Monday, August 28, 2006

Feeders and caregivers

Since the letter came out in the Straits Times on Saturday about feeding, I've gotten a few emails from people and some comments on the blog. Some people have said that we should not be too harsh on the feeders. Others wrote in to complain about feeders in their area.

One person wrote in to say that he was irritated because his neighbours constantly feed next door and the cats run into his house. He has spoken with them, but to no avail. He asked why there is no society to help protect those who are having problems with people using cats against them.

He also said that to ask feeders to sterilise is pointless, because they love more cats and want more cats around.

I wrote back and pointed out a few things. First, not EVERYONE who likes cats acts the same way. He made the analogy that if you go to a sale, you can't tell people to keep their money for a rainy day because they won't listen. I wrote back to say that not everyone goes to sales - some people only shop for example, when they need something. I told him this was like saying that if someone leaves a soft drink can around, we should blame the soft drink company for producing drinks and ban soft drinks altogether.

Secondly, I pointed out that we don't endorse ALL feeding or all feeders. I asked him why someone who loves the cats would want them to continue reproducing uchecked, be in worse health and then be caught by the town council because there are too many cats? I said if they really loved the cats, they WOULD sterilise.

You may have noticed that I use the terms 'feeders' and 'caregivers'. I actually think that these two categories of people are entirely different, and of course within each group, people are all different and will thus behave slightly differently. The people I term 'caregivers' are responsible - they feed responsibly, they sterilise the cats and they manage them. Sure there are exceptional caregivers, and there are some so-so ones, but they are all trying their best to manage the population and complaints.

Feeders on the other hand, just do that - they feed. They don't sterilise. If the cat disappears, some of these feeders don't even care. If there are complaints, it's none of their business. They may be belligerent and get into fights with others. They feed because it is about them, not about the cats.

Now some feeders are feeders, because they don't know any better - they haven't learnt about the importance of sterilisation and management. That's understandable - and I am sure that on learnng about why sterilisation is good, they will do it because it's better for their cats. They will eventually become caregivers once given the right information and support - that's where all of you can help to come in too. If you see someone feeding, please speak with them about the importance of sterilisation. I just got an email today from someone who spoke to a feeder and is now asking how to sterilise. Great work Angela!

On the other hand, the hard ones to reach are the ones who just enjoy the act of feeding. For them, it really isn't about the cats, because if the cats are gone, they don't particularly care. In the Jurong case for example, the caregiver there is horrifed that some of the feeders were absolutely nonchalant when she told them the cats were being abused. One asked her when she was going to get more food in response to being told. How is this loving or caring for the cats?


Anonymous Anonymous said...


The "profile" of some of the feeders u have highlighterd is rather interesting, if imcomprehensible (to me, at least). Why wld a person feed cats if she doesn't care for them? Why go through the trouble and expense?

I agree that their behaviour justifies your conclusions, but I am just trying to understand their motivation...

28/8/06 3:14 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous - I don't know either. I'm guessing some of them like feeling needed, or like the fact that the cats are waiting for them, or that they are such 'kind' people. They are being 'kind' and feeding the cats - town council are the ones who will be damned forever for trapping them. They don't seem to see the cause and consequence.

28/8/06 3:31 PM  
Anonymous Eve said...

You wrote:
Feeders on the other hand, just do that - they feed. ... They feed because it is about them, not about the cats.

Isn't what you wrote generalisation? Some people only feed (even the more educated ones) even though they know the benefits of sterilisation because they cannot take on extra responsibility and they know it. There are people who choose to devote their entire lives to save cats (for eg caregivers and people like you) but there are also those who show compassion towards the cats but cannot afford the time and $ to sterilise and manage because they are simply managing too many other things in their own lives. So the only way they can "care" for the cats is the feed their hungry stomachs. Granted that there are irresponsible feeders, but why do you not see the other feeders as people who want to help but may not be able to go all the way to help due to whatever reasons they may have?

It is the same as why some pple do their part by donating money to charities rather than go all the way to help in a hands-on manner. An example will be in cases such as the Tsunami episode, etc. There are people who went all the way to Aceh to help rebuild, and there are also pple who merely sent money to help or prayed for the victims. People who do not "go all the way to help" does not mean they don't care but rather, they have no means to care in the way YOU think they should care.

If you can identify that there is another group of feeders who face such difficulties, perhaps a solution can be worked out to help these feeders who simply can't devote their entire lives to help the cats, as much as they want to. Rather than condemning these feeders as people who want to be seen as "kind" or not care abt the cause and consequence.

28/8/06 5:30 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

28/8/06 5:40 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Eve - if these people want to help, the best thing they can do is stop feeding. I don't think it's a generalisation because as you said, these people KNOW the benefits of sterilisation,they KNOW they should be doing it and if they thought about it,they know or should know the cats are going to get killed if they continue feeding them. How is that being kind? Feeding them may fill their stomachs - but it's also going to get them killed.

Here's the thing - someone feeds and doesn't sterilise (and again I stress this is for people who do know about sterilisation), the population grows, people complain. Cats get rounded up and killed.

No one is asking people to devote their lives to animal welfare, but asking them to use a little common sense and stop getting the cats killed. Stop feeding and not sterilising, stop feeding outside your door. We just had a situation where a bunch of sterilised cats almost all got rounded up because someone else (who didn't sterilise them) insisted on lowering food out her window and dirtying her place. When the caregiver spoke with her the first time, she said, oh they'll round them up anyway, but the other neighbours had no problems with the cats - but they did have a problem with this woman dirtying the place.

What difficulties are these people facing? You said these people are educated but can't take on the extra responsibility. Then these people shouldn't feed - because managing a colony IS about responsibility.

28/8/06 5:44 PM  
Anonymous Eve said...

Hi Dawn,
I'm not picking a quarrel with you, but merely offering an alternative view to what you see feeders.

I think you've been seeing many people who feed irresponsibly outside their flats and bring complains from neighbours. I'm not referrring to these feeders.

What i'm trying to say is that I've seen for eg: elderly people who feed strays and they know about sterilisation but are unable to manage to bring these strays for sterilisation on their own because if you're like 70 and there's no one to help u around that area, it's not going to be very easy isn't it?. Or very young feeders who feed responsibly at their void deck , clear up after that, but that's all they can do. You wud know the process of sterilising stray animals is rather daunting (tho of cos there are many experienced pple who do it) Sometimes, you have to trap the cats very late at night, or early in the morning. Sometimes, you dun manage to even trap them. And when you trap them, you need a space to house them for awhile. I've seen young feeders who are unable to help trap the cats and hse them at their place temporarily cos their parents hate cats.

You said "if these people want to help, the best thing they can do is stop feeding." - If they feed, the cats have more cats. If they don't feed, the cats die anyway from starvation. Then what I'm asking is: Is there another solution for those who feed responsibly but really cannot carry through the sterilisation process?

No negativities intended :)

28/8/06 6:56 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

28/8/06 7:05 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

28/8/06 7:08 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Hi Eve - none taken. To be very honest, I've never seen or heard of a cat die of starvation. There's enough food around from other sources as it is. As it is, there are markets, hawker centres, garbage bins all over the place. The problem is that when feeders feed, with the additional food the cats sometimes overbreed. This of course would not be the case if they were sterilised.

Of course it's ideal if you can feed AND sterilise - but if you can't do both, then it's better not to just feed. The cats become friendlier, they rely on people and they are easier to catch too. Plus when they breed, the complaints come in, and they get rounded up.

Some people do put cats into boarding before and after and that would help with the problem of where to house them.

As for people who are older, it's even worse if they don't sterilise and they now have to look after say 50 cats, then 5 or 6. People often say they cannot sterilise because it's too tiring, but then they spend hours every day feeding because they don't sterilise. Then they're even more tired. If they can sterilise, it would nip this problem in the bud.

If money isn't an issue, some people pay professionals to do the work for them.

Also not everyone who is older is incapable of sterilising. With better health care, there are a lot of able, healthy feeders out there who are older. In fact I spoke to someone today who told me that he was paying an elderly woman to get his community cats sterilised.

28/8/06 7:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i do not actually agreed with dawn abt diffrence bwt feeders and caregivers..esp ur reply to eve..but when i first feed cats, i am just a feeder..just feed..i do not sterilize cats, actually all of them are sterilized by another auntie...she sterilize while i feed...i meant i never taken any cat to sterilize by myself...

at later stage, i started to bring one cat to sterilize from tickets by SPCA..i felt very happy when i managed to get one ticket after two weeks wait... one cat become two, two become 6. but i do not see myself as so called caregiver... i only know that more cats in the street mean more may ended up killed...

cats never starve..yes, that is because they went to mkt, coffee shop and areas with ppl to find food and risk being caught..if they got no food, they find food..if someone feed them food, they do not need to go out to find food...That 'caregiver' auntie that i mentioned earlier said that as long as she feed them enough food in the nite, the cats will sleep 'whole day' in the morning.i find it amusing as i always see one or two cats still running out in the sun in morning to find food, i guess.

28/8/06 9:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where there are feeders, there will be cats. When the cats are not sterilised, there will be more and more and more cats. Residents will complain - and I don't blame them (how do you like ppl to feed right where you live & cats are running into your homes?)and the cats would be rounded up and put down. And this gets repeated again & again.
If the feeders do not feed, there will not be so many cats to be put down.
If the feeders sterilise the cats, the feeders could go on feeding & doing what makes them happy and the numbers will not multiply.

Feeders will be happy, residents will not be irritated and TCs will have less work.

29/8/06 12:57 AM  
Anonymous Eve said...

Hi Dawn,

Most of your points-of-view point to the fact that sterilisation is ideal. - a point which I fully agree with too. With regards to this, there is no point of contention.

For people who have problems boarding or housing the cats even temporarily, you gave some solutions such as boarding. It is one of the solutions but not all solutions are viable to certain people. One solution does not fit different feeders and caregivers who face different problems.

If a certain feeder only feeds and has yet to sterilise the cats, this does not imply the feeder is selfish,or too stubborn to do something about the problem.

You mentioned that "Also not everyone who is older is incapable of sterilising." Point taken. But then again, you fall into the trap of generalisation. Just as there are caregivers who have means to trap, board and transport the cats for sterilisation, there will also be people (as well as older people) who are incapable who going through the entire sterilisation process. What you pointed out is an ideal solution in an ideal world, and more often than not, there are also good hearted people who simply cannot feed, board, house and sterilise the strays.

The town councils themselves also use this form of argument whenever they debate. They have an ideal solution and an ideal method to run their own areas. And of course, if everyone complies to this ideal solution, there will be no problems.

I tell you this because I've repeatedly tried to sterilise the strays I feed over the year, and yet the problem I face is that I find it impossible to do it alone. (Yes, there are people who singlehandedly do everything but with regards to my own family, living environment and work schedule) it is almost impossible to even carry out the sterilisation process.

Have I asked other residents to help? Yes, I have, and many are sympathetic but unwilling to lend a helping hand. Have I asked boarders if they will help me house the strays if I can trap them in the wee hours of the morning? Of course they can't. They do not work that late. Have I asked you what to do? Yes I have too. But the suggestions you have offered are helpful and ideal,but not applicable in my case.

It's easy to always blame a feeder for not trying hard enough. But at the end of the day, the problem is still there. The cats dun get sterilised becos the feeder simply have a lot of problems managing the who;le sterilisation process. there is no one to help. So your solution to this would be for the feeder to stop feeding even when the cats are drying out loud for food?

29/8/06 1:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There were very few feral cats where I live until an old aunty (just one) appears (she visits nearby everyday) and starting feeding on her way to take a bus home. Now there are adolescent (& not sterilised of course)cats running all over the roads (more road kill), cat fights in the middle of the night (we have the sleepless nights, thanks to her kindness) and angry neighbours.

29/8/06 1:17 AM  
Anonymous Eve said...

Hi everyone who has spoken against feeding without sterilising,

I think everyone knows that feeding without sterilising is not the right way to go. In the practical sense, the cats multiply and you have to feed more. People see it and they complain. The cats get taken away. This, I agree.

But if you had read what I had written, my point is not that feeding without sterilising is good BUT rather the problems a feeder may have, impeding him or her from going through the sterilisation process.

Now, instead of reiterating the point that feeding without sterilisation is bad, why not be hands-on and use that time to perhaps help me board the cats since I have difficulties housing them at my place before sending them for sterilisation? No need you to fork out money. Just perhaps some of your time and a space to house the cats before their day of sterilisation. I can only trap them around midnight I fear, as that is my normal feeding time so if you can help me to house them after that, I can always bring them to the vet's the next day. Anyone interested, please email me at Thanks

*Sorry Dawn for placing an "advertisement" in your blog. Have asked so many people but no one is willing to help me house them especially in the wee hrs of the morning. Maybe some publicity might help*

29/8/06 1:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

29/8/06 1:39 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Anonymous I'm certainly not against feeding. Feeding is great - but like you said it has to go with sterilisation. Let me put it this way, the well fed cat also has a lot more energy to mate. Why? Because it doesn't need to go look for food. The mother is more likely to give birth more quickly - and to more kittens.

So more cats on the street - more cats born, and more cats die. Do cats running near markets get caught more often then cats that are rounded up because they are being fed and overbreed? I'm really not sure - especially as the latter are so much easier to catch in most cases because they're close to a feeder.

29/8/06 1:39 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Eve - I have a simple question :- who is there when the cats are crying out because they're being killed? Because it WILL happen. It's just a matter of time. And not just one generation of cats - generation after generation.

Everyone has their own problems and I understand that, but the people who ARE sterilising also have problems. It's not that it's simple or easy for them too. I don't know what your family and work situation is, so I cannot comment on your case, but I also know other caregivers with work, family and other committments too.

At the end of the day, what I am saying is that managing a colony IS a responsibility. And you're right - not everyone can cope, so maybe they shouldn't start.

I'm not sure what 'ideal' solution you mean by the town councils suggesting. I don't think they have one, but I think they realise that killing isn't working.

However they also know that telling their residents that someone is being kind, so it's okay to have 200 cats is not an issue? You think I'm exaggerating - sadly I'm not. Someone contacted us and said that she wanted to sterilise 200 cats. Why? Because she couldn't sterilise before, but not she couldn't feed either because there were too many. So where does that leave the cats?

29/8/06 1:46 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Eve - I'm glad if someone can board for you, but the reality is almost everyone I know has trouble boarding. It's a perennial problem. I would say only a SMALL minority of people don't have too much problems boarding and the ones who do are busy doing their own areas.

If you borrow a trap from us, you can leave the cat in it overnight quite comfortably without having to remove it. Leave it in a room alone and don't move it. One other option is to pay a little extra and board it at the vet. Another is to board it with a pet boarder.

I went to a HDB estate just the other day because there was a complaint. I walked around the carpark and saw these cats all sitting around and there are complaints and they're all going to get rounded up. Why? Because the feeder says she can't sterilise. Yet in another area where she fed, she was able to quickly get them all done when there was a threat that they might get taken away. Again, is she the exception? sadly not.

29/8/06 1:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you trap the cats at midnight, does it mean you are hoping to send the cats to someone's house way past midnight? What if the cats wail and cry all night as they are scared? Others have to consider their family&neighbours.
Why not trap early in the morning (sleep earlier) and send to vet soon after. Tell vet that the cat ate at such a time, and let him decide what is a safe time to do the surgery later in the day or the next.
Perhaps the cat could be housed at the vet for a day or two after surgery before releasing. It is for you to decide what works best for you. Other volunteers have their own cats to sterilise & are on their own too. Look at all the sterilised cats in the neighbourhood - ask the experienced care-givers.

29/8/06 8:38 AM  
Anonymous Eve said...

Hi Dawn,

So I'm not the only one facing the boarding problem. Cos I'm really at wit's end. The only problem I'm currently facing is finding a place to house the cat from the time I trap them (around midnight), to the time I bring them to the vet's the next day.

Sorry, so the solution at the moment is: If I can trap and sterilise and manage, then that will be the best solution.

If I can't trap and sterilise, it's better for me not to feed the cats at all?
If I don't feed at all, do the cats go away or become too weak to even breed?

So if I feed them, at the end of the day, someone is bound to complain when there are too many cats and get the condo management to trap them, they will die.

So I might as well not bother feeding them now because they're going to get rounded up and die anyway. - Sorry is this what you mean? Cos I'm kinda lost in the thread of logic at the moment

But well, if I don't feed, they'll probably rummage through the dustbins and you know how it is with condo dwellers, they are finicky abt cleanliness. Then complains will also come in and the cats get rounded up cos they create such a nuisance by rummaging thru the bins and dirtying up the place.

Sorry, just exploring all possible scenarios.

Hi Anonymous,
Tried "catching" them in the morning but problem is they tend to hide in the day and come out only in the night.

29/8/06 11:37 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Eve you need to catch them before midnight because they need to starve from around 10 pm. Of course this can't always be done, but it is preferable.

>S>orry, so the solution at the >moment is: If I can trap and sterilise and manage, then that >will be the best solution.


>If I can't trap and sterilise, >it's better for me not to feed the >cats at all?
>If I don't feed at all, do the >cats go away or become too weak to >even breed?

They won't go away - but they're not going to breed so fast. They need to expend more energy to go look for food and spend less time mating. Also, right now all the kittens are getting good nutrition so chances of them all growing to adulthood are good - which means more cats are going to breed. Mortality rate normally is about 50-50% I think.

>So if I feed them, at the end of >the day, someone is bound to >complain when there are too many cats and get the condo management >to trap them, they will die.

Yep - that's usually what happens.

>So I might as well not bother >feeding them now because they're >going to get rounded up and die >anyway. - Sorry is this what you >mean? Cos I'm kinda lost in the >thread of logic at the moment

Nope - that's not what I mean. Because you're feeding the cats (1) reproduce MORE then if no one was feeding (which of course would not be the case if they were sterilised) - which means MORE cats are seen. One of the biggest reasons people complain? When kittens are born. Complainants see the kittens and it's a visible sign the population is growing. Many people don't care about a few cats in the estate. If the cats over breed because they are so well fed, that's when the complaints come in.

(2) the cats become more friendly and are more likely to go near people. Again that makes them more visible - which again leads to more complaints.

If the cats were sterilised, then you could explain that they were managed, the population is controlled and the complaints will go down - all of which cannot be said in this case.

>But well, if I don't feed, they'll >probably rummage through the >dustbins and you know how it is >with condo dwellers, they are >finicky abt cleanliness. Then >complains will also come in and >the cats get rounded up cos they >create such a nuisance by >rummaging thru the bins and >dirtying up the place.

Yes that's true - which is why feeding is a good thing to do, but ONLY in conjunction with sterilisation.

The problem is this - if you keep feeding, the population keeps increasing much faster than if they were not fed.

Also, even if these cats ARE caught, at least FEWER cats will be caught then if you keep feeding them and they keep multiplying more rapidly then the end result is more cats die.

29/8/06 11:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there is a will, there is a way.
If you live in a condo, there must be lots of space where you can make arrangement to leave the cats in the traps overnight with the security. People who sterilise cats in hdb estates do not have such facilities.

29/8/06 2:33 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Hi Eve, may i know your location?

30/8/06 10:29 AM  
Anonymous Eve said...

Hi Mary,
I'm living somewhere in loyang/tampines area.

30/8/06 5:06 PM  
Blogger Mary said...

Thanks Eve, i am in the North.

30/8/06 5:28 PM  

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