Friday, June 30, 2006

Take Me Home



This cat needs a permanent home!

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.

Looking for a home


Looking for a home
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is one of the cats looking for a home that the adoption volunteer and I went to take photos of today.

Adoption today

Out for adoptions today with one of the volunteers.

Take it easy

I just had a conversation with a rather worried caregiver. She went to see her MP a few days ago and he was very supportive, but she feels that some of the other helpers at the session were not (though some of them were also very helpful). Since then she feels that some of her neighbours may be spying on her due to her request to have the MP and town council support a TNRM programme. She is a bit worried as she has some cats in her flat - for recovery and adoption mostly.

I told her that sometimes when we're anxious we do tend to project our feelings and sometimes other people may pick up on THAT and start viewing you suspiciously as well. She agreed that may be true. Alternatively, I told her that if anyone steps up and starts harassing her, she should go directly to the police.

At the end of the day, you have not done anything wrong - and you should not be ashamed. If anything, I would think that people who want cats removed and killed should be the ones who feel bad.

I also told her that sometimes when you start a programme, the other people around may not be supportive. They may think you're trying to bring MORE cats into the area. When they start seeing results though, many of these people may change their tune entirely.

So my advice is to take it easy - don't over-react or get unnecessarily panicked. Just take it one step at a time, and see how it plays out. In the end it might be nothing. It doesn't mean you shouldn't be cautious - but don't be overly worried either.

Thursday, June 29, 2006

Gucci

I've been talking to 5Cats and trying to get hold of Tiffy and Gucci's adopter this afternoon, as has 5Cats. Neither of us has had any luck. Unfortunately the family situation is a bit knotty. As has been mentioned, this is not the time to point fingers at anyone but to decide what the best thing to do with regards to Gucci is.

Cat outside Printers


Cat outside Printers
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this cat while dropping off a cat trap last night.

Difficult complainants

The caregivers and I met with the town council this morning for an update on the situation. All the property officers and managers from the division showed up which was good - it gave us a better idea of what they were having problems with. We also distributed copies of our form to the town council officers and let them know what kind of details we needed - for example, if it was a cat nuisance case, what precisely IS the nuisance in that case? Which cat was involved, etc?

The resident caregivers showed the town council all the followup action they had taken in each case and shared experiences. On the whole it was a positive meeting. However, some officers kept asking what could be done if the problem with regards to one cat was solved, but another cat started causing the same problem, for example a cat sitting in front of someone's home. We explained that removing the cat did NOT solve the problem - the resident with the cat could always get another cat (and often did). However the main issue is the RESIDENT. I told the officer short of removing the resident with the cat or the complainant, it would be hard to solve that problem permanently, because at the end of the day it was not a CAT problem, but a problem with the people involved.

They also told us that they did get complaints where for example, someone said they needed to go out of the flat but the cat was sitting in front of the door. They asked the town council to come down immediately because they were so scared, they could not shoo the cat away and were trapped in their homes.

One of the Property Managers mentioned that most of the difficult complainants are unreasonable and their complaints are as well. We also told them that we dealt with our share of difficult residents so we do know what they handle too.

Meeting this morning

There's a small article in the Straits Times today about how David Hooi is to be sent for counselling before his next hearing. I have not had the time to scan it in yet and will do so later.

Off for a town council meeting now.

Today (29-6-06)


Today (29-6-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.



For a clearer view of the article in text form, click here.

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

An even bigger crime than abuse

I'm very heartened to see so many people outraged about the abuse case relating to David Hooi. I have to say that every time another case gets reported, the response gets louder and more people speak up about why it's wrong.

What I think is a real problem though is that while we sit here and mourn this poor kitten that was killed, we're STILL killing 35 cats on average a day. 35 healthy cats are being sent in and killed generally because there's a complaint.

What sort of message are we sending out as a society? That some forms of killing are acceptable, but others are not? One complainant asked me why he could not kill the cats himself since if he called town council they would kill the cats for him anyway? In a way, it made sense to him I think because he would actually be saving manpower and resources by taking matters into his own hands.

We can't save the kitten that was killed - but we CAN save the 13000 cats to be killed every year. Abuse is terrible, and I take my hats off to the volunteers who stood up bravely and confronted the abuser. What more needs to be done though is to stand up and say that we do not want town councils or management committees to take the easy route anymore and waste money to kill cats.

Let's speak up about an even greater outrage - that we're taking the easy way out and not solving the problem by killing cats when we need to look at a longer term approach like cat management.

More than one way to go about it

I spoke to a feeder today. She heard from the cleaner that the town council wants to trap her cats. She is understandably upset but when she called the officer a few days ago, he said he would call her first if there was a problem. She does not want to get the cleaner into trouble as he is very helpful, so she decided that she would bring some friends of hers and get them to lie to the General Manager and say that they overheard that the cats were going to be caught.

I told her that it was not a good idea to lie about it - and at the end of the day it proves nothing as the cats have not been caught. The officer will just deny it and if it is found that she lied, her credibility is shot.

I suggested that she ask these friends to keep a watch over the cats. If the cleaner is willing to let them know what time, they can then stand there and take photos of the cats being caught and they will have incontrovertible proof.

The feeder said that her friends may not have time, or cameras. I told her that since they were willing to go with her and meet the GM, I am sure they would have time to do this, and that I would get her disposable cameras if she needed it. She said she would need to talk to them and see if they were willing. I find it odd that they would take time out to go and tell stories to the GM, but that they aren't willing to stand there at a pre-determined time and shoot some photos on a camera.

I understand that town councils can be underhanded and sneaky sometimes - but it does not mean that we should try and lie and make up stories either. There are usually other better ways of getting hold of the same information which are more convincing as well.

Tiffy

Some of you have probably already read 5Cats post about Tiffy on her blog. 5Cats called yesterday afternoon and mentioned that Tiffy's owner's father had sent the cat to the SPCA. We went down, but they were unable to trace any cat of the same description.

We contacted 5Cats again and she managed to speak to the father who now said the cat had been sent to the AVA. I contacted the AVA and they called back first thing this morning to say that Tiffy had been put down. 5Cats rushed down this morning - and she is devastated at the fate of poor Tiffy though I know also that she did everything she could have done. Tiffy did not have a tipped ear and apparently, Tiffy's owner's father had said that it was a community cat loitering in the corridor and he wanted to send it in to be put down. He did not say it was a pet cat.

The saddest thing is that the owner had apparently gotten someone else to agree to take the cat and it would have been out of the house in just a few days.

In addition, I have heard from many caregivers that a LOT of town councils have been sending in cats to the AVA. The more cats sent in, the less space for other cats like Tiffy - and this does mean that cats like her will be put down faster.

A couple of things about this :-

One, sometimes there are family problems and cats get caught in the middle. If you are taking a cat home, please be sure that your family members are really okay with the cat. There was another case I dealt with whereby a mother and her grown up daughter were fighting - the mother then took the cat and abandoned it. Her daughter knew her mother did not like her cat, but the situation took a turn for the worse when she brought home yet another cat. If your family does not like your cat, sometimes it can change and they can learn to embrace the cat - sometimes they never do and it can end like this. Also, sometimes one additional cat can be the straw that breaks the proverbial's camel's back. This is not in relation to this particular case since I don't know what happened here but as a general rule of thumb.

Second, do call immediately if you think something has happened to your cat. Time is of essence - I have had people call weeks after their cat was caught by the town council. Sometimes you luck out - most times you don't, so don't wait.

Letters to the press

Today it's cats, tomorrow humans

Hands on Approach

Two letters to the press today. Anyone is welcome to help handson with TNRM! :)

ST (28-6-06)


ST (28-6-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's the article on David Hooi and the kitten which eventually had to be put down.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Ear Tipped Cat


Ear Tipped Cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The volunteer and I stopped by another block where the complainant was unwilling to give his details for 'security' reasons. Despite his claims that there are people feeding morning, afternoon and night, I did not see any feeders. I saw a handful of sterilised cats - certainly not a huge number.

When I came home, there was another email waiting from him where he complained about an unidentified cat defecating in front of him last week and declining to give ANY details about himself again.

Yet more food


Yet more food
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This continues to lure the cats up and causes complaints.

Cage outside the flat


Cage outside the flat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

After speaking with this resident several times, and having her insist the cats are never let out, I saw this cage outside her flat now. Of course, the door was open - a cat was seen around the corner from the flat. However, the woman claims that the cats never go out and that sometimes community cats come up - which of course happens because she leaves food outside.

Why do some people just refuse to listen? If they want to feed the cats, just walk down and feed them. If they want to keep them in, don't let them out. Instead, she KNOWS that there have been complaints in this area as I have been by twice to tell her already - and yet she persists.

Sleepy cat


Sleepy cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

We saw this rather moth-eaten cat today while walking through a block where complaints were coming in about 'too many' cats.

The volunteer and I thought it was quite funny because someone stopped us, thinking we were town council officers, and complaining about the drains. I told her that we were here to look into the cat situation and she gave me a lot of information, including telling me there were many irresponsible feeders around. She balked however on hearing that the cats will be killed. She said there was no reason to do so.

Town Council Logic

I just got off the phone with a most irate caregiver because we have both been dealing with a problem with one of the town councils. One of the officers called this morning to say that there had been a complaint from a resident who said that the cats have been making noise the last few nights and that she cannot sleep and as a result she is getting sick. Thus, she wants all the cats removed. To be fair to the officer, she did tell her that was not possible. However, she is going to send in pest control to trap the cats there.

The caregivers have recently started sterilising in this area so they still have some unsterilised cats to go. The officer however was unable to tell me at first if this was a home cat or a community cat making noise. She said the complainant with the frail constitution refuses to talk to me. She also said she did not want us 'disturbing the residents'. I told her that I just need more details and they are sadly lacking from whatever information she has already given to me.

The caregivers asked if they could go in and just take the remaining unsterilised cats out tonight - they have been having trouble catching a mother cat and her kittens. The town council officer refused. She will send pest control down today citing 'high pressure'.

She also said that she does not have time to deal with these complaints (though apparently has time to pander to the complainant). The officer furthermore said she will no longer call if there are still complaints in this area because she has already told us about the situation. If trapping is so effective, then why WOULD there be more complaints? She ended up by saying perhaps the pest control might not be able to catch anything after all - then why call them in????

I love town council logic.

Another abused kitten?

Some disturbing news from some of the caregivers - apparently the guy in Bedok who was jailed for killing the kitten a few months ago has allegedly been found to have another badly injured kitten in his flat last night. The police were called in. I am trying to get hold of the SPCA to find out how the kitten is doing as well.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Don't be discouraged

I was speaking with a volunteer and she mentioned that she felt very discouraged because she had gone to see her MP and then her town council had written to her to say that some people do not want cats in her estate. She said she felt very let down by their attitude and felt like giving up.

I told her that the most important thing is to remember that you often don't get support on the first try but that it is very important not to give up. Sometimes it's about trying to get your point across and sometimes it doesn't work the first time, but try and try again. As long as you know your facts, stay calm and keep persisting, it will happen.

There have been many moments when I have been discouraged and wanted to give up, but at the same time I'm very glad I didn't. To see all the work that all of you do is an encouragement to me and keeps me plodding along - and know that you aren't alone. There are many other caregivers who are also doing what you do and who may have encountered setbacks. The most important thing is not to give up.

Not everything is a cat issue

I spoke to the HDB officer this afternoon finally and also spoke with the volunteer afterward. The officer said they managed to see the woman and that she was fine. They wanted to call CWS or the volunteer down but the woman said she was in a rush and would not be around to speak to anyone.

I told the officer that this is no longer a cat issue. The volunteers have said that the smell is bad, but it does not smell like cats. Also, they do not hear any cats inside the flat. I asked her if they have inspected the flat - they have not, because she is reluctant to let them in. I told the officer that it cannot be lumped as a 'cat problem' just because the woman may have had cats once. It sounds as if this has become a hygiene issue - whether or not she has cats is incidental to the fact that she clearly cannot keep the flat clean.

The officer kept insisting that if she has cats they still need our help to speak with her. I told her this was not a problem, but in all likelihood, removing any cats (if there are still any cats inside) is NOT going to stop the smell.

I spoke to the volunteer after and one of the other volunteers managed to catch hold of the woman. She denied she had any cats left in the flat. She would not open the door and stood behind the door and spoke to the volunteer.

Sometimes it's just easier to lump it as a cat issue then to face the actual problem - ie that it might be a problem with the person or people involved because then how would you solve THAT?

Mummified cats


Mummified cats
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Anonymous is right - the earlier photos were of sarcophagi. Lest you think that Egyptian cats were huge, here are photos of the actual mummified cats from within.

Mummified Cats, British Museum, UK


Mummified Cats, British Museum, UK
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I realised I forgot to upload this photo I took. Cats as you know, were deified by the ancient Egyptians, and as a result, many were mummified when they died. Here are some examples.

A need for a cohesive approach

I just got off the phone with one of the volunteers. She mentioned that there are a lot of people letting their cats out of their flat and worse, these cats aren't sterilised. The town council is very annoyed by the whole situation because the residents are complaining to them.

The volunteer has spoken to a few of these residents and they usually either deny the cat is theirs, or ask her to take it away.

Another volunteer went down with a volunteer the other day to speak with another woman who is so careless that her cats keep falling from her unit and dying or breaking their legs. This woman too says she does not want the cats anymore.

Now the town council won't step in - to them, this does not constitute their problem. The HDB will just say that to get rid of the cats if they come into the situation. This is exactly what some of these residents will do - dumping them into their own estates and increasing the community cat population.

This will clearly result in an increasing community cat population problem. It seems to be extremely short sighted that town councils and HDB do not work together on this problem - it's as if the left hand pretends it does not know what the right hand does. Telling people that they cannot keep cats in their flats is all way and good, but they are ALREADY DOING IT. What do you expect them to do with their cats? Plus, asking them to get rid of their cats this time, does not mean that they are not going to just go and pick up new cats which means that the whole cycle starts again.

So what to do about it? Allow cats in flats legally and force people to follow some rules - cats must be sterilised, cats must be kept indoors and microchipped, there must be some cap on the number of cats (with a grace period till the existing cats die) and people with cats can then register their cats. HDB argues they'll deal with more cat complaints then - here's the thing, right now people who are irresponsible are already keeping cats in their homes. However, there are responsible owners who are also getting busted by the HDB just because they own cats. If cats are allowed officially, they would have a smaller group of people go after, ie the truly irresponsible ones, rather than the whole entire cat owning population. It's a waste of resources to go after people just because they own cats.

In addition, by insisting on people keeping cats indoors and sterilising them, you help end a lot of problems. Right now there are no guidelines. People think there is nothing wrong with letting their cats walk about. If the force of authority can back this up, a lot more people would be sterilising and keeping their cats in.

We will never get a hold of the community cat population until the HDB and Town councils stop burying their heads in the sand and pretending that there are no cats in flats.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Lucy


Lucy
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here is the cat that fell in the foster's home.

I don't want to give any details

Another 'helpful' complainant today. This person complained that there was a lot of food around, and many irresponsible feeders. He also complained the cats were defecating outside his flat. I asked for more details - what time the feeders came down, and which floor the cat defecated on.

The man replied he cannot let me know which floor the cat defecates on (which is the floor he lives on) for security and reasons of keeping harmony. So apparently speaking to his neighbour or giving us details to try and let us find which house has home cats or is feeding cats is wrong and would result in displeasure, but removing and killing what are unlikely to be his neighbours' cats is going to promote neighbourliness.

This reminds me of Jolanda's neighbours when she was still in Singapore. She had gone over several times to ask them to let her know if her community cats caused any problems. They never did, but they trapped several of her cats and sent them to the AVA. When she asked them why, they said it was not nice to complain to her about her cats. Jolanda said that letting her know was not impolite, but trapping her cats to be killed was!

Another thing that irks me - these people seem to think that this isn't their problem. This is THEIR neighbourhood. It is in their best interest to work with us and give us as many details to solve the problem as possible. I'm not the one living there with the problem - they are. So if they want the problem solved, then cough up the information! Either that or the problem clearly isn't bothering them that much, in which case, town councils should stop pandering to them so much.

TNRM programmes in schools?

I went down to meet some students this afternoon who would like to run an adoption programme in Primary Schools. They hope to get students to interact with the cats. I told them that while this is a nice idea, instead of bringing cats INTO the schools, why not start TNRM programmes within the schools? This will help to control the population as well as to encourage interaction of the cats and the children.

I also told them that chances are slim the school is going to want to have pet cats wandering the corridors but packaging it as a way to maintain the existing population would be more convincing. This also means that children who want to see the cats can see them at for example, the cat cafe and those who are scared of them will hopefully get small amounts of exposure without scaring them too much.

I also told them that with Primary school children, it is very unlikely that they can trap and sterilise the cats - and just feeding and petting them is not going to control the population, nor does it really teach them about responsibility. They are going to go back and think a bit about the proposal.

Garfield 2 Poster


Garfield2 Poster
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I just saw this poster when I was out meeting the students today.

TNRM on campuses?

Off for a meeting with some students who want to try and see if they can run an adoption programme in schools. I'm asking them to consider a TNRM programme on campus instead.

Helping?

Someone wrote in to ask for help. He knows a woman who has taken in more then 30 cats into her flat. These were all community cats that she had picked up. The cats are apparently not in good condition now, skinny and with bad fur because she is not looking after them well. Someone complained to the HDB. He said that he has been helping her, sterilising the cats and getting cages and the like for her.

Now he has decided that he should rent a place and board the cats. He is asking around for help. I told him that the problem is that if he takes this lot of cats out, she may well go and help herself to another lot if she does have a problem. He said he thinks she is a hoarder but he intends to check up on her once in a while.

The thing is - once in a while is probably not going to be enough. Taking the cats out may mean that she fills the flat up again in no time. I read about a woman who was a hoarder - she picked up more cats on the way home from court where she had been fined. In a way, it is allowing her to continue to pick up MORE cats and make their lives miserable too.

In addition, the man cannot afford to pay for the boarding and is asking others for financial assistance. Many people will try and help out at first but at the end of the day, chances are they have other commitments or may not be able to help out for other reasons. Then what happens to the cats?

I asked if it's possible to adopt them out or release but he doesnt think they are adoptable. At least if the number can be reduced through adoption and release, then perhaps the woman may be better able to cope.

I do know a lot of people help out with the best of intentions - but intentions and results can differ vastly. 'Helping' this woman out by boarding the cats may lead to even more cats suffering. She does not suffer any consequences of her action - so she may not have any compunctions about picking up more cats. She may not be able to stop herself. The people who help can make a profound difference - and it can be for the good of both the people and cats involved, or it can be the polar opposite.

Smell from the flat

The HDB officer called and wanted to know if they could ask someone to go down to the flat if they are able to trace the woman. I told her that the volunteers had already left their numbers with the relevant people and that the problem now is highly unlikely to be one relating to cats. The volunteers have said it smells as if something is decomposing in there.

The HDB officer said they'll send someone down now to take a look.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Update on the HDB flat

I spoke to the volunteer about the case in the HDB flat with the bad smell. Apparently, they have gone down three more times but no one seems to ever be at home. They have left their numbers and also with the neighbours to ask if they can call the minute they see someone. Contrary to what the HDB said though, no one seems to live there.

I'm trying to contact the officers now so that we can go down and open the flat up. The smell is pretty overwhelming according to the volunteers but they can't look into the flat, nor do they hear anything at all.

The Cat Flap


The Cat Flap
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I visited the Cat Flap on Monday, which is run by the Cambridge Branch of Cats Protection. They run a second hand store where people donate items for them to sell. Their work concentrates mostly on adoption though, and not so much on TNRM.

Cats moved from one area to another

Remember the town council that trapped some of the cats and sent them somewhere else? The caregiver asked that they be found and returned to her, but apparently some other cats were sent to the AVA and they weren't the ones she lost.

I just spoke to the officer. He admitted that the cats were dumped but said that this was the first time they had dumped the cats somewhere else which may or may not be the case. He said however he will not do it again and will call before he traps any cats.

What also happened is that apparently there are some dumped cats in the area which are more difficult to trap, and chances are these are the ones causing the problems - so guess which cats ended up being caught? The friendly, sterilised ones.

Sometimes its about timing

I spoke with a feeder this morning. She was very upset because a cleaner in her area had told her that the town council was going to trap her cats. She called the GM and a few property officers and was going to kick up a big fuss.

The problem is that she did not want to bring up the cleaner's name for fear of getting him into trouble. This is perfectly understandable. This of course means however that when they ask her where they get this information, she will be unable to supply it.

She had also spoken with the officer a few weeks ago and the officer had told her that he will not trap any of her cats if the complaints are solved. None of the cats have gone missing.

At this point, there isn't anything she can do about accusing the officer, because chances are, he's going to deny everything. It may end up making her look unreliable. So instead of calling everyone and making accusations (which may be true but which are not provable), I advised her to call again and get a reassurance from him that he will refer any problems to her. That way if anything DOES happen, she can kick up a fuss. Of course, she also has to get other residents to watch the cats and to call if any of them go missing.

Lucky Black Cat


Lucky Black Cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's a poster at the Cambridge Cats Protection League shop at the Cat Flap. It's interesting they have the same problem adopting black cats out.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Writeup on cats


Writeup on cats
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

One of the writeup on cats at the British Museum and the role the cat played inn Egyptian mythology.

Gayer-Anderson Cat


Gayer-Anderson Cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this famous statue at the British Museum. As cats were worshipped in ancient Egypt, there were several statues of cats displayed.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Forum panel on Silence of the Kitties

Wild Rice has just confirmed that they'd like us to be on a panel discussion about the Silence of the Kitties on August 6th at the National Library. It's going to be called Strays and Critters : the Culling Fields. It will be a discussion panel but not just about the cat situation - I think this is just a starting point for a larger discussion. Will post more details closer to the date.

They did dump the cats

The TC officer admitted to the AVA officer I spoke to that the pest control DID dump the cats somewhere else apparently. Balls now in the TC's court - do they return the cats? If they don't and they are not apologetic, then we may have no choice but to make this public.

Pushing the blame to someone else

E_Cat emailed to say that one of the volunteers called to say that the town council had trapped her cats and they never turned up at the AVA. I rang her and found out that she had spoken with an officer and that the officer claimed that they had trapped the cats but he couldn't help it if the pest control didn't send them to the AVA. This is utter rubbish. They cannot try to push the blame now to someone else - after all the TC HIRED the pest control. Cats that are caught cannot be brought and dumped somewhere else - and while we know this is happening, it's very hard to get proof. In this case, it looks like the officer is admitting that they have trapped but they obviously didn't turn up where they should have.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Giving reasonable time frames

The town council meeting last night went quite well and they've agreed to allow the caregiver some time to try and get started on the area so that the cats can be sterilised. The officer is familiar with the old Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme (SCRS) that used to run before 2003 when it was shut down. Hopefully the caregivers will be able to finish within the time frame, which does seem quite a reasonable one. The important thing to note is to always give a reasonable time frame - don't over extend yourself and then not be able to finish on time. It's better to be conservative in your estimate and be able to finish faster than you anticipated.

I'm out of the country for a few days and will be back at work next Thursday. I am however going to continue to post any interesting cat news - for one thing, I'm trying to plan a meeting to meet with a cat protection group and I'll keep you posted!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

TC

Off to meet TC with a caregiver now.

Who's paying for cats to be killed?

I've been toying with this idea for a while and was talking it over with Michelle today after the incident with the TC officer. Here's the thing - when you pay conservancy charges, they go to maintaining the estate. It goes to things that I would say the vast majority of people would need and like to see in their estate. For example the garbage being picked up, the corridors being washed and cleaned, the trees being trimmed once in a while, the lights being changed, lifts being serviced - you get the picture.

Now here comes one complainant. He or she has a problem like the complainant this morning. What does town council do? Spend the same conservancy amount and catch the cats and it doesn't even work. For example, in this case, it's quite probable that the problem has to do with a cat lured upstairs or a home cat. Trapping the community cats downstairs is not going to solve the defecation problem. In the long term moreover, removing and killing does not manage the population.

In the meantime (and I have seen this happen in other areas), the complainant is still not happy. The complainant tells the town council the problem is not solved. The officer then sends out pest control again, traps the cats again and sends more cats to be killed. Like some other officers I speak to, it doesn't matter if the problem is solved, as long as it is solved just for right NOW. Sometimes, it doesn't matter even if it is not solved at ALL, as long as the officer is seen to be doing something.

Meanwhile, who is paying for all of this? The complainant? Of course not! The complainant who may be the only person in the entire block with a problem with the cats can call repeatedly and have the cats removed without paying any extra. Instead I am assuming this money comes from conservancy funds which are collected - certainly town councils aren't paying for it out of the kindness of their hearts.

I'm pretty sure that the majority of people in TC managed estates everywhere do not want to pay for cats to be removed and killed. Why then is this money being used to satisfy (and usually in most cases it doesn't even satisfy them because the problem isn't solved) a minority of complainants? I am pretty sure if you asked the complainants even THEY don't want to have to pay for the cats to be removed - that's why you see in private estates that when residents realise they have to trap the cats themselves or pay someone to do it, that quite a few decide not do it after all.

It's a waste of money pure and simple - and I think it has to stop. TC officers need to look for solutions and not throw money away just so they can have a few days grace period from a complaining resident.

Solution? How about asking the complainant to pay? If he or she is so disturbed by the cats, why don't they pay to have them removed? Imagine that you decided you wanted a bench built just for you to sit on - no one else can share - do you think the town council would pay for that? So why is everyone being made to pay for the cats to be killed?

Private Business


Private Business
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

If you urinate or defecate in the lift, you get a warning sign or a fine (and being of supposed superior intelligence, you really SHOULD know better). If you're a cat and you defecate in the corridor or lift because your owner or caregiver feeds you upstairs, you get killed.

TCs pandering to the ridiculous

I just had the most unbelievable telephone conversation with a senior town council officer. I spoke with a complainant last week who says there is always defecation on the sixth floor. I asked for more details - for example, whether anyone fed the cats, or whether he had seen any cat defecation around. He said he did not know. He did mention that he had seen a neighbour walking on his floor who was calling for her cats. Also he has never seen the cat in question.

Other residents went down and they looked into the matter. They found out that someone else living on the same floor had three cats and was in the habit of letting them out but these people had just moved out. We reported it to the complainant and asked them to let us know if there was any improvement.

He wrote back to say there was no improvement,so I called him for more information and followed up with an email which he never bothered to reply to.

He has now called the town council and said that he wants them to solve the problem without him giving any details. He said he did not like the way the situation was 'handled' as he had been interrogated by CWS. I told the town council officer that if he wanted to see transcripts of my telephone conversations with the resident, I would be happy to forward them. The officer said this is what residents expect - that the TC solves the problem without any details.

I asked him if this was not patently ridiculous - I said leaving aside the problem of the cats for a moment, if a resident called to say they had a problem with another resident but refused to give any details, what would the town council do? Not ask for details? How were they expected to solve the problem then?

He said the resident might not want to give details because has to live there with other neighbours, or he does not know. I told the officer that in every case, we have respected confidentiality and never revealed details if we were asked not to. In the latter situation, the man could have just said, I don't know! Then we move on and try and solve the problem in other ways.

This infuriates me - how are you supposed to solve a problem if the resident doesn't want to give any information. At the end of the day, the RESIDENT is the one living in the estate - and if they don't want to co-operate, they're the ones who are going to have to live with the consequences. In which case, either (1) the problem really isn't bothering them too much which is why they don't much care whether it's solved or (2) they're unreasonable. How is this problem to be solved? Through telepathy?

Now the officer of course wants to trap the cats downstairs even though it seems very likely that these are not the cats that come up. The cats only defecates between 11:30 pm and 6 am in the morning (facts which the town council officer did not have incidentally and was jotting down).

Of course the officer does not care. He says that the resident will feel something is being done and may be more co-operative because town council is 'doing something' - I said if the defecation continues, then he's not going to CARE if they have trapped the cats downstairs because it hasn't solved his problem. I said I've been to several areas where complainants say they have caught the cats and nothing has changed - they still wake up to a fresh pool of defecation in front of their door every morning.

I told him that since he has reflected that the problem has not been solved, the residents will go down and flyer the block.

The point of this lengthy rant is what exactly are the town council officers doing? For example, they see any easy way out - ie there is a problem, let me look as if I am DOING something by trapping the cats - rather than solving the problem. Don't tell me that if a resident called up and said that their neighbour is annoying them and not giving any details that the town council would knock on every door and ask which neighbour it is and find out what the problem is. No - they'd chuck it in the bin where it belongs.

Town councils often take the easy way out. They are not interested in solving problems but in being seen to do something. What it also does is that it encourages this bad behaviour - ponder this, is the resident who is being pandered to is going to be MORE or LESS likely to complain about something else in the future? And next time, it may not be so 'easy' to deal with as just calling pest control, paying money and killing a few cats which happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Surprised?

Someone who works for one of the government departments called up this morning and was upset that one of the cats he feeds was trapped by the town council. He wanted the Society to call the town council or AVA to release the cat to him. I explained that because the cat was his, and he was a resident he had to call because they would want to speak to him, not some welfare group that has no connection to this estate or cat at all.

He got rather upset and said that it was so complicated and that none of the welfare groups could help him. I do understand he was upset but as I explained to him, we don't even know his cat. It turned out he didn't either - he saw a cat being caught, but he wasn't sure if it was his. I asked if his cat had returned, and he said that it was not the point as he would take the cat back anyway.

The cat was not sterilised, and there were complaints - it's not a big surprise to me at all that it was caught. What I AM constantly surprised at is that people look after cats, feed them, see the population grow, hear the cauterwauling at night and the fights, see the kittens being born and NOT think this will become a problem.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Smell from the flat update

The HDB officer went down and said that the neighbours have seen the occupant of the flat in the mornings. The volunteer said however that she asked around and the other neighbours have said she no longer lives there. She banged hard on the door as she was worried that there might be cats inside - she said that one of the neighbours had seen some cats inside. However, she heard nothing. She does not think the smell comes from cats - and her friends with her think that the smell is of garbage rotting more than anything related to the cats.

She's going back to check again. If we can be quite sure that no one is there then we'll need to get the AVA, police and HDB involved but it's going to be a long drawn out process because THEY will want to be absolutely sure that no one lives there anymore. If we can find out, that will make it easier to get into the flat if necessary.

Lounging


CIMG2066
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I met a very nice young lady this afternoon who mentioned that she'd like to help out with Mediation. We certainly need help with that and I do hope to work with her on that.

She did bring up an interesting point though. She said that sometimes she has seen some very sad looking cats and that she sometimes wondered whether it was better for the cats to be put down then on the street where they live hard lives.

I told her that the majority of community cats can and do actually live very good lives on the street - especially if they have good caregivers. Often the sad and miserable looking cats are the ones we remember because they tug at our heartstrings, but many others are well looked after and lead good, long lives.

Sterilised cats that are cared for usually always look better too then the unsterilised ones that get into fights, and sometimes have diseases.

If we can sterilise them, that already helps tremendously in making them healthier and happier. Finding them a good caregiver is the best thing of course that could happen for them.

Chef Cat Food

If anyone is interested in buying Chef cat food drop me a line. The company, Auric Pacific, has offered to sell the food at cheaper rates to community cat caregivers.

Injured cat

The woman who found the injured cat called. She found a shelter to put it in. I told her that we'll take care of it but would appreciate any donations. She said one person has promised money already so let's see how it goes.

The injured cat should go to her foster home tomorrow. She'll start the process of recovery and then hopefully someone will adopt her.

GIRO woes

Finally! I seem to be able to key in the GIRO records. I'm trying not to anger the GIRO monster so am typing gently so as not to wake it up.

Cats in the flat

An HDB officer called the other day to say there was a woman keeping cats in her flat and asked if we could go down and speak with her. A volunteer went down last night and she said the smell was pretty horrible. She said the neighbours said the woman has not been seen in three months. I am trying to get the officer as it seems they spoke to her not long ago. I am having a flashback to a horrible case that Sia Ping, Liang Tong and another volunteer went into almost five years ago and I sincerely hope it's not as bad.

Monday, June 12, 2006

James on trial adoption


James on trial adoption
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

E_cat, the adoption volunteer and I met the potential adopter on Saturday night. She returned last night to pick up James from E_cat. Wish James luck!

I want to help but not do anything

Just back from seeing the cat, dropping some newsletters off and putting down the deposit for the new lot of cat traps.

We went to see the cat at the vet. Rebecca suggested that the cat may have fallen - hence the broken leg and the bewildered air or a lost pet. She's quite right that it might be possible. She does look quite dirty and matted for a recently lost pet cat though.

The woman just called again and said she heard from a groomer who overheard the vet say that the cat can go back on the streets. I told her that it wasn't what I was told and that if she didn't trust what I said, by all means to go ahead and call the vet but not to be so quick to believe that third parties overheard. She quickly back tracked and said that she didn't mean that she didn't believe me, but that she may have heard wrongly.

She is now trying to put the cat into a farm. Who knows where the money to put the cat into the farm is coming from as it certainly isn't coming from her. She's got other commitment, she has other pets, she cannot help. For someone who wants to be 'positive', she certainly is very negative.

I also spoke to the other woman that she was trying to place the cat with. She said that she was very annoyed as well but she didn't want the woman to toss the cat back on the street as she was under the impression that this woman had taken the cat to the vet and might leave it where she found it. It turned out she called different groups and made it seem she had done the work when she had not.

This morning she insisted she would have no problems finding donations to keep this cat somewhere. Now she says she can only 'try'. This morning she was quite certain the cat cannot go back on the street because she said it cannot survive - now she seems to have done another about turn.

We're going to handle this but I'm not going to bother to keep her in the loop. All she has done is call for help when the cat was first found and then just badgered Rebecca and I and other welfare group volunteers. She has not as far as I know, even gone down to look at the cat.

Cat at the vet


Cat at the vet
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's the cat that fell and which cannot go back on the street. Rebecca, the adoption volunteer and I went to see her this afternoon to see what her chances are.

The vet says she will always have a limp. She is kind of toothless and you can see she's been through a lot. Poor cat.

Why Sterilise ? One caregiver's response

I was speaking with a caregiver this morning. She said that people moved out of a block of flats because it was to be pulled down and many left all their cats when they moved. She was advised not to get them sterilised by a friend because they said that with the sheer number of cats, they were going to get caught anyway so she might as well save her money.

What this caregiver(who is the most hardworking, amazing caregiver I know) said is that she would handle complaints, she would try as hard as she could to make sure that they would not get caught, but she was not going to stop sterilising the cats even if they were eventually caught. Her logic is that while these cats may get caught, she is preventing all the future generations of kittens from being born who would have been born and then been caught and killed too. Hopefully by controlling the population they will not get caught she said, but even if they do, if say 10 sterilised cats are caught, at least it's not the 50 or 60 that would have been caught and killed if they WEREN'T.

She also said that shelters weren't an option. She knew friends who were running out of money and could not maintain the cats any longer in shelters and now could not be returned. She said that some she had seen had been appallingly dirty. Others offered to send the cats somewhere else for a few thousand dollars - she warned her friends against them.

Positive or Realistic

The phone has been ringing non-stop this morning.

I just spoke to a woman who found an injured cat the other day and asked for help. Rebecca lives near her and went down and took the cat to the vet. The cat is 10 years old, has broken legs and cannot urinate at the moment due to the pain. It looks like an abandoned Persian cat.

The woman could not afford to pay very much for treatment, but we sent the cat down anyway. The vet said this cat cannot go back on the streets after this as chances of survival will be very low.

She also said the cat is elderly and has a rather aggressive personality so it does not have a good chance at adoption.

The woman who found it wants to save the cat. At the moment, we have no foster but I told her assuming the cat is able to heal for the 6 weeks it needs, what should be done with the cat? The woman wants to adopt it out. I explained to her chances are very low and that as she mentioned to me, this cat was being beaten up by other cats in the area. With a lame leg, it's chances of outrunning the other cats is even more remote.

This woman heard of another woman who says she can take it in. The woman she mentioned was someone I know - one of the women who is already in a lot of financial trouble from having far too many cats in the house. The woman mentioned that this other person could take the cat in and foster it. I asked what happened after that - she said perhaps the woman could keep the cat. I told her that the second woman was already in a lot of financial problems, she already had too many cats and now she wanted to give another cat to her? I asked her how this was fair to the woman. I asked whom was going to pay for the medical treatment, and she said the Society should do it.

I asked if she could take the cat in herself. She has two pets of her own and she says she has her hands full. I told her that if that was the case, could she imagine this woman she was trying to send the cat off to? She had her problem times fifty.

She told me that she likes to look on the 'positive' side of things. I told her that positive is good, but realistic is important. I told her that while 6 weeks may seem like a long time, it's going to be here in a flash, and it's necessary to think long term about what is going to happen to the cat. Putting it here, and trying to source for donations as she is planning to do is fine for now - but what about the rest of this cat's life? The woman she can put it with can leave it in a cage but with the cat's personality,it cannot go out with the other cats in the house as well. I told her she needs to think not about today or tomorrow, but about 6 weeks or even 6 months down the road. Spending $2000 to save a cat which is going to be tossed back on the street where its chances of survival are not very good just isn't very sensible - that same amount could maybe save another 20 cats.

Grooming



Otterman allowed me the pleasure of visiting his cats the other day. Here's Xylo - such a big boy now - and Tiger - something sweet to start your Monday off.

Friday, June 09, 2006

One of the community cats today


One of the community cats today
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

"Scary Cat" coming to a PC near you



The thumping music in the background came from someone blasting their speakers.

Don't wait till it's too late

I received a phone call from a young woman who asked if I knew that cats were being trapped in a certain area this afternoon. The sad truth of the matter is that there are cats being trapped every single day so I'm not surprised when people call to tell me that. With 35 cats being killed every day, trapping must be happening somewhere every single day.

What is sad is that some people don't do anything till it is be too late. This young lady was calling because they were trapping in an area that her friend knows about or helps in. The friend says that she is willing to pay for sterilisation, but says that she cannot communicate with the other feeders. I told the young woman that I had mentioned to her friend in the past we could do a workshop there but had not heard back from her on this.

The sad thing is that some people aren't moved to do anything till the cats get caught. As this young woman told me, there are 'many, many' cats there. The town council obviously has received complaints. At this point, the population is clearly becoming a problem in the area. What is to be done now? The town council will want to know what the solution is - and while sterilisation is definitely the answer, town councils are not going to wait for you to sterilise the cats at this point because they have a problem they need solved NOW. They'll want to know why nothing was done earlier. If the feeder knows sterilisation is the answer, they'll want to know why nothing was done about it.

It does seem that some people I've met who have no time or money or whatever it is to sterilise, suddenly find they have the time and money to sterilise the cats at this point, or move them all into a farm at huge cost. If they sterilised earlier, the cats would have been saved. So please, if you feed, make sure you sterilise - the sooner the better.

The saga of the Scary Cats

I just spoke with the complainant again and she confirmed that it was the black and white cat that she thought tried to attack them. She also mentioned he is very vocal. I explained that he seemed very friendly and perhaps she may have misinterpreted his friendliness as being aggression. She says she will call me if there are any more problems. The woman does not live in the block of flats anyway, but she says she goes by every day.

I found that someone on the fifth floor has a cat that is unsterilised and the un-neutered male goes up to 'visit'. I advised the person to sterilise both cats and not to feed the male upstairs.

As for the other block where she saw the other scary cat, I found three sterilised cats. They have a caregiver and are very friendly which may have scared the woman as well. Let's hope this settles it.

The alleged scary cat

Just who is the bigger menace?


Just who is the bigger menace?
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

'Attack cat'

This woman complained to the town council - I was told that there were cats in the void deck by the TC. When I called her, it turns out that she was complaining about a cat on the third to fifth floor of a block and it looks like it wants to attack her. I asked her to describe it and she said it looks like it wants to jump on them. It turns out that the cat likes to follow them around. When they try and shoo it, the cat just sits there and looks at them. Once it gave her sister a scratch as she walked by hence the complaint that she had been attacked. This happened months ago and the cat has not 'attacked' since.

She also said there was another 'scary' cat at a nearby block. I asked her how it was scary,and she said it just looked frightening.

I explained that cats rarely attack for no reason. I said the cat might be trying to play with them and hence may have scratched her sister by accident.

Cat Food


Cat Food
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I had a meeting last night at a CC which plans to run a Pets Carnival. I explained that our work mostly deals with community cats, and while we'd like to take part, we aren't going to be holding any contest with cats. Perhaps we can have a demonstrate your dexterity with the cat trap contest? :)

I saw this pile of food outside the CC.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Urine stain


Urine stain
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I really doubt that this is cat urine stain. Look at the size of the puddle and it wasn't because the area had been washed either.

Does it look like a cat did this?


Does it look like a cat did this?
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The cat gets blamed

I was on the way home when an HDB officer rang up. He was surprised to be speaking with me. He had referred a cat situation to the AVA, they had referred it to the Town Council and the TC had referred it to me.

Now LEGALLY speaking, the HDB officer had gone down and asked a family to get rid of their cats. However the family insisted that they had gotten rid of the cats. They also mentioned that the cats that were in their home were community cats that came upstairs. When he went back a week later, the cat was still there. He can only issue summons, but if the cat isn't their cat, then he can't ask them to get rid of it can he?

The HDB officer also mentioned to me that they do not go down unless they have complaints. He also said that if the cats were kept in it would help with a lot of problems.

We stopped in and spoke to the residents. The resident said the cat had been let out since it was a kitten. He did not understand why there was a complaint now. I told him that if the cat did not go out and defecate (which was the complaint apparently), then they would not have this problem. The cat was sleeping happily on his sofa, safe and content in the house.

We walked up to flyer the corridor and there was a strong smell of urine. However, the chances of it being cat urine are very slim. You'll see why when I post the photo in a minute.

I hope the man keeps the cat in - even if it is NOT his cat urinating, the chances are that the cat is going to get blamed. I emailed the town council and offered to send over the photos of the urination as well.

I spoke to the HDB officer again. He said he had seen defecation as well. He asked why cats go upstairs and I explained they are rarely community cats but are either pet cats or cats lured up by residents.

Cat behind bicycle


Cat behind bicycle
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

One of the unsterilised cats in the corridor.

"Why doesn't he just move out?"

A volunteer and I went down for a mediation today. The complainant said that there were cats in the corridor. The person complained about was not at home, but we did see three cats that looked unsterilised lying on the second floor corridor and on the landing.

We also spotted another flat with cat food just outside. We spoke with them and the man we spoke to was cross that someone had complained to the town council. He asked why the person could not just move out if he was unhappy with the cats. He said he suspected he knew whom it was that complained (considering it was the only home with mesh on the door, it's not a surprise). I did ask him if he could please feed downstairs and to ask the other neighbour who is feeding to feed in the void deck as well. He said that they had sterilised some of the cats and some of the cats in the void deck were sterilised. I also spotted a young kitten dead in the car park. The poor thing looked like it had been run over.

Cats on second floor landing


Cats on second floor landing
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

We saw these unsterilised cats on the second floor landing at the mediation.

Out for Mediation

Since the complainant I spoke to this morning lives fairly near me, I'll be heading down this afternoon with a volunteer.

There are two sides to a story

I just spoke to a complainant who was very upset with the situation with his neighbour's cats. He remembers the exact date of every transgression. I asked why he did not just speak to his neighbour about the situation. He said the last time he had seen the neighbour, the neighbour had asked aggressively why the complainant had called and complained to the HDB and town council about their cats. I told the complainant that if he had just spoken to the neighbour nicely in the beginning the situation may not have gotten so bad.

It turns out when they first moved in, they had been on fairly friendly terms and had even invited them in. On a few occasions after, he complained that they made too much noise at night, the neighbours apologised and all was well. The subsequent part gets murky, but involves the complainant's wife telling the neighbour she was not happy about something blocking their corridor and the complainant taking photos of it and sending it to the HDB, and now complaining about them to the HDB, MP and town council. He insists these people are in his words 'bastards' and that he is not the problem but that they are.

I told the neighbour that while I understood that he was having problems, calling in the authorities and the police generally wasn't helpful, especially if they didn't give the neighbours a chance to first rectify the situation. If they didn't then he would certainly have a better reason to go to the authorities. I told him that I'm quite sure they will have their own version of what happened as well and that sometimes as neighbours, we can't always insist on being the one in the 'right'.

There are two sides to a story

I just spoke to a complainant who was very upset with the situation with his neighbour's cats. He remembers the exact date of every transgression. I asked why he did not just speak to his neighbour about the situation. He said the last time he had seen the neighbour, the neighbour had asked aggressively why the complainant had called and complained to the HDB and town council about their cats. I told the complainant that if he had just spoken to the neighbour nicely in the beginning the situation may not have gotten so bad.

It turns out when they first moved in, they had been on fairly friendly terms and had even invited them in. On a few occasions after, he complained that they made too much noise at night, the neighbours apologised and all was well. The subsequent part gets murky, but involves the complainant's wife telling the neighbour she was not happy about something blocking their corridor and the complainant taking photos of it and sending it to the HDB, and now complaining about them to the HDB, MP and town council. He insists these people are in his words 'bastards' and that he is not the problem but that they are.

I told the neighbour that while I understood that he was having problems, calling in the authorities and the police generally wasn't helpful, especially if they didn't give the neighbours a chance to first rectify the situation. If they didn't then he would certainly have a better reason to go to the authorities. I told him that I'm quite sure they will have their own version of what happened as well and that sometimes as neighbours, we can't always insist on being the one in the 'right'.

Don't threaten TC Officers

I was just told that a town council officer had complained against one of the feeders. He said that she was aggressive and threatened them - and I do believe it as she has on several occasions told me that she threatens the officers. She has cursed them, threatened their lives and told them they cannot remove her cats. Unfortunately her definition of 'her' cat is very narrow, so for example a male cat moved into her area and started fighting with her other cats a while ago. She refused to get it sterilised because it is not 'her' cat but she feeds it every day and then chases it away after that. Inevitably, it fights with her other cats and according to her, makes a lot of noise at night.

Now the officer has a bad impression of feeders and I think he will be less inclined to work with other feeders. I cannot say I blame him based on his bad experience, but I hope that he'll come to realise not everyone is cut from the same cloth.

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

Don't fly off the handle

I spoke with a caregiver today. She was very certain that the condominium near her colony was trapping cats when she spoke with me yesterday. Understandably she was very upset and she wanted to go over and give them a piece of her mind. However, we discussed it and agreed that was not the way to go. She wanted to ask them why they had trapped her cat.

The cat returned today. What I said to her was that IF the management had been trapping the cat, chances are they would not admit it anyway and would get defensive. If they really were innocent, they would get annoyed and might view her as basically calling them liars if she does not take their word for it that they were not trapping.

I told her that the best thing to do is to calm down, and to try and find out what she could first - was there a cat in the trap, had any cats been caught - and then we could either confront the condominium management or not. Unfortunately a while ago she had also accused the condo management of trapping cats and they really had not - cats sometimes DO wander off and will come home and that is exactly what happened that time too.

New traps

Looks like we're going to have to order new large traps. We still have the small ones, but the big ones are very popular. I've called or contacted almost everyone who has our traps. Almost everyone is still using their trap. A few generously offered to return them, but they do need them, so we don't want to deprive them of that.

It also appears that the cost of the traps will go up. I spoke to the manufacturer and the cost of the raw material has gone up, so the trap may be about $10 more.

Priority

Busy afternoon with quite a few people calling and emailing. Three people have contacted us about paying for all the sterilisations in their area or for someone they knew. Some asked for help with medical expenses as well.

The problem is that according to the people who called, the people they are calling on behalf of are not interested in management, nor are they interested in sterilisation. They just want to feed the cats. This has led to the cat population increasing dramatically. I asked if it would be possible to speak to these feeders about setting up a proper management programme, but two of them said that they knew they were not.

Let's give two scenarios :- Scenario A : There is a feeder who only wants to feed. The feeder does not want to sterilise. If there are complaints, the feeder is not bothered because the feeder thinks there is nothing he or she can do. The population grows because the cats are not sterilised. Complaints start to come in. What does this lead to? Cats getting caught. The feeder at this point can't or won't do anything so the cats are killed.

Scenario B :- There is a caregiver. The caregiver is willing to feed, sterilise and manage complaints. If the caregiver has problems with the complaints, he or she knows he or she can come to CWS for help, but he or she is willing to help to manage the area properly. He or she solves complaints so the cats are not rounded up. If cats happen to be rounded up, the cats are collected back and the situation looked at so that it does not happen again. As a result, the population and complaints are managed and the cats live out the rest of their lives safely in the area.

Now considering we have extremely limited funds (which we do), whom do you think priority for the funds should go to? It does not take a rocket scientist to guess that Scenario B would win. If we had tons of money, it would be great to give money to everyone - but we don't. So we need to use that money to help as many responsible people keep as many cats safe as possible.

Black Cat


Black Cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Beautiful black tipped ear cat.

Complaint Form

We have a new form for property officers or managers of the property you live or work at when they gather information on complaints. As I mentioned in an earlier posting, very often the information that is passed down about complaints is either lacking in detail (no idea when the irresponsible feeder comes out or which unit the complainant lives in) or is so vague as to be entirely unhelpful (there are cats around). Hopefully if the officers or managers will use this form, it will help them to know what kind of questions to ask so that it is easier to resolve complaints.

We hope to upload it in a few days, but in the meantime do drop the Society an email if you'd like a copy.

A "cat" complaint?

I was reading what Mr Giggles, Yskat and Vegancat mentioned about town councils dealing with cat complaints because they are 'easier'. Yesterday evening, I spoke with a town council officer who had written in and forward an email from someone he said complained about cats a few days ago. She had not responded to my email.

The officer said that the woman had complained about several issues, and that he wanted to look into it. He said he thought the issue with the cats had been resolved. I told him I would speak with the complainant.

I called the complainant and she said that when the town council and HDB had called her she was rather surprised that cats had been brought into it. She said that she had mentioned that at one point the cat population looked like it had increased, but her main contention was about irresponsible feeding. She said she had nothing against the cats and had told the officer that she did not want the cats removed because she thought it was cruel.

It was of course easier to lump this as a 'cat complaint' because what can you do about the feeders? As the officer told me, he has no idea if they feed responsibly or not because feeding takes place at night, and they don't work after office hours.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Be Fair

Our adoption volunteer just told me she received an email from a foster. An adopter had shown an interest in taking her cat and they made arrangements for her to send the cat over later on in the week. In the meantime however, another foster got in touch with the adopter. The adopter apparently told the second foster that she had already promised to take the first foster's cats but the second foster is supposed to have said that she would help the first foster adopt her cats out and to take her cats instead.

The adoption volunteer is trying to get to the bottom of this, but if this is true, this is really quite appalling. While of course we're happy that any cat gets adopted out, why should one foster's needs take precedence over another's? Everyone wants to get their cats adopted out as soon as possible and into a permanent home.

This reminds me of another incident at an adoption drive. A woman adopted a cat from another welfare organisation and told the foster she had promised to take the cat from that she had taken it from CWS. She said she had no choice but to take it from CWS as someone had threatened her that the cats would be killed otherwise. The foster contacted us and was very upset. First of all, we never kill cats because they can't find a home. Secondly, we checked our records and showed that we had not adopted any cat out to the adopter. Subsequently, the foster found out that the adopter had lied about a number of other events.

The point is - please be upfront. If you are a foster, don't shove your cats down someone else's throat and insist they take yours rather than someone else's cats. It borders on the unethical. If you are an adopter, if you change your mind, just say so. Don't make up stories and get everyone upset.

When it rains


When it rains
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Where do cats go when it rains? Often to any shelter they can find - in this case, under a car. I've often wondered why people would get so upset about a cat sitting on their cat . Sure I can understand if the cat scratches the car (which rarely ever happens) that it might upset people, but depriving a cat of a bit of shelter, or warmth- THAT I cannot understand.

Enabling

There are some very kind hearted people out there who try their best to help feeders with their cats. They are often approached for money by feeders who tell them that the cats won't eat if they have no money. These people then buy food and often pay for medical treatment or sterilisation as well.

What happens though is that some of these feeders misuse this by taking advantage of their generosity. One woman I spoke to today has been buying food for another feeder - this feeder then proceeds to litter through the estate. The woman will scold her about littering and the feeder will threaten not to feed anymore.

One woman needed help with sterilisation quite a few years ago. Many people wrote in to offer to help or to adopt the cats. She had taken a lot of cats in and we agreed at the time to help her with sterilisation costs on the condition that she not take in any more cats. After a while, we noticed that we had already sterilised the number of cats that we had counted were unsterilised and she was still sending cats in for sterilisation. I called her and it turned out she was still picking cats up. We stopped offering her additional money for sterilisation. Last I heard someone else is supplying her with food and money and she was still picking up cats.

Sometimes by NOT helping these people, it actually helps the cats. If for example, someone keeps taking cats in and you keep supplying them with food or medical costs, they may continue picking up MORE cats. This does often is very bad news for the existing cats because it is likely at best to stress them out, and at worst, to bring in disease.

Same with the woman feeding the cats - with more food, she expands her feeding area. If she fed a smaller area, perhaps she might keep it cleaner. Better still, provide the food to someone else responsible - who will feed responsibly and sterilise.

Because "Cats" are so dirty


Because "Cats" are so dirty
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is an estate I visited yesterday evening. Cats must clearly be responsible for the dirt, seeing as how they're the main users of tissue paper, chop sticks and mineral water bottles!

Management

I spoke to a caregiver who feeds outside a condominium - there seem to be quite a few such caregivers of late running into problems with condominiums. Unfortunately, residents in the condominium have started complaining about the cats that run in, even though they have all been sterilised and she is caring for them.

The problem with this is that the caregiver says she does not know anyone in the condominium - and the condominium does not need to talk to a third party caregiver or to CWS because they have no reason to. Their own job and duty is to their own residents. To then try and go in and tell them (as the caregiver wants to do) that killing is cruel is just ineffective.

This underscores the point of proper management. Of course it's not possible to envision every contingency, but where it is possible, it is certainly a good idea to try and solve the problems before they arise. For example, in anticipation that there might be complaints, I told this caregiver quite a while ago that it would be a good idea to enlist support from someone in the condominium. I've seen residents' children playing with the cats and I cannot believe not a single person in the entire condo would like the cats to remain. If even one resident can speak up for the cats, the management is certainly more inclined to listen. The caregiver said she did not know anyone - and now we're stuck because the condominium does not want to speak with her or to us.

Before or when starting on a TNRM project, do give some thought to management - try and approach management to let them know what you are doing, and ask for their support not to trap the cats. Of course some people will say that it is better to just sterilise anyway - and it certainly is even if the cats are caught later on because you limit the number of cats born. However, if you can do both, sterilise AND save the cats from being caught, why not?

James


James
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

One of the adoption team members and I went down to see James - he was abandoned two months ago. Someone contacted the website where he was posted for adoption by his caregiver and said she'd like to foster him while he looks for a home. He's a handsome cat and very friendly!

Monday, June 05, 2006

Frightened

I spoke to the town council officer about the frightened woman. It seems that someone has been feeding the cats and may be feeding them upstairs - at any rate the cats have been going up to the fifth floor. The officer said she was monitoring the situation and would contact us if there was a problem, but there was no issue for now.

I called the woman to let her know. She said that the town council was more willing to listen to the Society then someone like her that had no power. I told her on the contrary, I always find that residents calling up is always more effective. In fact, when I called today, the first thing the operator asked was if I was a resident. I told her I was representing a resident before she transferred me. Also, the town council is always happier to have someone in the area who is able to handle the complaints and who is a resident there. That way if another resident complains, they can also say that there are residents who DO want the cats in the area. She agreed this made sense. I hope she won't be so frightened of the town council in the future and stop caring for the cats as a result.

Upside down Cat


Upside down Cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

One of the cats I saw this afternoon. There are quite a few food establishments in the area so the cats are being fed by patrons. In addition, someone comes by to feed them every night. They're not sterilised and are multiplying,and apparently they are defecating in front of some of the restaurants.

The management seems to be quite keen on the idea of a cat cafe and said they could get one up by the end of the week. Now the challenge is finding good volunteers! The restaurants also seemed open to the idea of removing the defecation without killing the cats.

TNRM discussion

I'm going down now to talk to a manager about running a TNRM programme in their estate.

I'm scared

I just spoke to a woman who called up and said she wants to stop feeding. She said that she is scared of the town council officer because the officer came up to her unit on seeing her and just said hello. She said that all her friends are frightened because the officer may harm them. I asked her if she was doing anything wrong. She said she was not. She said that she was very frightened though. I tried to ask what she was frightened of, but she could not say.

I spoke to this woman last week and asked her to call the town council to just introduce herself and let them know that she was the contact person if there was a problem. The officer agreed feeding was not wrong, but asked her what to do if there was a complaint. The woman immediately asked her to call me. The officer got rather annoyed. I had spent some time explaining to her that she is the resident and needs to take some initiative as this is her estate. I also told her that her frequent protests that she is going to stop feeding make it difficult for me to tell the town council that there is someone there who is going to take charge. I explained to her that I would be there to give support, but that she cannot help the cats if she is scared about everything. I told her that while it was natural to be a little wary, she had done nothing wrong and hence there was nothing to be scared of.

The woman is not elderly or illiterate. She speaks some English as well - and it is worrying that there are some people who are so frightened of anything resembling authority.

Kittens

The committee met on Friday night and the meeting ended around 11 pm whereupon Marcus and Michelle helped to arrange the Playmobil figurines to illustrate the importance of sterilisation.

I just got off the phone with a very nice man who picked up a newborn kitten. His wife was trying not to pick up the kittens and was waiting for the mother cat to return, when another cat ran up and bit one of the two kittens and killed it. She then took the other kitten home. The two of them have not gone out the entire weekend and have been nursing the kittens and the man took leave today to look after the kitten too. The kitten is so tiny though that the umbilical cord has not dropped off and the eyes aren't open. He does need to go back to work and is wondering if someone can foster it. He offered to take it back during weekends when he doesn't work. We often get people asking us to find fosters, but few are as committed as this man is.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Working Smart

The TNRM workshop tomorrow may be off after all. It turns out that the feeder has told Rebecca and I rather different things. It appears that instead of a workshop, she wanted to meet us and the other feeders she bumped into the area to look at the vacant plot of land the cats are on. I tried to explain that this was not the most conducive place to run a workshop or to show them how to start trapping. She said that she had not told the other feeders that she asked CWS to come down either.

I explained that it was best to get the management to agree to the project before starting rather than when the project ran into trouble. She said she did not care if the cats were caught, she just wanted to start. I told her that it was certainly better to sterilise them even if they were caught, but if we could do both (ie sterilise AND ensure their safety) that would be the best.

She also told Rebecca she did not feel it was time to learn how to trap yet. I told her we could definitely run a session for them but perhaps it could be arranged for another day. I suggested she tell her friends that she had spoken with us and arrange another date.

I explained that perhaps we could contact the management and let them know what was happening, but she said she had no time, she worked long hours, she fed till very late at night, etc. I told her we could always do a property search to find out for her, but that it would be good in that case for her to know what to say when they met the management. I told her that she was certainly working hard, but it was best to also work smart.

I explained that if we all went down and stared at a vacant plot of land and pointed at the cats, this didn't really help in any way to figure out how to start a programme, nor did it help to show them how to trap.

Not my block

I spoke to a feeder whom I just learnt was feeding in the vicinity of a block that someone had written in to complain about. She mentioned that a lot of people were dumping and I suggested flyering might be good. She said she could not cope with all the problems. I asked if she might be able to help just look into the situation at the next block. She said that she did not feed there and she stopped at the block in front.

I looked up the map - the two blocks are adjacent and in fact are linked. I asked if they weren't just next to one another and if 'her' cats might not wander to the next block. She said she stopped at the back of the block so it was not her area. Of course if the complainant continues to complain, then what will happen is that 'her' cats might wander into the next block and get caught - after all, it's unlikely the cats are as aware of geographical differences as she is.