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.