Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Kitten outside gate

Kitten outside gate
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

There was a complaint about the cats in this house. This is one of the community cats there. When I went by, the adolescent kittens had all been sterilised. I did hear some very young kittens though - the woman I spoke to said they had all been dumped at her place of work. She is fostering them but will be putting them up for adoption once they are old enough.

She also intends to get all the cats there sterilised and her next appointment is in fact on Monday.


Out for another mediation now. Also going for two adoption followups tonight.

Dumping season

I was just speaking to some caregivers who were saying it's dumping season yet again. They think it might be due to the Chinese New Year holidays now. Another caregiver told me that she suddenly had an influx of cats in her area and she's wondering if they might have been dumped by pest control. She said they are so fearful they have run into the drains to hide and are fighting with the other cats there.


There was some alarm because there have been reports in the local press that H5N1 was spread in cats in Indonesia that were found in area with infected birds.

Here's an article from the New Scientist :-
H5N1 and cats

Here's what we already knew :-

Cats can catch the disease. So can dogs. So can pigs. So can birds. So can people. As I said in an earlier thread, I wouldn't be surprised if most mammals can catch it.

As such, I'm not surprised that cats would have caught it if they ate infected birds. Note also that these cats didn't HAVE the disease they had the antibodies to it. In fact, the cats were released back onto the street after they had been tested. Presumably it must mean the cats were all pretty healthy.

It also doesn't mean that cats will spread it to people.

In addition, read what Dr Osterhaus had to say at the end of the article. He said that killing cats will not solve the problem. He says that the impact could send the infected animals elsewhere and lead to a population of disease-carrying rodents.

Perhaps another thing to do would be to stop returning potentially infected birds to the people to eat!

Letters in the Straits Times

HDB should allow keeping of cats in flats

Don't be swayed by biased arguments HDB

Points made for banning cats misleading

It's not only the cats, ban dogs too

A record number of articles possibly! I really like the first letter where Ms Liew ends off with the bit about how taking away the cats is really breaking her family apart. How true.

In the letter by the person advocating the banning of dogs too, note the subtle racism. It's not that pet owners are irresponsible - no it's their according to her, maids, who come from countries where dogs and cats defecate in the open.

Letter in Today

Here's our letter in Today Time to cull those cat myths

There seem to be a number of letters at the ST online forum too but at the moment they can't be accessed.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Cat on steps

Cat on steps
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went by a family and spoke with them on feeding. The son admitted they leave some water out (and I was told by a neighbour some milk). I told him feeding was not illegal or wrong but explained that it should be done downstairs for the good of the cat. His mother came to the door and listened in. The cat was happily sitting on their stairs comfortably.

As I was inserting a flyer at the next house, the mother came out again and shooed the cat and stamped her leg to drive it away. Poor cat - one minute they feed it, the next minute they drive it away.

Kitty in corridor

Kitty in corridor
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here he is - the center of the controvesy. This is the cat that is walking around in the block of flats. At least two families it seems are feeding it, and the problem is that he really is very friendly. He walked around with me for a good twenty minutes and several people (both those who liked cats, and those who didn't) said he walked into houses.

He also can apparently take the lift.

Dealing with your TC

I just had a long conversation with a caregiver who obviously has left one of the TC property Manager's feeling rather upset. It seems that there is a feeder who is feeding the cats upstairs. The cats obviously then go upstairs and lies in the corridor. The complainant walks down the same corridor to take the lift and passes the cat. She said she is frightened of the cat.

The feeder in the area went down and took a look. Apparently, he said he left a note under the feeder's door and he did not see any cats around.

Recently last week, there was another complainant from the same woman who says the cat is still lying on the 6th floor corridor. Another officer went down and told another feeder in the area to remove the cat by this week as the complainant had said she would go to the MP.

The feeder I spoke to then went straight to the MP and said that he wanted the MP to tell the complainant to be more tolerant. He said that the cat should not be removed just because she's scared of cats (which is true). He also got upset that she apparently said people were feeding in the void deck and asked why that should bother her (again true).

I agree that the cat shouldn't be killed just because the woman is scared of cats, but we are all in agreement that the cat should not be upstairs in the first place! The feeder said it's very dangerous for the cats and is sure to result in complaints - and so instead of arguing that the woman should in his words, get over her phobia, we should try and find a way to solve the problem. He said that he was willing to concede that in some cases it may be a serious condition - so say she has a letter from her doctor certifying she really does ailurophonia, do we then have to get rid of the cat?

The main thing as I told him is to try and SOLVE the problem. If the feeder will just stop feeding upstairs, the cat will then go downstairs, and presto the problem is solved. As for the situation with the cats in the void deck, there is no issue with that and he might want to point THAT out to the MP instead of asking the MP to insist the woman be more tolerant. The MP isn't God and can't do anything about the latter, but he may be able to about the former.

In addition, I asked him why he went to the MP. This TC has been quite helpful and the feeder said he wanted to show the TC he's not scared of them, though obviously the directive to remove the cat came from a property officer - and not even her boss, the property manager he usually deals with. I asked him if he spoke to the manager to try and work it out. He had not but had gone straight to the MP to show he's not scared of the TC. He then called the Manager to tell him he went to the MP.

I said that it's important to try and build a relationship of trust. The Property Manager had been reasonable all along. Instead of going straight to the MP, I suggested he speak with the Property Manager first and try and work it out. The feeder said that the Manager would now be know they cannot be bullied. I said the flipside is that they may no longer wish to deal with him anymore on the more casual terms that they used to and be less prepared to cut him more slack as well.

If you are in a situation where the Property Officer is not being approachable or helpful, then approach the person who is their direct superior (the Property Manager). If they are unhelpful, then see the Senior Manager, then the General Manager. This is good for two reasons - one, sometimes employees work on their own initiative. This may not be what the people higher up in the TC wanted and to deal with it directly would STILL rectify the situation, but avoid the embarrassment to everyone involved if it was brought up to the MP. Two, it shows that you don't complain at the drop of a hat. You went through all the proper channels and tried to work it out with the TC before going to talk to your MP. It will contrast nicely with the other complainants who went down at the drop of a hat.

If you go down because you fear the complainant is going down to see the MP first but the TC has been supportive, then let the TC know as a courtesy anyway as it has nothing to do with them. Tell the MP the TC is doing a good job if they are. Explain what YOU are doing. Let them know what you have done, as opposed to what the other person has done. Actions speak louder than words sometimes - and if you have been reasonable, co-operative and helpful, that speaks volumes, especially if the other party has not been.

I just spoke to the Property Manager and said I would go down and check the area out too. I told him that the main thing is to get the cat down. He said the woman is in agreement that she is willing to give it more time, but wanted to know what would happen if eventually she got pregnant and the cat dashed out, scared her and she fell. Who would be responsible?

I said none of us would ever wish that to help, and we certainly hope the situation is resolved by then, but if it SHOULD happen, it's not the TC's (or anyone's) fault or responsibility. It's an accident, and the same thing could happen if a child dashed across when she wasn't expecting it, or any other unexpected occurence, which is why they're called accidents. He agreed.

Cheap Cat Food

One of the cat food companies has emailed to say they are hoping to clear stock of food which is expiring in April, May and June of this year.

They are as such hoping to sell the food off cheaply as soon as possible.

These are all Chef brand cat food and this is not in any way an endorsement of any kind of food, but just to let you know in case you're looking for food on sale, or happen to feed this to your cats :-


They all come in cartons of 24 tins. Each tin weighs 390 grammes except for the vitamin enriched salmon & egg and the Furball formula, which come in 185 gramme tins). Each tin weights $0.55 except again for the Vitamin Enriched with salmon and the Furball Formula which cost $0.30 each. Each carton is thus being sold at $13.20 except for the last two kinds of food which cost $7.20 per carton.

If you are interested please email

Giving talks

Someone wrote to me a few weeks ago and asked if I could give a talk on a certain date. She said she would contact me about the time of the talk. Since then I had not heard from her and assumed it was probably not happening or she would have contacted me to let me know what was happening.

She wrote today to remind me she said and she gave me the time - however I checked through my emails and as I thought, no time had been given in any of the previous emails as she mentioned she would be writing to let me know once it was confirmed. I have another appointment at almost the same time to meet a group of students, which is going to make it difficult to make both appointments.

Today (30-1-07)

We could do with less cats - through Sterilisation

Good letter. It also points out something that is very true. I would say the vast majority of vets enter the profession because they love animals. No one would like to euthanise them especially if they have an alternative. They found for example that shelters that had a policy of killing animals had a much higher turn over rate of employees than those that didn't. There was a very interesting article in Alley Cat Allies newsletter about this a while ago and found that most people either made it to the two year mark and stayed or quit before that so two years seemed to be what most people could take before they either left, or adapted. Many people reported feelings of guilt.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Another mediation

Rebecca went for a mediation today too. She said there were many people complaining about the cats (which seem to come out at specific times) but that she did not see the cat today when she was down (during one of these times). No one in the block seems to know whose cat it is, though the complainant is quite sure it is someone's cat. She also said that quite a few of the doors were wired up. I went by this same block back in November to deal with a different complaint at the time.

It may be necessary to flyer the block if that's the case and HOPE the complainant will call.

Spot the cat

Spot the cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this cat outside the shop of the woman who had been complained about. She has two cats in her shop but she lets them walk about on occasion and she also has some community cats.

She had some trouble trapping some cats so I'll loan her a cat trap.

I advised her though to please not leave food outside. She said that she cleaned up every morning, but I said that leaving food overnight was not a good idea. She was worried the cats might get hungry. I told her that it might attract cockroaches and the like, and that people would complain. She said that all animals needed to eat and her food was gone - I said the problem was that people would not blame her, they'd blame the cats (for presumably leaving food around)!

She said that she had told her neighbours if they had any problems to let her know and she just had a big argument with the management. She agreed no one would approach her directly. I said if she could help tidy the area and also not leave food around, PLUS get the rest of the cats sterilised, it would help tremendously.

TNRM workshop?

I'm just asking for a quick show to see whom might want a general TNRM workshop (ie not for a specific area)? Thanks to Lina, we have a list of room rental rates at the Libraries and we're thinking of seeing if we may be able to rent a room at one of the more central libraries to have a workshop. Would anyone be interested? This would probably be after Chinese New Year.

Feeding under a plant

Feeding under a plant
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I just came back from speaking to a woman as there were complaints that she was feeding the cats under this plant. While the food was in bowls, there was also fish on newspaper and she said she does leave the food overnight. She said she was worried the cats might get hungry and not have anything to eat till the next day.

Stop 'Rescuing' cats!

I keep getting emails from people that ask for someone to rescue cats. This includes people who say their management is going to remove the cats that they are feeding because there are complaints. One woman wrote in today to say that she is moving, the block is going to be sold en bloc, and the mother cat just gave birth. She wanted to know if they will be 'rescued' and removed from their mother.

The woman who is moving away said she had been feeding the cats but was not taking them with her. If for example, she could continue to come back and feed and more importantly start sterilising, the situation could be managed. I told her their chances of survival now without the mother cat would be very slim. She wrote back to thank me for the advice.

When I write back and say that we would be happy to talk to managements with the residents to allow the cats to stay and help them to start up a programme in their own estates, often though, the people don't write back. For them to 'rescue' the cats means they will be removed and taken somewhere to be adopted. They then no longer have to worry about it.

Rescue however is meant to save the cats' lives - and hopefully not just THESE cats but the cats that will surely move in after. Say the cats are removed. Where do they go? Where are all the adoptive homes? What happens to the new cats that will move in due to the vacuum effect? What are the people who started feeding them in the first place going to do?

If they honestly didn't know about sterilisation and management, we're happy to help out to teach them what to do. We are happy to speak with management with them and set up a programme. To expect someone to bail them out though (by taking away all the cats for them), or to send the cats to be 'rescued' in already over-crowded shelters is just not going to work. Nor is it rescue.

Listening to the talk

Listening to the talk
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The audience listening to Rebecca speak. Some of the people who came were people who came for the talk last week :)

Meeting with the NMP

Calsifer asked how the meeting with the NMP went. To be very honest, it was more just to give him information. He wanted to know more about certain issues in relation to community cats - how are they trapped, why is sterilisation better, is there a better alternative to managing the cats, how does one keep cats out of one's garden, etc? He is gathering information and speaking with other animal welfare groups as well.

I don't think that he entirely knows what he is going to ask in Parliament yet either. He's basically doing some background research and trying to gather information so that he is better able to speak on the topic he finally decides on.

We actually do have quite a few people come to speak with us because they want to find out more about community cat issues, besides NMPs :) We meet pretty regularly with students doing school projects (meeting some students on Thursday actually) for example, who may need more information for their essays and projects. Members of the public also write in for more information as do people who want to start up TNRM programmes in our estates. It's always good to try and share the information around so that people are more aware of community cats and the attendant issues.

Incidentally, if the NMP does speak up in Parliament on this, will not be not the first NMP to have spoken on an animal related issue in Parliament. Simon Tay was the first back in 2001 I believe, when he asked about cats in HDB flats.

Michelle speaking

Michelle speaking
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's Michelle speaking at the Woodlands Regional Library on Saturday. As you can see the area was cordoned off by a little cafe which made it a little noisy as a speaking area (though not as noisy as at the RC day last week! :)).

Today (29-1-07)

A whole slew of letters in Today on their Voices page :-

Do cats belong in HDB estates?

You have to download the PDF version though in order to see them properly.

Khoo Hwee Boon's letter pretty much is a head on rebuttal of the letter by Yan Wai Kit.

It seems ST is no longer publishing any more letters. Our letter was not published either.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Not solving the problem

I spoke to a caregiver today. A complainant had spoken with us about cats defecating in the block and they pointed out they were owned cats. Their emails to the TC were not effective. The caregiver went down and spoke with the owners previously, but apparently the problem has started again.

When she was down today, she said she saw one cat upstairs. The complainant's family member said that was not the cat that was defecating.

She said the most disappointing thing was that the sterilised community cats downstairs were no longer there. She suspects that they may have been taken away as the feeders in the area are not particularly interested - she was the one who had gotten the cats sterilised. She is trying to get hold of the TC to check out what has happened.

The caregiver said this was a problem in many areas. She said that the problem was irresponsible owners, but the community cats were facing the brunt of the problem. In addition, the complaints continue because the problem has not been solved! No one is happy - not the caregiver, the complainant or the town council.

Upsetting the balance

I just read this off the Alley Cat Allies website.

One of the remote islands off Australia decided they would get rid of the cats on the island because they were preying on the birds. It turned out to be a huge mess because then rabbits and rats started becoming an even larger threat to the birds. Now they're trying to kill off the other animals there too!

Cull upsets ecological balance


One of the new NMPs wrote to us to say that he'd like to find out some information about animal welfare issues. As Michelle, Rebecca and I will be at the Library tomorrow for the talk, we told him to swing by if he'd like to find out more.

Fish Surgery

Fish Surgery

Thanks Simian for sending in this very interesting video.

Two things I thought were of interest - you can catch tuberculosis from a fish according to the video. Does that mean we had better ban fish in HDB flats too because of the POSSIBILITY of disease? After all, maybe some of the water from the fish tank might accidentally come in contact with someone!

On a more serious note, it was interesting to see what advances have been made in veterinary medicine. It's interesting that in most cases, people would probably have been told to get another fish but some owners are going to great lengths obviously because they love their fish a lot.

Talk at Woodlands Library

Michelle and Rebecca will be sharing their experiences volunteering with CWS tomorrow at the Woodlands Library. The talk is organised by NVPC and a few other NGOs will also be speaking.

The talk is going to be held next to the cafe inside the Library and the address is :-

Woodlands Regional Library
900 South Woodlands Drive,
Woodlands Civic Centre, #01-03.

The talk starts at 2:30 pm so come down if you'd like to hear them speak!

Thursday, January 25, 2007


I'm writing out cheques now for reimbursements and have realised quite a few people have sent us receipts for sterilisations dating back a few months to 2006. We realise some people may still be confused about this, but we will only reimburse the receipts if they are sent in within a month of their being incurred. Please note this if you're writing in for reimbursements. The reason we have to do this is that if people start digging up all their old bills, the amounts we'll have to reimburse will be significant. I went through some of the bills and they easily run into the thousands. We can't afford to reimburse everyone that much.

Also a claim form does need to be attached and each form should be for a different area (ie if the two areas are not in the immediate vicinity please send in different forms). A form that has figures for both Pasir Ris and Ang Mo Kio on the same monthly report form for example makes it difficult to monitor the situation.

Cat guarding the door

Cat guarding the door
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Doing paperwork today and yesterday.

I wanted to share this photo I took last night though. This tiny kitten was being the 'guard cat' for the shophouse above. He sat most regal and impassive and was doing a very bad job of looking intimidating!

When I stopped to take a photo (and to talk to him) some men behind me laughed and smiled at me.

Singaporeans are picky because they're so safe?

I spoke with a woman today who had some questions about getting her cats sterilised. She had been feeding the cats in her estate and she said she left food out for them. She said that even if they didn't eat the food, other animals would, whether they be ants or insects, who also needed to eat.

I told her that it wasn't a good idea - I explained the cats might be blamed, and so would the feeder for littering. She said that she didn't understand why people would begrudge some other living things a bit of food, and that she often went to the barbeque area in her condominium and it is filthy with dumped bottles and all manner of food just left there.

I explained to her this might be the case, but people would generally feel that they can leave rubbish around - someone else will come by and pick it up (even if in the meantime it does attract cockroaches, ants, etc). It's not their fault if cockroaches are attracted to the area. However I said if there is a cat being fed, it immediately becomes the cat's fault, even though clearly the cat cannot have gone out, bought the food and left it after there after eating. The cat clearly cannot pick up after itself.

She said she understood, but she said that as a foreigner (albeit one who has lived here for 7 years), she had to say one problem she feels is that Singapore is too safe. She said she used to live in South Africa, and other areas where people getting killed or seriously injured was not uncommon.

She said that Singapore's safety is one of the best things about it, but she said perhaps if there were real problems to worry about (personal safety for example), Singaporeans would expend less energy on small things like whether there is a cat being fed in a corner somewhere. She said that it tended, she felt, to make Singaporeans very picky about small issues because there basically isn't anything more serious to worry about.

I think she may be right - and it also goes to show that we're very lucky and we're not always grateful for how lucky we are.

Cat with a rat

Cat with a mouse
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

People often say that cats do not catch rats.

I saw this cat last night and if you look at the photo, you can see that it's holding a rat in its mouth. If the rat is small enough, cats do catch them but if the rat is too large, obviously they may in turn chase the cats!

ST (25-1-07)

Two more letters, one for and one against. Our letter has yet to be published and I hope they will do so.
HDB should replace ban with rules to enforce responsible pet ownership - nice letter.

HDB should ban cats and dogs in HDB flats

People still don't get it. They argue against cats and dogs in flats even though they have no real conception of what they're arguing about. Obviously if cats are to be let in flats, there needs to be guidelines to follow. What we are suggesting is that cats be allowed in flats but that they must be microchipped, sterilised and kept indoors at all times, with a limit to the number of cats each flat can keep.

Let's look at the arguments :-

1. Dirtying public property.

If pet cats are kept indoors how will they dirty public property? As for dog owners, how about fining the irresponsible owers for littering if they don't pick up?

2. Noise.

Again why are the cats in the corridor? Plus if they are sterilised, why would they be fighting, and if sterilised and indoors, WHOM would they be fighting with?

3. Smell.

Only if the flat is unhygenic which the owner should be fined for. Plus is he sure the smell is from cats or were the people in the flat just dirty? I'm not sure what 'reported' case (reported where?) he alludes to, but I can say I've gone by some filthy flats and the problem wasn't the cats (there were very few of them), it was the owner's inability to keep clean. Even after the cats were removed, the place still wasn't clean and still smelt, because the person just wasn't very capable of taking care of hygiene and resisted attempts to help clear the place out.

4. Disease.

Rabies has not been present in Singapore for more than 50 years. As for the cat scratch and faeces, how about not touching the cat or going around eating the faeces?

5. Animal abuse.

So because there are more reports of late of children being raped by their step-parents we should stop re-marriage? This holds even less water than the rest of the arguments. Maybe it's the fact that people are so removed from animals because the whole place is so urbanised that promotes abuse. Having more cats around would help the problem. In addition, is he saying people who want to adopt cats want to abuse them? or strangers? If it's the former, I doubt they would bother to sterilise, microchip and keep the cats indoors. If it's the latter, how will they get to your cat?

Incidentally, I could very easily make an argument based on these five points on why people should not be allowed in flats if I wanted to. For example :-

1. Dirtying public property.

People spit and leave soft cans all over the place. If we allow them in HDB estates, they're going to leave litter and dirty the whole place. Worse, some people urinate or vomit in the lifts and staircase landings. Sometimes they throw things out of their flat, including hair, paint cans, sanitary napkins and all kinds of other dirty objects.

2. Noise.

People are very noisy. Some people have mahjong or karaoke sessions till late and it's very loud. Others like to turn on their radio or television to deafening levels. Babies can cry shrilly in the middle of the night, waking up the neighbours. Sometimes people fight in the corridor or void deck causing loud noises!

3. Smell.

People are dirty. Some neighbours not only have their flats in an extremely dirty state, they smell horrible. Keeping the windows shut does not help. Occasionally they hoard so much junk, it's not just the smell, but the whole place is a firetrap that can go up in flames.

4. Disease.

People spread so many diseases - flu, chicken pox, avian flu, SARS, etc. We should clearly ban them from flats.

5. Abuse

There have been cases of rape in the papers, as well as elder abuse, maid abuse, fights and even murder. This can only be stopped if we make sure that we don't let people live next to each other.

HDB flats are meant for certain humans to stay in (ie. me) and hence we should ban all other people who do things I don't like.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007


One of the caregivers wrote in and said there had been a change of management in the area she was looking after. She said that she had spoken to the new man who seemed to be in charge and he had something along the lines of the fact that some cats could be saved, but not all of them. She said that she was too scared to ask what had happened, and I can understand that, but it clearly weighed on her mind so she wrote to ask if I could help.

First of all, if something like this happens though, do ask - even if you think you might not like the answer. For one thing, knowing what the person meant is definitely better than not knowing - it'll definitely be bugging you all along and it may not have been anywhere as bad as what you thought it might be.

Second, even if it is bad news or news you don't like, you can start to deal with it. For example, say the person says they want to clear all the cats, you have advance notice and can start doing something immediately to stop it happening, rather than be caught unawares later on.

Third, the person who is in charge may be operating on misconceptions - ie they want to remove all the cats because they think that the cats will breed and breed and cause all manner of problem. Here's a good opportunity to speak to them about TNRM and to clear up their misconceptions. If you can explain TNRM, then don't feel embarrassed to start a conversation about it. Even if they do ask you something you don't know, let them know you'll find out and get back to them.

It'll be better for your peace of mind - and for the safety of the cats.


Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I spoke to a caregiver yesterday who was mentioning how she cannot put some sick cats back out due to the constant rain. They've just gotten better from a flu and she is worried the wet will make them ill again so she's wating for the weather to be nice and warm. The cats are certainly enjoying the more sunny days we've been having of late!

Dumping again

I was just speaking to a caregiver as there was a complaint in her area. She in turn was telling me that people are dumping cats again. She said one woman she suspects is an especially recalcitrant dumper. She has gone down and spoken with her, as has the town council on several occasions. The woman will not budge to get the cats sterilised.

The volunteer said there was a pregnant cat on the street and she booked an appointment to get her sterilised. When the date drew near the cat disappeared - she suspected the woman took the cat in to let it give birth. Kittens were soon found dumped in the area.

It really gets to me - why do people continue to let their cats give birth? If say they have a home pet, why not keep it indoors at least while it is on heat, so it doesn't get pregnant even if they don't sterilise it? Do they think that cats somehow enjoy mating? Why let the cat give birth when they clearly do not want the kittens? Do they think that throwing the kittens downstairs means that the cats will have a good life in the neighbourhood? Or do they simply not care what happens? Then why let them be born in the first place? Is it because they feel bad about killing, but not bad about abandoning the kittens to their fate, whatever that may be? One of the kittens in fact was run over by a car.

The problem in most cases is no consequences. How do you even catch someone dumping? It's almost impossible. So the problem is taken out of their hands and they just go out doing whatever it is they've been doing all along. The problem is passed on to the caregivers - they end up with an increasing cat population. They end up having to pay for sterilisation and additional food - and dealing with complaints coming in.

Today (24-1-07)

Forced to put on the coat of Dr Death

SPCA's letter in Today.

Timely vet treatment

Someone wrote into ask about her sick community cat. The cat had a wound and apparently is hard to medicate. It then got drenched and now doesn't look very good. She said she was unlikely to be able to bring the cat to the vet till the weekend as she was very busy. She then wanted to know all about cremation and what to do with the cat since it was quite old.

First of all, I told her the most important thing is to get the cat to the vet as soon as possible. Any illness, if not treated early enough can turn nasty and life-threatening. She didn't know about pet taxi services so I recommended she try them if she could not get to the vet herself.

Secondly, don't write a cat off just because the cat is old. With treatment and care, many diseases can be managed and the cat can live on.

Thirdly, if it comes between spending money between getting the cat treated and getting the cat a nice cremation, I would pick the former. In this case, I think the woman can afford it but just needed some advice on what to do. However in general, I tend to think burials and cremations are for the living - it won't help the cat. Good and timely medical care though can make the difference between the cat being in pain or the cat being healthy at least for some time more.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

What is a caregiver?

We received an email today from one of the TCs. The caregiver had written in because she had two families that did not want to sterilise their pet cats despite the volunteers speaking with them - they suspect these are the people dumping cats in the neighbourhood. In addition, one of them had a cat that just had a litter.

She wrote in to the TC to say that she wished to complain about these two families. It was agreed that there might be times when the TC might need to step in.

However it seems the TC is not very happy about this. I'm not sure exactly why. It was mentioned that this was not the way to deal with caregivers. I'm not sure if they meant that the caregivers are the actual caregivers or the pet owners. I have written in to clarify.

If it is the latter, then there is a serious misunderstanding. Just because someone owns cats, does not make them a caregiver. In fact if they are irresponsible owners, they can cause a huge amount of problems to the caregivers. In this area for example the caregiver mentioned to me that all the good they have achieved through sterilisation is being chipped away because more cats are being dumped and it is due to people refusing to sterilise their own pet cats and the dumping the offspring.


Heading to the bank now to drop in some money and to hand in some paperwork.

Scarecrow success in keeping cats out of garden

Some of you may remember this man I blogged about. He said the Scarecrow and cat stop were effective and he wanted to buy his own, but the website would not ship to Singapore. I suggested he buy it off Vpost. I wrote to him again yesterday to check on the situation and said that if he did not mind the wait, I could get him some when I was next in the US. He wrote back to say that he had already ordered a number of Scarecrows and Catstops off Vpost and was expecting them soon.

I wrote to thank him for being so kind and for being willing to not try a better, more effective and humane method, but for even paying to do it! I said it was more common that people borrowed cat traps to have the cats wandering into the gardens removed and killed.

He wrote back to say that trapping and killing cats should never be a solution. He also said some very kind words about what CWS is doing with the community cat population.

It just goes to show - not everyone who has a problem with the cats entering their gardens wants to kill them. It's really good to see people who are willing to try alternatives - someone else just asked today to borrow the Scarecrow. If there is so much demand, we may need to buy more. When we first got it, hardly anyone borrowed it, whereas now there seems to be much more interest.

Clementines or Tangerines?

Clementines or Tangerines?
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I meant to post this yesterday but there was so much other stuff going on. After my talk on Sunday, the lady from the vet clinic who was approached by the RC to try and find speakers for their Residents' Day gave me a bag of these lovely small, oranges as a thank you. It was a really nice gesture as she was actually helping the RC out herself.

Anyone know what they're called? They're the size of a squash ball and sweeter than the normal orange. Are they clementines or tangerines?

ST (23-1-07)

More letters on letting cats into flats :-

SPCA backs bid to let cats live in HDB flats

Clean and quiet, cats make perfect indoor pets

I hope those letters keep coming in!

No Kill Newsletter

Take a look at this link :-

No Kill Advocate, #1, 2007, put out by No Kill Solutions run by Nathan Winograd. Winograd is the person who was instrumental in making Tompkins County NY, USA a no-kill county. He is trying to spread this message throughout the US.

Read page 6 and 7 especially of the newsletter and the bit about how much costs are saved by TNR as opposed to killing. I really like the bit about how the International City/Country Management Association said that if money is spent killing 4000 animals in 2001, they'll STILL be killing at least 4000 animals in 2010, but if you invest that money in TNRM, you'll be killing significantly less animals by then and saving money besides.

Migrating because of the cats

I just heard an interesting story from someone who just rang up. There had been a complaint about her mother's flat as they had some community cats and some adopted cats. They lived on the second floor and allowed the community cats to come up and walk in and out of their apartment. I went by to advise them not to do it any longer. The TC had informed the HDB and they were issued a letter telling them to get rid of the cats.

The woman called me this morning and said that her brother who lives with the mother said this was the last straw and decided that because of this, they will emigrate. He is going to quit his job and with his wife and mother they will be moving.

His sister who called me said that the first thing they want to secure is how to bring the cats with them, so she called up to check about the requirements. I advised her to check with the Embassy of the country they are moving to.

This isn't the first case of people migrating because of their cats - or of not wanting to come back to Singapore. I know of a young lady who moved to Australia because of the same reason. Another young man wrote to say that he studied in the US and wanted to come back with his cat but wanted to check the HDB rules. When he heard cats are not allowed, he said he decided to stay put.

Some people will think it's extreme - but I think it has to do with family. You want to be in a place where you and your family are safe and secure - and for a lot of people, that includes their non-human family. If you have the opportunity and the money, some people will take that option to move to somewhere which they feel may have a better environment for themselves and their family.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Forum Sessions

In case you're interested in attending the forum sessions to find out peoples' views on HDB and the heartware of living in an HDB estate, here's the link on how to sign up :-

Forum on HDB Heartware

Cats in flats again

If you did manage to tune in, I managed to get on air for a short while to talk about the HDB ruling. There wasn't time to talk about cats in estates (community cats) nor did I think there would be because this is a pretty complex situation.

First of all, I still have to say that I think people should have a right to do what they want in their own flats as long as they are responsible. For example, as the hosts pointed out, it is a public housing estate, and there should be some degree of tolerance. If the cat is kept indoors, doesn't make noise, and is sterilised what's the problem? One hopes that one's home is one's place of refuge - that as long as someone is not doing something illegal that one should be allowed to do what you want.

As I was trying to point out, say I don't like the smell of what my neighbour is cooking, can I go knock on their door and tell them to stop it? If my neighbour likes to play music which isn't to my taste (but which is not turned on at odd hours or too loud), can I tell them to make sure to only play things that *I* like?

What is you can't keep plants? What if smokers are told they cannot smoke in their homes - surely second hand smoke has been found to be far more harmful than the presence of a cat next door? The point is that it is your home - and if your neighbour doesn't like the smoke possibly wafting next door, basically it's too bad for them.

One of the people who called in (the only one who supported the ban) and said that he did not think there should be any pets in HDB. He pointed out allergies, but as one of the hosts pointed out, people are allergic to a whole variety of things. Should we ban them all? In addition, he pointed out a friend who stayed with another friend who had cats and had an allergy to them. I'm not sure what this has to do with your neighbour keeping cats indoors.

Secondly, I think what's interesting is that the hosts pointed out that people living in HDB are in public housing and there are many other people living in the area. I think whether you live in private or public housing, you'll have neighbours - the only difference is you may be closer to your neighbours in an HDB estate. The same principle remains - one should be allowed to do what one wants in one's own home but one should be considerate towards and tolerant of one's neighbours. Isn't that the most important thing?

I actually do think if it came down to it, most people would not mind their neighbours keeping cats in flats - provided the cats don't give them a problem. And if they're kept responsibly they won't. For the people who aren't responsible, they can still be fined anyway - there could be penalties for people who aren't responsible. This is something caregivers of community cats would be glad to see too I think!

As I mentioned, we had suggested a pilot project to the HDB to see what the response would be like, but we were turned down.

For and against - should cats be allowed in flats?

You can also email For and Against right now at on this issue. The discussion is whether cats should be allowed in flats and also whether they should be allowed in the estate.

Should cats be banned in HDB estates? Tune in today

I've just been told that this is the topic to be discussed on NewsRadio 93.8 at 5:10 - 5:45 pm today on the programme "For and Against".

Apparently, there seems to be discussion about whether HDB should start decentralising their powers and allowing people to run their own estates. In that case, one suggestion was apparently that if people do not like cats in their estate, then they should be allowed to get rid of them.

Do call 6691 1938 if you have any thoughts on this and do tune in.

Who's really causing the problem?

One of the TC officer's wrote to me today. She said there was a complaint about the cats but these were about sterilised cats.

It turns out that the complaint was about food being left behind in the walkway. I told the officer I would speak with the feeder and try and find out what we can but that this isn't a problem with the sterilised cats. If the allegation is true, it's a problem with people leaving food behind. It's not as if the cat is going somewhere, getting food, bringing it into this area and then leaving a mess by not cleaning up! The woman claimed the cats are defecating on the walkway as well so that does need to be looked into though I told the officer most cats do not defecate on a walkway - they prefer to bury their defecation.

She said that the complainant wanted to remain anonymous but was nasty. I told her I did appreciate the difficulty of her job but I don't think that just because a complainant is nastier should mean that the complaint has more validity. They should be based on merit - not who is meaner to the TC officer.

RC Event

RC Event
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is the RC event I spoke at yesterday. Not many people came for the event except a few people who wanted to volunteer, and someone who reads this blog and came all the way down from Sembawang. Thank you!

One of the ladies who helped get us down was a bit disappointed - she hoped the caregivers in the area might come down. I told her that I think they rarely come for events like this in my experience. It's more likely to be attended if someone they know who also cares for cats organises something.

The sound system unfortunately did not work for the DVD as well so I couldn't play the TNR video. It was also quite noisy.

It was still quite good though - since I was on the main stage, I noticed some people who weren't sitting in the audience area were listening. When I mentioned how many cats are killed in Singapore every year, I noticed a few teenagers looked quite shocked. If people retain one or two things from the talk, that's good enough.

"Cats are like rubbish"

Remember this woman? I called her to let her know the volunteer had gone down and did not see any cats hanging around in the void deck that she complained about. She had complained the cats were 'always' there but apparently they weren't when the volunteer went down. The volunteer asked which colour the cats are.

The woman said that she could not bear to look at the cats but they came in lots of different colours.

She then asked if the volunteer can come down at 3 am to scout around and find the cats as this is when she returns from work. I told her the volunteer needs to sleep and cannot be expected to come down at all hours of day and night.

I also told her that the vast majority of cats are sterilised except for three cats they are having trouble trapping (and which they will do).

She said that the cats are very scary and she wanted to know what the volunteers will do if they find the cats. She wants to know if they will take the cats away or kill them. She kept repeating that she is scared of them.

She asked if they can be taken away and killed. I explained the vaccum effect and asked what happens if new cats come in. She suggested they be killed too.

I said that what would happen to lizards too. She said she killed them too. I asked about dogs and she complained about them.

She said that she wanted to know if they can be taken away and put somewhere else. However she said to be sure not to put them at Circuit Road or Yishun Bus Terminal as she visits those places. I asked what happened if the cats were put in Toa Payoh and she happened to go there. She said that she never went there so it was fine to put them there.

She kept saying they should be dumped in the jungle. She also said like rubbish, they should be swept away just as the TC gets rid of debris every day.

I told her that hopefully we can try and be tolerant. I said for example, some people do not like children but don't ask for them to be gotten rid of. She laughed and asked whom would say that because children were people. She asked what kind of people would complain about children. I said that some people had the same reaction to her asking for dogs, cats, lizards, etc to all be killed as well.

I spoke to the volunteer and decided we're just going to shelve her complaints. Apparently she had called the TC in October and she complained they didn't do anything either.

ST (22-1-07)

Another letter on the HDB rule against cats. I'm glad so many people are writing in! This makes a good point which is often brushed aside - the rule is not being fair to responsible people who take good care of their cats.

Ruling on cats is not fair to responsible owners

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Talkback on Monday morning

NewsRadio 93.8's Talkback on Monday morning is going to be about "How do we build stronger community ties in our HDB estates?"

While this isn't directly about cats, some of you have told of how cats make your community stronger or allow you to get to know your neighbours. I personally think cats also help to build a sense of 'home' - home is much more than brick and mortar, important as they are. That's just a building. A home is somewhere you belong to - and animals certainly help with that. Phone lines open at 8:10 am and the number to call is 66 911 938 or you can email

Today (20-1-07)

Good letter from Dr Tan Chek Wee :-

Because cats scare me is not a good reason

Friday, January 19, 2007

Peek A Boo

Peek A Boo
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

On the way out to get some bank documents signed, I saw this funny sight. It's not centralised because I was fumbling and trying to drive at the same time!

No-kill programmes supported by cities in the US

I was doing a Net search for other cities that support no-kill programmes, more TNR and more adoptions.

There was of course the Mayor's Alliance for New York City Animals but I was surprised to see also the Alliance for Philadelphia Animals.

The San Francisco SPCA works with the city as well.

What's interesting is that most cities shelters, even if they did loan out traps, did seem to have public adoption programmes from within their animal control facility and/or to support TNRM. I'm trying to find information from other countries besides the US.

Perhaps the mayors of our CDCs could similarly spearhead programmes like these?

Do ask

I was speaking to someone today who said she was having problems sterilising the cats she is feeding. She had bought two cat traps a while ago but she said that it was difficult to trap because she is worried the management might get wind of it so she does it on the quiet. She said she was very concerned because the number of cats was increasing quite dramatically since she started feeding them and she has managed to sterilise half of them - one just gave birth again. She wanted to know if someone would take over the feeding - she was willing to give them $200 a month, but she had told me earlier she spends at least $450 on food. I asked her how the person was supposed to make up the difference in that case.

She said that she had trouble with the cost, but there is a vet clinic a stone's throw away. She said because of the hours she traps, she pays someone transport money (which is equivalent to what she is paying for sterilisation) to take the cat away from there, board it and then drive it back to the clinic.

I know the vet there does try to help community cat caregivers so I asked her if she had approached them to explain her dilema and to ask if they could render any assistance. In fact, they had mentioned to me that the people around there didn't seem very interested though they had offered to help them out before. The woman with the cats said she had never spoken with them directly. I asked her to give them a call or go down and have a word with them. If they are able to let her bring the cats in for example, then she can save the transport money. The worst thing that could happen is that they say no, and then we'll think of something else. The best thing of course is they agree and then she can save all that transport money and just use it to sterilise the cats.

I also asked if she would consider speaking with the management but she said she did not want to. As a result, she is sneaking around but is fearful of being found out, especially as the cat population continues to grow at a rather alarming rate. I told her that it was her decision of course. She has decided she would go by the vet's and have a word with them.

On the way out to get some documents signed.

Today (19-1-07)

Killing strays is not an act of kindness

A response to Ms. Goh's letter of Tuesday. Thanks Vegancat for sending it in.

This by the way is the Albuquerque City website - take a look at the various ways to volunteer with animals, adopt and even to attend the Mayor's Dog Ball! The other activities look pretty fun too :) It's really good to see a Mayor get firmly behind a project like this.

ST (19-1-07)

Another letter about the ban on cats in HDB. What was interesting is that this writer mentioned what quite a few of you have also written to me about - namely that the reply is a standard letter and he even quotes from it.

HDB anti-cat policy is antiquated

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Can they get rid of the lizards too?

I just spoke to a woman who called me and said that she had been complaining to the town council for some time to no avail. She claims that the cats in her area are making a lot of noise. She said that they are causing a nuisance. I explained that this means they are probably unsterilised and that it is important to get them sterilised and the cauterwauling and mating would stop as would the reproducing. She said she did not realise that cats stop mating once sterilised, and I told her this was why the population would decrease.

The situation would hopefully have been resolved there but unfortunately it seems she is scared of cats. She said the cats sometimes walk up near her in the void deck. I suggested she just stomp her feet and to stare at them, but she said that Singaporean cats are too brave to be scared by the stomping and she is too frightened to look at them. She asked why they can't be taken away. I explained new cats would come in. She asked why they cannot just be continually removed. I also told her the cats would be killed, which she said was not happening as they did not even trap the cats in the first place.

I told her that the TC may well have removed the cats but that new cats might be coming in. I explained we will do our best if there are volunteers there to keep the population under control, but that there would always be cats. She said her nephew was scared of them too. I said for example, that if I was frightened of lizards, I could not ask the town council to remove them. She interjected to say she was frightened of lizards too, and asked if THEY could be removed. I asked her if she was frightened of dogs and she quickly agreed. She said she walked out of her way to avoid her neighbour's house as there were dogs inside. I tried to tell her that the animals were far more frightened of her than she was of them as being larger and stronger, she seems to them far more of a threat. She said she cannot even bear to look at them.

It seems rather difficult to imagine how someone like that must go through life being constantly afraid. It's sad for her - but it also isn't fair to the animals to insist all of them be removed.

Alley Cat Allies door hanger

Alley Cat Allies door hanger
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

We use flyers but Alley Cat Allies just sent this recently - their latest door hanger. The method may be different but the end result is the same - to try and encourage people to sterilise and manage the cats.

Interestingly while our flyers are often in English, Mandarin and Malay, theirs are in English and Spanish.

Talk at Bukit Purmei RC event

I'm giving a talk at the Bukit Purmei Community Day this Sunday, 21st January. While the original topic was supposed to be about responsible pet ownership, I told them I'd be speaking more on community cats and TNRM. Preparing the outline for the talk now.

Newsletter, Renewals, cheques delayed

For those of you who are members and wondering why our newsletters are delayed this month, sincere apologies. Due to the Christmas and New Year holidays, we were informed that the newsletter would be delayed by the printer. It is likely to be done in February.

As for the renewals, they will be sent out at the same time with the newsletters. Thanks for your patience.

We're also having some problems with the signatories of our cheques. Before I left, we changed the bank signatories for our chequebook, but when I returned, there was a letter that said there were some corrections that needed to be made. I went to the bank as I was unclear on some of the instructions last week and the bank teller mentioned to me as well that she did not think it was incorrectly done. I just need to get our Treasurer to sign off on the cheques and we'll be able to reimburse everyone again.

Getting rid of cats ' to be safe'

We've been getting a few emails of late again from people who have been told to get rid of their cats for various reasons. For example, the cat owner gets pregnant and she is told to get rid of the cat because of toxoplasmosis. She isn't told for example, that the chances of getting it from a cat are so rare that the British Medical Journal (an article I can send you if you are interested) said it was not a risk factor. She isn't told cats secrete it for only a short period of time - hence the low chances of getting it from a cat. She isn't told that as a precaution, she should just get someone else in the family to clean the sandtray and to wash her hands before eating. She isn't told that her chances of getting it are highest from handling raw meat or pork. She isn't even tested to check if she already had toxoplamosis antibodies because of the high number of people who already have had it at some point in their lives!

Why? Often because in the cases who write to us, the doctor says to get rid of the cat because it is just 'safer'. The same happens with people who have allergies and asthma. Again, very few of the people who write in were ever tested to see if they were indeed allergic to cats.

Now I am sure that there are very responsible doctors out there are testing their patients and not giving alarmist advice. They are probably the vast majority and hence we never hear from their patients. It disturbs me however that there are still doctors who give advice to get rid of cats to be safe. It's bad for two reasons - one, the cat obviously is given away, and two, in cases of the allergy sufferer for example, the cause of the allergy may not be pinpointed, causing the person to still suffer from the same symptoms.

In fact, studies have shown that (as long as the mother is not asthmatic) it is a good idea to have some animals in the house to prevent your child from getting allergic.

Some people will of course claim that parents cannot be too careful - and of course the health of the child is paramount but it should be tempered by common sense. My mother tried for six years to conceive me and she was very careful during her pregnancy - the one thing she didn't do though (and which she wasn't advised to do even all those years ago) was to give up her cats. I grew up with them and have never been allergic to animals - though I am to other things like dust.

Cats of Parliament Hill, Canada

Someone posted an article on the cats in Parliament Hill, Ottawa, Canada on my blog earlier. Calsifer sent me the following really interesting articles about the cats.

First of all, there's a blog - scroll down to read the text.

Next on the Prime Minister of Canada's website, there is an article about fostering cats and he and his family set a wonderful example by fostering cats themselves and adopted one of the foster cats.

Here's an article from the Canadian Parliament Hill website letting people know about the TNRM programme going on there. I love that they mention that the TNRM shelter is a symbol of compassion, which is one of the important elements of Canadian society.

Let's hope this will someday become a reality in Singapore.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Complaining about another neighbourhood

I spoke with this complainant again to let her know a volunteer had gone down this afternoon and could not find food upstairs. She said she would let me know if she had more details. I also told her that the neighbourhood nearby that she said had a lot of cats has actually had four cats die since the rainy season started according to the caregiver.

The thing though I find strange (and I did ask her if she even lived in this neighbourhood and exactly what the problem was) - why complain about another area that you don't even live in? I brought this up to more than one TC and have been told that as long as it is a resident living within their area, complaining about another area within the TC, their complaint will be entertained.

I don't understand this. If all the residents in the area have no problems with their surroundings, why should someone else have a problem with it? Say someone comes into my house and my house is dirty. It's my house. Why should someone else have a say in how my house is run?

Fenced gate

Fenced gate
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Someone just wrote into say that another cat of hers had gone missing from her home. This is the seventh cat to have gone missing in the last two years from her house. She had checked with the AVA - no traps were loaned out to anyone in her area. She wondered if the latest cat may have wandered off as it does not like one of her newly adopted cats.

I told her it might happen, but losing 7 cats in that time makes me suspect something else is going on. I asked if any of her neighbours might not be happy with her cats. She said she had spoken with them and they seemed alright with the cats.

Several things might be happening - the cats might have been eaten by a snake or even killed by another animal. Or someone may be trapping the cats but not telling the woman in question.

One way to tell if your neighbours might be having problems with cats is to look out for a fence like the one in this photo. It could mean that the neighbour has a dog and is trying to keep the dog from running out (as may be the case in this photo), or it could mean they are having problems with cats running into their garden. This is usually a good clue that someone isn't too fond of the cats running into their home.

As I advised the woman, since these are her home pets, the best thing to do is to keep them indoors. The area is unsafe for some reason and it's easier to keep the cats in than to find out why they are disappearing.

Today (16-1-07)

Good article in Today that was published yesterday :-

A Mayor's Pet Lesson for us

Thanks Vegancat for bringing this to my attention.

Ms. Goh wrote to me to let me know that she had mentioned that she had on my blog about the cat being seen at 5 pm by a caregiver but that it was attributed to me when the edited version came out.

Checking it out

A complaint came in from a woman who claims that someone is feeding a cat upstairs in her corridor. She claimed that one of the cat tried to 'attack' her - when I clarified with her, it seems that she was carrying a plastic bag and the cat came up and approached her. It doesn't seem the cat did anything but walk towards her but she thought it was trying to attack her. I explained the cat probably thought she was trying to feed it and hence went up to her.

She also claimed that there were a lot of cats at a block which isn't even in the vicinity. I asked how the cats were disturbing her and she said when the cats are gathering to be fed, they are 'smelly'.

I called the feeder there and asked her to go down and check out the corridor. She demurred and said that she thought she knew whom the complainant was and that she was just being difficult. I agree that the complainant is being difficult, but that doesn't mean that it should be dismissed as out of hand.

I told the caregiver if she went down and there was no food, then that was a great rebuttal. If the woman claimed someone was still dirtying the place, then she needs to let us know when and where and show the proof as the matter has been looked into. However, if the feeder kept saying that it was rubbish, and not checking the area out, if there was indeed food and a mess, it made the feeder look unreliable at best, and a liar at worst. Do check out the complaint, even if it seems ludicrous - if the caregiver in the area is well informed, and knows what is happening, then it certainly helps. Don't dismiss a claim as out of hand till it's actually been checked out.

Diploma in Veterinary Technology

Thanks E_Cat for sending this in :-

Diploma in Veterinary Technology

There was an article about this new course in yesterday's newspapers. Hopefully there'll be a place to train vets too at some point, though I'm not sure the Singapore market is large enough to support one.

ST (17-1-07)

Don't ban cats in flats

Thanks Vegancat! Interesting letter just after I spoke with someone who has just been asked to remove her cats because of complaints.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Ladkh sign

Ladkh sign
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I'm on leave till Wednesday as I have some personal affairs to take care of, but in the meantime, here's the photo I promised of the sign in Ladakh.

Saturday, January 13, 2007

ST (13-1-07)

Link between AVA and cat stranglers

Interesting letter in today's online forum. Thanks to everyone who emailed me this article. I have to say though that the town council often is the one that hires the pest control and they are the ones that round up the cats - they too need to rethink, as the writer suggests, their means of dealing with the situation.

Friday, January 12, 2007

I want to get rid of the cat I have been feeding

I just got an email from someone who wrote yesterday. She said a community cat has been coming up to her home and she has been feeding it. The cat is fighting with the community cat she had previously adopted and she says she is getting annoyed.

I suggested NOT feeding the cat upstairs and she wrote back to ask if the cat will stop coming up. She said if the cat does not stop coming up, she is going to trap it and bring it to the SPCA.

I don't understand why people feed the cats upstairs and then look surprised that the cats are coming to their homes. If you feed it upstairs, where do you expect the cat to go for food? The place it is being fed! It can be fed in the void deck and it will remain in the area and not go up but if you feed it outside the flat, of course the cat will associate it.

Alex Au

Alex Au
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I met with Alex this afternoon as he is writing a book on how civil society groups use the Internet to communicate their work and their aims to the public. We had a nice chat and hopefully it was useful for Alex's purposes. I mentioned how this blog has been a very interesting experience for me and how I found it was a good way to get in touch with all of you!

Scarecrows and Cat Stops

One of the people who had problems with cats in his garden and whom I dropped a Scarecrow to two days ago wrote back and said that he'd like to borrow the Cat Stop too. In fact he asked if he could buy a few units to place them around his garden. I hope that means he's finding it useful!

Will be dropping by the bank and also have a meeting this afternoon.

Cats near school sterilised

I spoke to the volunteer and she told me that all the cats near the school are already sterilised - the area I was thinking of is slightly further off and she mentioned that it is very badly managed as well.

It doesn't cost extra to trap them

I just spoke with an office manager from a school. A volunteer happened to speak to a feeder in the area and it turned out the school was trapping cats. She requested I try and speak with them.

I spoke to the office manager whose first question was whether we were a non-government organisation and whether the service we provided was free. I asked if they were using pest control right now, and he said they were and I pointed out that hiring pest control costs money too. The man said that since the pest control was hired on a contract basis, that didn't cost money. I was trying to point out that it was factored in but it didn't seem to sink in.

He claimed that these were not community cats but 'pets' because a lot of people were feeding the cats outside the school grounds, but the cats ran in to sleep at night.

The office manager asked if we did not approve of the killing of the cats. I pointed out that it was ineffective as well as inhumane. He told me that I did not need to worry, the cats weren't killed - they were just thrown somewhere, far, far away, in his words.

I told him that this wasn't a solution. I said it was just transferring the problem to somewhere else. He told me he thinks the cats are thrown in reservoirs. I told him again this still wasn't solving the problem, so he's agreed to try the crushed mothballs to stop the defecation.

I also looked up the school on the map and realised that this is an area that seems to be having a lot of problems - a lot of people are feeding, but hardly anyone sterilises there. The office manager also mentioned a lot of people come to feed the cats early in the morning.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The urine is only on the canopy

I just spoke with a woman whose number a TC officer passed to me. The complaint was that her cat had been urinating on the canopy and the complainant wanted the cat to remain in the flat.

I called the woman up and spoke with her. She got quite upset and said she was very careful with her cats and that since the last time the officer had spoken to her, she had decided to keep a closer eye on her cats. She said it was not fair that people were complaining about her cats especially when other people were allowed to have dogs. She also said that there were community cats downstairs so they could not blame her cat.

I pointed out that community cats generally do not walk up twelve floors to urinate, but more importantly that we did not want her cats to be caught. I said that even if the cats are not the cats causing the problems, they are very visible and if the complainant chooses to continue to complain, this may well put her cats in jeopardy - not to mention the community cats downstairs. She asked if the cat had gone into someone's home. I said that as far as I knew, the complaint was about urination on the canopy.

The woman said it was not fair. She said she didn't see a problem. She felt that the canopy could always be washed so the complainant should have no reason to object. She also said the canopy was not in his house. However, she finally agreed to keep her cat in so as to keep it safe. I hope she keeps to her word.

At the end of the day, it's also about being considerate. Yes it would be best if the complainant had spoken with her, but at the same time, no one likes urine outside their home - whether it be dog, cat or human. If she could spare a thought for her neighbours' feelings, and they could do the same, it would be a much nicer living space for all.

Giving advise

I just spoke with a woman who called up because she said she was feeding community cats and dogs. She wanted to know how to become a volunteer and how to help some dogs in an area she is feeding at. I told her that while I was happy to help, I wasn't sure how best to advise her. I said for example, I had no idea how to trap dogs in the proper way for sterilisation, nor could I call the people whose property the dogs were on and explain the precise details. I suggested she call Action for Singapore Dogs. She said that we should try and help all animals, and I explained that while I agreed with that, I wasn't the best person to advise on this. She agreed.

It turns out she had already spoken with ASD in the past and they had told her to call if she had any problems. I suggested she call them again.

While any of the societies are happy to help any animal, sometimes we don't have the expertise to advise on every kind of animal. The nice thing about having different societies is that they may be more experienced in the kind of animals they are looking after. We do refer cases to each other for example and I think that is most helpful. We don't want to inadvertently give the wrong advise.

It's the same reason I'm very careful when people ask for veterinary advise. While some of the cases may seem familiar and we want to help, we're not vets. Giving the wrong advise could be deadly in these cases.

But they're doing something worse

I just spoke with this feeder again. It seems that the officer said there was still a cage outside and she took a photo of the cat sitting on top of the cage (the cage itself was empty).

I spoke to the feeder today and she said that she had taken care of it since the last time. She said she puts the cat in the house most of the time. I asked her point blank if the cage was still outside and pointed out there was a photo as well from the town council taken recently. She said I should not ask her such questions. Another caregiver had also spoken with her and said she gave up.

She then complained that people were being so unfair. She was the only feeder there, she was helping the TC and that they should appreciate what she is doing instead of giving her problems. She also started complaining about other people and what they were doing.

I told her she was welcome to complain about other people too, but that it didn't solve the problem at all. She went on about people littering and other anti-social behaviour and said it was none of her business. I told her that if she felt it was wrong, she ought to bring it up as a complaint too, but at the same time, how does this help her own case? I understand she was trying to help the cat and her intentions are good, but it may end up having the opposite effect.

She told me then that another officer had given her permission to keep the cage outside and said that this new officer who had written to me was trying to make trouble for her. She said she wants to speak with the officer directly and asked for her number.

True - other people may be behaving in a manner that isn't correct, and again everyone can complain, whether they choose to or not. The problem here is that the cat might get caught because someone complained. Should the other person have made a complaint or spoken to the feeder directly? Yes. The question is - it is worth risking the cat because of it?

I don't understand why people continually and knowingly, expose the cats to danger and refuse to budge. Also I don't understand the logic of one person's bad behavior excusing another's. Does this mean if one person robs a bank, then it's okay for someone else to steal from a house? This is a sure fire race to the bottom.

Termination of number

If some of you have been calling the mobile line that first Jolanda and then Rebecca was carrying to answer sterilisation bookings, we'll be canceling it due to not many people calling the number. Wiggie who has taken over does not need the mobile phone number.

The CATSNIP hotline however is still in operation and you can continue calling 7000-CATSNIP for bookings for sterilisation.

I'm making arrangements to cancel the line today and Rebecca has informed most of the volunteers who used to call the number. Thanks.

Old Lady and a Kitten

Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Vegancat just sent me this photo. It's from a Cat Therapy programme that we used to have. I remember this woman and how much joy this kitten brought to her. She looked so happy to be playing with the kitten. Thanks Vegancat!


A few good letters in today's Straits Times :-

Stop animal abuse by teaching kindness, empathy

Start kindness movement by caring for cats

Collective community effort needed

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Problems with cat owners

I spoke with a caregiver this afternoon who was telling me about the recent spate of complaints she had to deal with. She said the interesting thing was that every single one of them had to do with pet cats or cats being fed upstairs.

In one case, she said the resident refused to sterilise the cats which were wandering. She said that they were definitely not community cats because all the cats downstairs had apparently been caught already due to repeat complaints and the people feeding there were not interested. The resident whose cats were wandering (and quite possibly the source of the complaints) told them not to worry, when the cat gave birth again, she would just dump the cat somewhere else! When the volunteers explained what sort of trouble it would cause, she relented.

In another case, the family refused to get the cat sterilised till the cat gave birth yet again and the cats were allowed to wander.

She said that in another case, the town council was desperately worried because the person complaining was an RC member who lived on a high floor. Again she found that they were not community cats but someone's pet.

She said that the most frustrating one was the woman who was feeding a community cat upstairs and got tired of doing so. In this case SHE called the TC and asked them to remove the cat. According to the caregiver, the woman said she was under the impression the cat would be taken away and adopted at the AVA.

It's really the worst of both worlds by not allowing cats legally into flats - while the cats wander, no action can be taken against the owner, allowing the owner to then help themselves to more cats should these cats be caught. In the meantime, the community cats who have no relation to the problem at all, bear the brunt of it and are often rounded up for no reason. It's time to change the ruling so people can keep cats indoors but responsibly.

Keeping our Town clean

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Flickr acting up today and have been having trouble trying to post this.

I've been out delivering traps and the scarecrow this afternoon and while I was dropping off traps, I came across this message on the side of a bin centre. While it's a nice reminder, it also made me think.

Someone just showed me some photos taken in Ladakh, in Nepal the other day and there are signs by the side of the road. The signs though remind people to smile and to have a good day - it isn't a campaign to remind people to be polite or to smile a certain way for any reason. It's just to remind people not to forget certain things in life.

I also noted that in what we think of as a third world country, in every one of the photos with people in them, they were all smiling genuinely. I have to say the surroundings weren't particularly clean either.

It does make one ponder - maybe there are more important things that being 'clean' all the time.

Adoption board overflowing

The adoption volunteer told me that there were more than 40 cats posted in the first 9 days of January. There are a lot of people posting cats but unfortunately adoptions at this period are also very low. They generally dip at the year end as people go away for holidays or prepare for festive seasons and often do not pick up again till after Chinese New Year.

If you are putting a cat up for adoption and can hold the cat, it may be best to post it a little later - with the flood of cats and kittens, chances are your cat is going to be one of many, and that it is going to have a lower probability of getting adopted.

I've noticed as well the number of people picking up cats seems to go up at the end of the year. I'm not sure if it happens because people are on leave and have more time to notice these things, or they see cats getting wet in the rain or for whatever reason, but a lot of people write in saying they have picked up a cat and can't keep it. One just wrote in yesterday - I asked them to look for the mother cat and they went back and the mother cat was there. The kitten was returned safely to the mother cat.

Heading out now to deliver cat traps and the Scarecrow to someone else who needs it.

I don't work for the building

A complainant wrote in to the TC a few days ago and said that he had problems with the cats in the neighbourhood. It sounds as if the community cats are unsterilised and also there are cats defecating outside his flat. According to him, the TC told him they cannot trap the cats because 'cat lovers' will stop them but did not pass the complaint on until this latest incident, where they told the complainant they worked very closely with CWS. They also told him all they can do is remove the cats by means of pest control and there is nothing else they can do (which seems contrary to what they said).

I wrote to ask for more details. Now I understand his frustration as he said he first complained more than 6 months ago and nothing had improved, but I told him we needed some details, for example if he knew if any of his neighbours who might have cats or are feeding the cats.

He wrote back to say however that I should direct all complaints to the TC. He said he was pleased to hear from us but that he is frustrated with the TC. He said that he is not in charge of maintaining the estate and in his words, that he does not work for the building.

I wrote back to say that I appreciate that, but that he does live there and that as he was the one who brought up the complaint, he is the best person to help us work with him to solve it. I told him no one else is as often in the building as he is. In addition if you think about it, who is most affected by the problem? The TC? Other volunteers? Or the person complaining?

It's no use complaining that nothing is being done and then being close-mouthed about information you DO have to try and solve the problem. I emphasised to him WHY we needed the information in the previous email and how we are trying to find a more permanent solution. I do hope he will consider it.


I spoke to the caregiver in this case this morning because she wanted to file cruelty charges against her neighbour. Basically the cat went missing on Saturday and the same cat was turned into AVA on Tuesday. Now this cat is very friendly and she suspects that they may have caught the cat and kept it indoors. This may very well be the case but she can't prove it and I told her that's the problem. I said that there is no way to show the cat did not walk into the trap. She got quite upset and said that she did not see the trap baited and there is no way the cat would have walked in. I asked if she could see the trap the entire time. She said that it was in the house for a while because they were transferring the cat in. I asked her if this was what she suspected or what she saw. She said it was the former.

I told her that for example if I have an argument with my neighbour on a Saturday and he disappears and turns up dead on a Tuesday, it's suspicious. The police may investigate but that doesn't mean I'm going to be found guilty if there is no proof and I have an alibi. The caregiver said that was completely different, because that's murder and this is cruelty, and I told her it was not, both needed proof. She got upset and said since there was nothing to be done, that she just wanted to keep me informed since there was nothing I could do.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Proof needed

I was just speaking with someone who called to tell me that her neighbourwas giving problems again. She said he had borrowed a trap again and trapped one of her friendly cats.

I offered to speak with him again but she also said it probably was not any use. Unfortunately I think this has become a very bad situation where the two neighbours are not getting along and the cats are the unfortunate victims of the situation. I think the neighbour feels we are on the caregiver's 'side' and hence is very hostile.

She told me that the cat trapped went missing on Sunday and that she saw a cat trap delivered yesterday. This afternoon, the cat was sent to the AVA in the trap. She is convinced the man trapped the cat, kept it indoors and then sent it to the AVA after placing it in the trap today as she says the cat turns up for food everyday. She wanted to know how to take action against the man.

I told her unfortunately she has no proof. The problem is that while this may have happened, there is really nothing to link the man to the cat or to show that he had trapped the cat earlier. All we have is the fact that (1) the cat was not seen since Sunday and (2)that it was trapped and sent to the AVA today. We aren't able to show the man had in fact trapped it earlier because there just isn't proof. I told the caregiver that in addition, he might make it seem as if she is always giving him problems and accusing him falsely of things he did not do and that she would have no way of showing this to be untrue.

She will be collecting the cat tomorrow. I advised her to try and see what can be done once she's collected the cat or if there seems to be an foul play then.