Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Speaking of complaints

One of the RCs just sent a list of complaints that residents made during a walkabout. Two were from neighbours about 'cat feeding'. I spoke with one of the complainants though and it turns out the main issue was cat defecation and she did NOT want the cats removed.

What was interesting though was what people complained about. Some people had more than one complaint. Some of the more interesting complaints - children playing football in the void deck opposite, that someone in a different block had a pot of plants in the corridor, but my personal favourite was - that the neighbours make too much noise when they open their door. I wonder what can be done about that. Gagging the neighbours? Ensuring their door always remains closed?

So it really isn't just strange complaints about cats - it's complaints about everything!

Real Men bumper sticker

Real Men bumper sticker
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I haven't actually blogged about the meeting with the caregivers on Saturday - I saw this wonderful sign when I was on the way back from the meeting.

It was a pretty dreary and drizzly Saturday but still quite a few caregivers made their way down for the meeting. They were concerned about why the TC did not want to meet with them. They were confused as to what the protocol should be now - should they go through the RC? Should they go directly to the TC as the officer had suggested the last time? Or should they go through CWS? What would happen if the cats were caught?

One caregiver pointed out that they were supposed to speak directly with their own officer but that when one of the caregivers called to speak with his officer, he was told that he should not. Another caregiver wanted to know why the sterilised cats were caught. They asked why the town council was not meeting with them. Another said that the MP had promised that the sterilised cats would not be caught - they wondered what had changed.

A few shared how they educated people while doing TNRM on responsible feeding, sterilisation and the importance of management. They also spoke about the unreasonable complainant who makes a lot of noise and what could be done to help the caregiver whose officer asked her to remove the cats so that the complainant would stop complaining - for now.

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Cats of the World

I just spoke with a reporter from Today newspaper who called about the exhibition tonight for the Cats of the World photo exhibition. We have a booth there and will be selling some merchandise. There are still a number of invitations available for those of you who would like to come.

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Help needed

I just found out from one of the caregivers last night that one of the residents who accompanied her to the Meet the Peoples' session last night did so even though he is having examinations today. He's a young man who has put in a lot of time and effort to help the cats. Too often caregivers say they are busy and undoubtedly they are. However, it's a question again of priorities and how important the cats are to you - to this young man, even though this is not 'his' area nor 'his' cats, they are a priority. His dedication is an inspiration!

At the same time, the caregivers were discussing conducting a door to door survey last night. They don't believe that the residents there want the cats removed and from speaking to other residents they do not get that feeling. However from what was said, as long as the RC which is deemed to be representative, continue to ask for the cats to be removed, the TC looks likely to bend to their demands (despite the fact the town council gave the RC members the wrong information in the wrong place).

By actually asking the residents, they'll be able to find out what the residents really think. So the next question is - would anyone be willing to help out? There are a fair number of blocks to cover and the more people, the faster the survey will go!

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Contraceptives for pigeons

Interesting article Yskat sent in - Hollywood turns to bird control

I went to look up the contraceptive on the website. Unfortunately it seems to only work on birds. This has been something I've been discussing with friends for a while too - why it is so difficult to get a contraceptive for cats! Neutrosol was pulled off the market and it was prohibitively expensive anyway. It might still be cheaper to sterilise but the hard to trap cats might perhaps be better off being fed contraceptives.


Meeting with the MP

The RC member in this case was kicking up a fuss yet again. The town council officer told the caregiver that as a result the cats would be rounded up either yesterday or today so the caregiver took half a day off work yesterday to rush to her town council to see what could be done. No one however was able to help because her officer was not around. The GM was not around and no one knew when he'd be back. With the other two caregivers they did not know what else to do.

They did manage to speak to a rather junior officer who told them he did not have much power on this issue. He did tell them that the RC had voted to have the cats removed. The caregivers explained that the RC had voted based on misinformation - according to the RC member who called the caregiver, they had asked specifically if the cats would be killed and if that was the case they did NOT want them to be removed. However the TC officer present had assured them they would be 'adopted'.

The officer also told them that the TC needs to work with the RC and the RC is the representative of the residents. The caregiver said that they should perhaps consult the actual residents like herself - and apparently he told her, there was no need to. They had spoken with the RC and they were deemed to be representative.

They decided to see the MP again and asked if I could go down with them as they had told the MP the last time they'd like to ask me to sit in as well. While they were waiting, whom should they see but the RC chairperson, the complainant AND the town council officer all going in together to see the MP.

She happened to meet one of the RC members there and he told her quietly he did not want the cats removed. He said that he would sign a letter if she wrote one - but he told her not to bring up his name to the MP typically.

The MP said that the complainant had come in waving around HDB regulations and information about MND. He said that he had told the complainant he was very aware of this because he used to be at the AVA himself.

He told the caregivers that the TC officer told him that there was some kind of resolution that necessitated the removal of cats whenever there was one complaint. He said that he had told the town council this was the old resolution. He said he would try and buy some time before the next town council meeting.

He asked if the cats could be removed in the interim. I explained the vacuum effect and he agreed that it made sense. I also said that from what the complainant said, the cats had been removed in the past because of the complainant - but he continued to complain.

He asked the caregiver to work with the TC and the RC. We emphasised that all the caregivers WANTED to work with the TC and the RC, that the caregiver had offered the complainant a car cover and repellent, but that the complainant was the one refusing to work with them.

He told the caregivers he would try and hold off the town council till the next meeting - which was rather odd. One would think an MP would have more clout than that really.

The MP then wrote two letters which he passed to the caregiver to hand to the RC and the TC. The caregiver thought to have a look at the letters and opened one, and was scolded by an RC member who was rather aggressive. I asked if it was possible to have a copy of the letters and he said that it was not their policy to give copies. I said I was aware other RCs did. He asked rather rudely why a copy was needed. I told him that people in TCs and RCs change - having a copy of the letter would make it easier. I said there had been a case where the officer changed and the new officer could not find the letter. He said that the officer had been there for a number of years - which doesn't make sense to me because even if she had been there a number of years doesn't mean she would not leave at some point. He said to look for him if there was an issue (assuming of course that HE doesn't leave either).

As we were leaving, we saw a woman in one of the cubicles yelling at this rather aggressive RC member and I heard something about the police. He quickly walked away and I saw that the woman was immediately ushered into see the MP instead of the helper at the session she had been speaking to up to that point.

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Monday, July 30, 2007


Just back from the meeting with the volunteer who is trying to round up some help for Spay Day and then met Corbie and Rebecca to talk about some Spay Day and other issues.

One of the caregivers just called - she needs to see her MP tonight and had mentioned the last time she met him that she would like to bring me along. He had no objections so I'm heading out again.


Spay Day Meeting

Heading out for a meeting this afternoon with someone who wants to ask if her group can volunteer for Spay Day.


Audience at SEAGA forum

Audience at SEAGA forum
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's the audience at the forum on Saturday. I spoke about how NGOs play an important role in getting people to be involved in society, how they promote the exact opposite of apathy that we keep complaining about that we see in Singaporeans. I said that I think NGOs are an important link between the authorities and the general public and that NGOs can help to foster relations between the two parties. I also said that I felt that not everyone can be involved in public service or politics but everyone can volunteer in an NGO.

Someone asked about volunteerism in Singapore and what we felt the demographics are. I said that right now I felt the volunteerism rate was a bit low compared to other countries.

Someone made the comment that he felt Singaporeans were busy and that's why people do not volunteer. The session wrapped up before I could answer that. I think that frankly everyone is busy - it's what you make a priority of. There seems to be this impression that one volunteers because one has a lot of free time - in fact I find people who actively volunteer are probably the most busy people I know. One of the speakers on the panel for example volunteers with several different groups and works part-time someone too - yet she volunteers. I think countries with higher volunteerism rates are not any less busy - but that their priorities may be different, whereby giving something back to the community is considered to be important.


Looking for a new home

I had someone contact me about a woman who was migrating from Singapore and who had been supposedly asking around to see if anyone wanted her cat. No one did. Of course as she plans to leave in two days and is now getting desperate.

I called to speak with her. I was told that one of her options is just to abandon the cat in her condo if no one will take it. The first thing she asked was if I was going to take her cat. I explained we do not take cats but want to explore options to see if her cat could go with her. She said she would not be in one place and did not have a maid with her.

She then said that if I wasn't going to take her cat, she wasn't interested. She isn't 18 or 21 years old anymore she said, and she thought it was odd that I called up and asked her these questions. I told her we were just looking for options to see what could be done. She promptly said that she didn't want to continue the conversation unless I took her cat.


SEAGA forum

SEAGA forum
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I was on a panel at the SEAGA forum on Saturday afternoon. There were several other sessions going on at the same time as well. I spoke in the panel discussion about NGOs - the role of NGOs in Singapore and Southeast Asia. I spoke about the work CWS does as well as what I think NGOs contribute to Singaporean society.

There were four other speakers from Migrant Voices, Singapore Heart Foundation, Tsao Foundation and the Vegetarian Society and they were all very interesting speeches. Jacin and Michelle also came to sit in and give moral support :) Thanks guys.

Thanks to SEAGA and to George for helping to organise this.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Cats bring people together

Cats bring people together
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I've been working on my talk for tomorrow.

This community cat popped up near my home a few days ago near a construction site. He was so friendly that he would follow people around like a dog (as well as cars!).

I noticed a young boy playing near the cat with a stick - I was quite worried and watched them for a while but it turned out that he was just using as a toy for the cat to chase. A couple turned up a few minutes later and they began to play with the cat too.

The couple seemed very taken with the cat. We spoke with them and it turned out that the boy and his sister, who suddenly appeared as well, had been trying to get the couple to adopt the cat. They decided they would do so. We got together a sand tray, some food and litter to tide them over and they took the cat home. I went by to see the couple yesterday and the cat, it seems, is very happy in his new home.

The interesting thing was that I met two different sets of people - and they met each other as well because of the cat! We probably would not have spoken otherwise. The children have since been over to visit with the couple and I've been invited over for a drink. Cats really can and do bring people together.

And cats really can make a home complete :)


Difficult complainant

I spoke with a caregiver today. Apparently she and some friends care for some community cats. She said there was someone she calls a "Complaint King" who complains about everything. He came up last night and was berating her friends again for feeding the cats. Before he left, he apparently told them to watch how long they could keep that up or something similar and rather threatening.

This morning her officer called to say there was a complaint. She suspected it might be the same complainant and she shared what happened to her friends with the officer. The officer was not surprised apparently and he apparently said that this was probably why the complaint had occurred. Apparently this man had also been complaining a lot to the town council. She asked the officer how many cats there were there and he did not know, nor did he know which cats were there (there are actually only two according to her). However he said that this man would keep complaining till they were removed and might speak to his superior. He asked her to please remove the cats at least for the time being.

The caregiver then spoke to the manager, who was the officer's superior to ask for his help. The manager also knew that this man was difficult and apparently he had even complained about the manager to the MP at one point! However he told the caregiver she must try and keep everyone happy and look after her cats well. She said that she had been but that this complainant was clearly unreasonable.

The caregiver said the cats were sterilised and were well managed - and she felt this man has always been unreasonable. However even though he is unreasonable (and she said she felt he was harassing the TC too), his complaint is still being dealt with. The caregiver was quite overcome with worry for the cats and cried on the phone as she didn't know what to do.

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Temple caring for cats

Vegancatsg told us about a Buddhist temple that he went to for a talk and he noticed a number of community cats around. He was concerned that the cats might not have been sterilised and wrote to them. He also copied us on the email.

We sent the temple a copy of the information on TNRM and they wrote back. It seems that the cats there were brought in by devotees of the temple and that the temple then had them vaccinated, dewormed and will have them sterilised once they are of age. They have had several 'generations' of cats living there. We were so glad to hear they have such a nice policy!


Meeting with caregivers

I'm meeting with the caregivers in this estate tomorrow. They are meeting to discuss their options and what to do next at this juncture. The meeting will be after the forum I am speaking at tomorrow afternoon.

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Thursday, July 26, 2007

Permanent solutions or Bandaids?

The caregiver I was speaking with today mentioned how she was having problems with irresponsible owners in the area she manages. She said that she spoke with one family about their wandering male cat. As there is dumping in her area, she is concerned that there may be a new female cat that gets pregnant before she has managed to get it sterilised (I believe the other cats have all already been done). She asked the family to allow her to get the male cat done, but they refused. She asked them to then please keep it in. Again they refused because they said the cat never goes downstairs. Of course what happened is that the caregiver saw the male cat chasing some of the already sterilised females downstairs.

Someone else wrote in to say that his neighbour's cat was using his doorstep in lieu of a litterbox. He did not want the cats removed but said he was quite worried about what could be done. He had gone to speak with his neighbour but the neighbour had told him that it was impossible to keep the cat in. I told him that was clearly not true. He was grateful to be told he could try using crushed mothballs where the cat urinates and chopsticks for his plants because he felt at least this might help solve his problems.

Yet another person told us today that their neighbours were letting their cats out. One cat even had a collar. These cats come into his house and urinate on his doorstep. When he spoke with the town council, they trapped a cat - and guess what? The urination didn't stop. He's having the same problems he had before the cat was trapped. A caregiver spoke with the families involved yesterday - both insisted their cats did not urinate outside their homes though one was definitely feeding a cat upstairs.

Two issues here - one, irresponsible owners are a big, BIG problem. Something really needs to be done to tackle this - and HDB and TCs ignoring the problem of the owners does NOT make the issue go away.

Two, catching the wrong cat time and again has been shown not to help. Surely if the person comes back and complains again that the same problem of urination is cropping up days after the cat was caught must show that randomly trapping cats does not help (either that or it's proving the vacuum effect). Why then is it done? Does anyone look into whether these problems are actually solved? Or does the fact that some action was taken constitute doing the job? How much money, time and lives are being wasted here?

It really does worry me that band aids and quick fix its are being used. We have to look at this problem together - TCs, HDB, caregivers and other residents and address it together. Pushing it to someone else to handle, either by getting pest control in, or getting residents to take care of the issue without any help - is not going to work.

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Oscar the cat

It seems a lot of people read this story and thought it was interesting. I remember seeing something similar on a documentary a few years ago about cats being used for pet therapy - not sure if it's the same cat.

Thanks to Simian, Imp, TarsierGirl and Coboypb for sending this in :-

Oscar the Cat

It occured to me that I wonder whether Oscar's ability to literally sniff out death (if that is indeed what it is) may not be taken quite so well in Singapore, where people might feel more squeamish about this. Some people might feel that it was inauspicious. However I think Oscar basically is reading the signs somehow that the person is going to pass away - and is just offering what comfort he can. It's not as if he hastens death. If relatives can be alerted too to say goodbye - I think that most people would appreciate the opportunity to do so.


Problem feeders

I was speaking to one of the people I dropped newsletters off to yesterday and she mentioned that she had been trying to trap community cats in her area. However there is a woman who feeds cats in the vicinity. She has offered to help her trap those cats many times but the woman refused. The woman I spoke to decided to just focus on the cats near her who recently appeared - and then she realised that the feeder had started expanding the radius of the feeding to include the area where the community cats she is trying to trap hang around.

As a result every time she goes out with a cat trap, the cats are so full, that they don't go into the trap. The food is also never cleared up. She said talking to the feeder does not help - all she wants to do is to feed.

When I spoke with a caregiver today, she mentioned the same thing. She said she was having problems in some areas with trapping because of the feeders. Two women insisting on leaving piles of food out and repeated attempts to advise them were futile. The caregiver tried to explain that she needed to trap the cats for sterilisation and they had to starve. The feeders retorted that the cats might be giddy with lack of food and it was especially important to feed them before surgery. The caregiver said her friends who were helping her were so incensed they were contemplating calling the police to fine the feeders.

The caregiver also told me that she had been trying to trap the cats in an area and had been speaking to yet another woman who was feeding but not sterilising. The woman refused to listen and kept telling the caregiver how much she spent every month feeding. The caregiver in turn told her that she had spent much more on sterilisation - and that she wanted to do it to help the cats. The feeder said she only wanted to feed - and even though the caregiver was willing to help with the money, the feeder was not interested.


No wonder volunteerism is dead

This officer wrote back - he said that they have to work for residents who pay conservancy charges and hence need to take care of their complaints. He said that caregivers are residents who make the decision to care for the cats hence it should be their responsibility. He said he had his limits.

I wrote back to point out that when residents help to check for larvae in homes, why doesn't the town council make these volunteers 'in charge' of dengue? After all, they decided to help out too didn't they?

He also said TC is not trying to push responsibility to anyone because it is just a phone call away to trap the cats. I said that if this was their idea of solving the problem I was very disappointed - because the complainant I spoke to did NOT want the cat removed. She wanted the urination to stop.

In fact in another case where the cat was in fact just removed, I just checked with the complainant and the problem has not stopped at all! Which means the TC removed again, the wrong cat. So how is this helping ANY of the residents?

It's a shame that some town council officers seem to forget that residents who are caregivers pay conservancy charges too - and in fact penalise them for wanting to help. Is it any wonder volunteerism in Singapore is in such a bad state? It's better to sit around and not do anything - you get rewarded for it, whereas if you try and help, then more work gets pushed your way.

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Who's responsibility is a 'cat issue'?

I just spoke with a complainant for quite a while about a problem in her area. Apparently there is a cat that has come up to urinate in her corridor a few times. She pointed out which cat it is and she said she had nothing against the cats - she just wanted the problem solved basically.

The interesting thing is that the town council officer had just emailed me and said that there were problems there and they were getting complaints from two blocks in the vicinity (including the complainant's block) almost every other day. He said that cat issues were not a priority of his and that he wanted to put the resident caregiver's name on the notice board so that other residents could call the caregiver directly.

The complainant also told me this was the third time she had complained about this (and the first time I had heard about it) and that the officer had told her that firstly, they were not the ones in charge of cat issues, and that secondly she was the only one who complained in her block!
I wrote back to the officer to say that while I understood that they dealt with many issues, they cannot refuse to deal with cat issues and just outsource it to other residents. The residents who care for the cats are more than willing to help - but they're not getting paid to do it. Why their names should go on the board is beyond me unless the town council starts deciding to pay them to do the work.

It's also worrying that this is the attitude because in that case, dengue and mosquito cases should not be handled by the TCs either - after all, that's NEA's portfolio. Littering - again NEA. A bit more co-operation and working together - and a bit less of the shoving of the work to someone else - would be the best way to solve problems.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Cat in window

Cat in window
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just back from delivering newsletters and going to the post office. This is one of the cats I saw while I was dropping off newsletters at one of the vets - while I stopped to take photos, a number of people stopped to look too. One lady commented he was really cute.



Been packing newsletters for the vets today to mail off when I get to the post office this afternoon. Will also be dropping by some vet clinics to drop off the newsletters to them.


Bathroom cats update

E_Cat went down and checked on these cats again. Unfortunately it seemed some of them were back in cages. He asked the woman about it and she said that they were let out during the day. Apparently the woman has a relative staying with her and she finds the cats noisy, which may account for it.

E_Cat has gone down to try and get the rest of the cats sterilised. The cats look fatter as a whole and their flu seems to be much better. Here are some photos he took :-

Thanks to E_Cat for all the effort he has put into this. Some of the cats are up for adoption on the CWS website - if you know of anyone who would like a cat, please let them know.


Cats of the world Invitation

Cats of the world Invitation
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

There will be a private preview of the Cats of the World Photo Exhibition - as the space is limited, the organisers, Sixth Sense, have asked us to limit the numbers to about 20 people. Please email me if you'd like to come.

If you can't make the preview, the exhibition will still run from 1st - 15th August at the Moomba @ Level 2 at Circular Road.

Thank you to Sixth Sense for inviting us to be part of this exhibition.


Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Cat to be returned to caregiver

Just got the letter from the TC. I am grateful that the cat will be released and can go home. However they again mentioned the cat will be released to CWS though in the email the officer mentioned the caregiver can pick it up. I have just written to the TC to clarify that the cat is not being released to CWS but to the caregiver - who are happy the cat can be released to them.


Cat to be returned

Good news!

One of the town council officers called to say that this cat can be released without a microchip and can go home! He said that he did not want to let any more time go by as he was concerned about the cat and would write a letter to release it so it did not have to sit in the AVA any longer. The cat can be returned to the street.

I am very glad to hear this and one of the caregivers will go down and pick it up tomorrow.


Mikey looking at the PC

Mikey looking at the PC
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's a very cute photo of Mikey looking at the PC at himself. A nice photo to cheer up a rather gloomy day. It kind of reminds me of the Infinite Cat project.

Thanks to Patricia for sending this in. She wishes to tell everyone that Mikey thanked everyone for their good wishes :)


Is it about the cats?

We didn't meet the caregivers last night because there were a lot of people waiting to see the MP apparently and so we're asking them if they'd like to meet up another day to discuss the situation. Of course this is entirely up to them - and they may decide there is no need to do so. At the end of the day, the cats belong to them as we have pointed out and it's entirely their call.

At the same time had a very frustrating conversation with one of the two feuding feeders today. One of them had texted me to say she knew of a household with the cats in very bad shape (she suggested it was akin to severe neglect or abuse). She said there were many cats dying though she wasn't sure where this flat was exactly though she could find out. I suggested she might want to call the AVA if this was a case of abuse and to let them know.

The next thing I know, the other feuding feeder called to say that he heard that the woman he is having an on-going issue with was calling in the HDB (which is not what I heard). He said that the other feeder could not be sure what the situation was and she had no right to step in. So he wanted US to call her and let her know.

I pointed out that this was absurd. I didn't know the situation either - and I asked if he did. He said he was aware that the woman had a 'good heart' and kept taking kittens into the flat, and that many of them died because according to him they were young kittens. I told him this sounded pretty bad to me. I asked if he was quite sure that he was able to convince the woman not to take more cats in and we could try and see how we could help. I pointed out if this was a hoarding case there was little we can do as we're not trained to handle disorders like that.

The feeder said he was confident he could handle the woman - but he would not step in unless the other feeder was no longer involved.

I told to him that they are not in kindergarten. I said that it's important to work together for the cats and not against each other. I asked him to think about it - was this really about the cats about themselves?

I asked him if it was true what I heard from the caregiver in the middle that he had said that he would not turn up to meet for meetings if the feeder he did not like was there. He said he would prefer not to see her. He said one person more or less in the group was not important to him. I said that this was also about their little 'groups' - if one didn't turn up, their friends would not come as well. This sort of disunity was bad for the caregivers as a whole. The feeder retorted that he wanted to see how many people she could bring, whereas he was confident he had a group of people who would turn up with him.

I was pretty much astounded. I told him this was not a playground with rival cliques. I said if they cannot put aside their differences to work for the cats then what hope was there?

He kept saying that the other feeder had started it. I tried to tell him that someone had to be bigger about the situation and put their differences aside - for the cats. I said that they could work together on this case about the woman who may be neglecting/abusing the cats but he flatly refused. If the other feeder is involved, he will not be.


Food on sale

Auric Pacific has mentioned that they have near expired food which they are trying to dispose of cheaply. This might be of interest to people who are buying large quantities for community cats for example :-

Nat’s Bal Chicken & Fish 1.5kgs (Expiry 21-08-07) $0.93/pack
Expiry 22-10-07) $1.87/pack
Nutri Plus Chicken w Vegetables 1.5kgs (Expiry 13-11-07) $1.87/pack
Chunky w Chicken Classic 390gm (Expiry 19-05-08) $1.35/can
Juicy Chicken & Salmon Classic 390gm (Expiry 27-03-08) $1.35/can
(Expiry 19-06-08) $1.35/can
Mature Formula w Chicken 390gm (Expiry 11-03-08) $1.35/can
Furball Formula w Lamb185gm (Expiry 03-04-08) $0.96/can

CHAMP (Dog Food)
Classic Beef & Rice Senior 680gm (Expiry 09-07-08) $2.15/can
Classic Lamb & Rice 680gm (Expiry 27-03-08) $2.15/can
Classic Lamb & Rice 385gm (Expiry 27-03-08) $1.59/can
Classic Meat Lovers 680gm (Expiry 28-07-08) $2.15/can
These prices do not include the 7% GST rate and there is free delivery for orders over $150.

Please contact Jolene at jolenekua@auric.com.sg or at 6867 9143.



Some of the caregivers went down to see their MP last night about this issue and apparently two MPs were not at their sessions so they changed the venue and went to see another of the MPs instead who said he would look into the matter.

We are supposed to meet with the town council today. We have requested that the General Manager be there. We realise he has a busy schedule so have offered to meet at his convenience. However so far we have been informed that he is aware of the meeting but there has been no confirmation that he is attending. As much of what we discussed was with him directly the last time (and with one of the managers) we feel it is important to see him and clarify what is happening directly with him and not with some other people who were not involved in the meeting. As we have always maintained, it's important to speak directly with the people involved. If he is unable to be in attendance, then there is really no point in us going which is what we have conveyed to the town council.

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Monday, July 23, 2007

CWS to pick up cat

The town council wrote back about the last cat and said they sent a letter to the AVA. However they are asking that the cat be microchipped because they say it caused a nuisance. There was a protocol to be followed however that the caregiver be informed if there is a complaint (which apparently they did) and that if the caregiver does not do anything, that the caregiver be informed the cat will be trapped. Apparently the TC said they called the caregiver twice on the same day. When they did not get the caregiver they sent in pest control. I am surprised that no further attempts were made to contact the caregiver or to contact me.

Now it seems that in addition, they want the cat released - not to the caregiver, but to CWS. They also want a CWS 'representative' to be the one to collect the cat and again, not the caregiver. So it seems that not only are we to be the main conveyor of messages as the TC does not wish to deal with the caregivers but we are also to be the pet transport service - for a cat that should not have been picked up in the first place.


Caregivers Meeting MP

I've been speaking to a number of rather upset caregivers from this TC today and they have decided to go and see their MP tonight. Afterward, it is likely that I'll be going down to speak with them and ask if they wish us to be the contact point and let them know our thoughts as well. We are always happy to facilitate and to mediate, but not to replace one party in the relationship basically.

At the end of the day, much of it depends on what the caregivers wish to do as well as this is their estate - and we will need to discuss the situation with them in detail.

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Sad news

Rebecca has decided to step down from her position as CWS' part-timer. She feels that it is very difficult for her to continue doing her work and representing CWS and working as a caregiver in her community due to the conflict of interests that it may represent. While we have made it clear to her TC that she is not representing CWS in matters concerning her area since quite a while ago, it is a very difficult balancing act for her. She wishes to concentrate on her community cats now and hence will be stepping down.

I wish her all the best and she will still be volunteering and helping out with Spay Day! Thanks Rebecca!


CWS to replace caregivers?

I got off the phone a short while ago with one of the managers about the last cat still in AVA.

I asked if the town council will meet with the caregivers directly because I think there is a lot of confusion about what is going on. I said that I had mentioned it to his superior. His superior came on the line.

I reiterated to the superior that I think the TC should meet with the caregivers directly and speak with them. His superior, mentioned that they want to meet with CWS. He said that the TC does not wish to deal with the caregivers directly and that they want to work through CWS. CWS will then disseminate the information to the caregivers. If caregivers wish to speak about issues regarding to cats, it should be at an RC level and not at a TC level.

I pointed out that firstly, we are more than happy to help and we are here to mediate. However we cannot be the substitute for the TC's own residents. I said that at the end of the day, the residents are the TC's residents.

The manager said that he hoped in fact that the caregivers will all be CWS members so we can better educate them. I told him this is not our policy. We help any caregiver, and they do not need to be a member for us to help them. I also pointed out that in the past, they had asked us to disseminate a message that sterilised cats would not be caught. However cats were caught - I said that again people were asking why these cats were caught, and I thought the TC should meet them to discuss what was happening here exactly and so any queries would be put to rest. He said this was operational, but that sterilised cats would be returned. I said that this was not in the protocol that we had sent.

I also pointed out that there may be caregivers who may not agree with CWS or our policies and may wish to work with the TC directly, which is their right as well.

The manager said that in that case, they will not work with the residents either. He said that he noticed that there were difficult caregivers and feeders and that there were new caregivers that he considered difficult as time went on. I pointed out that there are always difficult residents, whether they be caregivers or not. I asked if they intend to ignore difficult complainants who for example complain about cats or other issues. He said that some residents were calling and SMSing messages and that this was disconcerting.

The manager said that they would take those complaints with a pinch of salt but would deal with them because they concerned mosquitoes and other issues, which is what the TC really deals with.

I told him we were not comfortable with this as CWS' policy has always been that we want to encourage communication between the TC and their residents. The manager said that they support CWS and want to deal with a society. He said that they will continue to support a TNRM programme as long as CWS is involved, and they wish to support a TNRM programme, but if we pull out, the programme is likely to be cancelled.

He also said that in this case when sterilised cats are caught, they will be released because there is a programme. He said that the cats will suffer if the programme is cancelled.

I pointed out that the town council will too because then instead of having most concerns brought up together with CWS as a mediator, the residents will have no choice but to go directly to the TC every time they have an issue. He said no one would win.

He has asked us if we will be able to come for a meeting. I said we would but asked that the General Manager also be present. He said he would put the proposal up to his GM.

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Still trying to find out what has happened exactly with this town council. The good news is that two of the sterilised cats were released and went home on Saturday. The bad news is that yet another sterilised cat is at the AVA. I called one of the officers today and he told me the cat had been caught because it was causing a nuisance. He had brought up the issue to me and per our protocol, I had asked the town council to call the relevant caregiver.

I called the caregiver up next. She said that they had called her about another case on Friday, but she was surprised the cat had been caught. She said she did not know that one of the sterilised cats there had been taken. In addition, they are supposed to let both the caregiver and CWS know before cats are caught. It sounds as if officers are either not being properly briefed or are ignoring orders since another officer sounded just as confused about what the protocol is.

I called up the General Manager but it seems that he is about to meet the other managers to have a discussion about this right now and will speak to me after, according to his personal assistant. I hope this will all be cleared up once I have a chance to speak with him and that we can find out why this is happening.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Why were cats trapped?

Another crazy afternoon trying to figure out why the cats were trapped. The town council quickly wrote a letter to have them released, which is good, but I spoke to the two officers who are supposedly in charge and one officer told me sterilised cats can be trapped if there is a complaint. I told him there was an agreement this would not be done by the TC. He transferred me to another officer who said that he did not know whom trapped the cats, but it wasn't him. I spoke to the AVA and the cats were sent in by pest control from these areas.

I then called back and was transferred to a third officer. The cats will be released - but why they were caught in the first place I don't know. All I DO know is that I am getting inundated by calls and SMSes from worried residents in the area asking me what is happening. One woman said she's going to stop sterilising until she knows that the TC will leave the sterilised cats alone.


Always call when you lose a cat

It seems that some cats were trapped in a town council that agreed to leave the sterilised cats alone and to refer complaints to caregivers first. One of the caregivers called me and I asked if he had checked with the town council and the AVA. He said he had not done so as he thought the TC was not supposed to trap the cats.

Sometimes mistakes happen, or people don't follow instructions or something else may have happened, please remember, ALWAYS call the town council and the AVA to check if you lose any cats. That should be the first thing you do if you notice any missing cats.

I advised the caregiver to call his officer and he went off to do that.

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You can't come into 'my' area

I mentioned the two feuding caregivers yesterday. Today another caregiver in the area spoke with me. One of the caregivers asked the caregiver caught in the middle to convey to the other caregiver that she wishes the other caregiver to keep out of certain areas. It seems that they have demarcated certain blocks between them. Hence if one caregiver is looking after the area, then the other caregiver is expected to butt out.

Now they are having a disagreement on which blocks they are supposed to be looking after. One caregiver wants to be in charge of certain blocks that the other caregiver is currently looking after. According to the caregiver I spoke with who is trying to mediate between the two, the caregiver who wants to take over does not want the other caregiver to help at all - whether it be in terms of helping to trap for sterilisation or solve any complaints.

Even more ludicrous, now according to the caregiver who is trying to play peacemaker, both of them have said that they will not be present at meetings as long as the other caregiver is there. When we recently met with the group of caregivers, both had come up to complain to me that the other person was there and they stood quite far apart from each other during the event. The caregiver who is trying to organise a meeting with her TC, says that both of them have their own 'feeders' or factions. If one of them doesn't turn up, then their faction won't either. She says this will divide the group.

Fortunately, both of them do have respect for the caregiver in the middle and she is also a very calm, reasonable person. However as she pointed out, if we talk about cats being territorial, now their caregivers are too! I told Rebecca this is like a bad Western.

I texted both of them and said that I hope both will remember this is about the cats - refusing to show up for meetings doesn't hurt them, it hurts the cats, and no matter what their differences, this is something both sides are working for.

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Cats to be 'adopted' at the AVA

I was speaking to the town council officer in this case and discussing what we can do.

The first thing she asked was if we could adopt the cats and I told her we can't - but I mentioned that we suspected that the cats belong to someone and that we need to go down and try and find out whom the owners are. I also told her that Rebecca had been down to speak with some residents before and we needed her help as a town council officer.

She said she needs to clean the area up and that she needs to get the cats in a cage. I told her she was welcome to try but I doubt the mother cat would let them near the kittens right now. Rebecca had mentioned the mother cat was very protective yesterday.

The officer asked if we could send them to the AVA for adoption. I told her that the AVA does NOT adopt cats out. She said that she thought they did. She asked if perhaps they would be killed only if they weren't adopted. I told her that there was no adoption programme run by the AVA - and that the cats sent in there are not adopted. When she heard they would be killed though, she said she would put them in a cage, clean the area up first and then decide what to do.

I wonder how many TC officers are giving out wrong information about this - and it's worrying.

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Mikey's second birthday

Mikey's second birthday
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Something cheerful for a Friday - and a reminder that another year has gone past.

Thanks to Patricia for sending in this photo of Mikey's second birthday. You guys may remember Mikey's first birthday. Cassie (the other cat in the photo) who was there to celebrate Mikey's first birthday was also there for this party.

And no, the cats did not get to partake of the cake, but they had special salmon "Angel Treats".

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Thursday, July 19, 2007

Email back up

Good news - email seems to be back up. The website unfortunately still isn't. You can email us at our usual email address now - no need for the gmail account any longer.

If you haven't received a reply to your email it means I didn't get it - please do resend. This would be the same for the adoptions volunteers and the catsnip volunteers too. Thank you!


Disputes don't help the cats

Working on my presentation for the forum next week. The part on CWS and our work is easy - the part on what NGOs do in Singapore is proving to be trickier. I'm not even touching the Southeast Asia bit because I don't think I'm qualified to say though there are tons of great NGOs doing wonderful work throughout the region.

Just received a phone call from a caregiver in an area a short while ago. Apparently yesterday there was some sort of altercation when a friend of his went down and it had to do with some cats that were to be removed from an area where there was an irresponsible feeder.

At any rate, the caregiver mentioned that he realised this block is being looked after by another caregiver whom he does not get along with. This bad blood started unfortunately a while ago over some allegations of misconduct on the part of one or the other. Since then the two have not spoken and I hear complaints about the other, which I have told both time and again we do not get involved in.

The caregiver who contacted me yesterday now wants to wash his hands off this area since this is the other caregiver's area. He wishes to release the cats back into the area.

He called me up to say he wants the town council or myself to witness the cats being released. I was a bit confused at first, thinking it was because he did not want to get into a situation that might turn potentially violent with this irresponsible feeder. It turned out after speaking with him for a while that he did not care about the irresponsible feeder. He was concerned the other caregiver would somehow accuse him of not returning the cats to the area.

I pointed out that if that was the concern, why not take a photo, or better yet ask the other caregiver to come down. Why involve all these third parties? He insisted he does not wish to speak with her. However he said if I contacted her, that would be fine.

I just texted the other caregiver and told her that if she wishes to be there to contact the first caregiver. I also texted both of them to say that both were doing good work for the cats as far as I was concerned. I said that as such, this is no longer a cat issue but this is a dispute over personal matters - and we don't get involved in those.

It's a shame - both parties could be working together to solve community cat issues. Instead there are now allegations and recriminations that do nothing to help the cats - and make everyone upset.


Complainant asks if she can feed the cat

I received a call from a slightly panicked woman two days ago saying that a cat had given birth on her doorstep. She seems quite scared of cats. She asked if we could help.

Rebecca had been down to this block before (and in fact had spoken with this woman too). The problem apparently is that there are many irresponsible owners in this block who let the cats wander in and out. There are no caregivers in this area. Rebecca had already spoken with the owners on a previous occasion but apparently this has done nothing to stop their behaviour.

Rebecca went down two days ago and saw the mother cat and kittens. The woman who called had children and they were quite delighted with the cats. I also have been keeping in contact with the woman. I spoke with her yesterday and explained that we would like to find the owner, and that we hope the TC will come with us to give more weight to the matter.

The woman agreed. Also I mentioned that if the town council came to take the cats away they would be taken away to be killed. She was horrified and said that was extremely cruel. When I spoke with her last night, she asked if it was okay to feed the cat. She was worried it had nothing to eat.

Rebecca went down today to drop some food by the woman. The woman is still quite scared of the cats but she does not want them removed and killed either which is very kind of her. The best hope we have is to try and find the owner - this is on such a high floor, it must be someone's cat or someone must be feeding it.

Sometimes the complainant does not want the cat killed - they're just at a loss on what to do and need to get some suggestions or advice. Removing the cat is NOT what she wants if the cat will be killed and she's prepared to work on a better solution for all as well.

Still no news from the TC officer. She was not in when Rebecca called and she didn't reply to my emails. When I called too this afternoon, it seems she is out for the day.

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Pregnant cat?

Pregnant cat?
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Photo care of Rebecca.

Rebecca went down to look into this case today. One of the town councils wrote claiming there was a pregnant tipped earred cat (the black and white cat in the photo). Rebecca went down and checked and the cat just looks fat to her. She said there were no signs of engorged nipples.

The only way to be sure of course is to send the cat to the vet and do an ultrasound or ask them to palpate the cat. However obviously this is going to incur costs. Rebecca was right in saying that there is no reason the caregivers or CWS should have to incur the cost just because there is a suspicion that the cat looks pregnant. The other option is to wait and see if the pregnant cat gives birth.

She called the officer though and told him that in her opinion the cat is just fat and not pregnant. He said that was good enough for him and there was no need to go to a vet. Glad to hear it was resolved so quickly.

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Acting fast

I was speaking to a feeder who had called a caregiver to say that the town council had been seen trapping cats and she thought they were trapping the sterilised cats too. When I managed to get her, it had been settled - another caregiver had called the town council and the officer reminded the pest control officer not to trap the sterilised cats.

She mentioned to me that she had a run in with the pest control officers almost two months ago. In fact this is the second time this has happened this year. She mentioned that the pest control officer (or she thinks they are pest control officers) called her over and said she was not allowed to feed. He tried to show her a card which she did not look at. Instead she ignored him.

She said she tried to call me but got a message on my phone and she didn't understand so she was hoping that I would eventually call her (there is also a message in Mandarin which she obviously did not hear). I pointed out that this had happened almost two months ago - it would be almost impossible to trace what happened exactly. I asked her if she knew whom the person is. She said she is quite sure he is from pest control (and she mentioned he was wearing some uniform) but she's not sure which. I asked her why she had not taken the person's name down or taken a card from the person. She said she had no pen.

I asked why she had not called the town council officer as I had told her to do the last time I spoke with her since the officer certainly spoke Mandarin. She said she wanted to clarify with me if the person who spoke with her was a government official. I said since we couldn't be sure whom he was since she hadn't checked his identity either. However she had spoken with a friend in the meantime who used to work with the TC and he had told her that if the man was indeed with pest control, that he was not a government official. I asked her why she had hesitated and not done anything - she said she wanted to double check.

I reminded her to call her town council officer if she had any problems. She said that she's going to get another caregiver to do it from now on. It doesn't seem as if she is going to call the officer even though I've told her that she should call the officer immediately if she senses a problem several times.

The first thing to do is to call your town council officer if you think that your cats are being trapped, or if you think that town council employees or people related to the TC have treated you badly. At that point if there is a problem, then do contact CWS and we'll try our best to help - but contact the TC first to see what's going on. In this case, I am sorry to hear the feeder does not want to get involved by calling the TC. What would have happened if the other caregiver was not there today to help? Would she just stand aside and let them trap the cats and then wait to tell someone about it later? It's important sometimes to act fast - and that means taking action on your own.

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Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

More sad news for the caregiver. Since the complainant was being so difficult, she decided it would be safer for Boy (since here in another photo taken on the same day) to be put in foster care and to try and get him adopted. One of the RC member's relatives in fact took him in (though the relative does not live anywhere close to the caregiver).

Boy was sent to his temporary foster home yesterday night, and though the caregiver told the foster to keep the windows shut, the foster did not. Unfortunately Boy then jumped out the window and fell four storeys and is currently missing. If you are in the vicinity of Woodlands Drive 50 please keep an eye out for Boy. The caregiver is understandably really upset - it's just been bad news and more bad news.

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Cats at AVA to be 'adopted' and other urban legends

The caregiver SMSed me this morning as the emails to me kept bouncing (and when I opened my mailbox this morning and found no Cat Welfare emails I was kind of surprised too which led us to realise the website and email were down). It seems that the RC Chairperson read my email (which incidentally was never answered) to the RC members about what the vets had said to the RC meeting. Another TC officer was there and during the course of the meeting it seems the officer asked whether they wanted the cats rounded up and removed.

They took a vote and 6 people agreed to removal, whereas 3 said they did not want the cats removed. However this was on the understanding that the cats would be taken to AVA to be 'adopted' and not killed. It seems that no one there knew what happened to the cats at the AVA. The TC officer then apparently spoke up and said that the cats would be adopted at the AVA.

One of the RC members wasn't comfortable with this and came home to call the caregiver to check. She told him that the cats would be killed. He immediately called the RC chairperson up and she sounded shocked apparently. Now she plans to discuss other alternatives with the TC.

I am pretty sure I mentioned in the meeting with them that the cats would be killed if removed (and Rebecca remembers me saying that). Certainly the information we handed out to them said that too.

The caregiver has written to all the parties relevant to query what is happening.

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Website and email down

Sorry everyone it looks like email and the website are both down. Could you please email catwelfare@gmail.com in the interim? If you haven't gotten a reply to your email since last night, it means I didn't get it so please resend. Thanks and sorry for the inconvenience.

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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Flyering spreads the word

E_Cat and another caregiver went to an area near them to flyer the area. It was an area that has recently garnered some attention online for being extremely dirty. One of the people who received a flyer emailed today to find out how to get the cats sterilised. I wrote back and I hope she will respond.

I wrote to E_Cat and the caregiver to let them know and E_Cat mentioned that he met a young couple with their daughter. When E_Cat gave them a flyer and their daughter asked about it, E_Cat said he was pleasantly surprised when they explained the importance of sterilisation to their child. Nice to see responsible parenting at work!


Food on steps

Food on steps
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here was some leftover fish bones on the steps of the cinema.

The building supervisor said that he was very upset that his number was being passed from person to person. He said that people were calling him at 2 am or 5 am. He said that this was why he sometimes just hung up when people called (I think this was an indirect apology).

I told him we certainly did not condone this behaviour and that in fact, we did not know whom the feeders were. We were just trying to see how we could help.

The dog might also be in trouble. He chased a little boy on a bicycle but no one seemed to concerned - for now at least.

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Dog near cinema

Dog near cinema
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

As I was talking to the person who alerted us to the situation (he had been held up in a traffic jam), one of the feeders he knew came up. This lovely dog was following her around. She was carrying a large bag of chicken parts donated by one of the nearby food stalls.

She pointed into the cinema and said that she knew there were still cats in there. She whistled and a cat came out - there were two big panels through which the cat could jump out of. She then took a huge chicken thigh and proceeded to throw it INTO the abandoned building. The cat grabbed it and ran off. I asked the woman to please not do that because otherwise the cats would be more likely to remain inside. She pointed out that they were hungry and that they were inside anyway. I explained that this would encourage them to remain on the premises.

I spoke with her about getting the cats sterilised, but she said she had no time or money. She said there were other people in the area who had the money (the man I was with confirmed there were easily 7 to 8 feeders). I asked her if she would be willing to get them sterilised if the cost was taken care of. She said no - she didn't have the time as she was feeding so many cats.

The woman agreed to take us to meet some of her friends. We walked over to another area and met a woman. She explained why we were there. We gave the woman a sterilisation brochure and my card. I told her it was really important to try and get the cats sterilised - but she didn't seem very convinced, though she agreed there were too many cats.

The feeder took us to meet one more friend - but she wasn't there when we arrived. She mentioned that she saw people trapping even the sterilised cats in the past. I told her it was important to start working with the TC and she said no one had contacted the TC before.

The man who was trying to help tried to convince her it was important to try and work with the TC. He told me later that of all the feeders there, she was the most co-operative.

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Fenced up door

Fenced up door
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went by to take a look at the abandoned cinema today and met with one of the building supervisors and someone from the managing agent of the building. The building did look pretty fenced up and most of the access points seemed blocked.

Two doors at the back though had been opened - and apparently there was a break in. The back door leading up the staircase was wide open, as were two doors that looked like they led to the toilets. Two of the panels in front had been knocked out as well. The police were called in and arrived while I was walking around the area.

The member of the public who alerted me to this case came down and pointed out that there was food inside - you can't really see it in this photo, but there are leftover bones thrown inside. Before this area was grilled up the feeders used to feed in what used to be the foyer of the theatre.



I'm heading down to this cinema now to meet the managers to see if we can somehow plug the building up so the cats cannot get in!


Pets Magazine

Pets Magazine
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Some of you asked - so the issue where I was interviewed has just come out. You can get it free at pet shops.


Followup to Meet the Peoples Session

This caregiver received a phone call from one of the managers in her Constituency Office, who I believe works for the Peoples' Association. It seemed to have been a followup call from her meeting with the MP. The manager wanted to get more details of what transpired and will be speaking with the RC member.

No news from the Town Council of the Residents' Committee chairperson though, interestingly enough. The caregiver is also removing one of the friendlier cats from the carpark just to be safe.

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ST (18-7-07)

This obviously isn't connected directly to cats but when I saw this letter I thought it was a very interesting take on the beautiful Angsana tree chopped down on Sunday at Braddell Road. It surprised me how quickly the tree was felled. It was also good to see people standing up for the tree :-

A parting letter from Ang Sar Nah

This letter also reminded me of what Mr Giggles pointed out in an earlier post - it's sad that Singaporeans have to be protected from everything and not even the tree in this case at all, but the fact that they found some drivers cannot seem to regulate their own speed when approaching the tree. I wonder as well if this was a case of being over-protective of Singaporeans - the tree had been there for more than two years after all.

Interestingly I drove by the area yesterday and it's more of a mess than ever. One lane has been blocked off and motorists coming around the bend have to pull up short. The area also seemed hotter without the shade the tree used to give.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Giving cats up because they urinate

I just spoke to a caregiver who had written into Rebecca and Rebecca has been assisting her. This caregiver said that she had a problem with some residents in the area. They have 10 cats and want to toss some of them on the street. The reason they gave? The cats urinate. That's right folks - they pee!

It seems that the cats aren't given litter trays to use so the cats are urinating all over the flat. We suggested that if they are poor and cannot afford a litter pan, that we can source for donated litter pans for the family. They could also use shredded newspaper instead of litter. As the cats have nowhere else to urinate, there are now pee marks all over.

When the caregiver suggested this to them, it turns out that the problem is no longer the urination, or no longer JUST the urination. Now it seems the problem is food.

The poor caregiver is at her wit's end. She said when she found out that the mother cat had given birth a few months ago, she had gone to this family to ask them to let her put the cats up for adoption. She was rebuffed. They told her that they love the cats and the cats are their treasure. Now these same treasures are in danger of being tossed out on the street.


Forum next week

I'll be part of one of the forum discussions at the Southeast Asean Geographic Association's forum next week. I just got an email saying I would be on the 1-2:30 pm panel with members from other NGOs. I had better start getting down to preparing the talk soon!


Another irresponsible cat owner?

Just back from the post office. There was a rather panicky woman who called about a cat just giving birth outside her home. This is one of the problem blocks that Rebecca has gone down to. The woman who called had apparently been tossing mothballs in the area so that the cat would not come nearer - but then she realised it might not be to good for newborn kittens.

Rebecca went down, found the cats - the whole block has tons of irresponsible cat owners. I'm awaiting her call now to see if we need to go down and try and flyer the block to find the owner. This cat is on a high floor so it's very likely to be someone's cat.


Origins of cats

Ever wondered where the cat comes from? Here's a website that explains the origins of the cat :-

The origins of the cat

Thanks to Siva and Simian for the links. Interesting that the first examples of cats living with people came 9500 years ago - when cats were first domesticated so to speak.


Caregiver meeting with the MP

Unfortunately it seems as if the meeting with the MP in this case did not go well. The caregiver saw the complainant at the same session. The MP did tell the caregiver that sterilised cats were not to be removed and he looked taken aback to find out that all the cats there WERE sterilised.

According to the caregiver, the MP did not seem to really be listening to their concerns on the complainant's behaviour. She said there was a big crowd to see him and he seemed pressed for time. All he said was that he would get someone to counsel the RC member. The caregiver also raised the issue of the road tax and season parking to him. The MP just commented that you only need road tax when you drive into Malaysia and that there is no need for a season parking disc either. It's interesting that what the MP said directly contradicted what the official policy is. Are there different rules then for different people? Or can everyone who drives not have a road tax or season parking label?

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Monday, July 16, 2007

Case still not closed?

I was just speaking with this caregiver again. She asked her what the TC intended to do now that the TC had seen the email about the unlikelihood of cats having scratched the car.

According to the caregiver, the TC officer surprised the caregiver by telling her that she would need to get back to the RC chairperson and see what the latter wanted to do. The caregiver thought that having seen that the complaint seems to be without merit that the case would be closed and that they would not entertain ideas about trapping the cats any longer.

The caregiver went by the car again over the last few days - the road tax and season parking discs still have not been put up. She has decided to go and see the MP with some other caregivers in the area.

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Never say never

I was speaking to a caregiver this afternoon who was asking why it is that caregivers and feeders are always at the losing end of things - and that cats need to be removed because of a complaint. Sadly it is true in that caregivers usually get the short end of the stick - and the reason is that caregivers have something to lose. Complainants do not.

In this case, there had been a complaint about a cat scratching a child. Fortunately it was not a bad scratch. The caregiver started out by saying that she was sure that the cat would not do it (though she was very prompt in going down to look for the cat) and that the child must have provoked the cat.

There are a few things I mentioned to her. One, never say never. It is very unlikely a cat will scratch a person, BUT there have been cases when it happened. Usually this is due to instances where the cat has felt in danger or is protecting its kittens or even another cat. Two, I told her that it is important not to blame the child. For one thing, we don't know exactly what happened. For another, parents generally don't take well to their children being blamed. Also sometimes a young child especially could have done something threatening without meaning to, and the cat may have reacted in fear.

The most important thing is to make sure to really look into it before giving an opinion on what happened. For one thing, you can see for yourself if the cat is aggressive. In this case, the cat was not aggressive to people but the caregiver herself said he was to other cats. He was also not sterilised.

When we told the mother of the child the cat would be sterilised by the caregiver, and that it wasn't seen to be an aggressive cat, she seemed to accept it.

If you have looked into the situation and it appears patently ludicrous, then it's also good that you have made an attempt to uncover what happened exactly. You can let the TC know what happened as far as you can tell. What is important is that you've taken the time to try and find out what happened - it'll give you a better idea of what occured and can save the cat's life.

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Cat on bench

Cat on bench
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Rebecca and I went to meet some people from a CC (Community Club) today. They agreed that if they have any complaints about cats they will refer it to any residents first through CWS. We did point out that we don't know every caregiver and that if they know of any, to feel free to please speak with them first.

We also spoke with them about surveying residents - the RCs (Residents' Committees) which I believe this CC oversees to some extent had done an earlier survey which had upset the caregivers since a handful of people asked for the cats to be removed.

He also said he understood the point about the vacuum effect and that removing the cats would mean new ones would come in. The CC manager spoke about the possibility of getting CWS involved if they had block parties in the area.

We saw this cat sitting on a bench with some residents at a nearby coffeeshop. One of the women said she had been feeding the cat for the last 5 years.

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Meeting with CC

Rebecca and I are heading down to meet the Manager of one of the Community Clubs who would like to find out more about TNRM and how it could work in his estate.

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Spay Day response surprise

We've been getting vet replies for Spay Day and as always, most of the vets have been very quick to reply and very generous in their assistance. Today though, we received one reply that had me blinking in disbelief as the vet clinic offered to do in excess of 50 cats in one day! Rebecca is going to be calling and checking to make sure that they know that it is on one day.

Of course it is possible to do that number if you have a very experienced team and more than one vet - but this vet clinic would account for most of the slots if it is the case!


Cute photo

Just a sweet photo to start off the day from SF Gate :-

Don't worry it doesn't hurt much

I am guessing that the zoonose mentioned here would probably be rabies (which as all of you know has been eradicated in Singapore for more than 50 years).


Friday, July 13, 2007

Water Bowls

One of the caregivers emailed me yesterday and we also had someone from NEA write to one of the town councils about this. Apparently with the dengue fever outbreak, there has been a lot of concern about water bowls being left out. People are worried that stagnant water is breeding mosquitoes and are worried about the water in the bowls not being changed.

One simple way to prevent people from thinking that the water is stagnant is to have seven different bowls and to write the day of the week on each bowl. When you go down to change the water every day, please change the whole bowl and not just the water in the container. That way at a glance, anyone can tell that the water has been changed and has not been lying there for several days.

We wrote back to tell the NEA officer this was one of the suggestions that could be used. He thought it was a good one. I also took the opportunity to ask him about what happened when people saw irresponsible and recalcitrant feeders who would not listen. He said that anyone can call the NEA hotline at 1800-2255-632 to ask for help.


Mix ins

Mix ins
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

After the meeting at Temasek Polytechnic, I met a young lady who is writing her thesis on people who have switched careers and wanted to interview me on my work with CWS. We met at Ice Cream Chefs at her suggestion - they have mix ins into their ice cream. I had an ice cream and it was good!


Surgery Room

Surgery Room
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Rebecca and I met the Course Manager from Temasek Polytechnic's Diploma in Veterinary Surgery. They are considering setting up a Spay Clinic on their premises and will be charging for their surgeries but want to allow their students some hands on experience as veterinary technicians. The surgeries will NOT be done by the students but by a licensed vet but they will be assisting. They wanted to speak with us to see if we thought caregivers would be interested in sending their cats in there.

We're always happy to see more options to get cats sterilised.


No free parking for RC members

I spoke to the helpful man at the HDB Car Parks Operation Division again. He confirmed that everyone must have a parking label if they wish to park in a season parking lot OR a coupon parking. He says most of the parking labels can be issued on the same day. If he chooses not to get a parking label, then he must park in the coupon parking lots and display a coupon.

He also said that RC members have to pay for season parking labels just like everyone else, and as the RC member confirmed, there's just a little additional code at the bottom that marks them as an RC member but that's it. He said that they are allowed to park throughout the GRC in the usual non-season coupon parking slots with the label but only during the usual coupon parking hours. However they MUST pay for the label and there are no exceptions.

I mentioned that he had no road tax label and he said that was a pretty serious offence under the LTA as far as he knew.

He said that he was very surprised to hear this was an RC member. He also mentioned RC members are to promote rapport and harmony in the estate and this man doesn't sound like he has been.

Rebecca and I are heading out for a meeting now, and then I have an interview afterward.

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