Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Once a complainer

One of the TC officers called me this morning. Due to the change in boundaries, she mentioned there was a complaint in a certain block - when she gave me the name, she said the person claimed he had 'worked' with CWS before.

He claims there is urine and dog and cat defecation outside his sixth floor flat. At the time, he told us that it happened only at night after 11 pm and before 6:30 am. He said he thought it might be someone's cat from upstairs.

I wanted to clarify with him that it was not a community cat (which he said was quite possibly true) and he had also claimed that someone from an upper floor had come down calling for their cat. However he did not know whom it was. The volunteer went down and did not see any defecation or signs of a cat. He stopped responding to my emails. The officer in charge then trapped two sterilised community cats and the feeders in the block did not tell the caregivers till it was too late. The TC officer told the caregiver only afterward that 'something' had to be done to show that some action was taken. The caregiver did not want to make a fuss at the time.

Fast forward to today - he is complaining of the SAME thing again. He is saying someone upstairs feeds and so do people in the void deck. In addition, he is telling the new TC officer that he had complained several times to the old TC and that nothing had been done!

I sent all the emails to the officer - and she said that now she can tell the MP that this guy has had his problem dealt with in the past and that there had been a history of action taken, but the guy is still complaining.

Once a complainer, always a complainer. Plus the TCs who think that their actions will appease the complainant should learn that it does NOT do so - in fact, they feel nothing is done and they get more annoyed. So instead of just trapping any cats, try and find out what the source of the problem is - Mr Complainer in fact, mentions this in his email, but clearly the fact that the wrong cats were removed STILL hasn't taught him that removing MORE of the wrong cats will not work.

Tipped earred cat


Tipped earred cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

After speaking with the different volunteers and organisations, I also had a chat with the volunteers and caregivers in the area. It's great to see their enthusiasm and how how much they want to commit to a project like this.

I think it's important though to be realistic and to get them to think about all the logistical problems. I sometimes worry that to throw up too many potential problems will dampen their excitement. On the other hand, if volunteers go into a project (especially a large scale TNRM project) without first considering all the consequences, the problem is that they may realise it's too difficult and decide to give up halfway and perhaps not help out in this, or any other, project again.

As a whole it's important to consider whether the cats are protected if sterilised, how to manage the area, the logstics of sterilisation, whom is in charge and the like. It involves mundane, but essential things like whom will be around to release the cats. If these things aren't considered and dealt with, the project will fail - and everyone will feel it was a waste of time, effort and money.

Because cats love to eat corn on a cob


Because cats love to eat corn on a cob
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Food left out for the cats - and of course it is also not food that cats generally eat so it makes a mess and isn't picked up. Then the ones who get blamed are the cats - but not the people who left the food in the first place!

Nap Time


Nap Time
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just got back from a meeting with caregivers, volunteers, NParks, NEA, SPCA and ourselves to talk about a project in one of the parks.

These cats have the right idea - a nap after lunch is the perfect thing to do!

Meeting

Off for a meeting in one of the parks now. Some caregivers are trying to start a programme in one of the very problematic areas with a lot of cats - so hopefully it'll work out!

Whiners

This woman is still complaining. She SMSed yesterday to say that the cats are still coming up. The TC had said they would send pest control down last week.

I checked with the officer and he said all the cats downstairs are sterilised. The cat that she complains about is not - and it's also not a community cat evidently. Someone in the block I spoke with said it was her friend's cat (I suspect it may actually be hers).

So this woman is still complaining. She wanted to know why the cat she complained about is not removed. I told her that as far as I know, TCs generally don't run around the block catching particular cats - they usually send in pest control and will remove any unsuspecting cats sitting downstairs. I told her that I had already explained this to her previously that her insisting on the removal of the cats would not solve the problem.

The woman kept insisting the cat is always outside her aunt's flat and should be easy to spot and remove. I told her that in fact when I went down, the cat was not there. She complained that the TC cannot possibly just go down one time and be done with it. I told her that every time she complains and they have to deploy pest control, people are paying for it too. You may remember in my earlier post that she had previously wanted the TC and ourselves to go down periodically and drop notices to her neighbours. When I asked her why she couldn't walk the 50 m over to her neighbours' place and speak to them, she said she didn't always see them, because she doesn't actually live there!

I just spoke with her as well and she said that it is all just a 'show' and she doubts the TC went down at all or that they did not go floor by floor.

Some people seem to have this annoying habit that they must be served on hand and foot. I understand she has a problem, but the TC isn't going to be bothered to comb the block floor by floor to find the cat she is complaining about. Plus if she is so annoyed about the feeding, would it kill her to just speak with her neighbours?

She said that nothing has been done by the TC - but she has done absolutely nothing either, except to complain and complain again.

Letters in the online Forum

Thanks Otterman for sending this in :-

Nice letter - and the blog even got a mention in this letter.

Also a nice letter by a 12 year old!

Monday, October 30, 2006

Waiting


Waiting
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This cat and another cat were seen staring up at the windows of a block of flats. I lurked around in the void deck opposite before going for the mediation, and sat around the corner after the mediation in order to see whom was feeding them. I am quite certain the person is tossing food out their window.

Sandtray in corridor


Sandtray in corridor
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

No there were no cats today - but yes the sandtray was still there, and it looked like it had been recently used.

Keeping the cat in

I went by to a second mediation and spoke to the complainant. I then went down and had a word with the person who was being complained about. He immediately said he had a cat. I explained that neighbours were complaining and that he should please keep the cat in. He agreed and said he would do that as he did not realise there was a problem. I sincerely hope he will really do it, instead of just saying that he will. If the man is really receptive (and he gave me his number quite freely) then if the neighbour had just spoken with him directly, this would have been easily resolved.

Stopped by this house again. I didn't see the cat but I did see a plate of food, most of which was eaten, and containers of cat food. No one answered this time, so I left a note again. I did check on another of the units - no food outside today. Here's hoping they stop feeding outside.

Containers in corridor


Containers in corridor
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Someone feeding the cats in the corridor. This house is the first unit - and the house next door has people scared of cats. A sure recipe for disaster. I didn't see any cats, but I did leave one of the new draft Mediation notes - let's see if the person gets the message. Hopefully they will.

Mediations

More mediations - we have just been talking about re-thinking our approach to people who let their cats out or who feed cats upstairs. I used to think it was just about speaking with them and that people who were ignorant of the problems caused, would stop especially if they were made to realise that the cats would be killed.

Increasingly though I realise that while SOME people do respond very positively (and are very sorry for the problems caused), others either blatantly deny the cat is theirs, or ask you to just take the cat away! This seems to be happening more and more. I've just drafted a new Mediation note to ask these semi-cat owners as Rebecca calls them, to keep the cats in, or for people to feed downstairs. Any suggestions would be welcome since the idea of the cat or cats being killed does not seem to bother them.

Complaint? Dump!

I just spoke to a caregiver who spoke to this woman with many cats in her house. The woman has apparently had several complaints because the smell is bad - something the caregiver said was true. She has gone by to help her clean the woman's house, and also offered to sterilise the cats so the number wouldn't keep growing. However the woman does not contact the caregiver in time and everytime the caregiver goes by, there seem to be MORE cats being born.

The TC told me there was a complainant and I let the caregiver know. The caregiver took some unsterilised cats home to get them done, but the woman did not know what to do with the others in her home. The woman decided to leave the cats downstairs as she is worried because of the complaints. The caregiver reckons at least they are sterilised this time around.

I told the caregiver she may not be able to help this woman if she continues to do this. The woman asks for food, but won't even let the caregiver know when to get the cats need to be sterilised - even though the caregiver is the one paying for it.

Responsible Pet Owner


Responsible Pet Owner
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The adoption volunteer and I did a followup to an adoption yesterday and saw this poster. I thought it was a great poster- and was happy to see a cat acknowledged as being a pet too.

Adopting black cats during Halloween

Black cats

Every year I read of some shelters issuing this warning - not sure if it happens in Singapore so much as Halloween is not really a big event here.

It's interesting that in the US, black cats are also less commonly adopted because they are seen to be 'bad luck'.

Feline Acupuncture

Veganmeowies wanted me to share with you that her cat did very well with acupuncture. Here's a link she sent :-

Feline Acupuncture.

I have to say my own cat sat very quietly when he had the needles inserted in him - and he usually isn't the type to sit quietly.

Server back up

The server is back up so you can send your emails to the usual email addresses. The website however is still down and is going to take a few more days to go up unfortunately.

Web Server still down

The people from our web server wrote last night to say the email is back up, but I checked with the other committee members and it's still down, as is the website. In the meantime, the address again to email if you need to is catwelfare@gmail.com.

Sunday Times (29-10-06)


Sunday Times (29-10-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This article goes to show how much animals have come to mean to some people.They have really become part of their family, rather than 'just' a cat or a dog. However, I think the point about spending within your means is really important too - not everyone can afford $20000 and you should not bankrupt yourself doing it.

Sunday Times Part 2 (29-10-06)


Sunday Times Part 2 (29-10-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Sunday Times Part 3 (29-10-06)


Sunday Times Part 3 (29-10-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I was pleasantly surprised how many people take looking after their animals so seriously - and that people said they would not dump an ill animal. I also agree with living within your means and not overspending. I can understand having to save up for your parents or your family. I personally wouldn't put downpayment for a car over my cat though, but then I suppose it's different priorities for different people.

Friday, October 27, 2006

Bunny in corridor


Bunny in corridor
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

It's not just cats kept in corridors - here's a bunny in a cage.

The complainant said there are a lot of cats downstairs at night but when I walked around I did not see any. He also said the cat is defecating upstairs. When I asked around it appears that a lot of people are facing the same problem, and it's not just ONE cat, there are several. There are also several people who have cats at home, and who let them wander.

Some people are obviously more observant than others. When I asked one if she knew whom was feeding, she said that it must be a Malay family because Chinese people don't like cats. I always find comments like that very strange.

Others could tell me which floors and point to the units in question. When I approached one of the people complained about, she denied it was her - but three other people mentioned that she let her cats out.

Barrier


Barrier
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Sometimes complainants ask how I know which houses are theirs - usually this is a telltale sign. It either means someone has dogs or cats (and really it won't work very well to keep cats in) OR the person has a problem with cats and is trying to keep the cats out.

The complainant would not tell me which household was his, but I suspect it is this one.

Mediation today

Off for a mediation. This person has been complaning about various things, including wanting 'designated feeding spots' because he says that this will be similar to smoker's corners. He also claims a cat goes up to his floor so I will check that out and see if that is indeed what's happening.

Also looks like the server WON'T be up till 4 pm, so the email address for now if you need it is catwelfare@gmail.com

Cats on polished cars

I just spoke with a complainant. The TC officer said that there were complaints of cat scratches, but when I spoke with him, it appeared that he said there were no scratches. However there was fur and there were paw prints and this upset him. He said he had just polished his car and he was upset to see this. I offered to buy him a car cover as a gesture of goodwill and to keep the cats off but he declined.

He asked if the cats were removed though and I explained that the vacuum effect and sterilisation. He remarked that there WERE less cats in the area, and said there used to be a lot, but the number had dropped. However he also said there was an irresponsible feeder who cycled there and dropped food in the area. The other person was seen throwing food from her window. He said he would get more information and get back to us.

Server down

Our webserver has written to say that the server crashed yesterday evening. They are working to restore it but there may not be any Internet access till 4 pm.

I just spoke with a caregiver. This woman wrote in after watching Frontline, complaining of a neighbour who feeds the cat upstairs. She is frustrated because the cat has been defecating outside her flat for some time.

The caregiver said she would be happy to help, but the complainant then would ask to be able to call her immediately so she could come down and look at the defecation, but she had no idea of whom the cat belonged to or what it looked like. The caregiver asked for some time to settle the case. The complainant would email every time there was defecation and said she took photos of the defecation. We asked if she could help take photos of the CAT instead for us to identify her with.

The complainant also asked if video cameras could be installed in her corridor to film the cat so we can ascertain which cat it is. The caregiver told her no.

The caregiver and the complainant managed to find someone whom they claimed was the feeder. The caregiver said the first time she approached the feeder, there was no problem. However, the feeder was having problems with their next door neighbour and so when they went back to speak with him, he started getting very agitated and chased them. According to what I understand the complainant also went down and took photos of the FEEDER which probably made him more upset.

What a mess.

I have information and I'm not sharing it

Email and the website are down again. We have written to our website server to ask why it has been crashing so much of late. If you need to get us in a hurry, you can contact us temporarily at catwelfare@gmail.com. If not, your email will be answered once we get it.

Just spoke to two town council officers this morning. One said there is a woman complaining of defecation outside her unit. She said it is very 'obvious' so she won't give her unit number or the unit number of the complainant. I told the officer that this is a waste of everyone's time, and that clearly she has information she is withholding when she could save everyone the trouble of looking around. I asked him if we can speak to her but of course she wants to remain anonymous. He said he will speak with her again.

This woman apparently does not want to cause problems by speaking with the neighbour - but apparently ratting on them to the town council is NOT causing them problems.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Website advice


Website advice
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

It wasn't pouring today so I managed to take some photos! I saw this sign when I was at the vets. The Joyous Vet has a website - and it offers advice on its website too.

Thank you snacks


Thank you snacks
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Snacks being driven to the vets to thank them!

One of the vet assistants said that people were still calling up to ask if there were Spay day slots and when they could send cats in!

More curry puffs

Heading out to deliver more curry puffs now!

Anniversary

We're planning to have a little get together to celebrate our Anniversary on 18th November. We're trying to see where we ought to go and are trying to find a restaurant. We hope you keep the day free if you can make it!

Talking to your vet

Blogger was down today but seems to be working now.

I was speaking with a woman today about her cat and how her cat needs enemas (really DON'T try this at home - as you can see, it is not only messy but can be painful for the cat too). I asked if she had spoken with the vet about a more permanent solution, and she said she had not. She said that she had just been flushing the cat out but that it is uncomfortable AND in no time at all, the cat would have problems again.

Now the thing to do is to speak with your vet. The vet can give you a range of alternatives. They may not have done it for various reasons - for example, they think price is a consideration, or they may feel it is not possible, but explore your options.

About a week or two ago, Wiggie told me someone had called CATSNIP asking if she could get her cat's vocal chords removed. Apparently the cat would wet itself at night and then cry to be changed. The woman looking after her said she could not get a good night's sleep. I asked what the problem with the cat was - and she said she did not know. I asked if it would be possible to stop the frequent uncontrolled urination. Removing the vocal chords stops the crying - but not the fact that the cat is in discomfort. She said this had never occured to her and that she had never spoken with her vet about this.

So it is a good idea to always speak to your vet about different options and what can be done.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Don't give officers an excuse to remove the cats

It certainly poured this afternoon - the air is nice and fresh! I went by to four vets to thank them for their help, and I saw a little moth-eaten, shivering puppy outside one of the vets. I spoke to the man who had brought it in. It had gotten into an accident, and he kindly brought it in to have it looked at - it's lovely to see people going out of the way for an injured animal.

Also I spoke with a feeder who said that a woman had complained about a cat and wanted it removed. I spoke with the TC officer and I believe these cats had been relocated there recently. The officer said the woman claimed the cat 'pounced' on her bags because she was carrying a hamburger. The feeder then told the officer that if it really attacked this woman, it would be attacking everyone! I know what she meant, that it seems very strange for the woman to be the only one affected, but I asked her to please not express it that way. I know she is trying to say that the chances are slim that the cat would attack at all, but if she had a trigger happy officer, they would have taken this as an opportunity to get rid of all the cats. After all, following her logic, the cat might attack other residents! So do be careful how you phrase things.

Fortunately the officer went down himself and said the cats seemed very friendly. He thought the complainant might have over-exaggerated. However, he did say she is very scared of cats. He said that she was trembling and crying down the phone.

I said I would speak with the feeder and see if they could be moved. It does strike me though that there seem to be an increasing number of people complaining lately they are frightened of cats. The cats aren't doing anything - but they are scared of the cats. Also, it does lead to people not being able to read the cats properly and hence believe the cats are aggressive when they're not doing anything of the sort.

Off to the vets

We're dropping small tokens of appreciation by the vet clinics who helped us with Spay Day (read curry puffs and small cakes). Rebecca and Nan Nan drove around to ten vets on Monday so I'm going to cover some today.

Cat burying


Cat burying
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went to another mediation after the one with the black and white cat. The complaint was similar - that someone was feeding the cat upstairs and they were defecating around.

I managed to speak with the feeder and she insisted it was the 'corridor' cat but no one else on the corridor seemed to be very happy with it. The feeder claimed the woman opposite was feeding, but the woman opposite said the cat was defecating. Another man I spoke with said that the feeder had not sterilised and the cats had given birth several times. Yet another complainant said that the woman liked to wash the defecation down the staircase and it was outside her house. Another person told me they had adopted a kitten from her and they kept their cat inside now all the time.

What was interesting was that NONE of the neighbours asked that the cats be taken away. When I explained sterilisation, they were receptive. One had never complained because she didn't want the cat taken away. Another didn't know they would be taken away - she kept insisting they were lives and should not be taken away, but she did not know whom to turn to. She had spoken directly to the feeder and the feeder had scolded her.

I told the feeder that she had to feed them downstairs, and to get them sterilised, but she insisted they were not 'her' cats so why should she? I left her all the information and told her how much it cost and she said she'd think about it. She also said she might stop feeding - which is what so many people say when you ask them to please just feed downstairs. Apparently either the HDB or TC has also paid this woman a visit in the past.

Kitty Litter in corridor


Kitty Litter in corridor
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

In addition to the cats, and large shelves AND a desk, there was kitty litter under the desk for the cats to use. Presumably it's so they don't go up and soil others' flats - which is a good idea. However the complainant is terrified of cats and says she will not step out if they are in the corridor, which means this won't help much.

Cat behind plant


Cat behind plant
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went down to the third floor, preparing to leave and thinking that I had found the black and white cat in question that everyone mentioned, when I saw THIS black and white cat. It was sitting on a shelf next to these potted plants along with a ginger and white cat. The other cat scooted off and ran into a flat through the open window, but this cat did not.

No one was home, so I spoke with a neighbour and SHE had cats as well, though she had plastic on the bottom of the gate and she said her cats never went out (I didn't see any cats while I was speaking with her in her flat). She said these two cats were her neighbours and she would speak with her and pass her my message.

Food in corridor


Food in corridor
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

After speaking with the feeder on the 6th floor, I went down and found the cat outside the door. I also found the food in the photo all over the corridor. I checked with a neighbour and she immediately pointed out the house and the cat too. The woman on the fourth floor who opened the door said it was her cat when I asked, but said that someone in the house was allergic to the cat. The cat was sitting quietly, but the minute she opened the door (but not the grille), the cat was clawing at the door trying to get in.

I suggested bathing the cat regularly to rid the cat of dander. The woman asked if she could give the cat away - she said that her mother liked feeding it, but she did not like cats herself. She asked if she could send it somewhere. I explained that the cat was likely to be put down. I asked if she could please just ask her mother to feed in the void deck, and gave her some information as well. She said she would do so.

Mothballs


Mothballs
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I just spoke with the complainant whose house I stopped by on Monday. She asked me how I knew which unit was hers and I told her it was quite obvious - it may not be so clear from the photo, but she had a plastic sheet across her door and there are mothballs on the floor. At first glance, I thought someone had put Mentos there!

At any rate, I explained that there were at least three people feeding within four floors in her staircase. She asked how the people feeding reacted. I said one of them was quite angry and asked why no one did anything when one of his neighbours liked to let their dog urinate on the wall outside his house. He said he could complain but he didn't want to make an issue. I think he wondered why his neighbour could not just speak with him. As I was distributing flyers, I saw him trooping up and door the corridor and staircase trying to find out whom complained.

The complainant said that she did not know it was this man for sure, but as I said to her, she had given me his unit number. I said there was no need to accuse him, but it was a good idea to just speak with him as a neighbour in general, rather then call in third parties. She said that if she KNEW it was him, she would have spoken with him, as she had spoken to another woman who lived on a lower floor.

She also asked me about the ethnicity of the feeders and was very taken aback when I told her one of the families was Chinese.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Cat staring at the door


Cat staring at the door
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is one of the cats complained about. The cat was sitting right outside the house waiting to go in.

Mediation volunteers

Heading out for a mediation now.

We had a meeting on Friday night and one thing we discussed was how we need volunteers just to mediate. This would be for people mediating in their OWN neighbourhoods and hence if there was a problem say in AMK or Pasir Ris, the mediation volunteer there would go down and look into it. This person might not be doing Trapping or feeding actively because this might give them less time. However, if they can do the Mediations, they could help out even in areas where there are no volunteers, but where the problems can be quite easily solved - ie speaking to someone who likes to let their cat wander, or someone who feeds irresponsibly.

Of course we would have training sessions for these volunteers, and they need to be people who will keep calm, and who are above 21 in general. It is also good to mediate in pairs and of course the more people in an area, the better. If you have time to help out with ad hoc volunteering events (though they normally must be dealt with fairly quickly), have an even temper and don't mind travelling within your area, Mediation would be perfect for you.

Why adopt cats out?

The CWS Adoption volunteer was telling me about one of the fosters who is giving some problems. She adopted a cat out to someone and this person wrote in to say she had concernes. The adoption volunteer wrote to her to ask what happened. It turns out the new adopter is upset the cat is not 'toilet trained' - ie on the toilet floor, and wants to use litter. She says that all cats are supposed to use the floor. Then she was upset that the cat had been fostered in a home with a dog - even though she said the cat was very well looked after and healthy. Then it turns out that she would not be bringing the cat to the vet after that - she does not believe in vets and has not sterilised any of her previous cats.

The volunteer then called up the foster and told her that she should seriously consider whether she is comfortable leaving the cat with this adopter. Considering she does not intend to bring them to the vet, and considering that she is unlikely to sterilise, the volunteer advised the foster to think about this seriously.

The foster then wrote back and said she was leaving the cat with the adopter. She said she was desperate to adopt them out (though actually the cats were with another foster who was prepared to hold them longer). She said that she had given her a sample contract (which I believe was not signed) and that it was now up to the adopter. She said if the woman did not sterilise, and the cats (a male and female cat) were allowed to breed and dumped on the street, it was not her problem. After all, it was in CWS's stipulated contract according to her.

The adoption volunteer explained that the contract was between the foster and the adopter as it is a sample contract (and which is explained to people using our board). It is not in any way a CWS contract, nor does CWS sign on it. It is for people to use and decide to put in and take out different clauses. Some beef it up, others take out other clauses or change details. It's just a guide to go by.

The foster can then enforce it if he or she wishes. However, even if there is a contract, the foster cannot then throw up her hands and say it is no longer her issue. Plus, since she knows the adopter is already expressing these issues about not sterilising and not treating sick cats, she should think about whether she wants to give the cats up to this home.

What is the point of adoption? To just get the cats into ANY home? The idea is to get cats that cannot live on the streets off the street and into GOOD homes. the idea is to ensure they are well taken of, and most importantly, not to ADD to the pool of cats on the street.

If you 'save' two cats, and then doom the 10 offspring to be dumped on the streets unsterilised for example, then how is this helping at all?

The adoption volunteer is trying to convince the foster to act to remove the cats, but at the end of the day, it is her decision as they are her cats. She will be banning her and the adopter from the board after this.

Happy Birthday CWS

Since it's our birthday, permit me a little stroll down memory lane.

CWS was started 7 years ago today by a group of friends who saw a newspaper article about some kittens that had been burned alive. They started sending the article to each other and saying that something had to be done. Contrary to what some think, these weren't people who only liked cats - they were in fact people who liked all animals, but it was thought that the situation was most urgent for the cats. At the time (and it continues till now), double the number of cats are killed each year as compared to dogs - the largest number of any animal killed in Singapore each year.

Friends invited other friends to join, people chipped in to donate money to set up the Society and it was registered on this date in 1999. The original name of CWS was actually "The Cat Project", but it wasn't allowed to be registered because the word "Society" was not in the title - regulations are more lax now.

Most of the original group are not actively involved in CWS anymore, though one of them remains on our committee. The rest have migrated, burnt out, or gotten very busy with their jobs and lives, though they are always there to call on when there is a need. The original group also believed very much in the process of renewal, while balancing a sense of continuity - and hence they actively tried to pick new people to come onboard, which we try still to do.

Also our focus through the years has really boiled down to Sterilisation. It's something the original group believed very strongly in, but we now focus on TNRM as a programme, and have pared down on other aspects such as adoptions and school talks, because we want to get TNRM as recognised and accepted as possible and that means focusing most of our attention on that.

So Happy Birthday CWS and we hope to have an even better year this year!

Net Scam Suspect took Animal Lover's Money (Today, 23-10-06)

A Happy Deepavali and Selamat Hari Raya to everyone!

E_cat sent in this article. Thanks E_Cat - it's about Adrian Ng, whom some of you may remember used to board cats in his shop before he disappeared :-

Net Scam suspect took animal lovers' money

Friday, October 20, 2006

Marshmellow Peeps cat


Marshmellow Peeps cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I bought this yesterday before the AVA meeting. This is the first time I've seen Peeps in cat shapes!

Update on cat that was kicked on video

Deirdre just called up with some news. She has been keeping us informed of the status of this case and it seems the police based on some evidence I mentioned earlier, have managed to identify the perpetrators. Investigations are ongoing.

Feeding cats upstairs

I spoke to this woman today. Due to her frequent complaints, the TC went down and one of the feeders called back but complained the cat still went up. I told the officer it would not switch its feeding spot right away, but that the cat would so eventually.

The officer said that they have decided to send in pest control to trap the unsterilised cats there. I spoke with the woman who complained and told her this and she said, oh that's quite sad. I asked if she did not want the cats caught - she said she would leave it up to us. This is the woman who was asking (and she STILL was asking) that we come down and regularly speak with the feeders, but when it comes to removing the cat, she does not want the responsibility. I told her that this is what happens when one complains, the cats are removed. I said I would tell the TC for her that she thought it was 'quite sad'. Not that it's going to help the cats in the area . I don't think any of them are going to die happily, realising she feels a little bad they're being killed.

I agree that cats should ideally not be going upstairs at all - and sadly, the feeders are really to blame in the vast majority of cases. You feed upstairs, and the cat WILL GO UPSTAIRS. It's not rocket science. I've just been given another two or three complaints about cats being fed upstairs and hence defecating upstairs.

If people stopped feeding cats upstairs, or letting their pet cats roam, the number of complaints would drop drastically. I think at least 90% of complaints I deal with are about this.

Letting home cats out

Anonymous wrote below that some people like to let their home cats out. That's absolutely true and a huge source of problems. If someone lets their cats out, they are likely to defecate and make a mess. So how do you stop them?

Anonymous suggested education - and of course that's good, but a lot of people honestly don't see an issue with letting the cats out. They insist that the cats NEED to go out, despite all evidence to the contrary. As the other Anonymous person who posted mentioned, even his or her grandmother felt that way.

Another group of people who do this (and I think it is a significant group) are people who do not want to be caught by the HDB ruling - so the best thing to do is to let their cat roam about. This way, they won't get into any trouble should the cat be seen in the corridor. Yet it can come in and out and be loosely 'owned'.

Views in different countries differ. When I speak with expatriates, often a good first indicator of where they're from is how they feel about cats roaming. In GENERAL, in England, they feel cats should roam. In the US, it's the opposite. In many ways it depends on the situation and what your home is like.

In Singapore though, we are a small country and we have an extremely high population density. People live so closely to each other - and hence their cats do too. As such, it is best to keep your cats in - it's the only safe way.

I'm still having PC problems today - hence the fewer posts. Someone is coming in to fix the Net connection this afternoon.

Abandonment

We discussed the problem of abandonment too yesterday. Michelle and I mentioned that this is something that really needs to be tackled to make the programme work. For example, if the TNRM programme is working as it should in an estate, there really ought not to be any increase in the number of cats. However, the problem is when people start dumping.

One of the officials yesterday urged us to get evidence to implicate the people dumping, but as I said to her, it's almost impossible. You find the kittens and cats - and that's ALL you find. Few people are silly enough to leave any form of identification (few but fortunately not ALL). Plus right now, how do you prove they do belong to the person in the end? Even if you can pin the cats to the family, they can come up with all kinds of excuses because there really is no legal ownership of the cats. THIS is where microchipping might come in handy for resident, home cats.

Now the current method of dealing with this is to remove the cats when they are dumped. This means though that every few months, some cats or kittens are taken away to be killed. Meanwhile, in a flat somewhere, the same mother cat is probably getting pregnant or getting ready to give birth again. Who is penalised? The caregivers, who are seen to be 'letting' the population grow, the TC who then send pest control down again, the residents who see more and more cats in the estate and the taxpayers who are paying to have the cats removed.

Who is NOT penalised? The irresponsible owner. He or she is the one who isn't bothered and quite happily leaves the cats downstairs for someone else to handle. Is there something wrong with this situation?

Now THAT was confusing!


Now THAT was confusing!
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Michelle and I went for a mediation after that. We were told the management of this area would not allow the cats back. One of the caregivers asked us to try and find out what was happening as there was some disagreement in the group on how to proceed.

We went down and spoke with the caretaker, who immediately asked where his cats were! He said he wanted his cats back. They had been gone for two weeks. He also called the manager who immediately came down - and he TOO reiterated that they wanted the cats back. Both were concerned that the cats had been taken away and killed. The caretaker also grumbled that one of the people who had come down had been rather high-handed according to him.

I told them that one of the caregivers had been worried that they would kill the cats - and the manager and caretaker were adamant that they wanted the cats. The manager asked why they would ask for the cats back if they wanted to get rid of them. He said the people in the area all liked the cats and were all asking them where the cats had gone. He said that the management were worried that the cats were reproducing, but that once they were sterilised, there was no more problem.

It turned out also that ANOTHER person had come down last night to trap the few cats there and had been turned away. The caretaker said he wasn't going to let them take more cats away to kill. After telling the manager I would get in touch and let the foster know she could return the cats, I left.

Almost right away the first caregiver SMSed. She said that she didn't know what was happening but she was worried that the cats weren't going to be safe and would be killed. I called her and explained what had happened. She said her friend had been turned away when she went to pick up the rest of the cats for sterilisation. She expressed surprise.

I have no idea how this could have gotten so confusing. The foster returned the cats and the manager was delighted to hear they were back.

The devil is in the details


The devil is in the details
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thursday, October 19, 2006

News!

Michelle and I went for the AVA meeting this afternoon, which only ended close to 6. Unfortunately my PC is down so I'm borrowing someone's PC to post this!

The AVA has told us that it is okay to inform caregivers of the following. Firstly, they are supporting Sterilisation as one of the means of controlling the community cat population. They have letters that they have written to the town councils to state this. However, they will not SEND those letters till the TCs ask for them. So you may need to ask your TC to request the letter.

Secondly, they will be subsidising a certain amount for each cat sterilisation, subject to a limit. This limit is to be decided I believe in conjunction with the TC and the caregivers as well. The details have not all been firmed up yet and they will need to work it out with the TC. The TCs must also AGREE to be on this programme in order for you, the caregiver, to be allowed to claim the amount subsidised. If you want your TC to be on this programme, you should let your TC know so that when AVA contacts them, they will have taken into consideration what you want.

Exciting news no?

Sign outside complainant's house


Sign outside complainant's house
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This guy is the one who complained about the cat - and this is the sign I snapped outside his house the other day because I thought it was a rather unusual notice (it's signed "Petrified resident" for one).I should add it was a narrow, quiet corridor which is not accessible by the lift. There are three units in a corner.

He just wrote again to say that he wants to know if the right cat was removed. He said that he thought he saw the cat last night but was standing too far away and did not want to go and check. Also, he wants to know what will happen if the cat is returned to the area. He said he wants to be 100% sure that he can walk safely in the area with his dog.

I told him that HE is the only one who can tell us if it is the same cat. I said for example if he had been robbed, he cannot ask the police to take everyone away because they sort of look like the person he suspects. I said we had gone one step further and the cat HAD been removed.

I also told him if for example, his dog had been accused of biting someone, would he just submit and let his dog be taken because someone thought all dogs of his breed look alike?

I spoke with the TC officer as well. One of the officers had in fact arranged for pest control to round up the cats. Luckily, the other officer intervened and let the volunteers and ourselves take over the matter first.

Meeting at AVA this afternoon

Michelle and I are meeting with the AVA this afternoon. After sending a number of emails to ask about the follow up to this meeting, they contacted us on Tuesday and said that they can meet us this afternoon.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Can you investigate if it's the same cat?


Cat that was removed
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This guy just called me a short while ago. He wanted to know if the caregivers or I had been threatened by the residents - I told him that no one had been threatened as they knew we were trying to help the cat. They were just concerned that the cat was going to be removed and upset about that. I said this was a cat that most of the neighbourhood seemed very fond of and they were upset it was being taken away.

He says now that he feels guilty in case he asked for the wrong cat to be taken away. So I asked if he happened to be able to tell - he said that he's not sure as cats look the same to him. He said the body shape and the colour looked right, but he wasn't sure.

I asked him if the cat was still in the vicinity then. However he has not walked by there since the attack so he can't say.

He asked if any of the residents I spoke to were able to identify the cat. I said the ones I spoke with said that they did not see the attack - and they said anyway that if cats do scratch a dog, it's probably because the dog got unwittingly too close. They said just as a dog might snap at a cat, the cat might scratch a dog. So they didn't think it was a big issue.

He asked if I can possibly dig deeper. He is convinced the cafe owner on the corner MAY have called the cat by name - he said he heard the man yell something in Malay which he thinks was the cat's name. I said perhaps he was yelling stop. He said that he knew the word for stop - and when he told it to me, he had the wrong word.

At the end he said he realised there was nothing much else that can be done then. I am glad though that he feels guilty, but you can't have it both ways - either the cat is removed or it stays. You can't have it removed and want to feel good about it too.

Illegal?

I just spoke with one of the complainants who said the people in her block are STILL feeding the cats upstairs. She said after i went down, it stopped for a while, but it's started up again. She wants to know which other 'authority' she can go to.

I told her at the end of the day, there IS no other authority because what the people are doing isn't actually illegal. It's irresponsible yes, it's inconsiderate to the neighbours but it isn't WRONG. I asked her if there was littering - she does not think so. So what law are they breaking?

Update on 'cat attack'

This guy wrote back and said that he wasn't sure if it was the same cat or not. He said that all the cats in the area look the same to him. He said though that since the cat has been removed, he thinks the problem will stop.

He also wanted to know if the store holder whom he fingered as the possible owner was mad with him as he is a bit scared to walk by. I told him as far as I knew, quite a few residents were quite annoyed and that the volunteer faced resistance removing the cat.

Cat House sold out


Cat House sold out
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This just in from a volunteer at Ikea - the cat house is all sold out at the moment.

Update on the girl on radio

Just managed to reach the VP of the school this girl is in as the Principal was in a meeting. They said they have counselled the girl yesterday. According to one of the VPs whom I spoke with, she said that she had meant to finish off her story by explaining how this was about the folly of childhood and how people should mature since then. I told the VP that I did notice however that the girl was a bit rambling in her speech - though the VP did put it down to being on live radio which is possible. I felt (and of course I'm not a psychologist) that everyone rambles on sometimes, but that this girl seemed to make strange leaps from thought to thought.

She also said that the girl did also want some attention. She mentioned that she will be seeing the school counsellor.

I asked if the welfare groups could help in any way and if we can help with the counselling. She said that she thought the school could handle it and they wanted to instill a sense of responsibility and consequences in the girl.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Updates

Some updates - the cats in a cage were released from the vet today and have gone into foster care. Two people have expressed interest and one is discussing it with her husband, according to one of the caregivers. Another woman wrote in and said one of the cats looked like her lost cat. The foster says they are very sweet and will make lovely adoptive pets, so if you know anyone who might want to adopt them, do drop me a line! Let's hope there is a happy ending to this story.

As for finding the culprit, Deirdre from SPCA emailed me today to say the police are proceeding in their investigations and have some good leads from what was found that day.

Also, I called the school involved about the girl who said she abused a cat on radio. My emails went unanswered so I called today but the Principal was in a meeting the first two times I called. The last time, no one picked up. Will try again tomorrow.

Changing his mind

How strange - I spoke with this man last night and it seemed that he wasn't willing to change his feeding route. However the volunteer spoke with him this morning. It seemed he was very pleased I had called, and that after thinking about it, he has decided to change his route after all! I was most pleased to hear about it.

Yahoo Time Capsule

Have you heard of the Yahoo Time Capsule? The idea is to capture things that represent us and it'll be a time capsule for future generations to know what living in our time was like. There are just over three weeks more to contribute.

Here's my contribution :-

Faith - Sterilisation

If you do take part, please do leave a link here - I'd love to see what you added.

People who want to take in cats

Someone called up a little while ago asking if we were the animal lovers group. I said that we weren't, and he was a bit taken aback, before asking if we were Cat Welfare Department. He wanted to know if we could come and take the cats away from his condominium because they were causing a nuisance. He said numerous people were feeding them, and that it was causing a problem for them. The cats were making noise at night.

I explained the vacuum effect and while removing the cats would not help, sterilising and managing them would. He said it sounded like there was no choice, and said of course there was a choice but there was no more effective or long term solution.

He thought about it and then asked if we knew animal lovers, who would love to take in these cats and brush and keep them and make them look nice. He said he knew that there were such people around. I told him we didn't, and even if there were any, new cats would move in anyway.

It surprises me that some people think that there are people rushing out to take other peoples' cats in. If you look around, clearly you would see that there are lots of cats around - why would they come and take yours? Plus, anyone who wants to take in tons and tons of cats probably isn't the best person equipped to do so - they probably have an issue with hoarding. It's just comforting to think someone else will take care of your problem - and even nicer to think you're somehow doing them a favour too perhaps.

REACH

Most of you have probably heard about the Feedback Unit. You may have also seen their recent article in the papers about how they're going online and via phone in an attempt to get more Singaporeans to get involved. I was speaking with Louis the other day, and he mentioned that he had sent in some feedback and they did get a pretty positive response.

So here's one more avenue to have your views on the community cat situation heard. Here's the address : - REACH. The website doesn't seem to be working very well though. After clicking around a while, I ended up calling them, and they said to just write in to the main email address.

TC sign


TC sign
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

When I was at the TC yesterday, I saw this sign. Wouldn't it be great if they had one for Responsible Feeding and Management? The TCs are concerned this may show that they 'encourage' cat feeding, but by not taking a stance about this, I think the converse is actually happening.

Asking the management first

The woman who wanted CWS to speak with the management emailed again this morning. It appears she isn't the caregiver in the area, but is trapping them, she says with the help of a friend. She is now concerned that if they are put back, the cats may be caught.

The main thing to ask is WHY you are trapping and sterilising the cats. If your main aim is to prevent the cats from being caught, then sterilising them first without speaking to the management may mean that you are in for a rude shock. The management may vehemently deny that the cats can stay. If you don't live there, or work there, they have no reason to listen to you. To find this out, after you have sterilised the cats is going to be too late. Plus, even if you remove the cats, this means you save this present lot of cats - what about the others that will move in due to the vacuum effect? There is no way to remove them all.

If your main aim is to stop the cats from reproducing and if you think that in the long run, less cats die anyway, some people continue working in areas with unsupportive management. However, this does mean that every few months, the cats you sterilised may disappear. Most people are unwilling or unable to do this, and that's perfectly understandable.

Given finite resources, time and money, I would actually suggest working in areas with supportive management. It's good to see that the colony is protected, that new cats stop coming in, and that the programme is working. Having the existing cats removed is very disheartening.

So how do you prevent this? Speak to the management as early as possible. You may want to do a few cats first to show you're serious, but the main thing is to outline your programme and see if they are receptive in the first time. If they aren't, consider your options and see if working on another colony may be a better use of your time and effort.

Email up!

Email is back up. It's fine to email us at our normal account now!

Experience

Looks like the email and website are down again this morning. I've been trying for a while but can't seem to access the website. In the meantime, I've sent up a gmail account for you to write to if you can't get through to us - it's catwelfare@gmail.com. I'll let you know to stop sending to this account once our normal email is up because I won't be checking this normally.

Last night I was speaking with some people which led me to consider experience in being a caregiver. One woman I spoke with is an experienced caregiver. She mentioned she has been helping a younger woman trap and sterilise the cats in an area. Unfortunately there is some question on whether it will be safe to return the cats. The young woman is quite adamant about getting CWS to speak with the management, but the more experienced caregiver had the same worry I did, which was that it might bring the attention of the management to the area especially when neither of these ladies were residents or tenants in this area.

If you don't live or work there, the management may not particularly care that you are prepared to run a programme there. Their immediate reaction may be to respond to complaints or perceived complaints - and if you are not someone who has a stake in the place, so to speak, they may not be bothered with you. In that case, drawing their attention to the cats may be in effect signing a death warrant on them. It's usually for this reason we ask people to sound out management BEFORE they start a TNRM programme - unless you're quite prepared to have management come and trap at some point, knowing that you are controlling the population anyway. If you want to protect the lot of cats you are sterilising however, then it is best to find out from the management what their stance is - and then decide if you want to carry out TNRM in this area, or somewhere else where the management is more supportive.

The other man I spoke with last night said he was an experienced feeder. He says he has been feeding there for 10 years. Apparently, they have been having complaints in the area for the past year and a new caregiver has been trying to handle it. She has been trying to persuade this man to change his feeding spot so that the cats will be less obvious. This man told me that he had lots of experience, not like the new caregiver who had 'only' been helping out for the last year or two. When I explained that he could change his feeding spot,he said it can't be done - he tried for a week (which isn't usually long enough from speaking with other caregivers who have successfully done it) and that was it. When I asked him to please try a bit longer, he said he didn't want to look after so many cats, perhaps the TC could come and remove some, and that he didn't want to feed anymore.

It made me realise that experience isn't everything - of course people with a lot of experience can share their wealth of knowledge. The more important thing is to realise that people must be willing to not be dogmatic and insist their way is the only way, and the only RIGHT way - experience notwithstanding.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Caregivers in Hougang?

I went down and did a presentation for a town council. Almost twenty TC officers attending the meeting. The sad thing is that there are only 5 or 6 caregivers in the area and it's quite a large area. They're quite keen to start up cat cafes and to have a more organised programme. The problem is that while we've been trying to find volunteers we haven't been very successful. Anyone on this board care for community cats in Hougang? It does criss-cross three different town councils but we're hoping to find people who are within this precint.

Hazy


Hazy
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

On the way to the TC meeting, I snapped this photo. It's hazy out today everyone as you probably all already know. Stay in and drink lots of fluids.

TC Meeting

Going for a TC meeting now.

How does one prevent abuse?

The caregiver I spoke to yesterday asked me this question - and I realised we've been asked this a lot by the media and by people who are genuinely concerned about animal abuse. As I was thinking about it though, you CAN'T prevent abuse. The best thing we can do is to keep the population down through sterilisation.

Education is touted as being important, and of course it is, but at the same time, often what is overlooked, is that abuse is an act of violence. Now lots of people may not particularly like cats, but few of them will bash them senseless and torture them either. Most of these same people would find the idea of killing cats abhorrent. If you DON'T find it abhorrent that violence and torture are being perpetrated, then what will education do?

Think about it - why do murders occur? No one however suggests we 'educate' people not to murder. It's a given - you don't kill another human being. Does the bar fall just because it's an animal? People argue sometimes that they were scratched by the cat - as if that's justification. For example, it's been found that murders happen more often during heat waves - and yet people don't get off just because they happen to kill when it's hot.

The fact of the matter is that abuse and murder share some things in common. Both are acts of violence and both result in painful, untimely death.

Cat abuse cases

Slept in a bit this morning as I think I've come down with the flu. I have a town council presentation to make this afternoon - was hoping to postpone so I'm not sneezing all over everyone, but think it'll be a bit difficult because 15 or 20 officers are attending.

I spoke to someone about a case of cat abuse yesterday in their colony. The volunteer told me that the other people who had found the body had taken the body away and buried it, though she was able to take photos. I think it's interesting to note that most peoples' immediate (understandable) reaction is to take the cat's body away and get it buried. However, when you think about it, if you came upon a person who was murdered, the first thing you would do is not touch anything and to call the police. The same thing applies here - now it's not exactly the same, granted, because for example, the police aren't going to dust for fingerprints. Some officers may also take some time to come to the scene, or not know what to do when they get there.

However this is where all those years of watching crime tv shows comes in! Take photos, don't move anything till you have documented what you can, and then send the body for a post mortem. Photos can and do prove very valuable.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Look who else got dumped with Garfield (TNP, 14-10-06)

Thanks to Vegancat for sending this in. As I mentioned yesterday two people did write in, which is great!



HE thought it was just a pile of unwanted items left behind after a spring-cleaning.

Dumped on the fifth floor of Block 578 Pasir Ris Street 53 were old clothes, bags, potted plants, household items and toys - including a stuffed Garfield (above).

Then, the fifth-floor resident noticed 12 pairs of eyes staring at him.

Twelve cats crammed into two dirty cages had been abandoned along with the rest of the rubbish.

They were not given food or water, and the cages were filthy with urine and excrement.

'I got a shock! The cats looked so pitiful. Whoever did this is inhumane and irresponsible,' said the man, who declined to be named.

He stumbled upon the cats at around 9pm on Wednesday night when he stepped out of his flat to throw rubbish into the chute on his floor.

He said: 'They didn't make a lot of noise so I didn't realise they were there.

'I spoke to my next-door neighbours. They also didn't know where the things and the cats came from.'

FAECES WERE 'FOSSILISED'

Tuition teacher Florence Leong, 38, who lives in a nearby block, heard about the cats on Thursday morning.

She informed the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Cat Welfare Society (CWS).

'It's really bad to have people who are oblivious to the lives around them. Abandoning live cats with old clothes is
sad,' said Madam Leong.

She added that the cats went frantic when they smelt the dry food brought by SPCA at about 1pm on Thursday.

'Who knows how long they have been stuck in the cages and not fed? The cages were badly soiled - I mean, the faeces
were 'fossilised'.'

She took the cats to a vet. Most of them had skin problems, probably from mites. Five had flu symptoms and two were grossly malnourished.

SPCA executive officer Deirdre Moss said: 'The way the cats were discarded is shameful and appalling.

'They were not only abandoned, but packed into cages with no room to move, subjecting them to stress and suffering. There was absolutely no regard given for their welfare.'

This case surfaced during the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority's (AVA) responsible pet ownership campaign, which began on 30 Sep.

Trailers with the message that pets are not toys to be shelved will be shown on TV until the end of next month.

Mr Madhavan Kannan, head of AVA's Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, said: 'Many unwanted pets are unable to adjust to their abandonment - suddenly left to fend for themselves, being exposed to fast moving cars and having to look for their own food.

'They develop health problems like malnutrition, disease and maggot wounds. In short, they suffer.'

Under the Animals and Birds Act, it is an offence to abandon an animal. The maximum penalty is a $10,000 fine and a one-year jail term. The police have confirmed that they are investigating.

Meanwhile, Madam Leong plans to house the cats until owners can be found.

Those interested in adopting any of the cats can e-mail info@catwelfare.org.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

ACRES Wildlife Rescue Centre

I realised I forgot to mention that ACRES is starting a wildlife centre. I'm sure some of you read about it in the news. I was speaking with Louis about it today and they sound like great plans!

I know that I've said that I don't think shelters are the solution to the community cat problem (though the animals in well run shelters undoubtedly have good, happy lives) but this is of course different. The main difference of course is that you can't sterilise a tarantula and release it back to the environment, because what environment is it going to go back into? There aren't any community tarantulas - they've been imported and then dumped and cannot survive in the wild, nor can many of these other animals.

So here's the link if you'd like to donate to the ACRES Wildlife Rescue Centre. If you do decide to donate after reading about it here, I have one request - do drop Louis a note with your donation and let him know where you read about it, so he'll stop teasing me about my blog :)

Friday, October 13, 2006

Food in corridor again


Food in corridor again
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I come by these blocks so often I should move in here. I went by after the case with the 'attack cat'.

Again, the same complaint - feeding in the corridor on the second floor. This time however, the TC was able to isolate the unit, and I spoke with the feeder. He claims the cat follows him home. I asked if he can keep the cat in, but he says it would be bored in the day. I asked if he can feed downstairs, but he says that the cat will surely follow him upstairs. I asked if he can not leave food out and he said that the cat would go hungry.

He did however agree to try in the end. He also complained about his neighbour's constantly complaining to the TC. As I was leaving, I saw him taking both cat and food into his flat.

Another person being complained about called on the phone. He said he could not keep the cat in because it is shedding a lot. As a result, the cat wanders around the 10th floor and defecates. He agreed to try and see if he can convince his fellow feeder to feed the cat downstairs.

Sleeping cat


Sleeping cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The same complainant mentioned that he thought some cats were not sterilisedi n the area. The TC officer explained the vacuum effect to him, and so he asked me to go down and speak with a family about their cats. The cats I saw though were sterilised.

The caregiver said they belonged to her neighbours she has told them to keep their cats in several times, but they refuse to.

This block though is a fair distance from where the complainant lives. The caregiver offered to give her number to him and speak with him if he had any queries but he declined.

Adoption poster


Adoption poster
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

One of the shops in the area helps a caregiver to advertise cats for adoption.

Update on 'cat attack' case


Update on cat attack case
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I've spoken with one of the caregivers in the area. She and another caregiver will remove this cat. Neither of them had any idea this had happened.

I spoke with the complainant. He asked me if it was the same cat that had attacked him. I told him I had no idea and that he had to look at the photos and let me know.

I said the cat was friendly when I went to see it. He said that he was surprised that when he went back after his dog was attacked, that the cat did not seem to recognise him.

What did turn out that was quite interesting (and may explain this) is that two different residents told me that some residents in the area like to let their dogs attack the cats for 'fun'. The caregiver told me for example that one of her neighbours had let his dog loose and it had attacked her cat. She said that she had never blamed the dog nor did she want to get it into trouble so she had not made an issue about it, but the owner did not seem very sorry.

I explained this to the complainant and told him this may be why the cat is aggressive only towards dogs. The people seem to have been scratched when they tried to come between the cat and the dog. He asked if the cat was attacking in revenge. I explained the flight or fight response. I said that if his dog was cornered and was frightened, it might try and fight back. He said that it might try and bite.

Hopefully that settles the problem. Sadly, this cat seems well loved by quite a few residents and now she'll no longer be there with them.

Update on the cats in the cages

According to the caregiver who arranged for the cats to be sent to the vet yesterday, two of them are malnutrited. Five are coming down with the flu.

The SPCA Inspector and I were supposed to go and make a police report today, but the Investigating Officer had just worked 24 hours straight and asked us to go down on Monday instead. Poor SPCA inspector - when he tried to put one of the cats into a carrier yesterday, it urinated all over him and tried to bite him because it was so utterly terrified. Good thing he had thick gloves on.

"My Summer of Love" Premiere

Don't forget to catch My Summer of Love if you feel like having a good time while donating to two charities on Monday - the proceeds go to AWARE and CWS. It's also a good time to see the new Vivocity if (like me) you haven't.

"Attack cat"?


"Attack cat"?
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This may be the supposed attack cat. I spoke to a number of people in the neighbourhood and it seems that a LOT of people are looking after her and the other community cat I saw.

The TC emailed and said that another woman, also with a dog, had said she too had been attacked.

The problem may be that the cat sits near this shop that has a very narrow path running next to it. Next to that is a sheer slope. What I suspect may be happening (and what the residents around are also speculating on) is that the dogs may be walking too close to the cat for its comfort. It certainly wasn't unfriendly to me or to the half a dozen people standing and sitting with her.

Alternatively the complainant is not sure it is the same cat. His photo is rather blurry - and he claims the cat has no tipped ear.

Out for mediation

Out for another mediation now - someone complained yesterday that a cat came up to attack him and his dog. He says that he thinks this cat may have been there every day and he's not sure either what happened. His dog has a scratch and he was scratched too.

As I write this, the complainant just called again to ask if I'm going down yet.

Campus on 93.8 Live


Campus on 93.8 Live
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is the programme Louis Ng of ACRES and I took part on a panel discussion at this morning. It was quite interesting and the girls were by and large pretty enthusiastic. The theme was whether Singapore was a gracious society towards animals.

People were talking about different aspects, and animal abuse invariably came up. One student said she felt money should be spent on sterilisations. Another recounted that she saw examples of people being kind to animals. One girl said that perhaps people abused animals because animals had hurt them in some way.

The teacher on the panel mentioned that it was important to look at the motivations behind the abuse. One of the girls piped up towards the end though that she thought that people abused animals in other ways - through buying Lacoste products and hurting alligators. At this point, I was thinking that she was going to make a statement about how all of us are inherently guilty of harming animals in some way through buying products tested on animals, or something of the sort. She then said that she had never been hurt by an animal, but that she was an animal abuser. She said that she had buried a kitten alive, and that it's eyes popped out. Louis was whispering to me that this was a confession on live radio and many of the girls gasped in shock. One girl was covering her face. The girl however, as Louis pointed out, was giggling.

The presenter immediately said she needed help, and when I could comment later, I mentioned the statistics linking animal abuse to abuse against people. I also mentioned that there is a difference between ignorance and perhaps apathy, and outright harming an animal. I mentioned how the RSPCA sends in their officers with the child protection services because often the first sign of abuse escalating are animals being hurt. I added that anyone abusing animals needed help. The presenter also said that statistics have shown that people who abuse animals are five times more likely to abuse other people.

I came back and sent an email to the school. I'm not sure if this story is true (if the cat was buried alive, how did the eyeballs pop out?), but whatever it is, this girl needs help. Either she is so starved for attention that she makes up stories, or she's abusing animals. Both are disturbing - for the girl's sake, and for society's in general.

The presenter wrote back and said she had also called the teacher in charge when she got back and the teacher said this girl is an attention seeker. Now I've known attention seekers (I do remember being in school and some of the things some people would say to get attention, as I'm sure we all do). Most people though would know there is a time and place for fooling around and even making distasteful jokes - and not on live, national radio.

Radio show this morning


TKGS
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just came back from the Campus programme at a school. Something rather disturbing happened which I will blog about in a bit.

Campus

Another early morning because I'm heading to Tanjong Katong Girls' School for the live taping of Campus. It's apparently a talk show on 93.8 Live done in schools. It's on from 9 - 10 am this morning with a repeat tonight I believe.

Cat Toy in corridor


Cat Toy in corridor
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Last stop of the day - there were complaints about two different units in this block. One belonged to the person living here who wasn't in when I took this photo. The complaint is that he feeds a lot of community cats - he told me that the cats are sterilised, and when I first walked by, the door was open, but I didn't see any cats. When I went by later though and spoke with him, the cats started peeking out and running into the corridor.

I asked him to please keep the cats in. He said that he would cane them when they tried to go up- but only one does, or so he claims. I noticed someone had wired up the plants and even a child's playset on the floor above. He said that he would cane any cat that ran up - and he brandised a cane.

I told him that if there were more complaints, they might round up the cats. He blamed the number of cats on cats being abandoned there and said there was nothing more he could do. I asked him to please just stop the cats from running upstairs. I asked if he would consider fencing up the door but he was not keen.

Another person on the eighth floor apparently also feeds. One of the flats had the smell of cat urine but no one was home. I left a note.

Badly groomed


Badly groomed
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The cat looked badly groomed - in the earlier photo though you can clearly see it has a collar with a bell.

Why do people want to have a cat and then let them run all over and not take proper care of them?

Kitty Culprit?


Kitty Culprit?
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went over to the next block to speak with a complainant. She mentioned there was defecation on the stairwell - and indeed there was.

The complainant asked me in for a drink and explained that she was not against the cat, but that she was getting quite tired of cleaning up. This was especially as she was heavily pregnant or she would clean up the area. I took a photo of this cat which was sitting one landing above hers, and she said that she could not be sure it was this particular cat defecating (and she didn't want to accuse the wrong cat) but she saw this cat around very often.

Quite a few other neighbours confirmed this. This cat was extremely friendly and followed me around as I was walking up and down.

Two different neighbours confirmed the cat belonged to or was cared for by a family. When I approached them, they denied it vehemently. The neighbour below them though, identified the cat as theirs. She said it ran into her house sometimes and she would go upstairs and return the cat to them. She was quick to add this didn't happen often, and I don't think she had a problem with it.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Leftover Food


Leftover Food
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

After the cats in the cage were sent to the vet, and the caregiver and I had walked and spoken with everyone at home in the block, I went down to do some mediations. These few blocks always seem to have problems.

This complaint was about the leftover food in the staircase landing - I went there and lo and behold, there was food. I spoke to the person who is supposed to be feeding. He denied it but said he did know the cat, and that he didn't mind cleaning up the food whenever he saw it.

Video of the cats

Cats in the lift lobby


Cats in the lift lobby
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

You can see the cats were left in the lift lobby - and not on the ground floor either. It's quite strange.

Tray


Tray
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is the state of the tray which the cats were sitting over when they were removed.

Dumped cats


Dumped cats
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The fact that this person just threw out the cats, literally along with the furniture, was just worrying in the extreme. This person acts like the cats are mere commodities to be discarded at will.
The caregivers in the area who were alerted, SPCA and ourselves, as well as the police were all at the scene.