Monday, July 31, 2006

Don't beg

I spoke to a few caregivers today, and two of them mentioned that they were scared of the town council. One of them said to me that she is having problems with the town council threatening to trap her cats because of irresponsible feeders. She told me that the officer wasn't very helpful and that she would beg for his help.

Another said that the town council did not have the details of caregivers in the estate because they were scared of giving their details. She said that the town council might 'do something' to them.

While I can understand that some people are scared or frightened of authority (and both these ladies are not seniors, but middle aged if you're wondering), the thing to remember is that you are not accountable to the town council. You shouldn't need to beg because you're not doing anything wrong! The town council certainly isn't paying you for your volunteer work. Plus you don't need to help them - if anything, the town council is accountable to you!

Complainants are certainly taking advantage of this fact - they're complaining about all sorts of things. There is no need to of course be rude, but you shouldn't feel like you are subservient to the town council because you're not.

Make your case, but don't feel the need to beg or be scared. The town council is subject to the same laws as the rest of us are. They also have a duty to serve you, the resident. You have no corresponding duty to them - you are helping because you are offering to. Sometimes when you go in with an attitude of being afraid or of pleading with the town council, some officers may use that to be even more difficult because they can sense your fear.

Another thank you!

Thank you everyone who wrote in to offered to help with our sterilisation voicemail and our Lost and Found page! We have found people to help with our lost and found board and our voicemail. Thanks to Wiggie and to Jodie for your offers of help!

It would also be remiss not to thank the other hardworking volunteers who have been helping out tirelessly all the time - Webgal, who has been doing a fantastic job with the adoptions website, Nan Nan, who answers all your sterilisation emails and Rebecca who has been handling the voicemail till work and school commitments make it difficult for her to continue to do so!Thanks also to our adoption volunteer (who asked not to be named) for all her hard work!

I just spoke to the volunteer whose father passed away. She said again to thank all of you. She said she was really touched that so many strangers offered to come forward to help. She said even while she was feeding some of the dogs and cats the other night, someone came forward and on hearing her father had passed away, offered to help too.

She would like to thank you for all of your offers of help, financial assistance and your thoughts. She said the nicest thing you could do in her father's memory would be to put the money back into helping the community animals.

Thank you, all of you - you've all shown that 'animal people' don't just have big hearts for the animals, they just have big hearts!

And you think you've got the Monday Blues?


Sticking tongue out
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Maybe it's just me, but I just love photos of cats with their tongues sticking out!

Don't get taken advantage of

I just spoke with a rather upset woman for quite a while as she is having problems with another feeder in the estate. The feeder passed the woman some kittens and paid her some money to board them and promised to take them back two weeks ago.

The kittens also got sick and the woman brought them to the vet. Apparently, when she told the feeder about it, the feeder told her that it was just too bad, and to bury them if they died.

The woman is upset because she says a lot of people tend to come and pass her cats and that she cannot cope. She said that other people ask her to take over their feeding routes, or ask her to take in cats and she is already struggling. She said her own cats are getting very stressed out too. She wanted to know what she can do about the feeder.

I told her frankly, there is nothing she can do with regards to these cats except perhaps put them up for adoption. She could of course dump the kittens outside the feeder's house provided she knows where the feeder lives, but speaking to the woman, I don't think she could bring herself to do it.

On a longer term basis however I told her to just say no when the feeder comes by again. Some people pick up cats and blackmail others into taking them in (the cat will be sent to the SPCA, it may end up on the street if you don't take it, etc). What I told her she needs to do is say no the next time. There is a certain limit everyone can take - and it's important for the person taking the cats in to say they cannot. If you say you will take the cats in when you can't, you're sending the wrong message out too.

Black cat next to pot


Black cat next to pot
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This cat was waiting for the feeder who was putting out offerings. The cat is sterilised.

A big thank you

I just spoke with the volunteer who's father passed away. She wanted me to thank all of you for your huge outpouring of support! She says that she has found a boarding place for her cats and that someone who worked with her father is going to take over the route with the dogs he used to feed.

Another feeder in the area also happened to walk by the wake and recognised her father. She was very shocked he passed away and she has agreed to take over his feeding route too.

She would like to thank everyone and to say that her mother and her family are very relieved and happy that their cats and the community animals are going to continue to be taken care of!

Thanks everyone. It was tremendous to see how many of you offered help in some way or other.

Faith in Man restored by rescue of injured dog

Faith in Man restored

Thanks Otterman for sending this in!

Friday, July 28, 2006

Rude officers

I spoke to a caregiver before and after the meeting. She said that people in her area had seen a newborn kitten that had been trapped and put in a storage room yesterday. She found out about it and tried to get it out. The cleaner said he was acting on orders from the office. I advised her to call the town council.

The officer whom she spoke to turned out to be the rude officer I have dealt with before as well. First she denied the cat had been denied food and water. She claimed it was a different cat that had been caught. The caregiver seriously doubts they have been bottled feeding this kitten, which is what the caregiver has been doing. The caregiver asked why the cat had just been stuck in the room to starve rather than sent to the SPCA or AVA. The officer then told the caregiver she was doing the caregiver a favour by removing the cat from where it was. The caregiver was flabbergasted. The officer gave her the cat back eventually but not after denying that she knew about it and just generally being rude to the caregiver.

Why do some officers think it's okay to be rude to some residents and then act very promptly when a complainant calls up?

Meeting with caregivers, TC and AVA

I just got back from a meeting with some volunteers, following which we met with the town council and the AVA. The problem with this particular estate is that there are a LOT of people dumping cats out. One of the caregivers wrote down all the units where she knew people had cats and who let their cats run out, artificially increasing the number of cats in the area. She also said that a lot of these cats are not sterilised. She has been trying to get the residents to get their cats done, but a lot ignore her or tell her to take the cats away because they don't want them anymore.

She passed the list to the town council and requested help, but here's the thing - the town council said they can't do anything. Why? They have no jurisdiction. All they can do is tell the HDB if at all. What can the HDB do? Tell these people they cannot own cats - whereupon the cats often end up dumped! It's a vicious cycle. If the HDB rule was changed however town councils, HDB and residents could work together to find a real solution!

The caregiver said that they are having problems keeping up because so many cats are tossed in the area. The TC said they keep getting complaints that there are too many cats. We had to explain again that caregivers are NOT bringing cats in - these cats are tossed out and that is increasing the number. As I said to an officer why would caregivers want to spend even more time, money and effort on the cats? They already have their hands full and just want to control the population which will hopefully go down in time.

In the end the town council said that they would not trap any sterilised cats. One of the officers then turned to the AVA though and asked if they could please not kill the unsterilised cats caught in the area even if they were sent in! The officer did clearly feel bad about the cats being rounded up and killed.

The AVA officers on their part said that they supported everything we had said about sterilisation and how it was a better solution. They also said that it did not mean that the number of cats would drop overnight - but that the population would stabilise.

It's really sad and frustrating that a few people who don't sterilise and who toss their cats out can really make a huge mess. All the cats in this area are sterilised, but new cats keep popping up because of the dumping.

Fat sterilised cat


Fat sterilised cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this sterilised cutie this afternoon. No, the cat is NOT pregnant :)

Town Council

Off to meet some volunteers and then to go with them to meet their town council.

The link between abuse and trap and kill?

It isn't as far fetched as it sounds. When I looked at the David Hooi article the first thing that came to mind was that I had just been told about a complaint by someone in the same area. According to the person who emailed, the person had just complained to the town council and she was worried about the cats there.

I do believe this email may have some basis as this is not the first complaint that we have heard of in the area and the town council has trapped the cats there in the past(including sterilised ones).

Now most people will realise there is a difference between abuse and trapping and killing. However someone comes along like David Hooi, who has been diagnosed with anti-social personality disorder. If he sees the town council trapping the cats, what is he going to think? That it's perfectly okay to take the cats away and kill them.

It does not even take someone with a personality disorder to make this leap - I have had someone ask me once why he couldn't just get rid of the cats himself. He said it would save everyone the time and money if he just took them away and got rid of them himself. It was only when I explained that abusing a cat was against the law that he said he would go through the proper channels (which might still of course involve trapping and killing). Quite a few people do make veiled threats on this matter - fortunately most do respect the law and when warned will not take matters into their own hands.

If the culture of complain and kill is often seen to be the solution though, then cats' lives are seen to be valueless. They are just pests to be gotten rid off. If we are taught that anything that is an inconvenience should be done away with, then I worry about our future as a society.

ST (28-7-06)


ST (28-7-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is a quote from one of the new MPs in today's Straits Times. I agree with what he said about constructive criticism - it would certainly cut out a lot of the complaints!

It's also good to hear that the government is open to proposals to resolve issues. That's in line with what I think most of us believe. We're not JUST saying "don't kill cats", we're also saying here's why we shouldn't, and giving suggestions as to what we feel can be done instead. Today cycling parks, tomorrow TNRM supported across the country? :)

David Hooi pleads guilty

Thank you to Otterman who sent me this :-

Straits Times July 27, 2006
Bedok serial cat abuser pleads guilty

DAVID Hooi Yin Weng, the Bedok serial cat torturer, was back in court on Thursday, pleading guilty to abusing a four-month-old stray.

Hooi made his first appearance before the new Community Court - after he had been charged and sent for psychiatric assessment.

Nearly five months ago, the 42-year-old was given three months' jail for beating a kitten on the head, which had to be put down. At the time, he had told the judge then that he had made a 'mistake' and would not do it again.

But on June 27, he was arrested again for animal abuse. Police had received a complaint from 40-year-old Ms Sharifah Khamis, who handed over an ill-treated animal with swollen eyes, a bloodstained mouth and broken teeth.

Ms Sharifah was part of a group of people in Bedok who took turns to patrol the neighbourhood every evening to catch the man they suspected of torturing and killing the area's stray cats.

In court on Thursday, the unemployed man admitted torturing a four-month-old male cat by hitting its head repeatedly, breaking its tooth and causing swellings in both eyes.

He had picked up the cat at Block 532, Bedok North Street 3, at about 3am on June 26 and and taken it to his home in Block 544.

Deputy Public Prosecutor Ravneet Kaur said he allowed the animal to roam freely around his flat.

Several hours later, after he realised the cat had urinated on his bed, he hit it four times and locked it in the toilet. As the cat was making noises from the toilet, he opened the door, upon which the cat ran out, jumped on the bed and urinated again.

He hit the animal another four times, which left it unable to walk properly. That night, he took the cat to the void deck, where he was arrested.

The abused animal had to be put down. Apart from his cat abuse offences, Hooi had been convicted of seven thefts since 1978.

In 1990, he was given five years' corrective training for mischief by fire, and six years later sentenced to seven years' preventive detention for mischief and theft.

Hooi pleaded to the court to give him another chance. 'I will not kill any more cats,' he said. District Judge Bala Reddy said an Institute of Mental Health psychiatrist had diagnosed him as suffering from anti-social personality disorder.

Effective treatment for this disorder is limited, he added.

He postponed sentencing to Aug 28 for a prison psychologist to prepare a report on how Hooi might be treated.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Minimum standards for Town Councils

I've bee working on a proposal this afternoon to submit to the Government Parliamentary Committee on the minimum standards for town councils. If they're looking into the matter now, hopefully they will be considered suggestions from members of the public and societies like CWS.

Reward for Sims Drive case

CWS is putting up $1000 and SPCA is putting up another $1000 and the money is going into a reward fund to try and and solicit any information about the Sims Drive cat abuser. The reward is for information leading to arrest and conviction and the person must be willing to testify and work with the police.

We have had a reward fund since 2000 which is open to caregivers who need it (and which sadly is offered quite a lot) but this is the first time both societies are offering a joint reward. SPCA is kindly allowing their number to be used as the hotline should anyone have anything to report as they have someone manning their phone lines 24 hours a day.

Some caregivers including Lynn have kindly offered to distribute the flyers throughout the estate.

Fear of supporting TNRM because of dumping

I just spoke to a caregiver who is trying to work with the town council. She said that the town council is refusing to put down in writing that they want to work with the caregivers there because they fear that other estates will find out and start dumping cats there. This is quite ludicrous since this town council is probably what I would consider the worst town council in Singapore. A lot of town councils though bring this point up - that other people will dump cats in their area.

Firstly, I actually think most people dump in their own area. They may dump in an area surrounding it but they usually cannot be bothered to drive somewhere else and throw a cat out. In the first place, you would need some form of transport to dump an animal somewhere else and it takes effort. Of course it DOES happen, but most of the time, caregivers will tell us that they are quite sure the dumping comes from the surrounding area. If a box of kittens is found, they usually look very much like the previous batches - and the owner probably lives in the vicinity. So if town council wants to stop this, they need to crack down on abandonment - not refuse to help with TNRM programmes.

Secondly, if cats are being dumped elsewhere I suspect it may be the work of pest control and/or town councils. I have spoken to at least two town council officers who admitted dumping the cats in a different area - as long as it was not theirs. I have also spoken with pest controllers who told me that they dumped the cats in another location. So whether or not the area is safe is besides the point - they just want the cats gone. This is also probably why suddenly a bunch of tipped ear cats show up in a different estate and why some caregivers have found their cats elsewhere.

Urban (27-7-06)


Urban (27-7-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is what was in the newspapers today - this is the section about what people keep in their bags.

GPCs


GPCs
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Check out the National Development and Environment GPCs and the bits about town councils.

Thank you from member

Thanks everyone for posting and emailing offering your help to the member whose father passed away. She would like to thank all of you for your offers of money and cat food. She says that they don't need that right now but if anyone is on the West side of Singapore and could take on an extra feeding route, she said that would be the best thing you can do for th family. Drop me an email if you would like to find out the exact location.

Some of the cats were sitting outside the tent next to the wake last night - the family will be feeding them for now, but once the wake is over, it's going to be difficult for them to feed the community cats every day. They also need to decide what to do with their home cats.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

*Warning* Graphic Photo

You may want to skip this post if you think it is going to upset you. It contains a photo of an abused kitten.

I am going to leave a buffer zone of empty space here so you don't see the photo when the page uploads.




















Kitten dismembered Sims Dr. July 2006
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to the SPCA and Deirdre for letting me post this photo. This is the kitten from Sims Drive this morning - poor kitten was really butchered.

Networking

A new caregiver just wrote in today and suggested that we ought to put people within an area in touch with each other, especially if there are new caregivers who may need some help from more experienced volunteers. This is a very good idea and one we try to do as far as we can. However we can only do it if (1) we know whom the caregivers in the area are and (2) they are willing to work with new caregivers.

Sadly in some areas, some feeders only want to look after their own cats, or aren't prepared to help newcomers or they think that help means that the newbies will take over the work from them. This ends in bad feeling all around. Sometimes there is a lot of politics in an area. I know of one group that broke apart because of the different people in the group not getting along and allegations of dishonesty. When some new caregivers came along, they knew about the politics in the area and decided not to have anything to do with the first group - the two of them ended up looking around for new residents in the area and starting up a different group, which I think works a lot better now.

It helps if you let us know where you are if you'd like us to be able to contact you if there are new volunteers or complaints about your area. Unfortunately I do often hear about people's cats being caught because they did not let the town council know that they were active in the area. The town council may want to contact the caregiver but have no idea whom they are.

On the other hand, sometimes we have the town council calling (as they did this morning) to complain about a feeder whom we don't know. Not everyone wants to be associated with CWS for their own reasons - and we can only work with those who want to work with us obviously.

TJC T-shirt


TJC T-shirt
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Impressive - JCs are now printing their own polo t-shirts. This was printed by TJC to commerate their Pets Day and they are selling them to raise funds I believe.

Request for HDB meeting

I've sent off the letter to HDB today asking them for a meeting. I've also worked on a new proposal and the committee is going through it. Hopefully it won't be 5 months till we get a reply from them and we can meet them soon to discuss changing the policy again.

Straits Times (27-7-06)


Straits Times (27-7-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to Vegancat and E_cat for sending me this article.

Another horrible abuse case.

Pets Day


Pets Day
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just came back from setting up at Pets Day at Temasek Junior College.

Sad news

Some very sad news - one of members called to say that her father passed away last night. He was a very committed caregiver and rain or shine would cycle around feeding the community cats and dogs. He got them sterilised and took in a number of the old, shy or sick into his flat. I went to their flat once and it was really clean and they even had a special area built in so that the cats could not be seen from the main entrance of the flat.

The caregiver was out last night on his usual route when he was hit by a lorry. He fractured his skull and passed away.

Now the member and her mother are worried about the cats in their flat. Her mother is quite ill and cannot cope with the cats they have - and they range in age from 8 to 18. It's very telling of how committed they are that in the midst of all their grief, that their thoughts would turn at this time to their cats.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The flip side of working with TC

You know what's funny? One of the town council officers started out by being extremely difficult when I first started writing to him - he had a difficult resident in the area and was trying to tell him that feeding was illegal.

After giving me the run around initially, he eventually did agree that he had made a mistake and we subsequently met up with some volunteers. Since then he has been sending complaints to CWS and the residents to be handled and he has been very co-operative. Recently, he also recommended working with CWS to another group of officers within the same TC and they seemed very open. When I wrote to this Property Manager to mention that there was a new caregiver in the area subsequently, he wrote a nice note to thank the caregiver and to give her his handphone number.

I wrote to him last night to check if another volunteer was within his precint and he wrote back almost immediately to say that he had just been transferred to another office. He said he hopes to work with the residents again in his new area (though unfortunately I do not know anyone there at this moment). He also now very promptly replies to emails - even at night (the only officer I know, incidentally, who does).

I guess sometimes the officers have such bad experiences with some feeders that they are worried about working with caregivers. Hopefully by showing that we are responsible and reasonable volunteers, at least some officers will start to come around.

Cat repellent


Cat repellent
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to the volunteer who bought some of this as a donation. It's supposed to keep cats off grass and other surfaces - unfortunately instructions are in Japanese.

Had a strange phone call a while ago from someone who asked to 'chat' because he said he had gotten my number off a website for some chatline- I don't know if this is the same strange person who calls me every few months, but he sounded different. I never give my number out for chatlines and the like.

Nuisance and the HDB ruling

Michelle and I were discussing the HDB reply this afternoon and discussing what best to do next.

I do think that there will be a change in policy once there is a mindset change, and one issue among many others is the fact that they are worried that there will be more complaints. Who will ensure the cats are sterilised and microchipped? The HDB will probably say that they cannot spare the manpower.

Simple - if the Residents' Committees or CCs can be roped in (and we did have a CDC that offered to do a pilot project on this but it was turned down by the HDB), anyone who wants to register a cat can just trot down with the cat's sterilisation and microchip certificates, show it to the RC or CC person and the cat will be deemed to be registered. Now if there is a problem with a particular unit, the HDB can have the details faxed over and then they can go and inspect the unit. If the owner of the unit did not register, then he or she could be fined. If not, then the HDB can proceed to look into the case and see if there is a nuisance which is what they say they do now anyway.

The problem now is that while the HDB says that they only look into the case when there is a problem of 'nuisance', quite often there isn't! The HDB officer will then either hope the complainant does not insist the matter be pursued, or else, they are going to have to tell the responsible owners they have to get rid of the cats, even if there is no nuisance, just because they own a cat.

You might ask me why someone would complain when there is no nuisance present - all I have to is point at Mr "Look the Lizards are Mating" as an example. Some people think everything is a nuisance when frankly, it shouldn't be any of their business if it is something that happens in your own flat and it doesn't cause an inconvenience to someone else.

Now look at it this way, if I happen to play loud music at night in my flat, or I like to throw food out of my unit (one resident complained about this) when I'm washing my plates, should I then be banned from playing music or eating or washing?

So how can the act of owning a cat be wrong? By all means, prosecute if there IS a nuisance - but don't penalise people who have done nothing wrong other than wanting to own a pet cat.

Take drastic measures to curb pet abandonment (ST 25-7-06)

Take drastic action to curb pet abandonment

Good letter. The writer is absolutely right in saying that there are plenty of animals waiting for adoption already. Sadly, some people still want 'pedigree' animals. The other day when I was at a mediation, someone on hearing I was from CWS asked if I could get him a cat. Looking at all the cats around (which he was feeding), I asked why he didn't adopt one of those. His reply? That he wanted a pedigree.

You know what could also be done in the meantime? Have every pet shop enforce a waiting period and have a checklist to make every owner read and sign it to say they understand what keeping a pet entails before they are allowed to go home. If people went home and thought about it, instead of making an impulse buy, it might reduce the number of people who are like the man in this letter.

The New Paper (24-7-06)


The New Paper (24-7-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

An article appeared in the New Paper yesterday about the occupants of a flat with more than 20 birds that apparently sang all day and night. Neighbours complained, and the tenants of the flats decided to have the birds removed.

Now what's interesting is the article on HDB policy about this matter. Note it says that HDB does not take action against people who keep small animals and birds in their flat, unless residents complain. If they cause a health hazard or create a nuisance, the HDB can ask the owner to remove the pets. The police can also act on matters of noise nuisance.

This sounds to me like the rule that they are basically saying is being enforced against cats now - ie IF someone complains about a cat, the the HDB will act. If not, they will take no action.

So the question remains : - why are cats the only animal banned from an HDB flat?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Kitten behind bike


Kitten behind bike
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

One of the kittens I saw on Friday. Let's hope no one complains about this one - but I somehow doubt that it'll escape attention because of the huge number of cats (and feeders) there.

Complaining 'higher up'

Not one, but two of my 'favourite' complainants wrote in yesterday - "Fur on my Car" Man and Mr "Look the Lizards are Mating".

"Look the Lizards are mating" in response to my email that presumably people were more intelligent then animals started on a long response about how not everyone was born equally intelligent (including animals) and that's why some people became business tycoons and others were autistic. I really didn't get the logic behind that. I told him if there was anything we could help him with, to let us know but if not, I think we should stop corresponding.

Fur On my Car Man wrote that when he came down and saw the fur on his car (which he admitted was not a huge amount, nor did it happen every day) that it made him unhappy 'every day'. He said that he wanted a solution or he would be forced to look for another solution.

I just spoke to a town council officer who called for help. He said that someone had complained that there were three cats in the corridor defecating but that these cats were also defecating in the void deck downstairs. He wanted the officer to take action - or he would take matters higher up.

What is this taking matters higher up threat that complainants love to use? If the people higher up get a complaint, I certainly would hope that they will look at the ludicrousness of some of these complainants and throw them out. If your complaint is stupid and/or unreasonable, why should going 'higher up' help your case? What it does is do is scare the town council officers who then try and make the situation better by trapping the cats. I would hope the officers realise that a stupid complaint is a stupid complaint - and I'm sure if they can explain why, they need not fear the people 'higher up'.

My fervent wish is that someone 'higher up' will send a letter back down to these complainants and tell them to stop writing such nonsense and find something more worthwhile to do then complain.

So according to the HDB, is this preferable


Cat in Corridor
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.



This cat was wandering in the upper floor of one of the blocks - very likely someone's cat.

To this?


Cats under chair
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

HDB replies

A reply from the HDB! We spoke with the Minister months ago and he said he would send our proposal on to the HDB. We just got a reply which came in the mail.

The HDB said that they considered our proposal earlier and were not going to change their policy. We had told the Minister that while we had submitted the same proposal to the HDB, we stood by our ealier proposal but felt that it was even more important to change the rules in regards to the fact that a lot of people are not keeping their cats in because OF the HDB ruling.

Now the HDB can :-
(1) continue to pretend people don't own cats and then send letters telling ANYONE they will be fined if they have cats or

(2) they could change the ruling, ensure that cats MUST be sterilised, microchipped and kept indoors at all times. The residents could then register with their RCs so no additional work needs to be done by HDB. A cap on the number of cats kept could be enforced, with a compassionate period to allow existing cats to pass away.

Now in scenario (1), what do cat owners do (and let's not pretend that quite a lot of people don't already own cats) if they get a letter from the HDB now? They don't want the cats to die, so they get a letter, get frightened and then DUMP THE CATS! Alternatively, they decide that it's a better idea not to get into trouble in the first place, so why not just let the cats wander as we see happening all the time? That way they don't sterilise, feel no ownership for the cat and can claim it is not their cat so they don't get into trouble.

Let's not forget that this means ANY owner, no matter how responsible is still subject to the same ruling. So if you have one cat at home, sterilised and which never goes out, you're treated the same as someone whose cats are not sterilised and keep breeding and breeding till the flat is over-flowing with cats.

Now let's consider scenario (2), cat owners know that they have a set of conditions they must follow, but let's face it, it's not too difficult to follow. People will be able to live without fear that they are going to get a letter being asked to pay a huge fine of a few thousand dollars for keeping cats. What is the price of sterilisation and microchipping compared to that? If you make it easy enough, people will by and large do the responsible thing - right now the laws are actually discouraging you from being a good, responsible pet owner.

In addition, people who are being irresponsible can still be fined under nuisance laws. So this means that basically, if you're a responsible cat owner, you can keep the cat without fear. If you're an irresponsible owner, you can STILL be fined or worse, if you keep breaking the law on nuisance.

So let's recap - basically a change in the law would mean you could still fine someone whose cat is a nuisance and that people who are responsible could basically live without fear of being caught for the mere act of having a cat.

So the reason why we're not changing the law is because ??? Oh that's right! The 'majority' of residents who do not want cats in flats.

I'd really, really like to work with the HDB to change the ruling because I think it would make all residents - those who do like cats, and those who don't - happier. It is making it very hard though that they keep citing this 'majority' who do not want cats in flats, whom I'm really not sure exist. How do we know that they're the majority and not the vocal minority who may complain several times? How many people would it take to be pro-cats in flat before the rule is changed? The HDB itself stated that the number of complaints does not exceed a few hundred. So how do we know the rest don't want cats in flats?

Clarifying misconceptions

I asked the feeder who claimed that the vet had told her that she cannot sterilise the female cats till they are 7 to 8 months and she is now getting rather defensive in her emails. She says we are not to 'harass' the clinic. I told her that (1) we worked with the clinic quite closely and (2) the clinic was very helpful this morning and said they would like to clear up any miscommunication as quickly as possible too. The vet in question is away but the other vet at the clinic said that the standard practice is of course to sterilise at 6 months. The feeder is now claiming that this is snowballing into a ridiculous situation - I told her that it's not at all ridiculous if some cats get pregnant because the feeders are under the mistaken impression they cannot sterilise at 6 months, or if the wrong information may be given out.

Just this morning I spoke with two different people. One said she had 'rescued' some cats off the street. She meant to get them sterilised but she was too busy and she did not realise they would get pregnant so fast. She wants to get them sterilised as quickly as possible.

The other woman said that she wanted to send her cats away because they were very annoying. They are not sterilised - and she said the male cats keep running up to her door when her female cat is on heat. She said she gives away all the cats that she does not want to her neighbours. A caregiver in this woman's area complained that there is so much abandonment there she does not know what to do. She has been sterilising and sterilising but people keep dumping cats in the area.

So if people are NOT sterilising, or are sterilising too late, because they have the wrong idea, then it IS a big deal.

The feeder just called up and clarified it was a miscommunication so hopefully that's settled. I explained to her that people will take what vets say very seriously, so if there is any miscommunication, it must be clarified. She said that she did not listen to all her vets as there were some she did not like, but she did concur in the end that people tend to take what their vets say seriously (as they should).

Sterilisation - at what age?

A feeder wrote to me about abuse going on in her area. I suggested she get her cats sterilised, then she said she was planning to bring them in this week. One of the cats was abused, and she brought it to the vet. According to her, the vet said that the cat should not be sterilised till 8 months old. She said that different vets have different concerns and choose to sterilise at different times. Now I realise that some vets are still uncomfortable with early age spay-neuter, but 8 months? By that time, the cat might be pregnant twice over! She seemed reluctant that I speak with the vet, but I said that I would definitely need to clarify with the vet.

If you have a home cat, and you are sure you want to keep it indoors at all times, you can afford to sterilise later, but even so, health benefits accrue to cats that are sterilised earlier. If the cat is sterilised before first heat, it is less likely to get some forms of cancer.

I did some reading up this morning and found that interestingly, most veterinary associations now suggest not just sterilising at 6 months, but suggest early age sterilisation :-

The Cat Group - check out the Member organisations

The American Veterinary Medical Association has supported early age Spay-Neuter since 1993.

Even the AVA suggests that 6 months is a general guideline but that other vets do it earlier.

Kittens and Mother cat

Here's the video I said I'd post :-

Friday, July 21, 2006

Carrier in corridor with cats


Carrier in corridor with cats
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

It's not a wonder that people on this floor are complaining of cat defecation - there are cats and kittens in the corridor. The resident next door told me that he had told the person to keep the cat in several times but she refused. I knocked on the door but no one answered - just hope that she takes the cats in. Another neighbour told me she has 9 cats inside the flat.

Feeders not sterilising

What an absolutely terrible few blocks I went to today to flyer. The residents seemed rather resigned to the fact that the cats are running around upstairs - and quite a few could even point out which households were feeding the cats. None were aggressive or wanted the cats dead (or at least none said so!). The residents I spoke to all said sterilisation was a good idea (though one said he doubted any of the feeders could be bothered to sterilise). In one of the blocks especially, the neighbours were all very friendly and spoke to each other - they could also tell me which units were also facing similar problems with the cats. They were glad to hear about the mothballs and said they would try that.

I was told that there were many feeders - some people drove in to feed the cats from elsewhere, but except for one sterilised cat, ALL the cats in the area were unsterilised. In the two storey carpark, I spotted 11 unsterilised cats. One of the residents shook his head and said it would be impossible for me to even find the feeders because they came at such odd hours. One person comes after midnight every night - and often comes at 2 or 3 am.

The only feeder I know there is the one who did not want to help look into the complaints from the surrounding blocks so this area seems like it's going to pretty much be a mess.

I did manage to find out which units were feeding upstairs due to the residents' feedback.

Mother & kittens


Mother & kittens
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just got back from flyering blocks and dropping off a trap. This is what I saw on the 8th floor of one of the blocks. Sigh.

Don't wait for a crisis

I spoke with a young woman whom I first met a few years ago because she was having trouble with a neighbour who was upset that the community cats were running into his yard. She had taken over feeding from another neighbour and had not been there long. When the problem started, she approached us for help and started sterilising. I understand sometimes you may not have a good idea of how to start, or the idea of sterilisation may not occur right at the beginning. This is understandable.

The situation got so bad between her and the neighbours that she moved out and found another place, taking the community cats with her. In this new area she moved to, there were more community cats that were already there. Another resident started sterilising the cats on her end of the street and helped this feeder as well to make a start on her end.

This other resident moved out a while ago, and she had repeatedly told the feeder to make sure to sterilise the cats.

I received a call from the feeder this morning. Another neighbour trapped 5 kittens this morning and still has the trap with her so more cats are likely to be trapped. I asked what had happened with the sterilisation, as I thought she was sterilising the cats. She said she had not had the time to sterilise but now there was someone who hated cats trapping. Now she needs to do it urgently.

Please - don't wait till there is a crisis till you start sterilising and managing. Your relations with your neighbours will sour, you will get very stressed, and most importantly, at least some of your cats are going to get caught.

For most complainants, they are not usually going to ask for a trap till the situation gets quite bad at which point they will start to trap. When they find that it's easy to trap, they may decide to keep doing it.

"But I don't look after these cats" Part 2

The feeder SMSed back to say that she could not go down after all to look after the other blocks. She was too busy. She had to work. She was not a housewife or retiree. She needed someone else to go down because she could not. I SMSed back to say that there was no one else there. I said that if she does not want to help out, then her own cats are at risk too.

She said that I did not mention this was a one-off situation and that she will go to the next block (conveniently forgetting the situation I mentioned). I'm trying to figure out how this could be since I told her that this was a case where the cats were defecating on a certain floor and that there was a complaint. She also said I sound fierce when I talk to her and that she is afraid of speaking to me.

I called but got no reply and SMSed back to say that I am always happy to help if people genuinely want to help the cats, but if I sound fed up with her that's because I am. I also told her it certainly hasn't stopped her from yelling at me before.

This feeder always calls when there is a crisis (calling memorably Jolanda and another caregiver at 2 am once to demand they both come down immediately to help her get a cat out from under a car), but when there is no crisis, she doesn't sterilise or mediate or take steps to try and stop the problem from arising. In another memorable occasion, she did not sterilise any of the cats in an area till the population went completely out of hand next to a temple, and the person there got fed up and started trapping. Then Jolanda went down to help her but she refused to release the cats, insisting that she had to take them all into boarding, which she could not afford. Then she started pleading with the adoption team to get her cats adopted out immediately.

She also has a tendency to hear what she wants to hear. She has accused myself, Jolanda, another volunteer and a town council officer of not telling her things or of lying to her before. The other volunteer has sworn off working with her.

Sigh.

"But I don't look after these cats"

One of the feeders that I spoke to earlier in the week SMSed to say that she had checked out the complaints about her block. I had mentioned when I spoke with her that the town council had complaints from several blocks in the area - however she kept saying she did not look after the cats there, then reluctantly said she would go check it out. She has not replied to my SMS about checking the other blocks out and I just SMSed her again to see if she has gone down. I am looking at the map and the blocks are separated by a small carpark.

I don't understand the reluctance to just go and have a look at the next block - true they're not 'her' cats, but these cats might get rounded up and killed if the complaints go on. If one of her cats happens to get caught (because they're not all sterilised), she'll also come down like a ton of bricks on the town council because according to her, her cats never wander.

It seems to be to just make sense to try and keep the area around 'your' cats safe, and this may involve actually looking into the other blocks around it. It might also have the added benefit of saving the lives of a few other cats at a very small cost to you.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

A part of my Life


A part of my Life
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's the photo I'm sending in to the Straits Times contest. Send in photos of your cats in relation to the Straits Times - it's great that the ST acknowleges that cats are a part of peoples' lives, so we should reinforce that idea.

I'm trying to send in photos for the Four Million Smiles website of a smiling cat but so far they look pretty grouchy in most of the photos! :) I'm sure our community cats would be wonderful ambassadors for our foreign visitors. A lot of them are friendlier than quite a few Singaporeans I know!

Microchipping Community Cats

I spoke at length to a young man who mentioned that he is helping out with several animal groups but does not belong to any particular group, nor does he intend to. I don't think that you need to be part of any particular welfare organisation in order to have a voice - right now, the problem is that too many people say that they are just ordinary citizens, or they aren't 'animal welfare people' or they are just someone who cannot help out. I think it's great that people who aren't part of a group speak up - because most people aren't part of an animal welfare group, but I strongly believe that most people do believe animals should be treated well and not hurt or killed. We need these people to speak up and I wish this young man well.

He also brought up the question of whether community cats should be microchipped. I spoke with him about how I really do not believe in this because it just makes the cats too easy to track. Besides the cost, which could be better used to sterilise more cats and which would be financially very difficult for many caregivers to afford, I am worried that there may come a time when any cat without a microchip on the streets would be rounded up and killed. Sure - it may be that it may be practically difficult to round up and scan every cat - but why take the risk? Plus it isn't uncommon that town councils decide rather arbitrarily on the number of cats to be 'allowed' in an area, and that this number can often change, - so this will allow them to control the exact cats in the area by removing the ones that aren't microchipped if they decide that a cap has been breached, and this cap may change. So 10 cats in an area may become 5 tomorrow - and they will be able to monitor each one via microchip.

This may not happen - but why give more information than necessary? Right now, taking photos and tipping the cats' ears already identify the cats as being sterilised - why do they need to be able to correlate the exact cat to a number in their database?

Many countries oppose cat licensing - and I think a lot of the arguments against licensing (which is really what microchipping will do), are well summarised in the San Francisco SPCA's position paper.

Adopting kittens and cats to children

If you're thinking of giving a kitten or a cat to a child, a word of advice : Don't. You should never adopt a cat or kitten out, no matter how much the child wants the cat, because the child isn't probably going to be the primary caregiver. He or she lives with his or her parents - and if they decide the cat is going to go, then it's going to go. Of course this is entirely different from adopting into a family WITH a child - if the child comes along with his or her parents, and all of them want a cat, then that is a wonderful situation and the cat will probably be well loved.

One of the caregivers just called me because she said that one of the feeders she knew had just adopted a cat out to a 14 year old boy. This boy is quite well known to the adoption volunteers and myself. Usually when the holidays roll around he will call and ask for a kitten. I have spoken with his mother and she does not want him to adopt a cat. He is also extremely persistent - he continues to call day after day, even after you have told him that you do not have a kitten for him, with no regard to the time or whether it is inconvenient and is rude.

Now what happened is that the boy happened to get the feeder's number and the feeder gave him a kitten - she also gave him a few hundred dollars so that he can look after the kitten, buy it food and litter, etc. She also apparently never visited the house. The caregiver who contacted me is very worried as he called her after that and asked for yet another kitten - he said he has four at home, but his mother doesn't mind them. He also asked what she would give him if he took her cat.

So please, you may want to adopt a cat out, but be sure it goes to a GOOD home. Don't just give it up to anyone and certainly not to a child without their parents' consent. Also if you get a phone call from a 13 to 14 year boy who sounds like a girl, who is extremely persistent and wants a kitten, please don't give one to him.

Who pays?

Here's what I've been thinking - now town councils are terrified that people will complain about scratches on cars and try and claim damages from them. Besides the fact that this will just open the floodgates and allow people to start claiming for anything (leaves! Branches on car! Bird Defecation! People scratching your car!), one of the volunteers suggested I look up the relevant statute. If you click on the Singapore Statutes link on my side bar and look up the Parking Places Act, you'll realise that there is a disclaimer against paying for any damage incurred in a public parking lot. That makes sense - because you can't be protected against everything that happens in a public place.

Here's the thing though - what about the fact that caregivers have invested time and more importantly to some, MONEY, in their cats. Who is going to reimburse them for the money spent on sterilisation and caring for the cats? If the town councils are so worried about people claiming for damage to cars, what about loss of life to community cats being cared for?

Straits Times (20-7-06)


Straits Times (20-7-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is part of the Straits Times "A Part of My Life" Contest. I love that they included the cat which we saw in an earlier advertisement and have a nice caption to go with it too!

If you want to send photos of your cats and the Straits Times (and one of mine is lying on it as I type this) to try and win something, the email address to send it to is apartofmylife@sph.com.sg.

Active Citizenry

Thanks Sivasothi for sending me this. I couldn't agree more with the sentiment that active citizenry involves a sense of having ownership of the community. It's YOUR community - if you feel strongly about it, try and make the situation better, don't keep whining about the situation and saying that you're 'just' a resident. It doesn't bode well for us as a country if people keep saying they are 'just' residents and are not willing to take part in making Singapore a better place for all of us to live in.

Active Citizenry

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Volunteers needed

I thought I'd just post this here and see if anyone can help. We need some help from someone with some IT knowledge to help update the Lost and Found Board and maybe help with the adoption bulletin too. Our volunteer with the Lost and Found section is going to be traveling and may not be able to post quite so regularly.

Also, as all of you know, Rebecca has been doing a great job helping with bookings. However, Rebecca is working full time (and studying too!) and cannot access the voice message system or do the bookings during working hours. If anyone is able to help it would basically be a liaison between the clinic and the volunteers to do the bookings. It would help if you are able to help during office hours or at least can access the mailbox during office hours. Nan Nan is doing a super job with the emails but we do need someone who can retrieve the message box and make the bookings - being able to speak Mandarin is a big plus as quite a few of our caregivers cannot speak English. If you think you might be able to help, please do drop me a line. We cannot pay except in eternal gratitude!

Blogathon update

Thanks Cate for offering to sponsor some sterilisations all the way from Australia! I discussed this with Michelle though and here's the thing - we're planning a fairly large Spay Day for the later part of the year (more details when we have them!). We were thinking that it might make sense to hold our very own Blogathon then in expectation of the Spay Day! That way we can link it directly to the number of sterilisations we hope to reach and get other bloggers to help out with content. What does everyone think?

I'd like to thank everyone so far for writing in and offering help/support/ideas. You guys are wonderful! :)

My life is worth less than your paintwork


My life is worth less than your paintwork
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Fur on the car continued

I spoke to the caregiver in the estate just now where the complainant with the fur on the car stays. She is such a sweet woman that she said she would go down and look at the car and will spray paint it again if the cats really scratched on it. She said she would meet the man but predicted he would not turn up.

I emailed this to him and guess what? He said he is too busy to turn up because he works 6 days a week and has no time to meet the volunteer.

However he has agreed that he is not sure which cat scratched his car. He says he would be satisfied if that cat was removed, but he doesn't know which cat it is. Sigh. As such, Mr Magnanimous has agreed to drop the case! Still, he wants to know what is going to be done about his car. He says since he pays to park there, why should he park in a different slot? He says what is going to be done about the paw prints and fur on his car?

I wrote back to thank him for dropping the case, but pointed out that money was spent sterilising and looking after the cats - I asked who is going to pay the caregiver back for the cats that were caught. I also asked who is going to pay for the pest control deployed to catch the wrong cats.

I also pointed out this is a public carpark and if he doesn't want anything on his car that I was afraid he'd need to park somewhere else, as leaves, bird defecation and scratches from people might ruin his car.

There's fur on my car!!! Kill the cat!

The man who claims the cat scratched his car just wrote back. He wrote at midnight and he just wrote again and claims that this is 'dragging on' and he is getting impatient.

He says that the 5 cats removed were obviously the wrong cats - and that if he didn't see the fur on his car every day then he could live with it. So 5 cats were killed for no reason and he is still upset because there is fur on his car.

He also asked if his paint is the problem, then does it mean that he should repaint his car so the cats can't scratch it. It seems to be that if it bothers him so much, then yes he should. In addition, his whole reason for believing the cat is scratching his car is that he sees the cat on his car, he sees fur, he sees scratches - ergo, the cat must be scratching his car.

Same thing with someone ELSE'S car. He saw the two cats on the car fighting. He went up and looked at the car and saw three scratches after that - Sherlock Holmes here then deduced it MUST BE the cats. If people like him were judges, I think everyone would be in jail right now.

Also he cannot be 'bothered' in his own words to tie the car cover down every night. So if he can't be bothered, then it should stand to reason that he can't be that attached to the car. It is a PUBLIC carpark - people can scratch the car, birds can defecate on it, a tree branch might fall on it. If the car is so precious, go rent a garage somewhere and lock it up - oh and watch out! There might be lizards or ants lurking in there all ready to pounce on the car.

Thanks to Moglee who is getting a friend to help answer some questions on what can cause scratches on a car. Thanks also to my friend who offered to loan his car for me to try putting cats on to see if they scratch it :)

Happiness and Singaporeans

Anonymous raised an interesting point in an earlier post about the cats scratching cars and leaving fur on the cars. He said that people with a lot less seem happier than Singaporeans. I am sure most people have read that Singaporeans scored very low on the happiness score - the lowest in Asia, and pretty dismally in the world as a whole.

It makes sense - if for example, a cat leaving FUR on your car makes you so unhappy that you send numerous emails to authorities or the lizards mating near a light throws you into fits of wanting to discipline them, you can't be a very happy person can you? Either these people have nothing else better to do, or they are upset by the slightest thing - or maybe both. If you are sitting there steaming because a cat sat on your car for a bit of warmth and left some fur on your car, then I'd hate to see what else makes you unhappy because that would pretty much cover everything.

It's a case of letting material things dictate our happiness. Like the person whose flat or condo is 'diminished' in price in his view because there are cats sitting in the compound and the person who is upset because the cat sat on their car. At the end of the day, even if there was a scratch, it's just a scratch and it's just a car - as a friend of mine said, people are dying in in Lebanon, and THIS is what makes you upset?

Blogathon news

Okay here's what I think we'll do - we have a few people who have offered to blog for the blogathon and we are planning to do another Spay Day a little later in the year. It would be great if people could donate in terms of sterilisations to be done. It would be roughly $20 for males and $50 for females. Could you drop me an email if you think you might be interested to sponsor this? If so, then I'll gather up the other bloggers and start making plans to take part. Thanks!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Telltale signs of feeding


Telltale signs of feeding
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Scraps of bones and fish next to the bin centre where I saw 4 or 5 cats - all unsterilised.

No volunteers

I went to meet with the town council today that requested for a meeting. One of the property officers in an adjacent precint had recommended working with CWS. The officer I met with said that trapping the cats did not work. He said new ones came in. In addition, he said that the cats could recognise the pest control vans and ran away.

More officers came in for the meeting as it progessed, so I had to repeat myself a few times, but I was glad to do it. They seemed open to quite a few ideas and had quite a few questions. They also seemed familiar with the problem of people feeding upstairs and people letting their pet cats wander. The officer who arranged the meeting used to work with HDB as well. One of the other officers asked him why HDB didn't just change their policy and let people keep cats in their own homes if they wanted to!

They took the complaint sheet that I asked them to fill out and when I handed out the flyer, they said they would do the flyering for alll their blocks for us. They also said they do not pick up sterilised cats in the estate.

One of the officers asked if it would be possible to do a banner to put up in their estates to recommend sterilisation, responsible feeding and the like though that's now up for consideration. Imagine - instead of one of those dengue mosquito banners, we could have one to ask people to feed and sterilise.

This is such a change from the usual problems we have begging for poster space, and trying to get TCs to please work with the residents.

Which leads to the unusual problem - instead of having willing volunteers and a reluctant TC, now we have a willing TC and one resident who may be able to help! However, I walked around one of the blocks with the officer afterward and it seems everyone knows the feeders. The shopkeepers seemed quite tolerant but said the population was increasing. One shopkeeper said there were five different sets of feeders and the cats were fed at breakfast, lunch, dinner, supper and sometimes tea time.

I also found something like 10 cats in one block - ALL unsterilised except for two, and one pregnant cat. The officers have said they'll keep an eye out for feeders for me and urge them to contact me. I really hope they will and will be open to the idea of starting a proper programme there. It will be horrible if the programme fails because we can't find volunteers.

Kitten


Kitten
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I just came back from a meeting with a town council - which was surprisingly good. I saw this kitten and a whole lot of other unsterilised cats while I was there.

This is not kindness

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Cats on cars

In the last two days, I've gotten feedback from several caregivers about complaints relating to cats scratching cars. The new twist though is that two of these complainants mentioned that they did not want FUR on their cars even. We have an article from a paint technologist about how it is virtually impossible for a cat to scratch the paintwork unless the car has bad paintwork done on it in the first place. Another article was just sent to me - it's interesting that this woman gave her car away, and then found out it was not due to her cat :-

Paint

Does anyone have any friends in the automotive industry who can give us some definitive answers on this? I can't seem to find much on the Internet.

People who can help to trap

I've been getting a few requests from people who want to get some cats sterilised. They're willing to pay for the whole procedure, transport and for trapping but they don't want to do the trapping themselves. This might be a good way for some people with a bit of experience if they want to make a little bit of extra cash which can always be used to pay for extra expenses. Alternatively, if you do know someone reliable, drop me an email and let me know?

Monday, July 17, 2006

I don't look after those cats

I just got off the phone with one of the rather challenging feeders. She claims that the town council wants to trap all the cats because they are defecating on the grass. I spoke with the officers and the complaints are about cats defecating in the corridors. The feeder then complained the town council was not clear,they must call her first, etc. I told her that there were complaints about the neighbouring blocks, and then she said that she did not look after those blocks and her cats never walked over to these other blocks. Sigh.

I told her that I often go to blocks which are absolutely nowhere near where I live if I am needed for a mediation, and she said that of course that was different because I work with CWS.

In the end, she said she would go and look into these other areas, but I honestly am not convinced she's going to do a very good job of it because she keeps insisting that the town council must not trap 'her' cats. She has 6 sterilised cats and 20 cats in all - with the people feeding upstairs and defecation, and the unsterilised cats reproducing, it's not a wonder people are complaining.

I told her that when the town council comes, they're not going to sit there and mark out which are her cats and which are not.

Anonymous whining

Jacin just read the email sent by a constant whinger and emailed me to say she did not know whether to laugh or be very worried. I have to agree with her. This person (who writes in under an alias) has written in to complain several times. He complained that there was a cat defecating in his corridor - but alas, he could not tell us which floor he lives on because of security concerns. He complained that someone had left cardboard for the cats to sleep on. He complained that there were a lot of cats around. I went down twice - and saw only a few sterilised cats.

He complained that there is an aggressive feeder around. However, he could not tell us whom this aggressive feeder is, because she might try and harm him in some way. He complained that a cat defecated in front of him in the void deck two weeks ago (according to the caregiver, this particular cat tends to do it when the grass is too soggy). He was appeased when the caregiver gave him her contact number and said she would go down anytime.

Now he has written in to say that he saw another couple feeding yesterday. It is not the feeder because he recognises her - no, this is an altogether different couple. According to him, it is no wonder that the cats are lazy, fat and have poor discipline since they are being fed so many times.

He also said that it's not true that cats don't scratch cars - he scratched a piece of bird defecation off his car with his fingernail and it left a scratch.

I asked if he might speak with this couple, but he said he has no power to do so, not being a member of the NEA or the town council. I pointed out that the caregivers and I aren't either, but we're talking to these people too.

I wrote back to query what he meant by poor discipline and pointed out that cats are animals. This lovely person wrote back to say that ALL animals need discipline - including the lizards who make too much noise by mating near his corridor light.

I have written to the town council to say that they should clearly just ignore this guy. I told them if they continue to put up with his nonsense, they'll soon have to start taking action against the lizards.

Compulsory


Compulsory
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The word that strikes fear in the heart of every student! One student asked me a little crossly why the talks were compulsory - I told them that I was just there to give the talk and they should take it up with the school as I did not know. Others came up to say they had missed the talk I gave but wanted to volunteer for CWS. One student asked if he could finish all 80 hours of community service before school starts in three weeks. I told him he could help trap cats till school starts :)

I went down afterward with the adoption volunteer to look at stands for the next adoption drive.

Group Blogging

Yes - group blogging is definitely allowed for the Blogathon! So we can do it in relays. It would certainly be more interesting. The question is - is anyone interested to READ the content and be sponsors? :)

Talk on volunteerism


Talk on volunteerism
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I gave a talk on volunteerism at SMU today. A young man ran in just after I finished and looked rather upset that he had missed the talk as he said he had come down specially for the talk. I did speak with him at the booth afterward and answered some of his queries.

The importance of good volunteers Part II

I spoke with a caregiver this morning who wanted me to go down for his Meet the Peoples' session. He wanted me to meet with his MP and introduce me. I spoke with him at some length and explained that while I would be happy to meet his MP and explain TNRM to him, I didn't think a Meet the Peoples' session was the most appropriate venue. At the end of the day, I said the most important thing is to show they have residents' support. He kept insisting because he wanted to show there was a framework and a structure, but as I said, there is no point having a framework if there are no volunteers. He said that the feeders in the area do not want to see the MP - and again, that is not going to inspire confidence.

At the end of the day, the MPs and the town councils also want to see the same thing - that there are volunteers in the area. If there aren't any, the very real question of where the manpower is coming from will pop up. Citing numerous feeders who do not want to give their names does not really make one feel that the programme is going to work.

Off to speak with young impressionable minds at SMU about volunteerism!

The importance of good volunteers

I was out with Marcus, Michelle and JaQ last night and we walked by the site of our first cat cafe so we stopped to take a look. To our dismay and disappointment, the cafe was gone. There was just a slab of cement in the area. The management had not let us know that they were tearing it down.

This cafe was set up a few years ago and I have to say that a very important lesson from it - you can have the best management in the world who are very supportive, but without volunteers it is of no use whatsoever. The top management in this establishment were supportive - but they weren't the ones looking after the cafe. They sent out a call for volunteers and literally more then a dozen people signed up.

The problem is that volunteers there were just not very good. They were only interested in sprinkling cat food and playing with the cats. We taught them how to trap, but they did not do it very often. When we went down to check on the cats, and noticed a sick cat, we asked a volunteer about it. Her response? She only fed the cats on a roster, she wasn't there to check their health. One asked if she could bring cats from her area to the cafe.

In the end, the cafe self-destructed because the volunteers realised it needed work and weren't prepared to do it. So make sure you have the volunteer infrastructure before starting. I've seen other estates with just one committed volunteer and they were much better run than this area.

Now the cats have gone back to wandering around the food areas again.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Blogathon

Now there are a few other things I love as much as cats. One of those is sleep - or anyway because I don't get a lot of it during the week, I tend to catch up on my sleep during the weekends.

However I realised there's something called the Blogathon. This basically involves blogging for a period of 24 hours every half an hour over the weekend of the 29th of July and the idea is to get sponsors for your favourite charity. Guess who I'll blog for if I do it? :)

So here's the thing - I'll definitely take part in the blogathon, but only if enough people will sponsor me during the period of the blogathon because otherwise frankly, I'd rather sleep. It does mean I can't sleep or leave the house for those 24 hours because I need to be near a PC for one thing. At the moment, my best friend is promising to donate a certain amount to CWS if I go to sleep instead of blogging all night!

Thoughts? Sponsors? Let me know! If enough of you think this is a good idea, drop me a line. I may not also have enough cat related news to blog every half an hour so it may have to be on other topics too. Or you can contribute to the go to sleep Dawn fund :)

Sterilising - too expensive

A social worker wrote in and said that she had a client with a problem. I managed to speak with the woman today. She has to sell her house and move out and she cannot bring her cats with her as she does not know where she is going yet. In addition, she has a 20 year old cat (which she tells me she does not expect to live much longer) and a number of kittens. Her children brought them home and she didn't sterilise them because she told me it costs $150 to sterilise a cat, so they've been producing, and breeding and now there are 6 or 7 cats, with a pregnant cat among them.

She's open to putting them up for adoption and she says she will get them sterilised when I gave her a cheaper vet option. I hope she'll follow through.

Venue for a workshop

I'm trying to find a place to hold a TNRM workshop. We plan to hold a large public one later in the year, but we also realise that some people have shown an interest in attending a session. However none of these people know enough other people to form a group to hold a workshop at their place. I'm trying to contact CCs and other places to see if we can hold a session there, but if anyone knows a place that isn't too expensive and is quite central, let me know?

Mikey's Birthday Party


Mikey's Birthday Party
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thank you Patricia for letting me post this. I just had to post this. Mikey is an adopted cat and here he is celebrating his first birthday party. He even had other cat friends come for the party as well! :)

M&M and Peijia


M&M and Peijia
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Marcus, Michelle and I met with Peijia today. She's a graphic designer and is offering to help out with our brochures.

Graphic designer

Michelle and I are meeting a graphic designer this morning. She offered to volunteer and we're meeting to discuss what work she can help us with hopefully.

Cute Overload

Thanks to Sarah for sending in this website :-

Cute Overload

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Red Cross Mascot


Red Cross Mascot
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's the red cross mascot. We were the only animal welfare group at the fair today and some people were quite curious about what we did. It was interesting though - when Jacin and I walked into the lift with our traps, someone took one look at the traps and then asked if we were from CWS!

Jacin also bought her tickets for "Silence of the Kittens" today. The look on the face of the man who sold the tickets to her was priceless when she told him the name of the play, and also when she showed him the CWS membership card to get a discount!

Town council calling for a meeting

One of the town council officers just called. He wanted to know if I could come down and give a briefing to his other officers. Another officer I worked with had recommended us and this officer said that they felt trapping and killing was not the solution. He wanted to know if he could work with us.

He suggested meeting next week and I said I would be happy to. He will be getting his other officers to attend because he said that way everyone will be on the same page. I've never been thanked so many times or called Ma'm so many times in a conversation with a TC officer!

You know what the sad irony of the situation is? There aren't any volunteers I can think of in this area. He told me there are a lot of feeders around though, so I'll meet up and just hope for the best!

Jacin manning the booth


Jacin manning the booth
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's Jacin manning the booth and giving people information on the Society.

Students at SMU


Students at SMU
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I forgot my camera today! So here are the shots from my camera phone of some of the students who came for the talk on volunteerism.

SMU

Getting ready to go to SMU for a volunteer talk and exhibition today. Jacin has taken leave and is coming with me. Marcus and Michelle are likely to pop in at some point too.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Money

You know the old saying that money is the root of all evil? I think that while money can and is often used for a lot of good - for example, sterilising cats! - the use of money can always be a bone of contention.

When money comes into the equation, situations always get thorny. Very well-meaning caregivers have been known to fall out when money is involved - and often there isn't any dishonesty or ill intention involved.

I have seen groups fall apart, and caregivers unable to work together because of misunderstandings over money. Often one caregiver decides to help out by collecting all the money and making arrangements to spare the others problems. Some miscommunication occurs, and then people start accusing each other of being dishonest or of stealing money.

It's very difficult of course to avoid any miscommunication, but especially when money is involved, it's best to be as above board as possible (easier said then done!). People are often willing to forgive a lot, but when money comes into the picture, the taint of dishonesty sometimes never washes off.

At the same time, I think it's important to try and realise that the majority of people are working to help the cats. This does not mean that one should not be vigilant or query anything that seems strange, but with the majority of volunteers working and being busy, sometimes things do get overlooked.

Released just to be caught again?

I mentioned in a post yesterday that one of the town councils released some sterilised cats that had been trapped and the caregiver realised that several of these cats were someone's home pets. The caregiver walked by the area again today and realised to her horror that the owner had let the same cats out again! They have been microchipped and the owner was told to keep the cats in, but when the caregiver asked why the owner let the cats out, the owner said they make noise in the flat.

It's not as if this owner does not know the cats might get caught - they have been caught once already. The owner has also been told that the cats are not going to get a second chance if they are caught again. So it's not like the owner does not know the consequences or is just naive.

Putting cats in danger

I just spoke to some caregivers this morning. It appears in both cases the complaint was about defecation outside peoples' homes. Of course when the caregivers went down it was because of pet cats that were allowed out to wander. In one of the blocks, the caregiver said she found that there were at least four different families with cats. One unit had food directly outside their unit but denied they were feeding cats. Why would some stranger come and put food outside YOUR flat?

The really sad thing about all this is that the community cats get rounded up! The town council and HDB have both been down too, but to no avail, because after all, these cats don't 'belong' to anyone. They're not pets because you're not allowed to have a pet cat, so they're allowed to wander everywhere where inevitably they defecate. The caregiver in one of the areas told me that she would have been very surprised if there was NO defecation given the sheer number of unsterilised pet cats walking around.

What can we do about people who persistently refuse to listen and put cats in danger?

Thank you


Thank you
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Photo care of Ben Poon.

Thank you to Meow and her students who raised $100 for the Society. They helped to sell bookmarks and goody bags. She wrote in her email that the amount might not be that huge, but that the students spent a lot of time and effort raising awareness on sterilisation. THAT is priceless!

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Talk on volunteerism

I've been working on a talk about volunteerism and the Society that I'll be giving on Thursday and also next week. Instead of painting a very rah-rah picture of volunteering, I think I'm going to be very straight about it because at the end of the day, volunteerism isn't about making you feel good. If that's your sole aim of volunteering, then picking up a hobby probably will be a better idea. However, it doesn't mean that volunteering does not give you anything back, but the idea is that volunteering is not about YOU. It's about helping someone or in the case of caregivers, some cats :)

The satisfaction is in knowing that you made a difference and that you tried your best to leave the world a slightly better place.

Email about cats being put down

There is an email going around saying that there ar 16 cats to be put down if they are not adopted and to email Cat Welfare Society. Some people have been writing in asking why we put down cats. First of all, this is a very old email - it was first sent out last year and the person who sent it out retracted it when he realised it was not true. Secondly, the Society does not have a shelter and we do not have any cats with us, nor do we put down cats. The cats WERE on our board, but were being posted on behalf of someone else. Several of the cats were adopted - one unfortunately passed away unfortunately due to kidney failure not very long after he was adopted.

If anyone sends you this email, please do clarify with them.

Yawning


Yawning
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Cats are smart - we know this because they take frequent naps :)

Returned

Last week I wrote about one of our caregivers having had some cats she sterilised picked up. The town council agreed to have them released today. It turned out that three of them actually belonged to a family in the block and they let them wander. The family has turned up to reclaim their cats and the other two will be returned back onto the street as the town council admits it made a mistake trapping them.

Unsung Heroine

Unsung Heroine

Letter from today's online forum. Thank you Vegancat for sending it to me.