Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Where did the cat go?

A caregiver called me this morning and mentioned that there was a woman who called her to say her cat had gone missing. This woman apparently lived on the third floor of a block and had an unsterilised cat that apparently would walk to the second floor and eat every day.

Another feeder lives on the second floor and leaves food out for the woman's cat. The woman on the second floor noticed that the cat looked very sick on Sunday and called the SPCA to ask them to pick up the cat.

The woman on the third floor apparently asked the woman on the second floor what happened to the cat. The woman on the second floor said she had sent the cat to the vet. The woman on the third floor speaks no English while the woman on the second speaks barely any Mandarin so there may have been a huge miscommunication here.

The woman on the third floor called the caregiver and asked what happened to the cat when it did not return from the 'vet'. The caregiver made some enquires, found out it was sent to the SPCA and called me to ask if I could try and find out what happened.

I found out that the cat was put down because it had bad FIP and called the caregiver. She broke the news to the woman on the third floor. The woman however refuses to believe it and says there was nothing wrong with the cat. I asked the caregiver to please tell the woman to watch her other cats for signs of FIP but the caregiver says that the woman on the third floor cannot accept that her cat was ill.

The woman on the second floor apparently told the caregiver the cat had no appetite for the past two weeks.

The caregiver said it was difficult to get through to the woman on the third floor. She refused to let the caregiver in but they guess she has a lot of cats in her flat (and a dog). She used to pick up and bring home kittens and in addition, she refused to sterilise for a long time. The caregiver has been helping her. I told her to let me know if she wants us to give it a shot.

The caregiver thinks though that she's going to be very suspicious of everyone from here on out and that people are stealing her cats. The caregiver is worried that she may not be able to sterilise the rest of the cats.


Turning down the request?

The officer whom I met on Friday wrote again today. He had said there was a complaint in the block, and as I mentioned Yskat and I walked the block immediately afterward. I had sent him an email explaining what we had found on Friday and he wrote back on Monday to say that there had been more complaints over the weekend.

I wrote back to say that we had already spoken to the people we suspected were feeding the cats and asked if he could perhaps have a word with them. There was no response from him.

Thereafter I got an email from him this morning saying there was another case in the area. He said that he had already informed the HDB because the owner was letting the cat run in and out of the flat, defecating outside someone else's unit.

I replied and pointed out that it would be better in the future to let us know first before contacting the HDB because there is little we can do at this point. We certainly can't advise the owner to keep the cat in if the HDB is about to drop in and visit!

He wrote back to say that I had turned down the request to visit the block and so he was not sure I would help with this other mediation! I just replied to say that I had asked him to go down because obviously our speaking with the residents (and leaving flyers) was not working since we had been by just on Friday. I was hoping that he might have more effect as a TC officer. I pointed out he had not replied to my email so I did not know what he intended to do.

He just replied to say that he had gone by and couldn't find any cats on Monday - but he had not asked me for the specific units where the cats were or for more information. He had told us that he could not find any feeders or cats.

He asked if I had found the irresponsible feeder who was feeding every morning at 8 am as the complainant was still seeing him. I pointed out that the NEA officer had said during the meeting that if they could give the license plate number to them they would be able to trace the person right away and I was under the impression that was what he had done. I had no idea he was expecting me to do anything about this as the NEA officer had asked all the parties involved to let them know when and where irresponsible feeders turned up so that the NEA could have a word with them.

Update : The officer said he would speak with the units involved. He also had the address for the driver. I said I could go speak with the driver if that was needed and NEA wasn't doing it already. He said he would let me know.

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Remember these kittens?

Remember these kittens?
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

These kittens are on the way to the vet right now with the adoption volunteer and the foster to have a checkup and to get dewormed.

They have already had one potential adopter visit last night - the foster liked the family very much, so hopefully two of them will find a home at least!

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Cats stuck in flat

I just spoke with a caregiver. She called me earlier today to say that she found out that a man had been arrested in her neighbourhood on Sunday for allegedly beating up his elderly mother. She told me that the suspect was quite strange and had tried to call the pest control once to trap the cats in the past. A neighbour then told the caregiver that there were a number of cats in the flat. He said there were at least four cats and they were in hiding.

The neighbour had been putting food under the door every day but there was a padlock on the grille. They could see a cage but weren't able to tell if there were cats in the cage.

I rang the police post and told the officer there (who knew immediately which case it was) about what happened. They said they would check and ring me back.

They rang me back and said that the officers who had gone to arrest the man had not seen any cats though they had seen cat food out. He said it was not a problem to open the flat and allow the caregiver to get the cats out which was good to hear. It was nice that they were so prompt about it as well.

The caregiver is getting a friend and the two of them will try and get the cats out today.

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I just spoke with a TC officer from this estate. I mentioned I understood that they were having problems but I hoped they would not removed the sterilised cats (as far as I understand it there are only two).

He said that they had actually received a complaint and that they would remove only the two cats that the complainant had mentioned.

He mentioned possibly removing the sterilised cats to another area. I said this wasn't a solution because it meant someone else had to deal with it. He said that they had the same problem - someone had reported a pick up dumping 5 or 6 cats in their area one night. I told him that if everyone kept dumping on everyone else, this would be a perennial problem.

He also said that there were residents who were bringing cats up to the upper floors to let people play with them which was causing a nuisance to other residents.


A bad estate

I spoke to Veganmeowie this morning. She heard that there were some cats from a neighbouring area that were in danger of being caught. She walked around last night and met someone who is looking after one cat there as she was trying to warn them of the trapping that may be happening.

I just spoke to the man she met last night. We spoke for almost an hour about the problems in the estate. It seems that there are at least three people feeding, but none of them are sterilising. He said that there is food left all over. The population is growing, and the number of cat fights is getting worse because the colony of one of the feeders is fighting with a second colony over territory. I asked how many sterilised cats there are and there are two.

He said that in addition there is a family that likes to bring cats in from another area and keep them for a while. Once the cats get older they dump them. One of the women in the estate arranges food delivery to her place and then she distributes food to everyone else but no one is sterilising. He said that the woman complained that her favourite sterilised cat had been caught once so she never bothered to sterilise after that. I asked if she had called the TC or the AVA and it seemed that she did not.

I explained to the man that the TC has no idea whom the feeders are in the area unless they are told. Even if they want to say return the cat, whom do they return it to? What if the cat is causing the nuisance?

The man said that another problem is that the feeders only like to feed their 'favourites' - ie they have cats that are theirs and whom they love but they're not interested in the rest of the cats. The rest of the cats are in pretty bad shape as well. He said some of them are quite ill.

He has offered to speak with the feeders, all of whom he knows and will explain sterilisation and the programme to them and see what they say. He was a bit reluctant to speak with the TC though as he says he has a bit of a history with them. He says though he's not very hopeful the feeders will listen. I offered to come and speak with them and to hold a workshop too if there is any interest.


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Traps and Brochures

I went to see a lovely lady from Moove Media, the people who do the advertising for taxis and buses and who sponsored the taxi signs and let us put brochures in the taxis. The brochures apparently have all been taken! I hope this means that the people who took it wanted to read it or thought the information was useful - after all, I am hoping the chances of you wanting to take it with you after a taxi ride means that you found it of interest.

I also dropped off two cat traps to someone who is bringing them back to Thailand. The wife of the man in question had bought one from us at the Asia for Animals conference two years ago and wanted to buy more. So our cat traps are travelling!

Finally, made a last stop by Michelle's. Michelle's family is going to be helping us to send us the renewals, newsletters and AGM notices. Thank you!

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Errand this afternoon

Heading out to pick up some photocopying and also to drop off some more traps.


Window cover

Window cover
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this at a caregiver's home yesterday. She lives on the ground floor and mentioned one of her neighbours would look in and complain about her cats. First as you can see, the windows are all wired up. Second, she put up plant boxes to discourage people looking in. She said that it was a cheap solution for her and it seems to work.

I've been working on the AGM report today.

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School cat Ginger

I spoke to the Principal and the teacher of this school yesterday. The teacher who is looking after the cat called me back and I asked if there is anything we can do. Ginger is still at the vet and will be coming back to the school shortly.

The teacher asked about sterilisation, and I said I was just about to ask him the same question. Ginger hasn't been sterilised, so I've asked him to check with the vet to see if Ginger is well enough to be sterilised as well. If he is, then we'll get him done before he is released!

The Principal also thanked the students who brought the matter up to the school. We've just sent an email to the Minister of Education to bring up the wonderful work the school has done. Many schools talk about compassion - few actually practice it and it's great to see a school that does. In addition, the sense of community in this school is impressive!


Cat nap

Cat nap
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this cat yesterday when I went for mediation in the afternoon. Apparently he likes to sleep on the neighbours' chairs outside which does bother them. He's so friendly though that if you walk right up to him, he doesn't react - which isn't a good thing for a community cat!

The complainant had said that a cat jumped into her flat the night before Chinese New Year so I walked to every unit above and below hers to ask if they had seen any cats. I also spoke to other residents in the block. None of those I had spoken to had seen a cat nor did they know of anyone who fed cats up there. Of course there were a few cat owners but at least one of them was very responsible with the door covered up. As he pointed out to me, he didn't want his cat to be hurt while it was running around outside either.

The block was fairly new so not everyone has moved in yet. I called the complainant and she seemed fairly satisfied that something had been done.

The best news was that as I was leaving, I bumped into a woman at the mailbox and was asking her about the cats. She asked if there was anyway she could help and she has now offered to mediate!

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TNRM Workshop this Sunday

Just a reminder that there is a Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage workshop this Sunday at the National Library at Victoria Street at the Imagination Room from 2 - 5 pm. Do drop me an email so we know how many people to expect if you're coming!

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Monday, February 26, 2007

Sterilised cat

Sterilised cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just got back from dropping off the trap and mediation and other errands . This lovely ear tipped cat was there when I dropped off the trap.

Talking to your neighbours

Finally about to head out. Been meaning to go out since this morning. I had a long conversation this morning with a woman. She had a dog dumped on her so she adopted it out to some neighbours of hers. After a day they returned the dog, and she said that she was quite disappointed with them.

Subsequently she let the dog out to run and the family came by and just took the dog for a walk. She got very angry with them and the father in turn came over and yelled at her and said they would hurt her cats. She said that he seemed drunk. The rest of the family came over to try and soothe things over and said that the father generally wasn't so bad.

I suggested she speak with the family but she was adamant she didn't want to. She wanted to go to the police. She said that she was very angry the father thought he could push her around and she didn't like the threat against the cats.

I asked if they had been mean to the dog - irresponsible certainly, but if they had been cruel or mean. She said they had not. I asked if she had any evidence they were abusive to animals. She did not. She also has cats in her flat and she was worried about them. I told her if she DID go over to the police and the man found out he might get MORE angry. In addition, she had nothing concrete to tie him to abuse - just some words he had uttered while intoxicated. She was thinking of calling the SPCA.

She was quite upset and then she said she went to lie down. She then called me a short while ago and said that she was quite upset when I spoke with her but after lying down she felt better. She said she thought about what I said. She opened the door and the dog dashed out of her flat immediately to her neighbours' place. The mother came out to pet it. She then decided she would speak with them after all. She called to thank me for listening to her and giving her advice. She said that she was less worried now they would call the HDB about the cats, she wasn't calling the police and was glad they were on okay terms now.

Sometimes when I think that I've wasted forty-five minutes talking to someone, I'm glad to be proven wrong.

Have to run now - to the accountant, to drop traps and to a mediation!

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Borrowing cat trap

I spoke with this woman today and asked if she still needed the cat trap. I was a little concerned the other day as I had brought the cat trap down and she asked me to just put it in the corridor as she wasn't at home. I told her I wasn't comfortable doing that because someone might come along and use the traps for other purposes (the complainant for example). She told me it was not a problem. I told her that in addition we asked for a fully refundable deposit which we return once the trap is given back. On hearing this, she immediately asked me what would happen if the trap was lost and I said that we kept the deposit then. She then told me not to leave it there because it might get lost.

She told me that she had some problems with the deposit. I explained that we just wanted to ensure that the trap would not be lost and that we had lost more than 20 traps this way in the past and a few thousand dollars too. We would try and work something out to ensure that the trap wasn't lost but that she didn't have to pay too much if she was unable to afford it. I also told her that perhaps she could borrow a trap from the AVA for free but that if it was lost, there was a $500 fine. She sounded keen till she heard about the fine. She said she wasn't keen on that as she might have to pay $500 if the trap went missing. I told her that if she took care of the trap, this wouldn't happen but she was unconvinced. She asked me to call a caregiver who lived nearby instead.

The caregiver (whom I had spoken with earlier as well) said that she was not putting down the deposit because she said that she was quite tired of the woman. The caregiver had paid for the sterilisations in the past and was willing to pay for this one too but that she knew if she put the deposit down, the woman would not bother to take care of the trap since she wasn't the one who would be out of pocket if the deposit was lost. The caregiver also said that she asked the woman for help to trap the cats and she had in fact paid for the sterilisations, but the woman wasn't willing to help with that even. The caregiver said she would speak with the woman and sort it out. She advised me not to loan the woman the trap for the time being. The caregiver will be paying for this sterilisation too.

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TNP (26-2-07)

Nice article and good to hear the MP is stepping up to offer to adopt Blackie! However I still don't know why Blackie can't remain if it seems most people love him (76 opposed to 1). It still doesn't make sense to me to go around and have to ask people who didn't express a preference either way whether they want the dog in their estate. If it bothers you that much I think people should speak out either way.

Here's a lovely story about the school that came together to help their school cat! I just spoke to the Principal and offered help if they needed it and thanked him for the way he was running his school! He said that he felt that this was a lesson that they would take with them after leaving school, rather than any grades that they take home!

Thanks Vegancat for sending both in!

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This morning alone I had two TC officers call to say that they still have problems in their estates. In both I told them that of course they had problems with defecation upstairs because cats were being fed upstairs which we had already told them about.

One of them was from this case on Friday. I already emailed the officer on Friday to say that we went down and spoke to the family but that the woman denied the cat was theirs (even as it walked into their home). We were told by another neighbour that the family living upstairs 'owns' the cat but they let the family downstairs feed the cat.

The Officer wrote and asked if we could investigate again. I wrote back and suggested he might go down and speak with the family instead as we had already done so. What is there to investigate? We know which family is feeding the cat - the problem is that they won't listen!

Another officer wrote in about the same issue and I suggested the same to him.

We can go down one time, five times or even more but if the person with the cats won't listen what can we do? At the end of the day, the TC is an authority figure - surely a word from them may go further than advise from fellow residents or from volunteers?

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ST (26-2-07)

Another response from someone who is also a frequent contributor to the Forum pages. Mr Lee tends to speak up for the animals from what I remember so it's always good to see his letters.

Here's another letter on AVA imposing a minimum standard of care on pet shops - though in this case I think it was specifically in relation to grooming. It is very sad to hear of Ms Lim's case. It is imperative to check the premises and conditions of any grooming, boarding, vet clinic or pet transport service before entrusting your pet to them. Another option may be to actually sit through the grooming with your pet - that way you know exactly what is happening and when.


Saturday, February 24, 2007

ST (24-2-07)

Here's my very slightly shortened letter in response to this earlier letter.


Friday, February 23, 2007

Working together

There was a meeting today between one of the Town councils, the NEA RC members and the volunteers from the estate. There have been complaints of irresponsible feeding and also of cats running around upstairs and defecating in the corridor.

Some of the RC members were complaining about the cats running around upstairs and I explained that these were not the same as the cats in the void deck. We explained that a better approach was needed to help curb the problem of people feeding upstairs and it should be an approach where everyone - the TC, the HDB, the RC, NEA and residents are all working together to cause the minimum of inconvenience to the residents without having the cats killed.

The NEA mentioned that if the residents could help them keep an eye out for irresponsible feeders, they will come down and have a word with them. Of course they can also fine them for littering if they continue to leave food around. The NEA officer told us that they do give a two hour grace period for caregivers who may cover wide areas and need to come back and pick up.

I also said that with the artificial "HDB looks after the inside of the flat, but TC looks after anything outside" divide, it is going to be very difficult to get anything done. He suggested having a meeting with the HDB as well.

It was great to see the caregivers who made it a point to attend.


Cat upstairs

Cat upstairs
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just got back from a meeting, trap delivery and a meeting a while ago. Yskat helped out with the mediation and we found this white cat wandering around upstairs. It walked right into the house of a woman though she said it wasn't her cat. It seems that she may be feeding it but someone else above 'owns' the cat.

I was supposed to go for another mediation but it seemed that the block that we had the meeting in had problems too so Yskat and I decided to tackle that block instead. Thanks for the help Yskat!

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Heading out

I am heading off now to drop off a cat trap, head for a mediation and then for a meeting. Going to be a busy day.

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Community Cat Ambassadors

I just spoke with a feeder because there was a complaint from a block where he feeds. The complainant had a lot of complaints - not all of them about cats. It turns out she had been calling the town council every few months and getting them to remove the cats. She was especially incensed because a cat ran into her flat on Chinese New Year's Eve.

To her mind, the feeders there (and there are more than one) are bringing in new cats by feeding. I explained that feeding and territory are quite different. I explained we knew a feeder in the area, who has been sterilising some of the cats. She immediately knew who I was referring to. She said that she did notice he had newspaper to feed the cats on but she was also upset about defecation in the walkway. I explained cats rarely soil the walkway and that it may be due to irresponsible dog owners. She also complained about irresponsible cat owners and wanted the TC officer to walk around and check on them.

I asked why she had not approached the feeder if she had complaints. She said that she had seen him yelling at someone to say that they were not cat lovers.

I explained to the woman that the cats when removed would be killed. She kept asking why they could not just be taken away - and she was under the impression this was what the TC was doing. When I explained we would look into the problem especially of the cats running upstairs, she said if they didn't bother her, she wouldn't really complain (let's HOPE so!).

I just spoke to the feeder and asked him if any of this was true. He admitted he did yell at people sometimes when they were being difficult he said. I told him that it was possible some people don't always understand what he is doing, and that in fact quite a few people are still under the illusion the cats are taken away. He readily agreed and said he had noticed this. I told him he's really the best ambassador for the cats and that he can really make a difference in the impressions people have of TNRM and of the community cats. He said he will try to hold his temper in the future.

Every time you are out there, you really are the Ambassadors for the cats. People often judge the cats based on what you do. It can be really hard - and some people can be very nasty - but the more calm and reasonable you are, the more it shows to others that you are a reasonable person who knows what he or she is talking about. It may not even convince the complainant - but it may convince other people who see you.

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ST (23-2-07)

Nice response to yesterday's forum letter. Interestingly though, the response has gone back into the online forum. I'm not sure what qualifies a letter for the online section and which into the print, but it does make it hard for people who may only read the print to understand what's going on and I am sure there are quite a few of those people around.


The Kitten who followed me home

Check out this animated short that Tarsier Girl sent to me :-

The kitten who followed me home

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Abandoned Kitten

Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The adoption volunteer and I went down to pick up the kittens and they were waiting in a box. Someone had dumped them in the garbage area. As the charity that had the kittens dumped on them worked with people who were disabled, they said it wouldn't be safe for the kittens to be allowed to roam about when there were a lot of people on wheelchairs about.

The two girls who contacted us were lovely, but there was a rather surly guard who was trying to tell us we could not pull into the building. We also found that one of the kittens had disappeared. After searching high and low, one of the girls thought to ask the guard and it turned out he knew where it was all along, according to the adoption volunteer. The kitten was stuck between some wooden crates and had its leg stuck. The volunteer said it was starting to turn cold by the time she pulled it out.

Fortunately by the time they arrived at the foster's home, they were all active and running around. They had huddled together frightened in the carrier until we got there and had not made a sound.

Anyone want to adopt this cutie or one of her three siblings?

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Kittens in the carrier

Kittens in the carrier
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

These are two of the four cats that were dumped today.

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Dumped kittens

Someone just dumped some cats outside a charity that has nothing to do with animals. They've asked us for help. We happen to have a new foster who wrote in yesterday so the adoption volunteer and I are going down to pick them up.


Updated on case

Remember this case? The feeder called me again today to say the complainant is still very upset. Another resident heard him complaining about the cats. I asked if she had gone to see the MP as she had said she might last week. She said she was worried to do so in case the problem got worse. I told her that perhaps the MP might be able to mediate. She said that her friend had been advising her to go.

I also told her that she HAD to be more responsible and not let the cats walk up and down. She said she caged some of them at night and that they were allowed to walk up and down. I asked why she didn't keep them indoors and she said they were cats from downstairs.

I told her in that case, she should leave the cats downstairs and to stop luring them up. She said she would try.

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They're not my cats

I spoke to a woman this morning who wanted to call for subsidised sterilisation. After she identified herself and where she was from, I remembered that I had spoken with her a few months ago. At her workplace she was told to stop feeding the cats a few months ago. I had offered to help her speak with her management then but she said she was worried she would lose her job. I encouraged her to sterilise the cats but she wasn't keen.

She told me that the cats were in danger of being rounded up again and she said they were not looked after by her anymore. As we spoke, she then admitted that she had been feeding them secretly. She kept insisting that they aren't her cats and that the ones that are hers have been moved into boarding.

She mentioned that another person had come to know of the cats' existence and that the person had decided to start sterilising the cats (though I'm wondering how this other person has access to the property as it is a place with restricted access). She told the other caregiver that she would get her a better rate for sterilisation. I told her that it wasn't a problem, but that I would like to speak with the other person involved so that perhaps the two of us could work something out and not involve the feeder since she felt her job might be in jeopardy. At the same time, the cats would be protected.

The feeder said the cats would not be in danger once sterilised. I told her that we didn't know that - the management might still remove the cats and that if it was possible to work with them to ensure the cats' safety that was for the best. She said this was too much trouble and hung up on me.

I called her back and said that I just wanted to speak with the other caregiver. She said she didn't want me to because the other caregiver often scolded her for what she was doing. She was also told off by the management for feeding the cats. She said it was all too much trouble. I told her that I just wanted to make sure that the cats were safe and we would not mention her at all.

She said she didn't like everyone getting angry with her and hung up again. I rang back one more time and told her that I had already said it wasn't a problem to get her friend the subsidised rates but that of course we got upset if the cats' lives were in danger. I asked her if the cat population had increased since she had not sterilised them. She insisted most of the new cats died. She then said she might remove all the cats once they were sterilised. I asked what would happen to the new cats that moved in. She said that wasn't her problem and that was her management's concern. She said it was all too troublesome for her. She said that she didn't want the subsidised rates any more.


Lianhe Zaobao (22-2-07)

Lianhe Zaobao (22-2-07)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thank you Kootoomonster for sending this article in. It's basically about a caregiver in Ang Mo Kio and it describes how she feeds very responsibly and that the cats are all sterilised. However the cats are very visible at feeding time, and some run over from neighbouring blocks and a few people complained that there are a lot of cats in the area. One of the two people interviewed complained about hygiene.

The block in question has housing for older people as well and a lot of the people there come down and love to feed the cats. When I last went down to the block and started taking photos of some of the sterilised cats, one of the men got very upset and started yelling at me, thinking I was going to hurt the cats.

I called to speak to the caregiver whom I know through another caregiver but she didn't answer. I rang the caregiver I know better and asked her to please remind the lady it is better not to feed at 6 pm. 6 pm is when everyone is coming home from work - and they get annoyed when they see so many cats around. If the feeding time could be shifted either earlier or later, most people won't even notice the cats. However if they come home every day and see a whole colony waiting, their reaction is often that there are a lot of cats in the neighbourhood. If the cats are fed later for example there is a good chance they will see hardly any cats around when they return home.

One other good thing to practice is not to feed too many cats in one spot. It is better to split up into 4 or 5 feeding spots with 4 or 5 cats in each block, then to feed 20 cats all in the same place. It's very often the perception that matters - and 4 cats gathered in one place are much less likely to alarm people than 20 cats.


ST (22-2-07)

Thanks Vegancat for sending this letter in.

Keeping animals : How to handle a pet peeve

As Vegancat pointed out, it's interesting that a response to an online forum letter was printed in the print edition this time around.

The actual letter (which I had missed) was a very interesting article on how some graduate students from Darwin Australia came to Singapore to do a survey and found that most Singaporeans were responsible pet owners and that they took their responsibilities seriously. In addition, they found animals to be an intergral part of their lives.

While we don't know how large the sample size was, I think Mr Heng misses the point when he says that he can only seek to know a fraction of the Chinese soul though he visits China for a few months a year. The sample size here isn't of one (ie Mr Heng) but presumably the students actually interviewed a number of people, including people who DO live in three-roomed HDB flats.

I also think it'll be a very sad day when we decide to round up animals and put them in a zoo. It's like saying that we should pull down all our historic landmarks and buildings and telling people to go to a museum and see them. A child can learn so much more from daily experience - and not from a once or twice yearly visit to the zoo. If you walk around Rome for example, the culture of Rome is exemplified by not just by the beautiful ancient buildings, but the many cats cared for by the Romans. In a young country striving to learn just whom we are, I think it would be a huge shame if we decided to become an arid, soul-less place without animals.

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Wednesday, February 21, 2007

AVA and Scarecrows?

I called up the Animal Welfare department today at the AVA to ask if they might consider letting people we have Scarecrows and Cat Stops for loan since our stock just came in today and the good news is that they're considering it. I offered to loan them (or give them) one of each to try but they asked if I could just send them any video demonstrations of how they works so they can evaluate it. I do hope that that they'll agree - it could save some cats' lives. It's also actually almost the same price as a cat trap and it will work better at keeping cats out of your garden!

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Two different viewpoints

I had two emails over the Chinese New Year holidays at almost the same time about cats that needed surgery. One was a cat found by a friend of the person who wrote in and had apparently fallen. The cat needed surgery and they were not sure that it would pull through. The cat's surgery was estimated to be in the high hundreds. This is in addition to the money already spent on hospitalisation and the like. In addition, the cat has internal injuries.

I understand the person really wants to help the cat and wants to save it. I asked what the long term prognosis is and where the cat would go eventually. The person said that they were thinking of boarding it till it got adopted. I pointed out that there may be a problem with adopting the cat out if it ends up with permanent disabilities, and of course it may not be well enough to ever go back onto the street. I asked if they had thought about what to do in that scenario. The person said that they did not know what the outcome would be and so could not say what they would do. I told him that I understood that, but that we did need to know the cat will have a home eventually or have someone to take him in, or some sort of long term plan in the event the cat does survive.

On the other hand I got an email from a couple who have a number of cats of their own and also do fostering in their neighbourhood for the caregivers there. They also came across a badly injured cat. Surgery will also be expensive. They have said that if the cat is able to make it through, they will definitely keep it. They are considering their options now, and they said that if they spend less for the next few months, they would be able to afford the surgery. However they also realise this cat may not have the best standard of living for the rest of its life. In addition, they have said that they realise that the same sum of money can go towards helping many other community cats as they come across cats that need sterilisation and rescue regularly in their neighbourhood. They are leaning towards possibly not spending the money on the surgery, but on keeping the cat comfortable for as long as it lives. This is not an easy decision for them (and I don't think they've fully made up their minds), and I understand the wife especially is very upset. I do feel very badly for them.

Who would we be more inclined to help out in terms of financial help? The couple. Why? Because they have thought out a long term plan, and they're realistic about what they can or cannot do. They are also willing to keep the cat with them for the rest of its life. This is not to say that I don't sympathise with the man who is thinking of going ahead with the expensive surgery - but so far, there just doesn't seem to be a plan. What if no one adopts the cat? What if they run out of money to keep it in boarding and no one can take it in? Then what will happen to the cat?

I understand both sets of people have very good intentions and want only the best for the cats in question and I respect that both of them are going out of their way to help the cats. However good intentions don't always translate to good results. There have been cases where a lot of money is spent on the cat and then people run out of money to keep them in boarding.


Bed Bugs?

I just had someone call to say that the cat trap we just loaned her didn't work. She said she wanted to return it to us. She said however that there were bed bugs in the trap and she wanted to let me know. I asked her if she was sure that they weren't fleas or ticks, but she said they were bed bugs. She said that she thought it came from the trap.

I'm a bit doubtful. First, the trap is metal - and metal objects aren't a good host obviously for fleas or ticks (or bed bugs) that feast on blood. Second, the trap just came out of a new box in my home - and the three other traps had been loaned out to other people with no problem. Very strange. In addition, I think they would be hopping around the car as well and this was a few weeks ago and I've had no problems with that.


Mind your Body, ST Supplement (21-2-07)

Mind your Body, ST Supplement (21-2-07)
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

A very nice article that Vegancat alerted me to about Edgar Lu. I've had the good fortune to meet Edgar and his lovely family and they are wonderful people. They've opened up their home to several community cats - and they are the ones who say they count themselves lucky.

Too often people say they are too busy or don't have time to look after their cats - but Gina got their cats afterward to keep Edgar company which is a change. One of their cats also has a serious medical condition but that didn't stop Gina from taking it in.

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Quality control inspection

Quality control inspection
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

As you can see, the Scarecrows and Catstops just arrived. Pinball is making it his job to do a thorough quality inspection!

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Hope you had a restful holiday!

Hope you had a restful holiday!
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.


Stressed Singaporeans crack down on monkeys

Thanks Otterman for sending in this link :-

Stressed Singaporeans crack down on thieving monkeys

I like how other countries deal with this - they set up feeding stations, sort of like cat cafes for monkeys. Not surprisingly, here we kill them. It's a shame that we seem to think the solution to everything is to kill when a little compassion would go a long way. 80 monkeys a year - that works out to 80 monkeys killed because some people like the woman baking get upset that the monkeys helps themselves to her cakes.

The monkeys are lured out of the forest to eat because people feed them inappropriately. I would say the analogy with cats is similar to that of feeding the cats upstairs where they are not welcome.


Sunday, February 18, 2007

And now for something nice!

Isn't this a lovely story? Thanks Vegancat for sending this in. It's lovely when a community works together to look after one of their own.


TNP (18-2-07)

Here's a very nice story about how a whole neighbourhood came together to try and save the dog that lives in their estate. Blackie does indeed seem like a sweet dog - and apparently even shares food with the cats.

Here's what I don't understand. Why is it that because one person complained, they are going to have to do a survey in order to decide if he must go, when seventy-six people wrote in to say how much Blackie means to them? If it bothers other people so much that Blackie is in the neighbourhood, then the least they can do is bother to write in - why do they have to be surveyed in order to see if they want him or not?

Furthermore, what nuisance is the dog causing? Why does it have to be a case of majority wins if there really isn't a problem? It seems to be a friendly dog - and if there was an indication of how it is causing a nuisance, I am sure the residents would be happy to solve it. If the complainant is just unhappy the dog is just there though, I'm not sure why they are bending over backwards to satistfy this one complaint.

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Scarecrow and CatStop

For the person who asked here's the Scarecrow and here's the CatStop and here's the link that explains what they do!

Basically, the Scarecrow is motion activated - anytime a cat (or anything for that matter!) walks into your yard, it will spray water at the cat. The Cat Stop on the other hand has an ultra sonic noise that only cats can hear (though some other animals may be affected). When a cat walks into your yard, it activates the noise which is annoying to the cat and keeps it out. However, one thing to note - if the cat happens to be deaf or hard of hearing, it will not keep the cat out.

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Saturday, February 17, 2007

Happy Lunar New Year

Happy Lunar New Year to everyone who celebrates it! Have a good one. To everyone else, enjoy the break - I fully intend to!


Friday, February 16, 2007

Black sheep?

I just spoke to the TC officer about this case. He said that he just took over this area six months ago and that since then he has been getting a lot of complaints about the woman. He said that he had worked with responsible caregivers in other parts of the estate for many years and never had problems and that they did a very good job. He felt that she was doing a disservice to everyone because she was, in his words, the black sheep, that was bringing everyone's efforts into disrepute.

He too believes she is bringing in cats from other areas. He said that most of the neighbours generally knew her and didn't want to give her any problems, but that recently, things had come to a head because of her run in with the complainant.

This case is not going to end well for the poor cats.

Going out to collect a cat trap now.

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Another feeder speaks

I spoke to another feeder in the same area as this woman today. The TC had mentioned that this feeder I spoke to was quite responsible and reliable.

I mentioned the woman and her immediate reaction was that the woman was causing a lot of trouble. It seems that she does leave food all over the floor, and that she has been letting her cats run around. The feeder said that she had spoken to the woman several times, but that the woman tended to just get annoyed with her.

The feeder said that as a result, people in the block were getting annoyed. She also said that it seems that the woman is bringing cats into the estate, which the complainant had alleged.

Interestingly, it turns out that according to this feeder, she has been the one getting all the cats sterilised as well, not the woman. She said that the woman tended to have all kinds of reasons why she could not get them done.


Food in pavillion

Food in pavillion
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this yesterday afternoon - food left in the pavillion for the cats. This was right under the block where the man had left food in the sixth floor corridor.


Article in Juris Illuminae (February 2007)

I just went to the post box and picked up the latest issue of Juris Illuminae, where they have a short email interview with me.


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Cat in pavillion

Cat in pavillion
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went to the next mediation, which was in a nearby block. I got into the lift with a man who got off on the same floor as I did. As I walked past him in the corridor, I noticed a cat shaped bowl with chicken wings in it. Then I noticed the man opening the door to the unit!

I asked him if he had been feeding the cats upstairs. He said that he had been. He left the food out for them to eat. I asked if he could please feed the cats downstairs. He assured me that the cats had all been sterilised (and the cats i saw downstairs had been).

I asked if he had cats at home as well, and he said that he did not. The neighbour next door told me later that the situation had become much better since he started keeping his own cats in. She did say that the cats came upstairs and ran around but weren't much problem. This seemed to be what most of the other residents I spoke to said, though the cats seem to be running up and down. A few mentioned the cats were defecating in the corridors too.

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Loaning out the Scarecrow

I just went to pass the Scarecrow to someone who had written in to borrow it. Funnily enough, this guy has the exact same name as the other person who just returned the Scarecrow.

After I had given him the Scarecrow, he told me that he works in pest control. I asked if they dealt with cats at all, and he said no. He hadn't realised that they were a problem at all. He said perhaps if he finds the Scarecrow works they might buy some too to loan to people who may have problems with cats.


Cat behind bicycle

Cat behind bicycle
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's one of the cats I saw today. The woman complaining said that her neighbour feeds them upstairs and that the cats run up from downstairs. The neighbour also has a number of cats indoors that run in and out. She said the smell next door was quite bad at times.

The complainant said she used to have cats herself and that she thinks that it's not a problem of the cats but that the neighbour is being irresponsible. She said that she did feel sorry for the cats, nor did she want them killed, but the neighbour is quite difficult. She showed me photos of food being left outside the neighbour's flat.

Apparently two days ago, the cats knocked over a flower pot, so she asked her neighbour to clean it up. According to her, the neighbour told her that if she wasn't happy, she should go to the TC and complain.

The neighbour wasn't home so I left a note and went for the next mediation.

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Mediation today

Heading out for a Mediation this afternoon.


Two different carowners

One of the TC officers wrote to me yesterday and said that someone had written in to claim that the cats were scratching on their car. The complainant wanted the TC to compensate him for what he claims is damage caused by the cats. I've written to the TC officer to ask for more details and to also let her know that the authorities are not liable for cars in a public carpark - basically, you park at your own risk. Otherwise it would never end - what if you wanted compensation everytime a bird defecated on your bonnet? Or a tree landed on your car and smashed the windscreen? And who's to say it is necessarily the cat anyway?

I just spoke to the caregiver and she says she'll check where the blocks are and will go down to take a look.

On the other hand, I received another email from another caregiver this morning. I had spoken to the complainant last week and he claimed the cats were on his car. He told me his car was only 5 months old and he did not want it to be scratched. I explained cats rarely ever scratched cars and asked him if he would consider using a car cover. He asked how much it would cost and I said we would get him one out of goodwill. He said he would think about it.

The caregiver contacted him on Monday and he agreed to use the car cover. He then asked why she was going to all this trouble - and she told him that she valued life and didn't want the cats killed. He was shocked and told her that he did not want the cats killed either as he was Buddhist. She went down and had a long talk with him and he has agreed to call her if there are any more problems. She also gave him the car cover.

This morning he emailed her to tell her not to trouble herself to come by and check the area out all the time. He would contact her if he did face anymore problems. Good work to the caregiver for handling it well!

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The Olivia Alien

Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went by to a foster's house last night to pay her back for some medical fees she had incurred. Unfortunately, the kitten they had been looking after (which came to them quite ill) passed away on Monday night. They had hoped the kitten would pull through, but unfortunately, it wasn't able to.

The foster had two little girls who were seven and who were lovely. They were obviously very used to animals (their mother also fosters for the SPCA) and love them. Their mother had carefully explained to them about the kitten dying, and they told me that the body was still there, but the kitten's soul had gone somewhere else. When I asked them what they liked, they told me animals and art.

One of the girls went in and drew this picture for me while I was there.

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Wednesday, February 14, 2007


Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is one of the baskets in the corridor - a neighbour told me that the woman leaves them out for the cats to sleep in.


Cat outside flat

Cat outside flat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went down to see what the situation was in the block that the complainant from today had been complaining about.

There were four sterilised cats - none in the void deck, but hiding in the bushes nearby. I also went to speak with the residents. Quite a few of them said that the cats were running around upstairs. One specifically asked me not to have the cats killed though she said they had defecated in her flowerpots several times. She was quite concerned. Others said that the woman was known to keep cats but while they were quite annoyed, she had come by to speak with them and had cleand up after the cats.

I had spoken with her this morning and asked her to please keep the cats in or else to feed the cats downstairs. Unfortunately, this cat was smack outside her door. There was also the smell of urine in the area.

I called her (she was not at home) to ask why the cat was still out and she said it was a cat from downstairs.

The complainant wrote back and admitted that he had yelled at the woman, but he said he was angry because she had come down to see what he was doing when he was taking photos of the cats. He said he was not doing anything wrong. I told him that while he was not doing anything wrong by taking the photos, surely she wasn't either to come down and see what he was doing and that should not entail a yelling at.

Furthermore, he is still upset that she made the remarks about the joss paper and the dogs. He asked if she had admitted to making the remarks and I pointed out that in my previous email to him, I had already said she had. In fact, she was unsure why he was upset about this. He claims she is making religious and racial slurs against him but she said it was true - she cannot keep dogs, and so she chooses to look after cats.

He wrote again to say we should concentrate on abuse and not the removal of the cats. He insists it is not a personal issue, and that if the cats were not there, there wouldn't be a problem. However, he insists the woman brings cats into the estate which is why there are always new cats and it's not due to the vacuum effect. He says he will keep complaining.

I just wrote back to say that either he is blaming the cats or he's blaming the woman - he can't have it both ways. If he's saying the woman is to blame, then why is he taking it out on the cats? If it IS the vacuum effect, then it's not the woman's fault - and new cats will keep coming in, which means his 'solution' of removing them will fail.

Furthermore I added that he is killing the cats same as an abuser does.


Cats hiding

Cats hiding
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just got back a while ago. I saw these two cats at the first meeting I went to and they were hiding under a trolley.

The person with property management was obviously given instructions to get rid of the cats and he was wondering how to do it. I explained the vacuum effect and it helped that another employee came along and was able to give him more details of the situation. She is to set up a working committee to look into the feasibility of TNRM and hopefully that will work out.

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Heading out for a meeting now with a management that wants to remove all the cats. More drama from the complainant this morning, and from another case that I went to a few weeks ago, but it'll have to wait till I get back later!

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Clash of personalities?

What a huge mess! The complainant wrote again this morning and the TC officer got back to me about the woman he complained about and whose number the officer had. I called her up and spoke with her and it turns out that she did indeed go up to speak with the complainant's wife, but not she says, about the cats as he alleges. She claims that she was unhappy that the complainant's wife had scolded her son in the lift earlier that day for what she felt was something unwarranted, and she wanted to set it straight. She said since she was up there, she did bring up the cats (and she did bring up the issue of dogs). She said that she left the flat not knowing there were hard feelings.

The next day, the complainant came down and took photos of the cats. When he took photos, she came down and asked him what he was doing, and told him that if he wanted to take photos, she should take photos of her together with her cats. She said that this was when he started yelling at her and claimed that he wanted the cats removed. She said that he claimed he was with the SPCA or was a member of the SPCA, and that at this point she told him that she knew them and also knew me and CWS (Incidentally, she did refer to all the residents living around her as being CWS people - when in fact none of them were, so I did correct her on this as I don't know them. She had also gotten my number from someone in a different estate, though she had not spoken with me before).

The complainant now claims that the woman is harassing him and that she was in the void deck this morning waiting for him. The woman on her part said that she is usually in the void deck at that time of day, and the complainant happens to be on leave these two days and this may be why he saw her.

She did admit her cats are let out to wander and that there is a cat that takes a lift up to her floor. I have advised her to please keep her cats in and not allow the cats up in the lift.

It seems to me that this may be a misunderstanding that has blown up to epic proportions. The complainant is very upset that the woman went upstairs to look for his wife and as he claims, threatened her, and could not understand how she knew where he lived. I am guessing from what has happened that he is the type of the person who does not like to directly speak with their neighbours and would rather call the TC, talk to the MP, etc. The idea that she would approach him may make him feel threatened for some reason.

On the other hand, the woman he complained about is the more direct sort. When she speaks, she sounds very excited and speaks quite loudly, and it can perhaps come across to some people as sounding aggressive or even angry. She in fact, wanted to go and speak with him directly about this, though I advised against it as now he is saying he wants to take out a Personal Protection Order against her. She in turn said she was thinking of filing a police report. She is also the sort of person who likes to get to know her neighbours and so she knows whom lives where more or less. When I asked how she knew where he lived, she sounded surprised and said that of course, they were neighbours. She said that if she had a problem with the neighbours, she would approach them directly.

It seems that words probably were exchangedby both sides in the heat of the moment, but this may be a case of just two different personalities and possibly even cultures, clashing. Hopefully the cats will not again bear the brunt of this.

I also spoke with the TC and have asked them about the possibility of Mediation. I have said that we are happy to help but wanted to know if the TC could help out as well since this seems to be a more neighbourly dispute which really isn't about the cats per se. The TC was agreeable.

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Cat on pavement

Cat on pavement
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went for a meeting last night for a fundraising proposal someone is mooting. Ricky from Action for Singapore Dogs was as well. I saw this cat after the meeting, sitting on a pavement.


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Feeding and littering

It turns out that an advisor to a TC recently went on a walkabout and quite a few people complained about the cats. As a result, the TC, the regional office of the National Environment Agency and the RC members are all going to meet up and they asked us to attend. We've asked that the caregivers attend as well and they've agreed.

The officer I spoke to, who seemed pretty junior, knew the difference between feeding responsibly and littering which was good. She knew that there were two different groups of people. She thought however that we knew all of them. I explained we don't and that many of the ghost feeders are unknown to the responsible caregivers, who would like the former to stop feeding! In addition, even if they ARE known the responsible caregivers there is little the caregivers can do except to advise them not to litter - they cannot stop them otherwise as they have no power to do so. I also pointed out to her that the NEA officers do not work after office hours, which makes it difficult for the officers to speak with these ghost feeders. She asked me if the ghost feeders tend to feed around 6 pm - she was surprised when I told her that they can feed all around the clock, even in the early hours of the morning.

We are also thinking of writing to the MP to keep him apprised of the situation.

Heading out for a meeting in a few minutes.

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A personal dispute?

The complainant from this morning wrote in again. It turns out he was so fed up with the cats that he tried to hire pest control himself, and that the TC then agreed to have the cats removed but they were unable to trap the cats. He said that he has asked for the cats not to be killed during SARS so he did not dislike cats per se. He kept saying they should be removed and moved into a shelter or a home.

He also kept saying that we should ensure people do not use our name when they are not members of the Society. I pointed out that we cannot stop people from saying what they want but of course if we knew whom she was, we would speak with her. He gave me the officer's details so I rang the officer up.

The officer denied ever saying that they were being scared by residents caring for the cats. He said that there were three residents in the area (whom I do not know) and that they looked after the cats fairly well except for the woman with whom the complainant had a run-in with. They had spoken with her in the past as well. It appears that the TC did not give the complainants' contact details to the feeder but that the feeder must have put two and two together and realised what happened.

According to the officer things came to a head when the feeder confronted the complainant's wife. The feeder apparently accused the complainant's wife of hating cats and said that she did not complain when they had dogs or burnt joss paper. However the complainant took umbrage at this because he does not own dogs and he is Christian. The officer felt it became more personal after this confrontation and that the complainant was also much more upset. I can understand the feeder being very upset if he tried to have her cats removed by pest control, but yelling at him certainly didn't help.

At any rate, the complainant had at first threatened to go to the MP, but I wrote back to him and said that we want to help solve the problem without killing the cats. In addition, I said there was no home to move the cats to - and that his demanding that they be removed meant they would be killed. He wrote back to say he just wanted the matter settled and to thank us for looking into it. I hope that settles in. I am waiting for the officer to get back to me on the complainant's details and then we'll followup.

The only good news is that it appears that there are more caregivers in this estate then we thought. I've asked to be put in touch with them as well.

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TC scared of feeders?

The person who wrote in to complain this morning wrote back to give more details. He said that he was quite sure the woman must know me because she knows my name. I wrote back to say that in certain circles I am fairly well known so I wouldn't be surprised. I told him I also checked our membership database and the list of caregivers in the area and she's not listed. I also told me (in response to his suggestion) that there was no way I could stop people from claiming they were from CWS.

The complainant claims that the cats are mating in the middle of the night and that the woman he wrote in about has cats which she lets run in and out of her flat. In addition, there is food left all over the void deck and is not cleared up.

He also told me that he went to the TC and that the TC according to him, claimed that they had several members of a "Cat Lovers Society" meet with them and that since then they were scared of this Society. When a problem came in with the cats, according to him, the officer said that the problem was deemed void as long as they said they were from the "Cat Lovers Society".

I pointed out to him that CWS and Cat Lovers Society are not quite the same. In addition, no problem is declared 'void' just because someone is from CWS - we work with the TC to solve the problem together obviously. I told him that just yesterday we had been dealing with a problem from another precinct and a volunteer had gone down to check out the area. I asked him to please give me the name of this officer so I can speak with him about this.

Unfortunately this is not the first time that we've heard of TCs telling people that they cannot do anything because they are scared of the caregivers in the area. On the other hand, often we hear of caregivers being told that the TC is scared of the complainants and cannot do anything! Clearly neither approach is going to work because whether or not they are 'scared', something has to be done and in a logical manner. I think it's a shame if TCs react because the complainant is belligerent and aggressive and that I think such complainants, whether they be complainants or caregivers, should be ignored. Basic courtesy should be respected.

I want to clarify this with the TC because if they are giving out wrong information, or giving out a wrong impression then I want to have a word with them on this. It is irresponsible to pass out information that seems to suggest that they are being terrorised by feeders (unless that is of course truly happening, in which case I would want to know about it as well and perhaps speak with the feeders then).

At the same time, if the feeder is acting in an irresponsible manner, then she should not expect to get the Society to back her up. This doesn't mean people don't make mistakes, or even that people don't lose their tempers or react in a less than satisfactory manner when they are upset (and you'd be surprised how far an apology can go in these cases). However, it also doesn't mean that the Society will back every feeder up just because they happen to look after cats. If someone is littering all over the place, or feeding the cats upstairs for example outside their house, and they will not listen to reason, then I see no reason to help them out.

I get calls from people who seem to repeatedly get into trouble - one woman has had four different altercations with people while feeding, and all of them in different estates. She tends to call me whenever she gets into a spot. Now I am happy to help if I can - but I am also starting to wonder whether she is doing something wrong since so many different people in different areas seem to get angry with her (in addition another feeder called to complain about her the other day). She readily hands out my number and the Society's name whenever she has a problem.

One other woman called me to ask me to bail her out of prison because she got into a fight with her friend. She said that the Society (or I) should bail her out or her cats would not eat that night (she was to be released the next day). None of her other friends wanted to help.

Another person was upset because she had adopted her cats out to someone who wasn't a good adopter in her view and she wanted the cats back. I offered to go with her and speak with the person but she said she did not want to tip the person off. She said that she wanted me to go back, distract the family and steal the cat with her. She told me that she couldn't ask her friends whom she had fostered the cat with because she didn't want to get them into trouble - but clearly she had no problems getting me or the Society into trouble. I said no of course.

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Ordering more Scarecrows

I spoke to the woman from the company in Canada that manufactures Cat Stops and Scarecrows this morning and have ordered a number more so we can loan them out. They were pleased to hear that firstly, so far they seem to be working (the man who borrowed them yesterday said the Scarecrow worked 100% of the time, but a few cats still came in with the Cat Stop). Secondly, I think they were quite pleased that we are ordered them from so far away and using them halfway across the world.

According to her, the Cat Stop does not work on Himalayan cats for some reason. It also obviously does not work on deaf cats.

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"Storming" the TC

Someone just wrote into say that they were very upset with CWS because the woman living in their block looked after the cats and claimed to be from CWS. Apparently, she went up to their flat and scolded his wife for not liking cats. He said that he called the TC and that the TC claimed that CWS volunteers had 'stormed their office' to protest the removal of the cats.

I wrote back to him and said this was a serious allegation. Firstly, I had no idea whom this woman is, as we don't know anyone living in the block. Secondly, I do not know of any volunteers storming into their office.

I asked him for the woman's name and also for the name of the TC officer he spoke with. I told him these were serious allegations and that I would like to speak with the TC officer. I would also like to know whom this woman is.

We can't stop people from using CWS' name obviously and claiming to be from CWS. However, there are also a group of people who aren't known to us who may think it's advantageous to say they are CWS volunteers as it confers some sort of backing. Firstly, we can't confer any sort of backing if we don't know what's happening or what we're supposed to be helping out with - and it would be good to let us know before the fact, not after. Secondly, what some people probably don't realise is that if they act in a certain way and then claim to be from CWS, that it brings a bad name to how volunteers and the Society acts. This in turn affects how all other caregivers are viewed and can give a bad name to everyone.

We are more than happy to help out any caregivers, whether they be volunteers, members or complete strangers to us - but they in turn have to act reasonably and sensibly. This complainant for example, complained the woman who approached him was 'paranoid and over zealous'. This has probably reinforced the image to him of a crazy cat lady. Now we obviously have to hear her side of the story (easier said then done since I don't know whom she is), but if how she behaved is true, then it adds credence to how society in general already views cat feeders - as strange, hostile people who only care about their cats and nothing else. And if she did claim CWS is backing her, then it adds even more fuel to the fire.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Students drawing

Students drawing
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw these students drawing this Dali statue on the way to picking up the CatStop and scarecrow from the man who had borrowed it.

Not only is the same man who bought his own Scarecrows to use, he told me to keep the deposits as a donation from him. He thanked us for working hard and doing a good job. I wish all 'complainants' were like him!

Went to drop off the Scarecrow and Catstop afterward to another family having problems with cats in their yard.

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Running errands

Been packing TNRM packets because I just had a bunch of photocopying done. Heading out shortly to pick up the Scarecrow and Catstop and hopefully to drop it off to the next people who need it. Incidentally, I'm dropping it off to this woman's family. The woman who wrote to us originally to get the cats sterilised wrote back that she tried to convince her mother but the rest of the family is against it. Her mother it turns out, is not Buddhist (as I originally thought as she had used the word karma), but is Catholic.

Incidentally, the people who make the Scarecrow and Catstop wrote today because they got my email which I sent a while ago. They may be able to ship it directly it which would be great.

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Mother cat update

Mother cat behind bike
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is the cat that Rebecca and I saw last week. On Friday evening, a woman called to say she had gotten our note and that the mother cat had disappeared and one of the kittens was dead. One of the volunteers and I were planning to go down and pick up the kittens but we were also worried the mother cat might come back. The presence of a dead kitten was bad news though.

I called the woman back and she said that she would get her mother to check as her mother was the one who lived in the block. She called back to say the mother cat had come back and the kitten was not dead - just stuck in the bicycle spokes. I rang a volunteer who lives in the next block and he freed the kitten.

Another woman just rang as she had seen the mother and the kittens. She doesn't know who is feeding the cats either though. She didn't mind them being there but was just wondering why they were there.

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Cats in Flats

To Revive the Kampung Spirit HDB has to put its own ear to the ground and scrutinise its own Heart

A letter in today's online Forum about the HDB rule.

Someone wrote in yesterday to ask if it was true that cats were not allowed in flats - this person said that they did not want to break the law, and if so, he or she didn't want to get a cat, though he or she had been thinking about it. It just goes to show - the law penalises people who WANT to follow the law and are responsible, whereas people who allow their cats to wander do not get into trouble, as was seen in the article in the New Paper yesterday.

I had actually gone down to see the flat in question because the Town Council requested we go down. No one answered though I knocked and knocked and a neighbour told me that they make it a point not to open the door though she was certain someone was inside. I left a note and they never called me back. I was also told by a neighbour that when they do get a warning from the HDB, they just dump all their cats downstairs and that they had just done so recently prior to my visit. From what I understand, the TC and the HDB also went down with similar results. Clearly these aren't responsible individuals - after all, surely the cats aren't the ones throwing defecation down at their neighbours' window sills.

HDB however does not care what happens to the cats after the fact, nor if these cats are dumped into the estate as long as they're not in the flat. This is a very short term view and doesn't actually address the problem - the problem is the owners and the fact that they are irresponsible, not the cats per se. Removing the cats does not make the owners more responsible - what should be penalised is the owners' behaviour, not the ownership of the cats! If not, it does not encourage responsible ownership but does the converse. In addition, it causes a problem of abandonment in the estate.

Interestingly, one-third of the random people polled wanted the rule to be enforced, but another one-third were KEEPING cats in flats. Also interestingly, and as I suspected, the fine has never been enforced against anyone.

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UN New Centre on H5N1

I am always interested to look at how different newspapers will run the same story. If you look at some newspapers, they emphasised that 20% of the cats found around an infected area had H5N1 - but if you look at this article from the UN News Centre, you'll see the fact that 80% of the cats did NOT catch it was of more significance. More importantly, as an earlier scientist pointed out, these reports were never substantiated.

Note what the UN suggests - where H5N1 has been found in birds, cats should be separated from the birds and on commercial poultry premises, cats should be kept indoors. And of course, it advised against killing cats.

We know the knee jerk reaction during SARS where everyone started panicking about everything - taxis would not stop for doctors and nurses and cats of course were killed to improve hygiene. Let's hope that we'll keep a calmer head if the worst happens and we act rationally if H5N1 ever makes an appearance here (and in the meantime let's pray it doesn't).

As I was discussing with another volunteer, in a way cats are an easy scapegoat to make us feel as if we're doing something. Why? It is called avian flu for a reason - ie it comes from birds. It would be impossible (nor in any way am I suggesting we should) to kill all the birds because obviously they can fly and are more mobile. It would be impossible to stop bringing in meat (now the suspected reason why the UK has been hit by avian flu) because people are not going to stop eating their poultry, but we need to feel we are doing something. The worst part is that the cats may suffer because of it just as they did during SARS.

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Friday, February 09, 2007

TNRM Workshop in March

We're going to be holding a TNRM workshop in March on 4th March at the National Library at Bras Brasah Road in the Imagination Room on Level 5. If you would like to attend, please email me and let me know your name, contact number and how many people you will be coming with, or if you're coming alone which is absolutely fine too! The workshop will run from 2 - 5 pm.

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Peering out

Peering out
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This little cat was peering out from behind the bushes today - he ran away when I got too close.


Writing Anonymous Letters

I just got off the phone with a feeder. Unfortunately there seem to be occasional cases of cat abuse in her area and it used to be quite bad. The problem is that there never are witnesses that will come forward. In one case, her friend saw someone abuse the cat, and I went down with the two of them. After giving testimony for two hours or so, the minute the feeder left the room the friend said that she did not want to go to court - she was just scared of her friend being angry with her. So that case never got prosecuted (and when the feeder came back, she turned on her heels and told her friend she would never speak with her again -whereupon the friend got very upset).

Another time, she insisted that she had stirling witnesses this time - they turned out to all be children, whose parents did not want them going to court.

Now I know she's frustrated that she does not have witnesses, but if the witnesses will not go to court, there is nothing that we can do.

So she called up this time to say that she had another witness - a security guard at a building who saw someone whom she claims is a doctor throwing pebbles at some of the cats. I asked her if this person is willing to go to the police. Predictably he was not. Instead, she wanted us to write a letter to the alleged abuser (she said she knew his address) and tell him that he was not to abuse the cats. I told her, we had no proof and could not go around accusing people of abusing cats. She said perhaps we could send an anonymous letter because we had more power as a Society. I asked her what the point of that was - it would tell the person that someone who did not have the courage (and obviously the proof) to write their name down was making accusations they could not back up. She said that the person might be 'scared'. I told her on the contrary the person might be even bolder knowing that there was nothing to link him to the cats (none of which were injured by the way). I asked her why she didn't write the letter herself since it was going to be anonymous anyway. Our policy on Anonymous letters is simply that we don't entertain them - and we certainly won't be sending them out either.

In addition, she claimed that there was another security guard in the same building whom she was convinced was killing her cats - though again there was no proof. The bodies were not taken to the vet to have a necropsy done, and she did not make a report. She said it was no use to speak to the police. She wanted us to go down and get the security guard's NRIC and name. I told her again, firstly, we had no authority to go around demanding peoples' NRICs and secondly, she still had no proof linking this man to the supposed abuse. She said she saw him yesterday throwing something in the direction of the cats. I told her the police could go down and have a word with him but she needed to first make a report, which she does not want to do.


Are you married?

Remember this woman? She just called again to wish me a Happy Chinese New Year (which was very nice of her). She then enquired as to my marital status, and said she would have liked to introduce me to her son especially as I had a nice voice. This is the first time I've received an introduction via proxy and I must say it left me rather tickled. She then proceeded to tell me what a good catch her son was and that he was a very filial son. So if anyone would like to meet a nice 31 year old who works I believe in the IT line, and supports his mother, let me know :)

She also told me about her children, where they were living and what they were doing. She sounded very proud of them which is sweet. I wasn't sure if she called to chat but it turned out eventually that she had actually called for a reason, that she wanted to let me know she was taking over the feeding route of the feeder who moved out and wanted me to let the TC officer know so he would not take away the other feeders' cats. That was truly wonderful news.

Before hanging up, she wished me a good holiday again and urged me to remember to buy a lottery ticket ;)

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