Sunday, December 31, 2006

Lifestyle (31-12-06)

Lifestyle (31-12-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Today's Mandarin Plus lesson in the papers - great to see them tackle abuse and serilisation!

Lifestyle (31-12-06)

Lifestyle (31-12-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Cartoon from today's Lifestyle from the wonderful Chee Chew - I had to laugh. The pigeon defecation thing also reminded me of the old 'cat on my bonnet' complaint!

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Asking early

One of the town councils wrote the day before Christmas Eve to say that a complainant had called them to say a cat had been going up and defecating for a while, and that this being the festive season she wanted to know what to do. I wrote back to the TC and said that while our volunteers were more than willing to help, they too wanted to have time to celebrate the festive season too. I said I would contact the complainant and the volunteer right after Christmas (which I did). The volunteer went down yesterday and could not find the cat complained of, nor did the people in the area see it the last few days. The officer wrote to say that the complainant (who told me someone is feeding the cats upstairs) said that she wanted the problem solved immediately.

Here's the thing I don't understand. I CAN understand people being frustrated. I can understand people wanting their houses to be nice and clean, especially during festive seasons, but why do they have to wait till the last possible moment to ask for help? Do volunteers not have a right to celebrate the festive season too? Since this is something that had been happening for a time, she surely could have come forward earlier. In addition, there would be a much better chance of solving the problem BY Christmas.

Our adoption volunteer also got a call two days ago. She was rather upset. A woman contacted her and said she had to get rid of a cat that she had picked up by noon the next day. The volunteer suggested several options to her - she would try her best to find a foster but needed more time (especially since it is the festive season and many people are away), boarding, holding the cat for a longer period, etc. The woman said that she was old and had asthma. She said she had asked around and none of the other volunteers in her area wanted to help her. Now the thing is, it turns out that she had the cat for a MONTH. In the first place, the adoption volunteer told me she asked the woman why she had picked the cat up. If you pick a cat up, you have to be prepared to hold it - not some other volunteer, not someone you know - YOU!

In addition, if she had taken active steps to get the cat adopted out, put up posters, sent in an adoption notice, etc, there would have been a better chance of getting it adopted out. Sitting and waiting for a month and asking friends to take the cat is not the most active way of adopting a cat out. If she had acted earlier, the cat would have a better chance of being adopted. The volunteer told her that in essence she would be sending the cat down to be killed. The woman told her apparently that she wasn't doing the sending - she had someone else to do it for her.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Better dead than hungry

I just spoke to a feeder who is moving away from her area and she has 20 sterilised community cats that she looks after. She called the AVA and wanted to know if they can remove the cats for her because she is moving away. I asked if there was a possibility of finding some other friends to come and help or if she could possibly come back and feed them. She said she wasn't sure. One of her friends also said that the cats might not recognise her.

I told the feeder that perhaps instead of asking her friends to come down every day she can ask them to feed the cats a few days each a week. Alternatively, perhaps the cats will have to eat every other day instead of every day. I also told her to give it a try - perhaps the cats might not recognise her friend, but she wouldn't know until she tried.

I asked her if she knew the cats would be killed if sent to the AVA. She said she knew but that she thought there was nothing worst then her cats going hungry. While I understand she is very fond of her cats and of course worried about them, sending them all to a certain death is drastic. I told her that instead of expecting one person to take over the feeding route completely, she can enlist a few friends perhaps and to sponsor the food for the cats.

She agreed it was better to be a bit hungry then dead and so even if they don't eat every single day, at least they do have a fighting chance. She said she would speak with her friends.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Merry Christmas everyone and let's hope for a restful and blessed Christmas for all of you and for all community cats out there!

Friday, December 22, 2006

Feral cat

Feral cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This lovely feral cat was outside. I've noticed more cats around but also that they are much more frightened of people in general than the cats at home. Poor cats at home are getting soaked - poor cats here are preparing for a harsh winter.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Cats for adoption at Petsmart

Cats for adoption at Petsmart
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here were some of the sweet cats up for adoption I saw today.

ST (21-12-06)

Be kind to animals. Let the cat sleep on the bonnet.

Nice letter in the Straits Time online forum today!

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Animal Control - a different approach?

There were some comments in an earlier post about the AVA's functions that I found very interesting. Anonymous mentioned the model in San Francisco.

I was interested in finding out more about a model where Animal Control itself looked for alternative solutions, and I didn't have to look very far. In Baltimore, where I am at the moment, the situation with their animal control was dire in 2004:-

To the Dogs

There was bad publicity due to the usual problems - lack of funds, not being able to hire people who were interested in animal welfare, etc. All these sound pretty familiar and I think are also faced in Singapore by the AVA.

This is what they decided to do. The Animal control decided become a quasi-government entity - and a non-profit. This meant they were able to raise funds from the public and also to hire the sort of people they want. They were also able to get volunteers to help because people knew that they would be helping the animals.

This is the result a year later. Adoptions are up and killing rates are down. Obviously it is a little different in that they are able to pass animals to animal shelters, but simple things like opening the shelter on 6 days a week as opposed to one, helped to raise adoption ten-fold.

Unfortunately this does not mean that cats aren't killed at all or that TNRM is used primarily as a means to control the community cat population. The good thing is that they were willing to look for other solutions that would lead to less killing.

I'm trying to get more information to see if it is a possibility that may translate to Singapore.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Bringing a community cat home

I have had a few emails in the last few days from people wanting to bring community cats home. It's always nice to hear about people wanting to adopt a community cat, but there are a few things people should bear in mind.

First, people have been asking what to do if the cat is not used to being in a home. Is there a way to make sure the cat does not scratch? One woman's husband sweetly (but misguidedly) took the cat out for a walk in his arms and the cat dashed away. She said the cat seemed okay for the two days they were in. Here's the thing - it DOES take time. The cat has lived outdoors for its whole life. It's used to living outdoors. Let's not talk about cats alone. For example, if you have a person and you put them in a completely foreign situation, the person IS going to be uncomfortable. It's not unimaginable it could be the same for the cat.

Secondly, one person said the cat sometimes scratches and bites when they are playing and wanted to know what to do about it. It may be that the cat is defensive. It does not however necessarily mean the cat is abused which she wondered about. It may also be that the cat does not like being touched all that much. Not every cat is a lap cat. Some people are very physically affectionate for example, and like to hug others. Other people really don't like it. It has nothing to do with how much the person likes you - it's a question of different comfort zones and what different people (and cats) are comfortable with.

In the end, there is nothing to do about it. The cat may get over being in a strange home and become very affectionate. The cat may not ever like being stroked. Either way, what is needed is patience. There is no short cut. Some cats ARE traumatised and there is no short cut around it except a lot of tender loving care whereby the cat hopefully does learn to trust the people.

Thirdly, yes sedatives as one person asked, are an option if the vet thinks it necessary to calm the cat down. I think however that perhaps the most important question is this - is this being done for the person or for the cat? The cat may be perfectly happy being an outdoor community cat. In that case, should you bring a cat home to sedate it so it is quiet (which usually is more for the person) or should you pehaps let it live on the street where it is happy?

Monday, December 18, 2006

Cat Stop

Cat Stop
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I just got this - this is also to keep cats out of yards but works on the principle of ultra sound. The cat will be so irritated by the noise that it will stay away from the yard. The only problem is if there are deaf cats (which, as you can imagine, is quite the exception to the rule).

Saturday, December 16, 2006

ST (16-12-06)

AVA's reply :-

Form warns against cruelty to animals

Friday, December 15, 2006

Animal Voices

Thanks Yskat for sending this in. This is apparently a website for podcasts on animals :-

Animal Voices

I have to go listen to these!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Why it's important to make that call yourself

I just received an SMS from a volunteer about calling her TC officer. I have never spoken with this officer before and I know that she has. However she asked me to pass a message to him.

There are a few reasons it's important that the caregiver make the call wherever possible. Firstly it's very important to make and maintain contact with the officer yourself. This will make it easier should the officer want to contact you with regards to any information. The friendlier relationship you have, the more likely it is that the officer will call you. Furthermore, the caregiver is a resident and that counts for a LOT - not someone from CWS who does not live in the area.

Secondly, it is good for the officer to be able to contact you directly. There may be some delay in my being able to get hold of the caregiver. Sometimes I'm not even sure whom the caregiver is, or I may not be able to find their number. Again, if the officer is able to pass the information to you in the most direct fashion, that would be great.

Thirdly, the caregiver has the information directly. For example, this caregiver has asked him to pass information about something she saw and wants done. As she is the one who has seen it, it is best if she is able to give the information directly. If the officer asks him something which I do not know, I need to call the caregiver again and this can go back and forth (which has happened). The direct route is the best. In addition, the caregiver is most aware of the situation on the ground and can give the most detailed and knowledgeable information?

When should you NOT call? If for example, you know you will lose your temper and yell at the officer. If the caregiver is worried about language problems, there will be an officer who can definitely speak to the caregiver in their language or dialect - and the caregiver can always ask to speak to someone who does speak the caregiver's language.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Sterilisation reimbursements

Just before I left we were talking to one of the vets about starting up a permanent spay clinic. After doing the sums though, we realised that it wouldn't be cost effective. It would actually be cheaper for volunteers under the current programme because of the fixed costs that we would need to pay.

However we talked about doing more now that our finances are a bit better - especially for people who are sterilising large numbers of cats in a managed colony. We decided therefore that for every four cats sterilised, we will reimburse the cost of one cat sterilisation (subject to conditions - for example, this has to be the subsidised rate that we pay and of course it is ultimately our discretion whether to reimburse). So when you send in your monthly report, for every four cats, one cat will be done free. Remember to send in your bills within a month please or we cannot process them!

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Part of the family

I went shopping today (for once I've started early on my Christmas shopping) and one thing that I thought was really unusual was how much dogs and cats have really become part of the family in the US. For one thing, while the pet shops have all manner of toys for dogs and cats, some of the clothing shops also now carry a dog range. I was impressed to see dog clothes and other items for dogs at the Old Navy Shop (no cat stuff I'm afraid!).

Also, they have Christmas cards that are from the family dog or cat. While some people may say that's crazy, I reckon it's not a lot different then people signing off on cards on behalf of their infant children. People were also encouraged not to forget their cats and dogs and to get them to take a photo with Santa! It just goes to show that animals really are a part of the family here.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Why would they bring the cats upstairs?

Rebecca went down to this block on Friday and she found that it was quite a mess. There were at least five families either feeding the cats or whom were letting their pet cats out. A number of the cats were not sterilised. She managed to speak to them about getting the cats done and the families agreed.

Rebecca was unable to find the person the complainant spoke of. I spoke to the complainant but she had not seen the person either but a friend of hers had. I asked for her help to try and give us more information if she had it. I also told her Rebecca had been down and what had happened. The complainant herself said she noticed that community cats tend to bury their defecation downstairs and she was puzzled as to why they would come up. I explained some people let their pet cats out or some others bring the community cats upstairs. She asked me if we had asked these neighbours why they did that. She was rather baffled why they would not just feed the cats downstairs. I told her I did not know either but that she could be rest assured that Rebecca had spoken to them.


Catmasutra 3

Paul Koh and Michelle Chang let us use some of their lovely designs for our website a while ago. Here is an announcement of their upcoming show!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

ST (9-12-06)

List Penalties for cat trap

Good point!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Singapore Power

Vicki wrote in to say she wanted to add that while there are organisations that have been less than helpful with regards to community cats in trouble, some are the opposite. In fact, Singapore Power has been very helpful on the occasions that cats have caught in power stations and she wanted to mention her good experiences with them. According to Vicki, some cats were caught inside when the gates of the power substation were sealed up. She called the call centre and someone was sent down on the same day to let the cats out. She said they were quick and efficient.

On another occasion, she called the call centre and she said that they called her back within half an hour. They were accommodating of her time and made a point to go down when she asked him to. Nice to hear that they are so helpful!

It's always good to drop a note and thank officials - and even to write to the bosses of the people in charge to praise them for their efficiency. A thank you is always appreciated.

We won't know if we don't try

I just spoke with a woman who is complaining of cats coming up to the tenth floor and defecating. She said that her neighbour has seen a young woman with long hair taking the cats up and down via the lift. I asked if she knew whom this was and where she lived. The woman was reluctant to speak to her neighbour saying it might make relations worse. She also had no idea where this woman came from.

The complainant also said that she had been using mothballs since the town council suggested she use them and that worked.

She said she had another neighbour downstairs who had several cats. The flat was filthy and complaints were made. The HDB came down, and after two months the cats were removed but she said the cats had been moved back in. She said there was no point speaking to the neighbours.

I told the complainant we cannot assume that people will not listen. There may be a chance they ignore what is said, but we should give it a try. At the worst the situation does not change. At the best, they may change their behaviour and the nuisance will stop. I pointed out that this woman she has seen only lets the cats out late at night - she may think this is so it won't disturb the neighbours. She agreed.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Visiting Alley Cat Allies

I dropped by Alley Cat Allies today and it was great seeing new friends and all (both of the human and feral variety!).

There was sad news though - ACA started because of the dedication and hard work of a few committed individuals who were looking after the cats in an alley. Of that original colony, the last remaining cat passed away today.

The amazing thing though of course is that from a humble beginning - a national advocacy organisation was born which helps thousands of caregivers and cats. So as caregivers, don't think that you're powerless or cannot change anything. You do have the power to make a huge difference just by doing exactly what you do!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Cats and Dogs

Cats and Dogs
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This was sent in by Serene who wants to adopt a cat off the adoption board. These cats are all adopted cats. I asked for permission to post this because I love the cats and dogs all sitting together on the bet. Thanks Serene!

Tuesday, December 05, 2006


Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went to the vet here in the US with my neighbour the other day and was pretty surprised to find out that sterilisation is US$160 for a male cat and more for a female. The good thing is that there are low cost alternatives for people who cannot afford it.

Update on the cats

The TC officer replied this morning. She said that the cats had been taken by another caregiver. She said that she had to have the cats removed 'urgently' as they had been in a bin centre since Saturday.

Now I can understand if she needed the situation handled because it was a matter of some urgency. For example, she could have just said so. However to say the cats have to be removed before 2 pm does not convey a sense of urgency to me - it conveys an ultimatum.

She said that the caregiver she spoke with did not want to take the cats. I'm not sure if she spoke with the same person I spoke to but I got a completely different story.

I told her the point was that four hours was far too short a time to handle a situation. I said that if it had been an urgent situation, she could have said so and we would certainly try our best to react speedily. However I said considering the town council itself has a time frame of several days to respond to an email certainly the same time frame should be applied to caregivers handling complaints?

In addition, while the officer had been speaking to the caregivers, she had not contacted me as was agreed between the TC and ourselves. While she has spoken with the other people involved, she did not contact me and that makes it difficult for me to know what is happening.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Where are the cats?

I just called the TC to find out where the cats are now. The officer was out when I called before 2 and is now at a meeting so I have no idea where the cats are and she was not around to speak with before her 2 pm deadline. I have left a message and sent her emails to ask her to cease and desist from sending the cats anywhere and to please let me know where the cats are.

Remove the cats - in 4 hours

Rebecca mentioned to me on Friday that there was a complaint about some cats found outside a flat. She had spoken to one of the feeders and the situation was that one of the feeders offered to take the cats and would put them up for adoption.

I just received an email from the TC this morning saying that they want to send the cats to the AVA by 2 pm today because no one wants to take the cats. I called the feeder and she said she could not find the cats. For some reason the town council has the cats and the feeder said this was not her understanding as she thought she was supposed to pick them up from outside the flat.

I have just written to the TC to ask them what has happened and said that 4 hours of lead time before removing the cats is just not possible. This would be the case even if I was not in a different country and time zone. They do need to give us time to make arrangements.

Friday, December 01, 2006

I'm not the 'real' feeder

A few more people have written in to ask for alternatives to be used to trapping cats so we're looking at buying more Scarecrows. I'm also looking at the Ultra-sonic repellent - it gives off a high pitched noise which is annoying for cats apparently and will keep them out of the lawn. Where I stay now there is a small one to keep rats out of the apartment and since then there have been no rats (cats would have been a cuter and equally effective deterrent really!), so hopefully that will work too.

Some of the people who wrote in mentioned they felt bad telling off the feeders who are doing a kind thing - but often it looks like they've been feeding but not sterilising and this causes the cat population to multiply. It isn't kind to only feed and not sterilise - it adds to the problem. The people who wrote in either used to trap (and found it wasn't working) or are facing problems and don't want to trap. It's important to remember the main thing to look at is a permanent solution - and trapping is not going to work. Getting the feeders onto a TNRM programme would be the best way to control the population - and has been shown to be effective.

Poor Rebecca and some of the caregivers in their area have been having a tough few weeks. After the furor with the TC, she and a group of caregivers in her area have been trying to find the phantom feeders in an area where there are some sterilised cats (and a lot of complaints). Unfortunately they have met a number of feeders and all claim they are not the 'real' feeder. So the caregivers and Rebecca have been trapping - but this isn't sustainable in the long run because they have their own colonies to manage and there are large numbers of unsterilised cats.

They also had a run-in with some teenagers who did not want them to remove the cats even though they explained what they had to remove them for. There was a group of them and from what Rebecca said they seemed quite menancing.