Tuesday, July 18, 2006

This is not kindness

One of the volunteers just returned from speaking with a woman who was featured in the papers for piling her items in the corridor, including her cats in cages. Various people including Jolanda, Lilian, the volunteer and I have all gone by to speak with her. She has cats and a very messy flat with lots of items all over the place. Jolanda and the volunteer offered to pay for the cats to be sterilised. The volunteer also donated cat food to her on the condition that she stop taking in cats and allow her cats out into the flat. Jolanda wired her doors and windows up so the cats could be let out of their cages.

However on bringing some of this woman's cats to be sterilised a week ago, the volunteer noticed that there were MORE cats. This had gone against the woman had promised. The volunteer went down to speak with her today and the woman could not be bothered. She had kittens in a dirty, encrusted cage and would not let the volunteer in to see how many other cats she had in the flat.

The volunteer asked to be allowed to take the kittens away and the woman refused.

At the end of the day, there isn't anything you CAN do with people like these except make a report about them after all the talking and persuading has failed. They do not see themselves as being cruel - they see themselves as saving the cats. Often they think they are the only ones who can care for the cats and that no one else will do as good a job as they can. If their cats have to be taken out, many are in terrible shape. They blame others if any of these cats should subsequently die or be euthanised because of their condition.

Removing the cats also generally means that they'll just go and pick up new cats or someone will give them new cats. It amazes me how many people continue to pick up and give cats to people who are clearly unsuitable to looking after cats. Some people think any home is better than no home even if the cat should die inside. To them, it's better than life on the street even if that home should be a tiny cage where the cat sits sick and miserable in its defecation and urine.

Yet these people will go around asking for money - they'll tell you their cats will die without it, they'll tell you they saw this one more sick kitten and they couldn't walk away, they'll tell you that pest control was coming and what could they do? Many good hearted people will give because they don't want to see the cats suffer. Don't become an enabler - in the majority of the cases, it will not help the cats because with more money, food or resources, they'll just go out and bring in MORE cats or allow their cats to breed unchecked.

Of course some people may be in over their heads and have started out with genuinely good intentions and now have too many cats - these people put the cats' welfare first. They're happy for offers to get their cats adopted out, they realise they have too many cats and most importantly, they have stopped picking cats up off the street and are actively trying to reduce the number. For some people, it is possible to help out by helping them to get the situation under control in terms of sponsoring cat sterilisation or helping with treatment and even helping them to adopt the cats out.

For the people who have taken in 60 cats stressed out and losing their hair; for the 40 cats living in wall to wall defecation because there is only one sand tray in the flat; for the multiple cats stuck in cages and still taking in more; for the 200 cats in a flat with health problems and counting - this is not kindness. And it is not kindness to help them out either.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

i think these people, far from being able to help anybody, need help themselves first and foremost.

nonetheless, with regard to the case at hand, is it possible to alert the SPCA but at the same time offer to take care of the cats and kittens so they are not put down? i know this is not a satisfying solution in the long term cos this person will probably go out and get another lot of cats but we shld not let that stop us from helping this lot of kitties.

18/7/06 3:33 PM  
Anonymous imp said...

i see it as a blackhole. the persons clearly view money as a means of resolution. but with more money, they take in more cats. even a cat shelter won't be sufficient when numbers hit 400cats and counting.

i'm not for extending help to these pple. and there's a limit to how many cats welfare groups can help. especially if the person continue taking more. helping is not a solution here as 200cats in a house won't be healthy no matter how many trips they make to the vet.

it's tiring to see the good volunteers and fosters' effort not recognized in mainstream media. BUT these 'bad' cases do. So perpetuate the notion of a crazy cat lady.

18/7/06 4:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think this woman should help herself first before helping the kittens and cats. What's the point of caging these poor kittens? She only made these kittens miserable and frustrated because they don't have freedom. They are like prisoners.

I think this woman is possessive. She definitely needs help and must remove some of her cats (for re-homing).

If this carries on, her kittens will not be healthy and she, herself will not be healthy too due to the smell and clutter.

Should give her verbal and written warnings and tell her that her cats will be rounded up by TC and killed. Maybe, by saying this, she will be frightened.

I think this woman is insane. You really need to crack your head now...to think of ways to help her..

18/7/06 4:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Action has to be taken immediately. Do not delay. A normal person will not take in so many cats in a small flat. The cats will be stressful and that silly woman will be more stressful. In the end, both will suffer due to poor health and hygiene reasons.

18/7/06 4:20 PM  
Blogger Salt * Wet * Fish said...

What I like to see is something that American has, animal police. Unfortunately our animal laws are not strong enough and its left to police to deal with animals they are not trained to deal with and with weak laws there is not much enforcement.

If there is an animal police unit, I will be the first in line to work as one!

18/7/06 4:57 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous as you said, the problem is (1) SPCA probably doesn't have enough space to take in the cats either as Imp said (2) they WILL go right out and grab another bunch of cats.

This woman had the AVA,Town Council and HDB go down and as far as I know, none of it made the slightest difference to her. I understand some cats had been taken out in the past, but now she has new ones again. Plus if she's unwilling to give the cats up, it is very difficult to do anything because they are technically 'her' property.

The problem here I guess is one of hoarding - and not just of cats either.

18/7/06 5:49 PM  
Blogger Tarsier Girl said...

You and I both know that this woman is suffering from a mental problem. It's recognised in the U.S. but I don't know if the mental health professionals here know about it. If they do, I wonder if the Institute of Mental Health can help.

18/7/06 5:51 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

I agree Tarsier Girl - and I also doubt whether IMH has the resources to deal with this. As Imp mentioned earlier, some people think it's a 'cat problem' and not that the cats are just one aspect of a much larger problem.

18/7/06 6:01 PM  
Blogger Tarsier Girl said...

More about hoarding at this site: http://www.tufts.edu/vet/cfa/hoarding/
Hoarding is considered a mental health issue but not an immediate crisis (except for the poor cats!), so you are right, IMH probably won't intervene.

18/7/06 6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Keeping several cats in small cages with no litter box and piling one cage on top of another.
The community cats are so much more fortunate than these cats who can only stand and sit in their own waste. It is the only life these poor cats know. When asked to put the cats up for adoption, the "owner" refused.

18/7/06 10:28 PM  

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