Friday, October 20, 2006

The devil is in the details

The devil is in the details
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

One thing we discussed at some length today was microchipping of community cats. The AVA was quite keen on the idea initially, but we felt that this was really not the way to go. The AVA wants to maintain the number of cats in an area - and really this IS the aim of any TNRM programme, which is why we tried to emphasise to the officers present. However, we don't see microchipping as a way of usually identifying the cats and hence curbing the population.

Firstly, say there are 10 cats in an area and now there are 15. How do you determine which are the newcomers which are over the quota? Does every cat need to be caught and scanned to determine which are the new cats? This is going to be very labour intensive and very hard to implement. One of the officers suggested doing this randomly, but if this is done, it still leaves the same problem of not being to identify the new cats in the area.

Checking the cats out the low-tech way works - they're ear tipped, marking them out from a distance as being sterilised. In addition, photos can be taken and submitted to the TC. This would be cheaper, and easier to administer for TCs as well as caregivers.

Secondly, what happens to cats already sterilised? Do they need to be caught again and microchipped? It seems that the suggestion is that eventually any non-microchipped cat will be put down and that as time goes on, the older un-microchipped cats will grow smaller in number. I can see this happening gradually, but in the interim period, there's going to be a lot of difficult trapping the hard to trap, already sterilised cats - and then of course, the same problem arises as in my first point, which is how to trap the cats AGAIN to determine they were already done.

My last point is this - I can see why an unsterilised cat or two would be a problem for the TCs. They represent dozens, if not hundreds of cats that might potentially be born because they're not done. But a sterilised, UNmicrochipped cat is STILL sterilised, which means it is not going to reproduce. If there's one extra cat in the area (and of course I'm not suggesting in any way that the number should increase from what the original number in the colony is - ideally of course it shouldn't), but that's it. The population won't exponentially explode. Should that one cat be taken away and killed if it's not microchipped even if it's already been sterilised?

I am glad though that the officials seemed to have taken our opposition to microchipping quite seriously and it seems that they may re-think it. And of course we're very pleased about the reimbursement!


Blogger Mary said...

Dawn, good insight from your end. It's amazing why AVA don't forsee the situation. i say, tipped ear for community cats, microchipping for resident cats. And if possible, no more culling but let sterilisation be the cause for the reduced number of community cats.

20/10/06 10:06 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

mary - I'm guessing resident cats mean home cats?

I think that the TCs and AVA are not going to agree to no killing of the unsterilised cats at all - but they will leave the sterilised cats alone in most cases (unless there is a nuisance complaint then mediation should kick in anyway and the cat still remains).

20/10/06 10:36 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Yes Dawn, home cats. Fair enough for AVA and TCs to leave the sterilised cats alone, although i wish AVA will engage themselves with the trapping and sterilising instead of culling.

20/10/06 10:49 AM  
Blogger KXBC said...

I don't see why Singapore cannot be like Greece whereby stray cats and dogs and Greeks live together in harmony and the strays are not even sterilised. If the Greeks can do it, why can't we?

Maybe our govt just wants a shortcut solution, ie, culling, which does not work. Or maybe they are just being themselves, cold and unfeeling. I pity the TC and AVA civil servants who are animal lovers and yet have to carry out this inhumane way of treating the strays.

20/10/06 11:03 AM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Mary - that would be ideal wouldn't it? Having said that, they said with more cats sterilised, they will cut down on the trapping and eventually it will tip towards sterilisation.

kxbc - I loved the cats and dogs in Greece when I was there. Having said that, I read during the last Olympics that there were supposedly plans to kill the dogs and cats on the street by the authorities because they were seen to be an eyesore and there was an outcry about it.

20/10/06 11:18 AM  
Blogger Mary said...

Yes Dawn, i think it make more sense, either way, they are spending money and manpower.

20/10/06 11:24 AM  
Blogger KXBC said...

I don't see them as an eyesore, even if chickens and duckies are nesting all over the streets. I see them as a nice complement to the cold hard streets of Athens, or as a softer side to the harsh side of life in the countryside. Maybe that's because I love animals in a certain weird sort of way.

20/10/06 3:41 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

kxbc - that makes two of us :)

20/10/06 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Furry said...

What is the purpose of microchipping the cats??? You mean they are going to put down the non microchipped cats even if they are sterilised???

20/10/06 4:11 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Yeah Furry - that is their plan.

20/10/06 4:14 PM  
Anonymous Furry said...

But that is so stupid. First is to sterilised the cats, next to microchipped them, what next? Collared them and put a tag with the caregivers' names and contact as well??? Why can't the cats be left alone even if there are new cats (as long they are sterilised or they be sent for sterilisation) and do not create nuisance, cos they could be dumped pets and it is not their faults to be there!

20/10/06 4:27 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Furry - I do understand that they want to maintain the population, and any programme should aim for that. Bearing in mind that if TNRM is carried out responsibly, and not counting abandonment, this should NOT be a problem. However abandonment IS an issue - and we need to deal with it from a more basic level (ie how do we stop abandonment) rather than let's remove the cats.

20/10/06 5:30 PM  

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