the area. And the only way to get a controlled population is through sterilisation.

One bright note - one lady called up to say that she's just moved into her condo and wants to start a TNRM programme. She says that she suspects that there are plenty of people feeding already and she doesn't want to do that - what she wants to do is get all the cats sterilised!



Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Cat with tongue out I saw in a carpark. I was told that someone comes to feed her every day - and that no new kittens are born, so it's likely that she's done despite the lack of tipped ear.

Lost Cats

The Society has been getting a number of emails from people who have lost their cats in the last few days. The first thing you should do is call the AVA and SPCA to check if they have your cat - and ask your neighbours.

I attended a talk by a woman, Kat Albrecht, who tracks pets down which have gone missing while I was at CHAMP. What was interesting is that she mentioned that cats that have been missing for a longer time are not necessarily gone. In fact, she mentioned that some cats will not come out for several days even if the owner is calling for the cat. She said it depends very much on the personality of the cat. This works much better for indoor only cats though.

Check out these links :-

Lost a Pet
Cats In the Bag

Of course the best way to make sure your cat doesn't go missing is to remember to keep them safely indoors.

GIRO forms - will they ever be processed?

After managing to get the GIRO forms back from the post office, and after one of the nice ladies from the bank explained that I need to bring them down to the branch to submit them, the wheels of banking have ground to a halt. Though we applied for an account to process GIRO online, and though we told them SPECIFICALLY we needed this account for GIRO purposes, the people at the branch told us to tick the wrong box. So now we have to re-apply all over again.

Sigh.

GIRO

I managed to get the GIRO forms from the post office - now on to the second step, which is how to get them processed. The bank isn't very sure, but I have a very helpful officer who is trying to find out for me. You would think GIRO would pretty much be second nature though, considering how many organisations use GIRO.

Thanks to everyone who sent us GIRO forms! It's really great to see people respond to our GIRO appeal.


Mediation course
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went for this course on Saturday but it was more applicable for actual sit down mediations done at the Community Mediation Centre. I think it's a wonderful idea that Mediation is being made available as a means of dispute resolution for more people though.

Cats "monasticized" in Bodhinyana Monastery

vegancatsg: Cats "monasticized" in Bodhinyana Monastery

Thanks to Vegancat for this information about how a visiting Buddhist Abbot mentioned that sterilisation for community cats is the way to go.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Happy Feral Cat Day!

National Feral Cat Day, Alley Cat Allies

Friday, October 14, 2005

How do we stop irresponsible people from 'owning cats' loosely?

Tough scenario - a few days ago I mentioned someone wrote in about her friend who was calling the pest control about the cats in the stairway because there was defecation there. The caregivers went down and the woman who lived there insisted they weren't her cats (though they were sitting on the sofa outside her house and there was milk and food there) and to take them away if they wanted to. The woman lives on the third floor. The woman took in the kittens and closed the door on the mother cat, and the caregivers took the mother cat away to get her sterilised. They managed to go back and get the kittens as well to get them sterilised.

Now the family is calling and saying they want one kitten back. I spoke to the girl and said that I thought they had insisted the cats weren't theirs? The girl said she wants one kitten back. Here's the dilemma - to give them one kitten back, which is sterilised, and impress upon them how important it is to keep them indoors? If not, they will probably pick up another unsterilised cat. The caregiver suggested telling her cats are not allowed in flats - but the woman is likely to leave the cat outside again in the corridor.

I've set down certain conditions that they must meet and told them to think about it over the weekend. Then again, they may think it's so onerous it's easier to go get another kitten. They didn't want the mother cat returned.

The caregiver also said that the stairwell did have defecation in it from the cats since the cats are not allowed in the flat.

Will Bonsai Kitten never die?

The answer is apparently not as I just got another email about it today. Bonsai Kitten, as most of you know, is a website started by these people (who were students at the time I believe) and it portrays kittens being squished into jars. Understandably people were horrified. The FBI was even called into investigate and they found it was a hoax.

This was three years ago. People still write in and ask about Bonsai Kitten, or worse send it on to their friends. I say worse, because the people who started it are clearly enjoying the attention, which is why they started the site. So if you see an email about Bonsai Kitten, just delete it please - don't give them any more attention.

Anonymous complaints

No interview today for Channel News Asia because of the quake in Pakistan. I can't say that I'm particularly sorry that I don't have to do it :)

Just spoke to a lady who mentioned her friend doesn't want to sterilise and she wants me to call and speak with her, which I am going to do. However, she said she didn't want her name mentioned. I can understand it's sensitive and that these situations are very delicate, especially when friends and relatives are involved. If we do want town councils to stop taking anonymous complaints though, then perhaps we have to set the example by coming forward and giving our names.

Another thing is that often people will have a very good idea who complained anyway. A town council told me yesterday that the complainant said that the person she complained about came up and scolded her. The complainant asked why the town council released her details, but they didn't - the complainant guessed. I find that in most mediations people DO have a strong suspicion who is complaining and they're usually right. They will then ask why that person doesn't just speak to them directly.

A thank you

One of the volunteers wrote in. She's fostering five kittens at the moment - which she had to bottle feed and which were found abandoned, quite a handful of course. She wrote in yesterday and sent the nicest note to say how thankful she was for all the support she had been given by CWS. Things like this brighten your day.

Thursday, October 13, 2005

TC blues

I'm so upset right now - absolutely livid and disappointed. One of the volunteers called because they had an agreement with the town council that the volunteers and town council would work together. Two weeks ago, their cats were trapped without the town council calling first to allow volunteers to mediate the complaint (which was the agreement). The volunteer went down to speak with the Deputy GM and asked why this happened, after calling and asking me to email him repeatedly (as she has no e-mail).

She went down to speak with him last night and he said the agreement was just off because the complainants did not want their particulars known or made anonymous complaints. As such, they could not pass their details to the volunteers. He said they would 'investigate' and then remove the cats.

The volunteer said that for example in cases of defecation (which are the cause of most complaints), the culprits are not the community cats and that they need to speak with the residents who let their cats out. The DGM said that they had no time to trace all this, because they had other things like dengue to worry about.

So answer me this - if they're so busy, why don't they ask the volunteers (who are a very responsible group in this area) to look into it, so that the TC doesn't need to go out, investigate the complaint, call in pest control and spend money to kill the cats? You have a group of volunteers saying, call me, call me, I want to help, and this is the response they have. Do only complaints lead to results? Why do people who genuinely want to help get the brush off, but complainants get tended to?

Even if they DID have a problem, why didn't they contact the volunteers and tell them? Why did they just cancel the agreement and not say a thing so the volunteers had a rude shock?

The volunteer is very upset which is completely understandable and is talking to the other TNRM caregivers in the area.

Unlicensed pest control vans

At lunch today, Ching mentioned that one thing to look out for is pest control vans. She had an experience where they came to trap the cats in the area where she lives and the van had no markings on it. She called around and found out that the company was not licensed - so that's one thing to look out for. If it is an unlicensed company, they have no right to trap the cats. Unmarked vans - so X-Files.

Remember try and get as many details as possible - do not obstruct a pest control company by trying to touch them. There is of course no need to be rude as well but there is nothing wrong with taking photographs so that you'll know which cats were caught for example. Write down the name and number of the pest control company - as I mentioned, photos are good too. Some pest control companies may get upset if you are there, so be prepared for that, but you're just there to take down as much information as possible so that the cats can hopefully be saved after. They are doing a job - and so are we.


Marc, Michelle, Deirdre & Ching
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Marc, Michelle and I had lunch with Deirdre and Ching from SPCA. It's always good to meet up with other welfare groups to chat and swap ideas and thoughts.

Kidney transplants in cats

Channel News Asia has written in to ask about whether we can do an interview on kidney transplants in cats. Someone apparently took a cat to the US to do this, and obviously it's an issue people are going to have pretty strong opinions on.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Irresponsible feeders

One of the caregivers called me up - they came down to trap the cats in her area and trapped two unsterilised cats that were actually around the corner from where she feeds and which another feeder looks after.

She called the officer and the officer said they are going to trap any cat because there have been complaints that there are irresponsible feeders in the area. The caregiver reasonably pointed out that the cats aren't the problem but the feeders - and that they needed the town council to help crack down on these people littering. If not, when new cats move in after the existing cats are caught, these people littering will just feed these new cats again.

The officer apparently told her that the feeders came out after working hours by which time she is not working so she couldn't talk to them. The caregiver promptly asked her why they couldn't try and catch these litter bugs but they COULD send pest control down early in the morning to trap the cats to which the officer had no reply.

It's not illegal to feed

I just spoke to one of the caregivers who said that there is a man threatening to call the police when she feeds the cats. She gave him a Responsible Feeding brochure but he didn't bother and he claims there are ants going into his flat (how this is related to her feeding the cats downstairs, when she cleans up is beyond me). She said she had seen him attempt to kick the cats.

He stopped her this morning and said he'll call the police so she asked what to do. If someone does bother you, tell them that you WOULD like them to call the police so you can report them for bothering you. This is of course after you have tried explaining to them what you are doing, and they continually ignore you and harass you. Most people are reasonable, but some people will not listen to reason - in which case call their bluff. If you are feeding responsibly and feeding, then there is nothing to worry about. Feeding is NOT illegal as long as you clean up so don't be worried about the police. Just explain what you are doing and do it politely and calmly - this will be a good contrast especially if the complainant is yelling and screaming.

Talk to them

I am trying to see what can be done about this rather unusual situation right now. A woman wrote in to say that she had a friend who was upset about some cats that were defecating in his stairway. He said the town council wasn't doing anything so he called pest control himself.

She went down and spoke to the woman who seemed to be looking after the cats. The cats were sleeping on a sofa outside the woman's flat on the third floor. The latter denied they were her cats, but it is likely they are probably are. The woman with the cats also said that if they came and took the cats away, then they should go ahead and do so. She asked the woman who wrote in to take the cats away if she wanted them.

I told the woman who wrote in that we need to do this from both angles - we need to speak to her friend, and we need to try and reason with the woman. However, the woman wouldn't let us talk to her friend, and she was afraid to approach him as well. She said he would not be amenable to this. She asked if the cats could be taken away instead as she didn't want them killed.

Now I don't know her friend, and perhaps he really does have a bad temper, BUT the easiest way to stop them being killed is to tell her friend to cancel the pest control coming down. I explained TNRM to her, explained the vacuum effect, and why removing the cats wouldn't solve her friend's problem anyway because this woman would probably just take some more cats home.

She listened to me, but was worried about getting involved and would need to think about it for a while.

I notice that in a lot of mediations we do and the like, the problem is that people just don't talk to each other. As SK wrote in a comment earlier, he wondered how many people went straight to the town council. In this case, it's worrying that a woman felt she couldn't even talk to her friend. A lot of people say that they don't want to cause bad blood, but in my experience, the thing that causes the MOST ill feeling is that people cannot understand why a third party was called in. Many people ask why the neighbours just didn't come and tell them directly they have a problem.

So if there is a problem, try talking to your neighbour - I've blogged about it before, but it is important. We do need to stay on good terms with the neighbours due to the cats - and I know there are some very unreasonable ones. However, most neighbours will probably cut you more slack because you've spoken to them and they know you. It may also encourage them to come to you before going to the town council.

Marcus writing down website specifications


Marc writing down website specifications
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Marcus, Michelle and I met with the very enthusiastic volunteer last night. She mentioned she does not have a lot of experience with php, which is what the CWS website runs on, so she is going to do some research.

We have a number of volunteers who are trying to help out with the website at the moment - it's quite a large project, so if people could help with one segment each even, it would be helpful.

Tomorrow.sg poll

Marcus was informed that CWS has been chosen as the Tomorrow.sg Charity! Thanks to everyone who voted to tomorrow.sg for having such a nice idea.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Website designer

One of the people who read this blog mentioned that she knows of someone who may also be able to help us with the website so Marcus called her this afternoon. We may be meeting her tonight - we're waiting to hear from her.

Adoptions - posting for others

One of our adoption volunteers mentioned that there is a problem with some people posting adoption posts for other people on the board. While it is understandable that some people do not have Internet access, it can lead to some confusion. She said that yesterday for example she had called up the person posting whom she thought was the foster, and the person said she was just posting for the foster. She also mentioned the foster might be keeping the cat. The poster said that she in turn had a few cats she wanted adopted out, and said she would be calling the potential adopter.

The volunteer then called the foster to double check if she was keeping the cat. The foster said that the poster had left the cat with her, but that she had no intention of keeping the cat though the poster wanted her to do so. The foster said the poster was supposed to handle the adoptions. The volunteer was worried, and said that if the poster was going to be using the contacts to get the poster's own cats out, the foster might not be able to get the cat out.

The foster then told the volunteer off and said not to blow it up because they were all trying to help the cats here!

One other person posting apparently was posting cats that she saw on advertisements - and then she lost the contacts and had to ask the adoption team for them.

The problem is that the board has limited space - and sometimes these cats cannot be traced, which means another cat may have lost its chance to get adopted.

Mediation

The good news - despite the suspicions of the caregiver and the complainant, the people who were letting the cats out were NOT the ones who are leaving the food out which is causing the community cats to go upstairs. We didn't see any traces of food nor of the cat, which is great!

The bad news- someone just a few doors down is leaving food out. We didn't see any cats out, just traces of food on the plate in the photo below. No one appeared to be home, but the windows were open. We left brochures and the mediation note asking them to call. I really hope they do.

We had a new mediation volunteer today who came to assist. She was very helpful, though it was a little anti-climatic, as we didn't actually speak to the person we needed to talk to.

Door where food was left outside


Door where food was left outside
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Fencing - a sign that someone is trying to keep the cats out, or keep the cats in. Sometimes, the strange thing is the feeders put it up to keep the cats OUT. This means they just run into other peoples' homes.

Food and water on steps


Food and water on steps
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Cat Haters

I wrote an earlier post that people like to refer to volunteers as 'cat lovers' - just yesterday I spoke to two town council officers who said again that they were trying to find a way to try and keep the 'cat lovers' and people who don't like cats happy. It's true that there may be interests which may seem to be conflicting, but most of the time the problem can be resolved to everyone's best interest.

On the flip side, I have to say that sometimes we also fall into the trap of thinking of people who have complaints as all being cat haters. Many of them aren't - I've noticed that many people who have complaints, do have genuine problems. It isn't that most hate cats and don't want to see any cats at all ever again, but that they have a specific problem, and don't know of any other way to solve it. Some of them also genuinely don't know that the cats are killed - they think they're being taken away to be adopted and are horrified when they learn this isn't the case.

While there are some people who are unreasonable, and don't want a single cat in the estate, most people aren't that way. It may be due to the fact that they have imperfect knowledge (ie if we just take all the cats away to a shelter, there won't be any more cats in my estate again) or that they have a problem and they need help solving it. That's why we need to try and work on the problem - and make them see that the problem isn't the cat.

I'm going down for a mediation this morning - the complainant has a girlfriend who is terrified of cats. He has a neighbour who lets his cat out (and we've spoken with them twice about this already) and now is feeding the community cats from downstairs upstairs, so the cats come up. He has no problem with the caregiver downstairs, whom he says is responsible, nor with the cats, but he says the cats block the path to his flat (which is the first on the corridor). Again, the cats wouldn't come up here, if people didn't feed them - and if we can try and convince the neighbours to please just feed downstairs, the problem would be solved.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Mediation course

I've just been told that the Community Mediation Centre is holding a course this weekend and they've set aside a space for me! It's two full days - both Saturday and Sunday, so bye bye weekend. It's a great learning opportunity though and I'm really grateful.

The management of the condo wrote to me and said that if the person with the unsterilised cats doesn't get them sterilised, they will trap the cats. I've called and they've agreed to get them done in two weeks.

I spoke to the other volunteer in the estate and asked for her help to persuade them. She said they were quite a lost cause and she had been trying for years, even offering to send the cats to the vet for them. She also told me she was quite sure they were well able to afford the sterilisation. *Crossing fingers that they'll go*

Doesn't everyone live in Hougang/AMK/Bukit Batok?

One thing I find interesting when I'm visiting the US is that some people are really surprised when you tell them you're not from the US. When you say that you don't live 'here', they assume you mean the state you're in, and not the country. One girl was just bursting with questions because I think she rarely had met someone not from the US.

I was reminded of this when I speak to some people who write in. When I ask them where they're emailing from, or calling from, they'll say, Block XXX. One email said, injured cat at Block XXX - and no other details. Someone called today and asked me to send her some information. She gave me her block and her street number - but not the area. Not everyone lives in the area - it's a good idea to let people know where you're emailing from.

Tiger scratching


PICT0009
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This reminds me why tigers are distant relatives of our domestic felines - this tiger is using the tree as a scratching post.

Abandonment - need to tackle it together

I spoke to one of the town council officers today. Some sterilised cats were caught by mistake the other day and the caregiver was upset. It turns out that the number of cats has been rising constantly in this estate - a fact which the caregiver told me as well. She said there were at least 8 new cats in the area she fed due to abandonment.

The officer seemed quite nice, but sounded very harassed. He mentioned that he had 5 complaints from different families in this small area because the number has been increasing. He admitted as well that there are residents who let their cats run downstairs, making it seem like there were even more cats. He also agreed that there was abandonment in the estate which was causing the increase.

However, he hoped the caregivers would turn the cats over to the town council, or not get them sterilised. That's really not helpful - the caregivers obviously do care for cats, so how many can turn the cats over to the town council? More importantly, why should they? The problem is with the people abandoning the cats - and the caregivers are getting punished for it instead.

There really needs to be more done to try and tackle abandonment. Quite a few people have no qualms about dumping a cat on the street - and that's causing the caregivers endless problems.

This officer was willing to put up a poster on abandonment which is great, but it really needs to be a more concerted effort. Right now, a lot of people don't even know abandonment is a crime. If they do, many will rationalise, it was a community cat in the first place, so it really wasn't 'theirs' so to speak. How long does the cat have to be off the street before it becomes 'yours'? One month? Two years? Eight years?

Also what about indoor-outdoor cats that people up and leave? One poor cat I saw was in danger of getting caught because the owners left it and it kept sitting outside the flat that they used to live in, waiting for them. The new owners called the town council.

Elephant Skull


PICT0003
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is the first talk I've attended where there was an elephant skull in the room. The auditorium was really well equipped though with good Audio-visual equipment.

Zoo talk

Marcus, Michelle and I went to the zoo yesterday to give a talk on Sterilisation. It rained pretty heavily so I didn't think a lot of people would be there. Except for a few tourists though, I think the rest of the audience were made up of zoo volunteers and part-timers, who were a very interested audience. They knew about ear tipping, and they were watching the videos with concentration, which was great! They also asked questions, and one young lady asked about setting up a programme in her own estate.

We got to walk around the zoo afterward as well.

World Animal Day Board at the zoo


PICT0002
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The zoo put up a board for people to post messages in support of the animals and their wishes for World Animal Day.

Sunday, October 09, 2005

It probably ISN'T about you

Someone wrote in to say she was upset that I had mentioned her in my blog in an unflattering way - the thing is, I wasn't referring to that person at all. I was writing about a person who has written in before and has been difficult - this person was a new person who wrote in and had a similar (but not that similar) problem.

Here are some statistics to chew on - I answer an average of about 30 emails a day on a quiet day. On a busy day, I can answer as many as 70 to 80 emails. I also speak to a fair number of people - anywhere from 5 to say 35 people on a busy day. So if I blog about something, it probably ISN'T about you. Most people who write in are reasonable and nice - one or two can be difficult and can really ruin your day especially when they're threatening to say put a cat down, when you know the cat deserves a chance to live. If you're in any doubt, write in and ask.

Saturday, October 08, 2005

Spaying offer

We just finished our October committee meeting with a screening of the early age Spay/Neuter video.

We also discussed instituting a new policy to try and encourage the hard work that people do. For every 5 cats sterilised, CWS will sponsor one sterilisation free. We've still got to work out the details, but we'll probably ask for anyone who wants to claim this to send in six receipts and we'll reimburse one of them (at our discretion). The Spay Clinic in Virginia did this - they offered the sixth cat free. The committee thought it was a great idea. When it's up and ready, we'll be posting the details on the CWS website.

We're also looking into having a get together and to celebrate our anniversary again. More concrete details when it's arranged.

Friday, October 07, 2005

Cats at risk

One of the condominiums just agreed to start a TNRM programme about two months ago. So far there are three or four volunteers and they have been sterilising the cats all along - but there was no formal arrangement between the caregivers and the management so they would come and round up the cats occasionally.

The management has now given their word not to round up the cats, but they mentioned one family that is problematic because they have a number of indoor-outdoor cats. I called and spoke with the son. They have 7 unsterilised cats, 3 of which are pregnant and they don't seem keen to sterilise. I told them that the management had agreed not to trap if the cats were done. He said that they had cats caught in the past many times because they weren't sterilised. The son also mentioned that based on prior experience, he is estimating that they will have another 9 kittens. He also told me that if the cats had not been caught (including his favourite cat), they would probably have 34 cats by now.

He also said he didn't mind the other cats being sterilised, but he didn't want to sterilise his new favourite cat. He agreed it wasn't a great idea to let her keep breeding. He mentioned cost being a factor especially since there are so many, so I mentioned the subsidised rates.

I mentioned this to another of our caregivers - and she said that there's no such thing, that she had just decided to sterilise one cat at a time which she COULD afford. To date, she has done 500 cats over the last 10 years.

The son also told me that he's certain he can find homes for all the kittens because his friends want them. Unfortunately most of these friends in my experience, change their minds by the time the kittens are born.

This family lives right next to a council member who is complaining about them - the son said that the member was unhappy as their cat had jumped into his balcony and given birth to a litter of kittens. The council member told me he was unhappy as they left food all over when they fed.

Another TNRM group asked me to speak to another teenager who has cats at home. He had pointed out to the volunteers that some of the newly abandoned cats were his, and that he had more cats at home. When questioned though, he claimed they weren't his. When I called just now, he said that his cats had all been sterilised - though just a few days ago, he told the volunteers his mother objected to it. He wouldn't let the volunteers speak to his mother either. He claimed that another neighbour whom he said had also been dumping had also since sterilised all her cats. The TNRM group said they'll keep an eye on him.

The town council keeps an eye on this area and if there are too many new cats, they're going to tell the TNRM group that they aren't keeping up their end of the bargain. If that happens, guess what's going to happen? They're going to end up rounding up ALL the cats, including the original, sterilised community cats.

Neuter Bumper sticker


Neuter Bumper sticker
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Bumper sticker I picked up at CHAMP.

Sterlisation - Good for you, your cat and your community

This is the title of the talk I'm giving on Sunday at the zoo (despite the rather misleading information on the zoo website). There is this mistaken impression by some people I think that CWS tends to advocate sterilisation just for the sake of sterilisation. Believe me, if it would prevent cats from being killed, and it wouldn't affect their health, CWS would be more than happy to stop sterilising. There are so many more fun things to do in life than run around sterilising cats.

Why is sterilisation good for you? It prevents more kittens from being born. If you are able to look after huge numbers of cats and give them a good life, some may argue that this should mean that people be allowed to breed as many cats as they like. However, at a talk I attended, a behaviourist mentioned that every cat should have twenty minutes of individual attention in order to be well adjusted. This does NOT include time for feeding and changing the litter. How many of us have the time to do that for our cats as it is?

In addition, too many cats cause stress to other cats. I read that if you have ten cats, your chances of having one cat being a sprayer are extremely high. This is due to the cats being extremely stressed. So to stop your house from smelling like a toilet, and if you appreciate less fights, limiting the number of cats will help you.

On another level, every cat that is allowed to breed means that another cat out there is probably not going to find a home, and is going to be killed. If not, those 35 cats killed a day would not have to die.

Why is it good for your cat? Less stress - some people think mating is fun. However, if you've seen a cat on heat being chased by male cats, you wouldn't be think so. The male cats also get into scraps and fights - increasing the chances of disease. All of them look haggard afterward. It's been estimated in addition that 10% of feral cats have FIV - so that means with every fight, and every mated cat, the chance of that cat contracting FIV are higher. Their kittens also have a chance of contracting FIV. Let's not even talk about FELV and FIP. Your cat has less chances of contacting ovarian cancer (if it's female) and testicular cancer if it's male. Studies seem to suggest that they live longer too.

Why is it good for your community? Because there will be less complaints due to cat fights, spraying and most importantly, kittens being born. The residents are happier - in turn, they are much less likely to complain - and the cats then again benefit because they don't get rounded up to be killed.

Trapped cats

Another caregiver called me to say that some cats had been trapped quite early yesterday and they have not turned up at AVA yet. If any of your cats are trapped and they don't turn up at the AVA, do call and ask the town council what has happened. Some town councils have said that they keep the cats overnight but if they do so, they have to provide food, water and adequate shelter for the cats.

If you or any of the other caregivers are around to take note, do take down the time and date it happened and if you can, a good description of the van, including the vehicle number plate. If you can demonstrate that five cats are caught, but only two turn up at AVA for example, then it should be looked into, so the more information the better.

Sell TNRM professionally

Let's say you're trying to ask someone for a loan - and let's say you've asked a person for a loan before in the past. The person had given you the loan then, but the terms of the loan weren't too favourable, and you weren't very good about paying the loan back. The person isn't too keen on lending you the money again. Now when you ask for another loan, how would you do it? Would you (i) work out a proper scheme so that the person knows what returns to expect and when, or (ii) tell the person how you were so happy they gave you the loan, how sad you are they aren't lending you the money, and ask why they're so mean now?

Now let's transplant the whole issue to TNRM - the same principles apply. You're also trying to get someone to agree to what you are proposing, but here you're asking them to give TNRM a try. You need to come up with a workable proposal, telling the person in charge what to expect, that you intend to get the cats sterilised, and even if possible, a rough timeline. It pays to have a plan.

One of the caregivers had written a letter to send to a condo manager before I went away and asked me to read it. In a post I wrote then, I mentioned she had said she was sad he was killing the cats, and didn't understand why he didn't want to work with them and said that it was a good thing to save lives, etc, but she didn't address the problem that the condo manager had, which was complaints. He in turn, had been trapping cats and passing them to her in the past, which of course led to MORE cats coming into the estate due to the vacuum effect. Instead of explaining any of this to the manager, her letter was long on her feelings and short on fact.

I advised her not to send it, and she called yesterday to say she had sent it, but not as a letter, but in note form! Sigh. The manager replied negatively.

I repeated the same advice I gave her when she called the first time - talk about TNRM, find residents who like the cats there, etc. The thing is that she had insisted I read her letter even though I had told her it was HER letter and she should send whatever she wanted, and then when I gave her advice, she proceeded to send her original letter anyway. Now in a panic, she's calling because the manager won't meet with her.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Business Reply Envelopes

Today I made a second attempt to try and get the GIRO forms which were sent to us. I went down with all the receipts and asked for the forms and the lady at the counter handed the first one to me. She then asked for the company stamp, and I told her I hadn't brought it as no one at the BRS desk had told me to bring it down.

The envelope was whisked off the table and I was informed that this was to prevent just anyone from taking letters that weren't meant for them - but this is from a locked post box! I then took out the authorisation card I have from the post office that allows me to collect registered mail. Still no joy - I have to come back next week with the company stamp.

The staff were are nice and polite, and it's not their fault but they're just so many silly rules!

Screen door


Screen door
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is a great screen door. You have to look really closely even to see the mesh.