Thursday, November 30, 2006

People writing in response to Forum letter

So far four people have written in to mention that they have been having problems with cats coming into their yards. Two enquired about the Scarecrow. One mentioned she does not want to use the traps but there are cats coming and her neighbour is feeding. The last said she had written to the forum page. She mentioned she had already trapped 20 cats along with another neighbour but said it was a temporary measure and she had given up on this. She asked then if the cats could be taken away and looked after at AVA or SPCA because speaking to people won't help.

I wrote to ask her if she had indeed spoken to the people in her area and if we could help if she had. After all, as she herself mentioned, taking the cats away isn't helping.

It's good to hear some people at least are willing to try alternatives. I CAN understand they may be having problems and we're can empathise and are happy to help with that, but we don't think killing is effective or humane. So the problem continues, cats die - and no one is happy.

AVA's response to cat trap letter (ST, 30-11-06)

This is the letter which some of you already helpfully posted. Thanks!

AVA's response

I think CWS' email is down again. I've written to our webserver to ask what's happening.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

South Korea to kill cats and dogs

Sigh. Not again.

When they started killing dogs and cats in China during SARS, I was quite convinced that in Singapore, we would behave in a more rational manner and would not do something like that. Obviously I was wrong. When there is panic and hysteria, people just tend to over-react. Of course it is important to take the right measures to protect health - and no one argues with that. However, when over-reaction and hysteria take over, it's not just worrying for the animals - but for people too. It brings out the absolute worst in people.

South Korea to kill animals

South Korea to kill animals in bird flu scare

Note that all the medical experts say they see no reason to kill the dogs and cats. Let's hope that bird flu doesn't spread and this is quickly contained. And let's hope we all keep our heads if the worst happens and it does spread.

ST (29-11-06)

Responses to the article on the cat traps used in today's Straits Times. It's good to see so many people wrote in :-

Forget the Cat Traps

An inclusive society includes cats as well

Don't kill the cats

Keeping cats out of the garden

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

I don't know anyone's name

I just spoke to a caregiver who was ringing as I was checking my messages (my phone wasn't working the first few days but got hold of one that is). I hung up and called her back using a cheaper method, explaining it is costly to answer overseas calls.

I had spoken with her because there had been a number of complaints in her area but she told me that she only looks after cat that are hers.

I ended up going down to do the mediation and there were numerous people who were feeding upstairs. Apparently one of these cats was caught three weeks ago and the owner just told this feeder about it. The owner wanted to know why the cat was trapped since it was ear tipped. The feeder said it was unfair it was caught - the cat was just waiting at the foot of the stairs for its owner to come home!

The feeder said she spoke to someone at the AVA whose name she did not know. I advised her that it was important to find out the person's name. She rang off and then rang back. Repeatedly as I kept hanging up and trying to call her. She still didn't know the person's name.

Now she wants to get the cat back. Apparently she had gotten this cat sterilised. She said that she wanted to know how to do so. She was going to get another feeder to call. I encouraged her to call herself. She said she had spoken to the feeder about me but she didn't know my name either so the feeder (whom I know and who isn't very responsible either) had no idea who she was talking about.

It is important to try and get as many details as possible. If you call and say you spoke to a woman - that's not very helpful. It's best to have a surname, a full name if possible and a title too if you can with a direct number. You may forget - that's fine. It's okay to ring back and check. It's NOT a good idea though to repeatedly refuse to learn peoples' names and then have no idea how to refer to them or find them later on again.

Monday, November 27, 2006

The Cat Whisperer

We've just heard that the Cat Whisperer, the shop that sold only toys for cats, is unfortunately closing down. We've been asked to collect our merchandise due to their imminent closure and Marcus has just done that.

Cleaners

I just replied to someone who suggested that we start an awareness campaign targeted at cleaners working in HDB estates. She mentioned some cleaners are not very friendly towards cats and that one of the feeders in the area had been told to bring the cats home. She also said she had an unpleasant incident with a cleaner in her estate too. She also mentioned that this may be due to cultural differences.

It's an interesting point. However there are a number of reasons we aren't going to be specifically targeting cleaners. Firstly, there is the situation that most of them are employees and do what they are told to do by their employers - they may not WANT to trap cats but are told to do so for example. In fact quite a few caregivers have said the cleaners are the sympathetic ones, while the TC officer may not be. It is therefore better to target the upper management and try and get them to change their policies - as it is we can already see that sometimes convincing officer after officer is more time consuming then say talking to the GM.

Secondly while there is a cultural difference, I'm not sure that means that many of the cleaners who may be foreigners are therefore less feeling towards animals. Often the opposite is true. Thirdly of course there is a language problem in some cases.

I also told the woman that the best way to raise awareness is in a situation like hers or the other feeders, which is to speak directly to the person. In a situation like that, it is a great opportunity to have a word with the person and explaining TNRM and what exactly the caregivers are trying to do. Every occasion when someone comes up to speak to you while you are caring for your cats is an excellent opportunity to educate them.

Today, 27-11-06

Singapore's Animal Attraction

Thank you E_Cat for sending this in. Training of pet shop assistants is something that is a good first step in improving conditions for animals in shops. Of course it would be best if they stop selling animals altogether but this is a good first step.

ST (27-11-06)

Thanks to Vegancat and IwooiBlog for sending this to me :-

Control Stray cats but have some regard for their welfare

This is a good letter - and makes a good point. Some people who borrow traps are probably not doing the right things with them - and there really is not much we can do about it except to complain and ask the AVA take the trap back.

Plus of course some people are deliberately trapping their neighbours' cats knowing full well that they DO belong to someone - and that should not be allowed.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Inconvenient

Someone wrote in a few days ago and said that she was unhappy with a particular cat. She says she has a cat of her own but this cat is aggressive and has hissed at her. She says that other people are starting to complain too.

I spoke to the caregiver on record, and she said she would speak with her friend as she had moved out. She suggested moving the cat to another block.

I just called her because the complainant wrote in again today to see what had been done. The woman said that she did not want to move the cat now because they didn't do well in new areas when relocated. I told her I agreed, but if this cat WAS aggressive, it might have to be removed or relocated as this was what she had suggested herself. She insisted the complainant must have been feeding the cat. She agreed this cat had seemed traumatised of late and behaving unlike itself (which is what the complainant said as well) but that the complainant should not be difficult.

I told her we could discuss all the negatives and why this or that should not happen, but the cat might get caught as a result. I told her that however the cat did NOT have to be removed if someone could just go down and take a look and see what the situation was. If there was a good reason for what was happening, or the cat was clearly not aggressive, then that was a good response to the complainant. She said again she'd call her friend. I impressed upon her the urgency of the matter and asked if I could speak with her friend direct. She said she was having stomach flu and it was inconvenient for her to call. Finally I told her it was three in the morning for me and I was calling her from overseas because I really needed to get hold of the caregiver. She gave me the number and I spoke with the caregiver.

Michelle and Rebecca meet the TC

Michelle and Rebecca went to meet the TC in this case today. They were pleased to hear the TC reiterate that they wanted to work with the caregivers. The problem is that they have a very difficult complainant and an elusive feeder who has not turned up (even a week after the cats were caught).

The TC has agreed to help the caregivers find the feeder within a week. In return, they are asking that the caregivers will persuade the woman to start a TNRM programme. If she does so, any sterilised cats already caught would be released back into the area. If not, they cannot be returned back into the area but will be returned to any caregiver who wants them.

Michelle tried to tell them that these were essentially baseless claims but the TC said they had to act on them because the complainant was getting increasingly irritated and about to see the MP.

Strangely, one of the officers mentioned the 'pregnant sterilised cats' again. Michelle and Rebecca corrected him but he claimed that I had said some caregivers had cut the cats' ears to save them!

I just dropped him an email to say there must have been a misunderstanding. I said that it was likely he might have heard me say that many TCs think this because I am often asked this. However, I don't believe it to be at all true. Firstly, because a cat would struggle, scratch and bite if ear tipping was not done under anesthesia. Secondly, a caregiver who really cared for the cat would not cut off their ear without anesthesia.

Hopefully this will put the programme in the estate back on track. Rebecca is now contacting all the caregivers to ask for their help to find this feeder. Good work ladies and good luck to the caregivers!

Food upstairs


Food upstairs
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This woman just wrote back to say that she wanted the caregiver to come to her block and move the cats downstairs. I told her that the caregiver had come over to help earlier this week, not knowing that she was the one who used to feed the cat, and wasn't going to do it again. She wants the cats moved downstairs so they don't come up again. She said she had done it once but they had moved back up.

She wrote back to say she can see she's not getting any help on this matter anymore. I just replied to say that if she hadn't fed the cats in the first place, they wouldn't have come up, or at least reinforced the behaviour to make them continue coming up if someone else was also doing the feeding.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Pet therapy centre

Here is a pet therapy centre at one of the schools near where I am staying right now. It's a great idea because the cats are always within the school so they do not get stressed out from travelling to and from the school too.

School pet care programme

Window Display

Thanks to Littlestraycat for sending this in :-

Macy's window

It seems that this is the 20th year that they have done this in conjunction with the San Francisco SPCA - all the cats in the windows are up for adoption. What a lovely idea!

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

First you feed.....

Someone wrote to say there is a mother cat and kittens outside her home. She has been writing to ask if someone can take them away. I asked if anyone had been feeding the cats and in her email that just came in it appears that the COMPLAINANT herself used to feed the cat. Now she does not wish the cats to come up so she has stopped feeding - but the cats are clearly still going up.

I don't understand why people would do this - they feed because it was fun or made them feed good, but when it becomes troublesome, then they want to pass the problem to someone else. And this is a problem that was entirely caused by them!

Distrust

This situation is getting worse by the moment. I just spoke with the TC officer who wants the caregiver involved to write and explain why they sent an email out to the whole group. The thing is that the caregiver involved had written to the TC and copied the group in an attempt to find out what was happening. What the TC did NOT see was that there was an earlier email from another resident about the situation. As such, they think the caregiver who wrote to them is trying to 'instigate' trouble, when in fact she is trying to do the opposite from what I know and calm everyone down by approaching the TC directly.

The problem here is one of a history of distrust between TC and the caregivers (and one I can say is not undeserved). The caregivers are understandably upset another sterilised cat has been caught. The TC is angry because an email was sent out to them and not via CWS.

As I explained to the TC, if they will send out an email to the group asking mistakenly why CWS had 'approved' trapping in their area, then what are the chances they are going to go through us first if they have a problem with the TC? The resident who sent out the original email had apologised - but it's a big group, not all of whom are known to us.

I said I would be happy if caregivers approached the party directly first - whether it be TC or CWS, but we cannot 'control' the residents. They have a right to do what they want to do obviously.

The TC says they will go to the AVA and check if the cats are really sterilised today and will release them if they are. On the other hand, the residents are asking what is taking so long (since the cats were caught last week). One of them said that she wanted an apology from the TC.

I hope it doesn't get even messier.

Help my pet cat

Someone wrote in to say that they were in financial problems and he needed some help with his cat. While I can sympathise that someone may have fallen on hard times, where do you draw the line? Our main work is to help community cats. He asked for $200-$300 a month to upkeep his cat. I don't believe the cat has any special needs but the money is for food and litter.

One option is possibly to cut down on the type of food. Some people like to feed both wet and dry food. One possibility is to feed one type - that's likely to cut down food expenses and make it easier to manage.

While we'd like to help, how do we decide to help one pet cat owner and not another? Also, community cat caregivers need help too - and many of them have numerous cats to look after. With limited resources, we have to concentrate on the community cats with responsible caregivers.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

TC writing letter to say sterilisation works

Another TC just wrote to us. This was a TC that very early on had an officer who was trying to tell one of the feeders (who was admittedly a very irresponsible feeder) that feeding was illegal. Now after working with us, he has become very helpful and has even recommended that other officers within the TC work with us. He is also the one officer I know who answers emails even at night.

Apparently there was an article in the Shinmin papers yesterday about irresponsible cat feeding on the second floor.

The TC is responding but for the first time I can remember, they are actually writing to say that feeding is not illegal but littering is. Apparently they went down and spoke to the feeder and told them about responsible feeding guidelines which the feeder agreed to adhere to! They are also writing that sterilisation works and is proven to be an effective solution! This in an area where there aren't even caregivers sadly.

The officer sent me the draft to ask if it was okay with us. There was one mistake though - they mentioned trapping any unsterilised cats and sending them to the AVA for sterilisation in that area. I emailed to ask the officer to correct that.

HDB declined meeting

HDB just wrote back to say that they had just renewed the housing policy in July and hence did not wish to meet with us again.

I have written back to say that I hoped they would reconsider.

TC upset

I got an email from the TC officer in this case when I checked my email on landing. It seems they wanted to speak with CWS. They said they were very disturbed that there had been an email going around about them trapping sterilised cats and wanted to know why we had not contacted them directly. I understand the GM was rather displeased, thinking we had gone back on what we had said.

I told the officer that the email had taken us by surprise as well. I also told him that we had gotten our fair share of angry emails on the matter. He asked that I send him an email to explain the matter. In fact my email of Friday to another officer had gone unanswered asking why it did seem there was a discrepancy about sterilised cats being caught

He said he would look into it.

A word of thanks

I want to say a word of thanks to Webgal and Jodie. As many of you know, the entire website went down and we lost all data that was after August 15th. The two of them worked to get it up in record time. Thanks ladies!

Life (20-11-06)


Life (20-11-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

There was no wireless access on the plane (which I had been expecting) so was not able to post this.

Just landed a few hours ago. Unfortunately a TC problem has cropped up already. I just rang to speak with the officer and will post about that in a bit.

Monday, November 20, 2006

On No-Pay Leave

I'm off on no-pay leave till the end of the year. I will however be checking email - but will be in a different time zone so if you are calling and leaving a message on my phone or sending an email, please do bear that in mind.

ST (20-11-06)


ST (20-11-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's a very interesting article about littering in today's papers - and they say CATS are dirty.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Trapping confusion

Okay so here's what happened. Two cats were caught from an area that had no caregiver. Rebecca had gone down and checked and found only unsterilised cats there. As per the agreement with the TC which was agreed upon by residents and TC at the meeting, any unsterilised cats would be removed.

The problem is that one of the caregivers lost some sterilised cats (she subsequently found they were trapped, but not by the TC) and when she called the AVA, she was told that some sterilised cats had been brought in. The AVA officer had also wondered why sterilised cats had been sent in and the pest control officer allegedly said he heard that they had been given approval by the animal welfare group.

I managed to finally get the officer in the late evening. She claimed that none of the cats were ear tipped. I got another AVA officer just a short while ago and he confirmed that two of them were.

Now what happened? Instead of assuming the TC is definitely up to something nefarious, I think it's best to let them explain and see what happened exactly. When we hear their explanation then we'll see what the case is.

I don't want my yard to get wet

I just spoke with someone who said that there are a lot of community cats in his neighbourhood. His neighbour was feeding them but did not sterilise. He spoke with them and they stopped - but they don't want to sterilise either. I asked if I might speak with them and he said they are not interested. They kept saying these cats do not belong to them.

So here's the thing - the man who called does not want the cats in his yard. He wants us to come pick them up. I explained the vacuum effect. I offered him the Scarecrow and he said he doesn't want his yard to get wet! I wonder what happens when it rains. I explained this is a temporary measure - it's not meant to be long term, and that the cats would learn to stay out. He said it was too much trouble. He asked if we could sterilise the cats. I said that if he did, would he not trap them? He said no - he'd still do it.

Popcorn


Popcorn
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is Popcorn, an ex-community cat now living with the resident who asked me to speak with the management.

Cats at fence


Cats at fence
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just back from the condominium where we talked about TNRM. We walked around after and saw these cats running into the private estate across the fence.

Condo meeting

Off to a condominium for a meeting on TNRM.

Please check your facts

While I was out at Mediation yesterday, Rebecca called and said that she had received an email from someone to all the caregivers in the area saying that some sterilised cats had been caught. This was an area where there are no caregivers and Rebecca had gone down and ascertained there were no sterilised cats there. The caregiver sent an email saying that she had been told CWS had 'approved' the trapping of those cats though she wasn't sure about the veracity of this.

Now I understand she was worried and concerned about the sterilised cats, but by the time I got home, I got an email from someone who wasn't a caregiver in this area saying that another caregiver had said that we had given approval for sterilised cats to be caught, and wanted to know what was happening.

The fact of the matter is - we did NOT give approval and I have emails from the TC and to the TC to prove it. However, a rumour like that can cause a lot of damage. For example, a lot of our work involves trying to cajole people to sterilise and manage to keep their cats safe. If they hear of this rumour and think that we'll ask TCs to trap their cats anyway, then they're not going to want to sterilise or hear what we have to say.

In addition, the person had heard from someone in the AVA who had heard from the pest control guy. The best thing to do in this case is just to ask CWS directly first. It would have best to drop us an email or call us first before sending out that email.

We can also find out why there were sterilised cats, but now there's another SMS going around asking people to call the TC. After a while, the TC is going to feel this is a case of crying wolf and that this is a group of hysterical people who do not know their facts before calling.

Yes a sterilised cat turned up, let's systematically check with the TC why it happened first and then decide what to do. Having 10 people call up is not the best way to do this especially when no one seems to know what is really happening.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Spot the bowl....


Spot the bowl....
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Another complaint - and here's the water bowl.

See the cat!


See the cat!
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Brochure in door


Brochure in door
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The town council officer said someone on the floor had cats. I suspected it was this unit. Despite calling out that I was from CWS several times, no one came to the door though I heard a radio playing, so I left our brochures there and our flyer.

Defecation in corridor


Defecation in corridor
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Yes a pile of defecation in the corridor - and the cats downstairs were trapped. Guess who had a pet cat that was allowed to wander though? The people on the floor directly above - and the unit directly in front of this corridor. The woman on the floor above told me her cat had recently stopped using her toilet floor and had started running out to defecate.

The good news is that she did seem very fond of her cat. She also asked me how to grill the door and where she could buy it. So I'm crossing my fingers she will keep the cats in. At the same time, I let the town council know that these aren't community cats! So trapping the cats downstairs again has no effect.

Food in the corridor?


Food in the corridor?
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Cat on bench


Cat on bench
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I was out mediating in the afternoon. Someone complained of defecation in the stairwell - and big surprise - there were three cats sitting outside the flat of someone two floors below the complainant. The cats were all trying to get into the flat. The resident was not home.

Removing the wrong cats

Sometimes the problem is that by the time a complaint is referred to us, a lot of time has gone by and when we call the complainants they get frustrated and wonder why nothing was done. In the meantime, the town council is trapping the community cats downstairs - but the problem is the people who let their semi-owned cats run around! These cats are the ones defecating outside their neighbours' homes and causing problems.

So removing the cats means that cats are removed and killed, money is wasted and the complainant is irritated because no action was taken. I spoke with one complainant who also agreed after what I explained that removing the cats downstairs was useless in this context. I don't think he even realised they had been taken away!

Contact Magazine (November 2006)


Contact Magazine (November 2006)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks Tarsier Girl for letting me know about this!

A man with a heart of gold indeed!

Dumping cats

I just spoke with someone who said that her condo management had been trapping cats. I had been advising her to tell them about TNRM but she said there were other complaints. There will probably always be some problems - but removing the cats won't solve them. It's a question of managing the problem.

The management said that they were unhappy about the complaints, but assured her the cats would not be sent to the AVA. They said that they would be sent 'somewhere else'. The woman said she tried to impress upon him the importance of sterilisation but he would not listen. So she went with the pest control man and he drove her to an area where he assured her there was someone feeding the cats, and he released the cat there. She felt this was better than having the cat killed, so the cat was released into someone else's colony.

I told her that now we have an unsterilised cat in the area and it may jeopardise the cats there too. While it wasn't her fault of course, the management cannot keep dumping cats. She is trying to keep on good terms with the pest control so he'll call her the next time they come and trap the cats. Unfortunately as far as I understand it, none of the condo cats have been sterilised.

This is the sad irony. Someone looks after a colony, so when someone ELSE does not want to take care of their own problem, they just drive and dump it to a person managing their own colony. What on earth makes them think that the caregiver wants more cats? Or as is more likely, do they NOT think, and are just glad the problem is no longer on their hands?

Too many cats?

I just spoke with a caregiver who said that someone complained there were 'too many cats' in the area. She said there were 5 cats over two blocks. So the question is - what is too many? For some people one cat is one cat too many. In other areas, there may be 20 cats in the same area and no one is too worried - or worse, no one complains until one person moves in and starts complaining.

This does happen - there are a number of existing managed cats who have been there for years. The number has stabilised and some cats have even died. Then someone moves in and complains there are too many cats. The caregiver is bewildered as it has always been the same resident cats that have been there for years.

If you moved into an area and then complained there was an expressway near you, you can't then complain that it's too noisy and you want them to divert it from your home. Granted cats may not be a permanent fixture like the expressway - and you may not have noticed them when moving in, but in that case, maybe they AREN'T that much of a problem then. One of the volunteers has a good rule of thumb - walk around the block and see how many cats you can count in 10 minutes. That's a good rough gauge of whether there are a lot of cats there.

Also not to forget, when you move into an estate, there are things you can't control. Say you move in next to someone you don't like. You can't ask that they be removed - you just have to take the good with the bad.

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Website up!

The website is back up but unfortunately any information post August 15th has been lost. It probably makes sense to just try and update from today.

I have a right to complain

I just spoke to a very belligerent person who was upset about the cats in his area. The officer called me to say that he had complained there were always cats around. The officer went down to inspect the area and told me there were no cats there.

He said he was upset because there were cats in the area. He also said he had been calling government departments that were pushing him from place to place and he was fed up. He just wants to know which agency will remove the cats.

I asked what the problem is exactly. He said that the cats sleep on his car and urinate outside his door. He said they have scratched his car cover and this is the second one he had to buy. I offered to buy him a car cover and before I could finish he asked about the cat urinating outside his door. He said the car cover wasn't the point - it was cheap and he could buy a new one. So it seems he does not want the car sleeping on the car cover!

I explained that TNRM was a better way of managing the population through sterilisation. He admitted he did not know anything about cats. I explained the vacuum effect and he kept insisting he did not believe me. I told him there was no need to take my word for it, he could look it up and verify it independently, to which he replied he did not want to look anything up, he just wanted an agency to get rid of his problem.

He said that he did not believe in sterilisation to control population because just as they may be able to cut the birth rate of Singaporeans down, foreigners would come in. I explained that cats AREN'T people.

He wanted to know if we had seen the vacuum effect at work in Singapore, and I told him that of course we had. He said that he however had not seen it happen and he wanted a 'scientific experiment' to see if the cats when removed would come back in. I asked if hypothetically we removed the cats, then if new cats moved in, would he stop complaining, to which he replied, it was his right to complain whenever he wanted to.

I asked what the point of removing the cats would be in that case to prove the situation to him. He then said even if we removed the cats, human beings could sneak new cats in and he would not be able to tell as he cannot tell them apart.

He started complaining about cats in the area and said they were animals. He said if they were not at his block and even if they were territorial, they would move to another block. I explained that yes, he was right, they were territorial, and then again he said he did not believe me.

I told him that no one expected him to be an expert on cats, but that he had certain misconceptions.

He complained I was belitting him and said he wanted to know if the government supports sterilisation. I said they did. He said in that case, I'm right and he's wrong and there's nothing to say.

I explained this is not a matter of right or wrong but trying to solve the problem which we want to do. He said he did not want to talk to me, and that he would not complain anymore since no agency was going to help him.

Speaking to complainants

I just spoke with the woman who has calmed down and called me back.

She said that she could not mediate because people may think she is nosy. Also CWS has authority and can speak with people. She has agreed to at least find out the unit number and let us know which household has cats. I'm very glad she calmed down though I wonder if the initial upset (and possible later phone call was) due to the fact that one of her sterilised cats is lost.

I really wish that CWS had the authority people think we do. Quite a few people will ask if we're a government authority. Some treat us as if we are and then try and get us to remove the cats. Others just don't care because we're not in any position to fine them or take away the cats and don't want to speak with us. I cannot even count the number of households where people wave me away thinking that I'm trying to sell them something even though I repeat several times I'm there because their town council has asked us to solve a problem. Others bang doors in our faces.

Plus when we DO talk to them, often they don't want to listen. People feel that they have a right to put food outside their own homes on an upper floor, or it's okay not to sterilise, or they'll just blatantly lie that the cat isn't theirs.

If a caregiver goes and speaks with someone, chances are they are fairly well known in the neighbourhood. In fact, when the complainant knows the caregiver is a fellow resident, it actually seems to work BETTER because they know you live in the same community. This makes them more inclined to work with the caregiver, just knowing the person is in proximity of the problem too.

The English and Mandarin translation of our "Kindness can Kill" flyer is out. This is about feeding upstairs and letting cats roam. The Malay one will be done soon. If anyone needs one, do write in.

Cat on double yellow line


Cat on double yellow line
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this cat on Monday evening. It struck me again how well fed (and well kept) sterilised and managed cats look.

Trapping = Complaints

I just spoke with the second feeder in this area and she started complaining there was someone on the third floor who had cats in her block and this was probably why the complaints started. She said she refused to speak with the woman and she wanted us to go down. When I asked for the unit, she said that I have to go down and find out.

She said she sterilised all the cats for 'us' (I am assuming she means CWS). I told her that this was to be done for the cats and not anyone else. She said CWS did not help her with mediation - and I said if we did not know there was an issue, then how could we come down and help in a difficult case? Are we supposed to pick up her mental telepathy from her brain waves? She then said she only recently realised it was a problem. In fact, this is the feeder who recently changed her number and did not even give it to anyone. She kept saying she's working, and that she's done what she can already.

All the complaints seem to flood in from areas where there are feeders but are badly managed, which isn't surprisingly. These areas then threaten the whole estate because this can be seen to show the programme is NOT working especially if there are some sterilised cats and the person is supposed to be on the programme. Then when the complaints come in, they say it is nothing to do with them.

As in this case, the cats then get routinely rounded up. I asked the woman if she did not notice that the unsterilised cats are disappearing every Tuesday (a fact that we only knew when a caregiver from another area called to tell us about it), and she said she had no idea. She goes to work and she feeds the cats and that's it. Cats appear, cats disappear and she is blissfully unaware.

It seems that some people have blinkers on - they only see 'their' cats. Should anyone touch their cats, there will be hell to pay, but there are other cats, whom they may sometimes even feed, but which aren't 'theirs'. If those cats are caught, they don't particularly care.

In this case, the feeder only looks after her side of the staircase. She said that she does not know anything about the cats on the other end of the same block and they're not her responsibility.

I'm also writing to the town council to ask why these complaints were not referred to the residents. I was sent a list of complaints for the last 7 months that seem to not have been referred. Obviously then there is a long list of unhappy people. One of the feeders told me that they had mentioned some complaints but never gave any details. Coupled with a feeder who is not very pro-active, this smells disaster.

Usually when they start trapping, that should be a big tip-off. It might as well spell out in bright neon lights : complaint in your area, so it's best to nip it in the bud as early as possible. Ask your officer what is happening and then try and resolve the complaint. Countless cats can be saved if these complaints are solved.

Complaints about cats

It seems that everytime someone complains that the cats are being trapped in their area and that the cats 'never' give any problems, there is a fundamental disconnect happening. The TC has all these complaints and they trap the cats downstairs, while the complaint often isn't about the cats downstairs at all.

Meanwhile the feeder is aggrieved because the cats are caught, and the officer is trapping and getting more and more complaints.

Then the feeder throws their hands up and asks why they bother sterilising in the first place.

It's really important for this matter to call the TC and ask to work with them. At the same time, do expect that most of these problems will not be about your community cats. They are mostly going to be about home cats - but if you can solve these problems, then your community cats won't be caught.

One feeder I spoke with this morning has a number of complaints in his block - and he knows of a neighbour whose cat is let out. He insists that the cat is toilet trained, but two people on a floor above are complaining of defecation outside their door. Again, if the cat is out, it MAY defecate, so people who let their cats out have to remember this and keep the cats in. Not only is their own cat at stake, but the others in the neighbourhood too.

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

How am I supposed to know the cat will get pregnant?

I just spoke to a feeder to follow up on this case. She said they had sterilised two cats last week, which is great. However when I asked when they'll be doing the next lot, she could not say. She instead started to complain about the complainant. She said the woman should come and help her trap the cats, or pay her to do the trapping and not pressurise her.

I said the woman is not against the cats, but she is upset that they are multiplying and she said a lot of them are not ear tipped. The feeder then said that the woman was heartless and that she did not know how old the cats were and could not tell when they could be done. She also said the Heavens will know of the complainant's wickedness. I told her it wasn't going to help the cats much to know that since they would be dead if the complainants kept going on.

I told her that the woman complained there were kittens being born. The woman denied it and said it was not possible, but when I said she had seen a black and white cat, the woman said perhaps that was the mother cat.

At the same time, she mentioned there was a pregnant cat in her area. I asked if she planned to sterilise it. She said that it was pregnant and she could not get it done. She cannot tell how old they are, so she waits till they go on heat. Then they get pregnant. Then she cannot get them done.

I asked why she did not do just do it earlier and she asked me how she was supposed to know it would get pregnant?

Caregivers as educators

I spoke to a feeder today. The Anonymous Donor is helping to pay for the feeder but even so we're running into some problems.

The Town council wrote and said they are having complaints every day in the area. First the feeder said there was no increase, then he mentioned that there was an increase, but those weren't 'his' cats.

He also said people complain for no reason and that they're not being fair. He said the cats are not going up to defecate and that people should know that. As I said to him, how will people know this? They don't have cats or dogs, and they won't be able to tell. They see cat defecation on their doorstep and they see cats downstairs. Their reaction is that it must be the cats downstairs.

The feeder said that it wasn't the cats fault - which it isn't but I said we needed to solve the problem to save the cats. The feeder said that he tells people that the cats aren't from downstairs, and they should just go look for the cat defecating themselves.

I told him if we can help, why don't we? At the end of the day, we can sit around and feel vindicated that they are killing the wrong cats - but the cats are dying. I told him that we need to try and find out which cats they are and try and stop the problem. For example, I suggested he can use our flyers or go door to door. He said he had never done it before. I told him there was no time to start like the present.

Is it fair the cats are being blamed? Of course not. But if we say that it's not fair and not do anything as a result, they are going to get caught. Often people honestly believe that the cats are the culprits - so we need to explain why they're not and try and solve the problem. Plus if the number of cats keeps increasing because they are not sterilised (and he complained the other feeders are not doing their job), there WILL be increasing complaints.

If the problem can be solved, then it's a win-win for all parties. Town councils need to be educated that trapping will not help (as just happened today when it turns out the same complainant is complaining about the SAME problem again) but so do the residents. And caregivers are the only ones to do it.

Delay?

I spoke with Deirdre this morning about this case. It appears the officer in charge was on leave. Deirdre called to ask why we had been told conflicting information as well.

While it is of course understandable the officer in charge may not be up to date on the case as he was on leave, it is strangethat the whole case would grind to a halt. Furthermore, some of this information had already been found out more than a month ago. So I'm not sure why the delay?

MP wrote back

We wrote to both MPs mentioned in this article last week and also referenced in the article below this one on the blog. We enclosed our suggestions for town councils and on how town councils might want to handle complaints.

Mr Lim wrote back the very next day. He said he found some of the suggestions reasonable and would be speaking with his town council about the possibility of incorporating some of them. He also said that if there was a way to work with CWS while ensuring residents are happy, he would be happy to do it.

I wrote back to say that we hope to work together for a better environment for all.

ST (14-11-06)


ST (14-11-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I was really surprised to read these two letters. No one is being asked to take the law in their own hands - just to do their part for the community because it is OUR community

Plus the analogy between one of children and parents seems a flawed one to me - surely at some point we as citizens need to grow up and do our part?

It's also worrying that one writer suggests that it's too difficult to even remember the government departments' phone numbers. They are all available on the Singapore Government Directory website. Now it seems the complaint is even that it's too difficult to find the right person to complain to!

Shinmin (10-11-06)


Shinmin (10-11-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to Kai Ling for sending this in.

Monday, November 13, 2006

O$P$


O$P$
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

A sign in the wall right next to the unit.

Assuming it's the same person whose belongings were found in Pasir Ris (and the police officer told me today it was), and the cats were that person's, perhaps the person was in trouble and somehow had to get rid of the cats. Of course there are better ways to have handled the cats, but perhaps the person was desperate. Why the cats were in Pasir Ris though, remains a mystery.

Metal Gate


Metal Gate
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This door was chained to the rail right outside the unit in question.

Door


Door
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Since the police officer I spoke to confirmed the address I had today (there had been several addresses found in the belongings next to the cats which were dumped), and because the investigation seems to be proceeding at a snail's pace, I went down with a volunteer to speak to the person at the flat.

No one was home - or perhaps no one answered the door. We did however see a paint splattered door.

Investigating

I spoke with the officer again. Apparently they interviewed the person whose identification was found on site, and she claimed the cats weren't hers. I asked why her things were found near the cats. The officer could only repeat they were 'investigating'.

Update cats in cage

Remember these cats? I had just spoken with Deirdre last week to find out the latest because we didn't want to have so many people calling the police. We had been told that the suspect had been interviewed and they could not tie her to the case. We had found some information on the day itself that we passed to the police with the suspect's details right after the cats were found.

I spoke to the Investigating Officer today because one of the caregivers wanted to know if the cats can be released. She had been told that they cannot be released as they are considered evidence. No one has come forward to adopt them, and a few of them are still too weak to be sterilised at the moment and are still in boarding.

It turned out the officer was going down to the block when I called and asked me to ring him back a bit later. I just spoke with him a while ago. He reported that no one on the floor the cats were found on owned cats - this is something that both the town council, the first police officers on the scene AND the volunteers had already ascertained on the day itself.

I then asked him about the suspect and why they could not tie the person to the case. He said that in fact they were just sending a squad car down now to investigate the matter! He said that she did not live in Pasir Ris and when I checked the address, he was surprised I had it. I told him that it had been in her belongings on the day itself when the police had been there.

I am checking with Deirdre (who isn't in at the moment) on whom she has been in contact with. Either all the checks had been carried out and this investigating officer had no idea they had been done, OR nothing has been done for the entire month. Neither of which is comforting.

Cats in a flat

I just spoke with a woman who said the HDB has sent her a final warning letter. She has 18 cats in her flat, 6 of which are sterilised. She said she realises it is very smell but she cannot cope and that she wants to send the cats away, but she has no transport.

She wanted to know if we could take them in and I explained we aren't a shelter and have nowhere to put her cats. She said that she does not want to, but that she may have to release the cats. She said she would keep the older ones as she wouldn't miss the younger ones so much.

I asked her if she wanted to put the cats up for adoption and she did. However the deadline is today - I've asked if she can appeal to her MP for an extension and see what can be done.

I understand the woman probably contacted us out of desperation at the last minute. However the earlier you know you have a problem and assess the options, obviously the more avenues there are to try and sort it out. Leaving it to the last minute often means little can be done.

I realised she had taken most of these cats in because she felt sorry for them. Of course it's nice that she wanted to do something for them, but good intentions can go horribly wrong when not backed up. In this case, where will these cats go now if they can't find homes? She also said that she will soon be in financial difficulty and probably unable to upkeep the cats.

The best thing you can do when you see a cat on the street is to think carefully before you do anything. Is the cat happy where it is? Are you prepared to give it a home (and I do mean you, the person who picked up the cat, and not some potential vague person whom might want a cat)? If you are, please go right ahead and take it home and make sure it's sterilised and well taken care of.

If you aren't able to (or can't do so) and the cat looks happy, then why remove it? What are you going to do with the cat afterward? Here's the sad truth of the matter - most people who like cats already have cats. Those that don't, probably want a young, pretty kitten - and there are already so many of those who need homes.

The best thing to do is to get the cat sterilised when it is older - and leave it where it is. A cat that is in a home and then returned on the street loses its territory - and is often at a loss on how to survive.

Sunday Times (12-11-06)


Sunday Times (12-11-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Nice Article which Vegancat alerted me to. I'm so glad to see a celebritiy who has non-pedigree animals for a chance.

TIMOTHY, BANSHEE AND DUDLEY

by Melissa Pang

HAVING three cats for company is great most of the time, but it was triple the scare for me on one occasion.

On Boxing Day in 2004 when the Indonesian earthquake struck, they were all visibly tense and kept looking at the door.

I began to freak out because animals are supposed to be able to detect the supernatural.

A while later, a friend who lives in a high-rise flat messaged to say that he felt tremors. It was then that I realised that the earthquake was the cause of my cats' strange behaviour.

I live on a lower floor and didn't feel anything, but I suppose animals are more sensitive to such things.

Even without earthquakes, Dudley, the grey one, behaves strangely. Recently, he pushed the dustbin beside my bed all the way across the room, and left it outside my toilet.

It was baffling why he did that, especially since the trash was left intact. It was one of the manic moments that he, now 1 1/2 years old, sometimes has.

Dudley's very curious and affectionate, which is perhaps why he's the glue that holds my three cats together. Only he has the privilege of pawing or licking Zoe, the princess of the house.

Zoe's not in the photo because she's very shy. The oldest, at 4 1/2 years, she is my first cat and has been around since 2002.

She is very sensitive towards my feelings and knows when I'm down. She'll then come up and 'kaypoh' a little, or hop onto my lap to comfort me.

Being the princess that she is, Zoe does not like having Banshee around her.

I found him in 2003, on a rainy day in my neighbourhood. He was wailing loudly. He sounded very unique, so I named him Banshee.

Three years old now, he's the one I look for to play with. That's because he's a chill-out kind of cat with a very 'whatever' attitude.

For example, he doesn't like bathing, but will cooperate with me just to get it over and done with. Even if he isn't in the mood to do something, he'll just go with the flow.

I don't have a favourite, but there are times when I like one more than the other. It's important not to have a favourite, because, like children, cats must be appreciated for who they are.

Fly Entertainment artiste Timothy Nga, 33, is the host of Public Insight. It premieres next Thursday on Channel 5 at 7.30pm.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Finite resources, unlimited needs

I just spoke with a woman who called because she met someone who has been feeding cats in her area. She said the woman has a number of pregnant cats and one cat which potentially may have complications with the pregnancy. The woman does not want to pay as she said the cats aren't hers and that she just feeds them. In addition, the feeder is moving out in a month as the blocks are going to be torn down. She will not be taking care of any of the cats then.

I asked the woman who called if the feeder is in financial need. The woman wasn't sure. She said the woman is elderly, but she thinks it more likely that the woman does not want to pay. She does not think the woman will nurse the cat as well if it gets sick.

I told the woman that we would need to find out whether the woman is prepared to take on the share of the responsibility. I said if she cannot afford it, we can definitely try to help with the financial part, but what would happen afterwards? Who would be looking after these cats? And if this woman is not in financial need, then why are we helping her instead of some person?

The woman told me she wanted to sterilise the cats and I told her this was very commendable, but who will be responsible for the cats after they have been done?

Let's be very honest here. We have finite resources. If we had unlimited money, sure let's pay for everyone to sterilise and give the money to everyone, but we don't. In that case, our money can be used to help cats in areas who are being looked after by caregivers who ARE responsible for them and willing to work with the TCs. This way the cats will be 'safe' because complaints will first be handled to caregivers, who take care of the cats and the cats will not be removed.

We used to pay the full amount for sterilisation for everyone till we ran out of funds during SARS. Recently I spoke with a caregiver from one area whom we used to pay for. There was a feeder there who sterilised once in a while. We had paid for her cats to be done. At the end of paying for the sterilisations, the number of unsterilised cats was exactly the same! She ended up not sterilising promptly, not handling complaints and all that happened was that we were poorer for it. The cats weren't helped ultimately.

In addition, why are we rewarding people who DON'T want to be responsible? If anything, the money should be going to people who ARE responsible and have been sterilising - and that's where our reimbursement comes in. It makes no sense to pay more money for someone who does not want to be responsible, and less for someone who is.

Happy cats don't need Balls


Happy cats don't need Balls
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I realise I never posted this. After speaking about sterilisation today, here's a cartoon Mezzo sent in a while ago. Thanks Mezzo!

Here's one kind of Anonymous person I like!

After I posted this, an anonymous donor wrote in to say that he would like to help the feeder there with the cost of the sterilisation. The details have just been worked out and the feeder will be sending in 8 cats this month.

Thank you Anonymous Donor!

Helping irresponsible owners?

I just spoke with a caregiver who is telling me about a woman with a number of cats in her flat which she will not sterilise. She says she had done some for the woman, but there are more cats and the woman will not pay a cent. I asked if they were in financial problems, but she said the flat looked very well renovated and the husband definitely held down a job.

I understand the woman's concern and that the woman may dump her cats. However I told her that our priority is to help community cats - after all, caregivers are doing a community service by helping to control the population. Moreoever, these are the woman's PET cats - they are her responsibility and she should be looking after them and getting them sterilised. There are finite funds and so our funds need to go towards helping community cat caregivers, rather than people who do not want to sterilise their own cats. Also, and very unfortunately, there are a number of these people out there - so whom do we pick? Why this woman and no other?

Furthermore, what sort of message does this send out to pet owners too? If you are irresponsible, then we'll pay for your sterilisation? Responsible cat owners are going to feel cheated - if they are good owners, look after their cats, etc, they in fact have to PAY, whereas people who don't want to pay have their cats' medical needs looked after. How is this fair?

I told the caregiver the best thing to do is to try and take photos of the cats so they can be identified when dumped. She says that the problem is that the woman never opens the doors and windows. I also asked how to prevent her from taking more cats. The cats are also not fed properly and are very skinny from what she can see. The woman allegedly told the caregiver's domestic help that if they did not have enough food, the cats would just die. I told the caregiver this was a case of abuse and that she should be reported. I also told her that we'd like to go down and have a word with her. The caregiver warned me that she will not open the door - in which case I asked how we're supposed to get her to hand the cats over for sterilisation. She agreed to get her address.

She told me someone else in her area recently dumped some cats. The person admitted it. I told her she should file a police report. She said that she was worried as the person lived nearby and she might get into trouble. I can sympathise with that. I told her however that this person might do it again. She said the man is likely to go and take more cats home and then dump them again when they are older. I asked how we can then stop people like them if there are no consequences to their actions.

If one person is caught for abandonment, this will set a precedent - and other people will think twice before doing it. She said she will think it over.

ST (10-11-06)

Thanks to Vegancat for sending this in. I'm very glad to see this is finally being acknowledged!

Our authorities ARE very efficient - the problem is that as with a parent who bows to a child's every whim and fancy, you end up with a very spoilt child who cannot do anything for himself or herself except cry when things don't go his or her way.

This doesn't mean of course that we don't want the government to help people who are truly in need - but it DOES mean not pandering to every single complaint, no matter what it is. There needs to be a sense of ownership and responsibility. Responding to every single complaint and bending over backwards so that people don't complain does NOT foster this sense of responsibility.

If a resident comes to you with a stupid complaint, or something they can easily do something about, the TC or government agency should just tell them to go handle it themselves! That will make people more self-reliant, give the agencies less work, and actually promote a greater sense of community.


SITNews: Stop whining and whingeing, be gracious, MPs urge
by Lim Wei Chean



SINGAPORE is becoming a nation of complainers who do not take ownership of their problems and who are wanting in humility, thoughtfulness and graciousness to boot.

Dr Mohd Maliki Osman (Sembawang GRC) said the Government's famed efficiency in taking on and solving problems had become a double-edged sword.

It has become such that when lift landings are dirty, people call their town council. When they have a problem with their neighbours, they go to the Housing Board.

He asked: 'Are we turning Singapore into a nation of people whose problem-solving skills solely rest on the mechanism of asking someone else to solve their problems?'

And by making their complaints - 'giving feedback' - to government agencies, many adults are bad role models to their children, he said.

He urged Singaporeans to take greater ownership of their problems rather than expect the Government to solve them - be 'problem solvers' instead of just 'problem identifiers' or 'problem referrers'.

Their children will learn by example and grow up more resilient, he added.

Mr Lim Biow Chuan (Marine Parade GRC) also urged Singaporeans to be more considerate, humbler and kinder. Ten years ago, then prime minister Goh Chok Tong called for a more gracious society.

But this has failed to materialise, said Mr Lim, citing examples of his countrymen's boorish behaviour.

Calling for more tolerance and civility, he noted that people are quick to complain, demand their rights and condemn others for not showing care, but are slow to extend a helping hand to those who fall.

He said: 'What makes a country great is not just the laws of the country, not just the efficiency of the system, not just the meritocracy or beautiful buildings. What makes Singapore great is the people of Singapore and the values of its citizens.'

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Helpful police

We often hear stories about the police being unhelpful and dragging their feet when it comes to animal abuse cases. Today though a caregiver called me to let me know that one of the cats she had been about to send for sterilisation had run out and taken a fall. The poor cat was hiding and in pain. The caregiver's friend called the police when they weren't able to get the cat - and the police helped to get it and it was rushed to the vet. She said the police were really nice about it!

Hopefully the cat will be okay!

Feeder upstairs unhappy to be asked to stop feeding

The town council officer called about this case. It turns out the person feeding upstairs is unhappy and wants to meet up with the TC. The complainant told the feeder not to feed in the common corridor and the feeder claims she is NOT feeding in the common corridor but on her doorstep.

At the same time, the complainant is not a resident there, though the resident is also quite annoyed when I spoke with her.

So there are two problems here - the TC is handling complaints from non-residents. Assuming other people in the area are happy to let the cat up, then why should the non-resident complainant have a say?

On the other hand, it seems that she isn't the only unhappy one - and luring the cat up WILL cause problems. However the resident feeding doesn't see it that way - it's HER house and HER doorstep, so why can't she feed? She's not wrong - it's not illegal, but it DOES put the cat in danger.

TC has asked us to come along and speak with the resident feeding upstairs.

Helping to speak with TCs

I was speaking with a caregiver this morning because someone had contacted me about her friend seeing someone trying to trap sterilised cats. I spoke with the friend and the cleaners in the area had come down with cages and gunny sacks and were seen trying to trap the sterilised cats. However when she left, she did not see them trap any cats. They told her there was a complaint about irresponsible feeding - this woman told them that they were going after the wrong party, ie the cats, when they should be trying to find (and fine) the feeders!

I called one of the caregivers and she said that she had trouble showing the TC had been trapping the sterilised cats. She said that they had denied it and anyway, she said there was nothing to stop them from trapping the cats when there was a complaint. I asked if she had seen the TC but she said her meeting with the MP had not been very fruitful. She said that there were a lot of people who were feeders but no one wanted to speak up on behalf of the cats. Moreover they didn't know what to say.

It would be good if Mediators could also step in at this point and be the point of contact between TC and the residents. This would allow the more uneducated caregivers to make their point and also keep otherwise responsible feeders with explosive tempers from dealing directly with the TCs. At the same time, they need to WANT to be involved, rather than just speaking about how upset they are. If they're not prepared to help out and solve problems in the area (for example, by changing a feeding spot, helping to look into a complaint) then it's going to be very difficult.

Of course being a resident, the TC would be willing to listen to the Mediator and the Mediator would also be part of the neighbourhood and aware of the situation.

We are of course happy to go down and meet with the caregivers and the TCs if the caregivers wish for us to be there, to share experiences that we have learnt in other TCs and suggestions on how the programme may need to be run in that estate. Of course every estate is different and the programme will be slightly different in every area.

Marilyn asked if it would be possible to have a Mediation workshop. We'd be happy to hold one if anyone is interested.

ST (9-11-06)


ST (9-11-06)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is not a cat related post per se but I thought it was very interesting. Many people have contributed a lot about litter and how Singaporeans seem to be getting dirtier. However what I think is telling is the fact that Singaporeans seem to feel no sense of shame - and unlike what the article says, I don't think it's just the younger people.

The problem I think is not that young people are too pampered - but that Singaporeans feel they should be served. Look at the people who complain to the TC - it's the same phenomenon. People complain and want their problems solved - but they're not willing to do anything to help, even though they live there. Small wonder they litter in a place that isn't even their home.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Mediators needed

I spoke to someone this morning, as I mentioned earlier, who said that he had a run in with the TC officer and pest control officers as he suspected them of trying to catch some sterilised cats. There was some problem and the police were called in. I told the man that he should remain polite and calm at all times, and that if the officer was rude then a complaint should be lodged, but that he should not retaliate in any way. I told him that for example touching an officer, or anyone for that matter, could be considered battery. He asked what would happen if the officer touched him - and I said they would be guilty of the same. However for the sake of long term working relations, it's best to try not to provoke anyone either.

The main problem was that he said he might not be able to help with Mediations due to time constraints. He mentioned most of the cats are sterilised, but he might not have the time to help mediate. However I told him that if he called the TC, they are going to want to know what happens when there is a complaint and will ask what he wants them to do. The fact that the cats are sterilised in itself will not save them - the complaints must be dealt with too.

It's really starting to worry me that there are not enough mediators around. After corresponding with Calsifer and talking to Rebecca about it, it is really beginning to drive home the fact that we need independent mediators - ie people who aren't sterilising, but who will just mediate. It would be best if they live within the estate. I did blog about it in an earlier entry but I think the need is getting quite urgent.

The problem is that some caregivers are not willing to mediate - which means the cats are at risk when complaints come in. The other problem is that some caregivers CANNOT mediate though they are willing to - they will get so upset that the complainant will get upset too and the situation will quickly become explosive.

So we need to look for this whole different pool of people who are not managing colonies but feel enough for the cats to help with mediation. I'd be happy to share what I know and hold a Mediation workshop but we do need people who are willing to do the Mediations.

Cat for adoption


Cat for adoption
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This lovely cat is up for adoption at the SPCA. I stopped by to drop something off and he was having a nice little mid-afternoon nap.

Can I release the cat back?

A TC officer called. They had gone down and trapped a cat because it was causing problems on the ninth floor of a block. The cat was unsterilised I asked why she had not called us first and I think she was so new she did not know what to do. I told her that it was likely to be a home cat and not a community cat that she had caught.

She asked what was usually done with cats caught and I said that the TCs usually send them to the AVA. She asked if the cat would then be sterilised. I told her that the cat would be killed. She stopped short, and then asked if she could release the cat back then. She also said she would call first before trapping in an area again.

I told her we still need to find out whom the feeder or owner is or the problem will reoccur. She had walked around but said she could not find the owner. Unfortunately we do not know a single person in that area. Rebecca offered to go down and take a look.

The officer also agreed to hold the cat in her office to see if anyone calls to claim it.

Programme

Just spent half an hour speaking with someone who was upset some cats had been caught in his area and the police were called in. However he was very worried about starting a TNRM programme. Will write more later as I'm rushing out.

Microchipping and Minutes

Going through the Minutes of the meeting we had with the AVA again and making changes. As much as we love the whole programme, the glitch is the microchipping of the cats that they are considering as a form of identity and which we really do not think will work.

In addition, as Michelle pointed out the other day, it's antithetical to the whole concept of getting people to sterilise. For example if they reach the number of cats agreed upon, say someone dumps another two cats - then what happens? The caregivers aren't going to call the TC and turn over the cats. At the same time, in the past they probably would have gotten those cats sterilised. Now assuming that the cats, sterilised or not are going to be caught if they are not microchipped, then the caregivers probably won't bother. Which means MORE cats will be born.

I do agree that it is of utmost importance to manage the population - that's a key concept of TNRM - but microchipping is not the way to go.

One important thing to consider is of course abandonment and how to go about tackling it. One thing that I have seen more and more is how the HDB policy against cats in flats encourages semi-pet cats, which cause problems to other residents AND caregivers. Our last letter to the HDB in July did not get a response. I followed up with an email last week. Still awaiting a reply.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Updating contact details

It's a good idea to let us know what your latest contact details if we are the liaison between the TC and yourselves. Today a caregiver called us up to say that there was some trapping seen in another area (not the caregiver's own) and to ask whom was in that area. I tried contacting the person there - and the phone number was no longer current, nor was there an email address. I then had to call a number of other people to get the correct person. Sometimes it is a matter of urgency (ie the cats are being trapped) so it's best to keep us updated so that we can get in touch with you as soon as possible.

Having called the person, it turns out the person is aware that they were trapping, but he cannot get near some of the cats though he feeds them. He said he is aware that feeding them and not sterilising is a vicious cycle, and the good thing is that he DOES try to sterilise most of the female cats. However, he said he cannot bring himself not to feed - though he agreed this does make them easy pickings when the TC sends pest control around. He also agreed it does make it more costly because new cats are born and he is spending a lot on food. I offered a cat trap but I don't think he's very keen.

Botanics


Botanics
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

When was the last time you went by the Botanics? It really is a lovely place. I stopped by this afternoon to the Nparks headquarters, which is the Botanics to drop off some brochures on Sterilisation for them to use.

After that, stopped by a pet shop to drop off a cat trap. Someone had borrowed a cat carrier during Spay Day from the vet and did not return it. despite Michelle reminding them to do so. The clinic was very nice about it, and said not to worry about it, but they asked if they could buy a cat trap, so we dropped a cat trap by to make up for their lost carrier.

Errands

Been working on a poster to ask people to keep their cats indoors to keep them safe.

Heading out to deliver brochures and cat traps as well as dropping by the accountant.

Get together

It looks like we may have to push our anniversary get together back a bit. The original quote we were given it seems was for catering, and so we're looking for an alternate venue. We were hoping to do this next Saturday however, so it seems a bit tight. We'll keep you posted!

Under-estimating numbers

I just had a conversation with a caregiver about cats in her area. She told me that a few years ago the TC had asked for a census of the number of cats in her area. She was worried that they might be angry that she had too many cats so she under-estimated the number. I am sure that some people have a fear that the cats will be caught so they tend to under-estimate but the problem is that it may have the opposite efect - ie the TC comes down and realises there are FAR more cats in the area then was originally reported and ask why sterilisation is not working.

For example, in this woman's area, she put that there were 8 cats in the area. In reality, it's one of those long blocks, and she has 20 cats there now. Fortunately no one has complained, but if someone did and the TC came down to do a head count, it's not going to take a genius to realise the number has increased. What this is going to show is that sterilisation is NOT working - because otherwise, how would there be such a huge increase in the number of cats?

TCs will always come up and tell you that you should have a small number of cats - ie they normally will tell you that you should only have X number of cats in a block. However, if you let the town council know that this number cannot be specifically allocated, explain the vacuum effect to them, and let them that the best way to control the cat population is to let it even itself out.

Artifically setting the numbers means new cats will just move in. An area cannot accomodate too many cats once the cats are sterilised - even in a study done in an UNsterilised area, there was a point whereupon new cats moved on because it was too crowded, even though there was food (but in an unsterilised colony obviously to reach this point is much, MUCH later).

Not every TC will ask, but if they do, the important thing is to get your TC to be realistic. 6 cats ALREADY in the area cannot become 2 cats just because they want it to be so. Even if they do, new cats will just move in again and take the now empty spaces in that colony. At the same time, don't over-estimate. It could be doing the cats a lot more harm than good.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Guidelines for caregivers

I was speaking with Rebecca today and debating whether there might be some way to actually have some guidelines that caregivers need to follow. After all, if it's open to everyone, it is also open to possible huge problems.

For example, if someone refuses to mediate, won't sterilise, and then claims that their cats should not be caught, this is going to negatively affect another caregiver in the same TC who IS sterilising, doing a good job mediating and has managed their area really well.

Ultimately it'll affect the cats - if the cats are not well managed, the TC is going to start trapping because they'll say sterilisation is not working in controlling the population. The absolute worst thing that could happen would be that TCs compare the scenario during trapping, and after there are feeders in an area, and find that the former was preferable because it was better managed and there were less cats around.

So I've drafted up some guidelines for caregivers. Of course it's up to the caregivers in that estate to decide if they want to use it or agree with them, but it's a rough idea of what is expected. Should someone who has signed up to be a caregiver repeatedly flout this guidelines, and should the other caregivers agree, that person can possibly be removed from the programme so it does not adversely affect the existence of the programme.

Cat walking


Cat walking
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this cat when I was out the other night. I was very pleased to see it was sterilised, but a bit worried to see the screened up door on the left.

Sterilising the cats

Another complainant called back about the cats in the area. She said that nothing had been done since she called a few weeks ago, though she did note that there are less home cats wandering because the volunteer spoke with them. The complainant said she didn't really have a problem with the sterilised cats. She realised there will always be some cats, but she is seeing kittens being born and she's fed up. She also hears cauterwauling at night.

I spoke with the volunteer (whom was the same one I spoke with this morning) and it turns out she hasn't sterilised any cats since then. She said she's been busy. She also said some of the cats were too young - I asked how old they are and she has no idea. I asked how she could tell if they were ready to be done - and she said, when they go on heat. It's no wonder they get pregnant - and then she can't do them.

The feeder said that the woman is heartless and cruel, but that isn't going to solve the problem. The fact is the woman does not mind some cats, but she is drawing the line when more are being born. She is also wondering how sterilised cats keep multiplying.

The town council is going to be asking these same questions to - and asking if there's a point to having this programme if the numbers keep going up.

Dealing with complaints

Calsifer mentioned I sound a bit frustrated today and she's right because that was the first of two 'anonymous' complaints.

The second one was about someone who complained that was someone 'keeping' a lot of cats downstairs. No other details. I asked if it was home cats or community cats, if the cats were sterilised, what time the feeder came. The complainant told the officer he refused to give more details - but the officer should go and 'check'.

I wrote back to the officer and said if I go down and check and find no cats there can we then close the case? I said that it was ridiculous - after all, what was the complaint precisely?

I called the feeder in the area and she mentioned she knows someone who feeds there. She told me there aren't many cats there, but she mentioned there are two pregnant cats. I asked her if she was planning to sterilise them and she said she can't because she's Buddhist. I told her we did have a sterilisation brochure and we had spoken with some Buddhists about this, but she said she wasn't sure she could do it.

I told her that while I understood, the worry is that there will be more complaints after this. She said that she wanted me to ask the complainant if he had a father or mother. I know what she's trying to say - but I told her the complainant probably sees these as pests and sees no correlation between his father and a cat. In fact, he'd probably get insulted.

It's important to try and figure out what we can do to minimise complaints. Are you going to have to bend over backwards sometime? Yes. Is it always strictly fair? Probably not - but it could save the cat's life.

People sometimes say that they don't complain about their neighbours and the things THEY do. I told the feeder on Friday for example who raised this point, she was most welcome to do so if there were things that irritated her, but she said she didn't want to. The fact is - people complain. You can either complain back (which could degenerate into tit for tating) or try and resolve the complaint. It doesn't mean of course that if you have a genuine complaint, you should keep quiet either if you have a genuine complaint, bring it up.

It would be ideal if no one complained and spoke to each other about problems - but that's not what happening. So let's work with what we have and try our best to resolve the problem if we can. If not, the cats are the ones who suffer - not us, not the complainants, not the TC.

At the same time, the officers and complainant should be reasonable and we should not hesitate to call them on it if they're not. After I wrote back to the officer to complain there were no details, she suggested that she 'guessed' the cats might be defecating in the void deck. I told her there was no pont 'guessing' if it was something completely different. She emailed a while ago to sya she called the complainant again. The complaint was about noise at night and defecation in the corridor upstairs. So how was this about someone 'keeping' cats in the void deck??

Cowards

A TC officer called about this guy again. He's still complaining about the cats so the officer said he's going to remove the cats because there are no caregivers in this area. As Ginette pointed out however, they are all sterilised, and the complainant has seen a feeder (whom he claims he knows lives in an area nearby but whom he is refusing to help find as well). Nor was Ginette able to see the plethora of scratches he complained of.

The officer told me that he is quite sure that the cats will move back in. I said that I hope at the least he will tell the complainant that if the cats move back in, that they are NOT going to be removed the next time because it's clearly not working.

You know what really strikes me about these anonymous complainants? That they are cowards. They don't want to help solve the problem, they don't want to give their names. They want to just hide in their homes and make anonymous phone calls as they sneak peeks out of the window to complain about someone else. All the fancy (or in many cases, NOT so fancy) cars they drive are not going to make up for the fact that they are missing on an essential component of the masculinity they so seek to project - some guts.

What's Up (November/December 2006)


What's Up (November/December 2006)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

A writeup on Spay Day from the What's Up Newspaper for students!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Getting the facts of the case

I found out that the person who was being complained about was the feeder at the block. I've only spoken with this woman once before (and remember that I had quite a hard time trying to convince her of something then).

It turns out she leaves her cat outside in the corridor in a cage and that she lets it out. So of course the cat goes and urinates outside someone else's house and the person complained.

When I spoke with her, she kept insisting that her cat is trained to go down and urinate at a certain time, but she admitted it might go and urinate outside someone's home.

I asked if she can just keep the cat in. She said she cannot - it does not get along with her other cats and it does not like to stay in. I asked if she cannot put it downstairs. She says the cat is too timid.

It turns out she also leaves food in the corridor. She claims she normally leaves it in the cage but her mother will come out and leave food in the corridor too. The officer said it was quite messy.

She started complaining that she had been doing this for five years and had no problems and that the neighbours were horrible for not talking to her directly, and where now looking for problems. She complained that other people had plants in the corridor and it was messy. She said everyone was looking for problems because they hate cats.

Now I agree - it would have been good for the neighbour to speak with her directly. But the fact remains there is a problem. In fact, she didn't even seem very surprised when I called. So why not rectify the situation?

I told her we don't encourage people to feed cats in the corridor, and she said I kept missing her point. I asked what her point was and she said that this was HER cat. I told her I had understood what she was trying to say, but that she needed to keep her cat in if it was indeed her cat. I told her cats CAN get used to living indoors. She said I didn't understand the 'facts' of the case and that there I went again trying to tell her to keep her cat in.

She said again that she had been doing this for 5 years and she didn't want to be told what to do. At one point, she said to just take the cat away.

You know what? I DON'T get the 'facts' of the case. You have a cat. You want to keep it - keep it in. You don't want it/can't keep it - and you let it out whereby it urinates outside someone's house. That is GOING to annoy them. And you're putting YOUR cat in danger.

Plus it's also going to put all the caregivers in the area in a spot. She had signed up to be a caregiver. If her behaviour is seen as representing the other caregivers, then the TC and residents will lose all confidence in the TNRM group. A bad feeder can do a lot of damage to a programme - in which case it can be necessary to remove them from the group.

Poor Rebecca's been getting an earful from me about this - but it really, really frustrates me when people wilfully put their cats in danger.

Update on this - I just spoke with the feeder again and she has agreed to keep the cat in. YAY.

Medical costs

A woman just called as a vet had recommended she try and contact us. It appears her daughter saw a cat knocked down by a car and she wanted to know if we would take the cat. I spent at least five minutes explaining that we would like to know the prognosis of the cat - would it be likely to walk again? Would it be paralysed? Would she be keeping it if it was the latter case? Most importantly, I wanted to know what the prognosis was and if the operation would be a success.

She kept saying she did not know, nor did she know what the prognosis was. I asked if she could check with the vet and get back to us. She asked if there was another shelter she can send the cat to.

After explaining again about how we want to know what the long term effects are so we can best see how to help, she said that the cat had been hit on the mouth and the jaw was a bit out of sync! I've told her to send in the bill and we'll see what we can do to help. She said that she needed us to pay the whole bill - and I explained we can't commit to paying for an operation because we do have limited funds and we need to know what's involved.

This reminds me of a woman who a few years ago told us she needed help and it was a matter of life and death. She said she would check and said the bill would not come to over $250 and we told her to go ahead. In the end, the bill came in at over $1000. I told her we couldn't help - a lot of it was for hospitalisation. Apparently she just left the cat in there long after it could go home and the bill kept piling up. We told her we would help out with what we agreed on but no more.

That incident made us very careful and we now have guidelines on what we can and can't help with so that we can try and help as many people as possible.