Friday, June 30, 2006

It's how you put it across

I was talking to a feeder just now. She is having some problems with the town council as she says they are not supportive.

She was telling the town council officer that killing the cats would not work because God would send new cats in. He asked what to do when people complained about the cats, saying there were people who did not like cats. He also complained there was a smell on the grass and he blamed it on the cats. The feeder told him that he ought to hire contractors to come and spray the grass every two weeks to the place would smell nice. She also told him that looking after the cats is her hobby, and that she should be allowed to do it because it makes her happy.

I told the woman that while what she is suggesting (sterilising all the cats) is good, she has not reached out in a way that the town council officer will buy what she is saying. Firstly, not all her cats are sterilised as far as I know. Secondly, it sounds as if she is saying that she is doing this as a 'hobby'. In that case, when your hobby starts to bother someone else, then you'll probably going to be asked to stop. Third, not everyone believes in God so try and put it across in simple logical facts - this is the same as the argument about not killing cats because they are adorable or deserve to live. Sure they do, but a logical argument often is much harder to pick apart then an emotive one.

I asked her if she had mentioned the vacuum effect. She had not. She said the officer is not going to be able to comprehend the programme. She also said he knew nothing about cats. I think we have established by this point that most officers know nothing about cats - in fact I would say when an officer actually DOES know something, I'm surprised. What we need to do is educate them - and give them solutions. Town councils work on the basis of solving complaints as we know.

The end result is that as I have mentioned before, try and target your town council officer by trying to find out what they want and then sell the programme to them from that point of view. The town council officer wants LESS work? Great - then helping with complaints will help him or her.

There will always be difficult town council officers, just as there are difficult people in general, and you may not be able to solve them. However, do try your best to explain so that they understand what the programme is about. They may agree and start working with you. If you paint a picture of a TNRM programme that seems to give them more work and more complaints, chances are they are not going to work with you.

Know your facts - and know how to present them. CWS has factsheets with information and most are available on our website.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I suppose this feeder is a simple person. She is straight forward and her answers are simple. She speaks from her heart. Not everyone can put a message across easily because he/she may be nervous, less educated, less knowledgeable etc. When she mentioned God, I think she is a christian... so, the word GOD naturally come out from her mouth.

she said that feeding cats is her hobby, sound a little silly.

Why do we feed cats? because we love them. We are kind people, and we don't want them to starve. We want to help and give them a chance to live and survive in this harsh environment

Keeping pets or feeding cats is a form of animal therapy, especially for sicked people. People will forget about their pain and suffering and enjoy the company of the cats because they brighten up his/her life.

30/6/06 11:27 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I don't think she's actually 'simple' in that sense. She speaks quite well - but she tends to only see things from her point of view. In the past she has often heard what she wants to hear when speaking both with volunteers and with town council officers.

What I was trying to put across to her is that for example she should not start yelling at the officer when she gets angry. Frankly, I would not be confident she could handle a mediation either - and I don't think the TC would. it's important to be as calm as possible so that town councils feel that you won't make situations worse.

1/7/06 3:44 AM  
Blogger calsifer said...

Dawn,
I agree with you. When dealing with issues like TNRM and the TC, we do need to be aware that we're not in a homogenous society where everybody speaks the same way, think the same way, or believe the same things.

Things have to put across in a way that people are likely to accept, and semantics is an iffy thing to try unless one is very sure of the listener's receptivity.

I'm going to go out on a limb and say something that some may find sensitive, but I'll say it anyway as I do think that it needs saying. I just hope people read through to the end before jumping in with critiques and so on.

This feeder may not realise it, but invoking God, or I guess the politically correct term would be the highest being of her religion (thbohr) since it's not an exclusive quirk, in a secular setting, sometimes do backfire instead of resonating with the listener.

I do believe you've talked about this feeder before (just connecting the dots here), someone who invokes the wrath of thbohr as a reason for her TC to stop culling or for people to stop complaining.

I can imagine, what she may have looked like in that instance.

That anonymous assumed the feeder was a simple person demonstrates how strong the stereotyping can be.

As cat caregivers, we're already at a disadvantage, with the TC usually affecting the attitude that we're picking a lost cause to battle for - the stereotypical image of the mentally unsound cat lady doesn't help the cause, especially when most of us seem to be female.

The most significant result of standing up for the cats is that our status as cat caregivers somehow forfeits our rights as residents. It's always TC+whinging resident complainants vs (resident) cat caregivers.

Personally, I do find that in being cat caregivers, we do have to be mindful of image. How we conduct ourselves either reinforce the cat lady stereotype or deconstruct it. Because it's not just ourselves personally, but the image will be used to paint other cat caregivers as well.

It really does behooves us to try deconstructing it.

Because to the people we come across in feeding, doing our sterilisation, mediation, or other cat business, (sometimes even outside of it), we do represent the cat caregiver community.

We must show that we're as much a part of the community as they are, that we're as confident in the possesion of our faculties as they are.

We really are a part of community serving the community in a way that is beneficial but neglected and unappreciated.

Let's not abuse semantics when dealing with cat issues. In fact, we should refrain from it.

Instead, we should, as you yourself have said many times over, use reason, not temper, emotional blackmail or drama.

Because ultimately, the ones who 'kenna' problems, and die, are the cats we're trying to care for and help.

1/7/06 8:35 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

well said Calsifer.

1/7/06 12:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Did you see her yelling at the TC Officers?
What was the TC Officers' attitude? Was she provoked?

Of course, she cannot yell at people and expect them to give in.
She has to adjust and change her attitude if she is in the wrong.

I have met a few feeders in my area and a handful of them are quite rude and blunt. They speak their mind and raise their voice. But afterall, they are kind people who help the cats. Therefore, I don't mind their 'poor attitude'. No need to be so petty.

Anyway, you are in a better position to assess her.

1/7/06 12:55 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous she tends to hear what she wants to hear. She has accused several volunteers and the town council of saying things which they did not say. It has happened personally twice as well. She also tends to get very upset which is understandable - but there is no need for example to get personally insulting.

Plus when I spoke with her I realised she had no idea why to do TNRM. She can also be rather stubborn and persisent - other caregivers have complained about her and said they didn't want to work with her.

1/7/06 1:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dawn, if that is the case, then this person is really questionable. Select someone else who is more suitable to do the TNRM. In no time, she will end up with many enemies, and no friends.

1/7/06 11:32 PM  

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