Wednesday, August 01, 2007

A few things to consider

I just spoke to a young lady who wants to set up a club within her CC for caregivers and other pet owners (both dog and cats). It is good to see the enthusiasm and the fact that she is putting herself forward to do this.

I had a rather long chat with her though about a few things in her proposal and thought there were some interesting issues raised which might be of interest if you are starting programmes in your areas too.

For one thing be careful of your terminology. She mentioned that she wanted to use the term 'owners' for community cat caregivers. I pointed out that the term owners carries quite a different connotation than a caregiver. Caregivers for example are helping out in the estate to manage the community cat population. The cats are there in the estate, they belong there and have always been there - caregivers help to care for the cats in their environment. When a term like owner is used however it becomes loaded with meaning. The cats could then be said to 'belong' to the person looking after them. It's misleading because caregivers don't 'own' the cats - they are doing a service to the community by caring for the cats and of course they have a bond with the cats, but it's not the same as say adopting a cat and bringing it home. The caregivers are really volunteers helping to manage the population through an effective and humane process which is TNRM.

In addition, as it is, there are already people making ludicrous claims - for example that caregivers pay them back if a cat 'scratches' their car. If one claims to be an owner then the claimant may well point to the fact that since the cat is 'owned' by the person that it is therefore up to the 'owner' to make good a claim. This is not to mention the fact that a lot of people will go back to that old familiar argument - why don't you take the cat home, especially since you're the 'owner'.

For another thing, be upfront about the issues you face. The caregiver didn't want to mention cats in flats because she felt that they weren't allowed in flats. I pointed out that this is exactly why it needs to be brought to the attention of the MP and others at the meeting. For example, the question of cat defecation outside flats and ensuring that the community cats are not blamed cannot be discussed without mentioning that there ARE people with cats in flats.

Also be honest about what you can achieve. I asked the caregiver what she planned to do about abandonment as well. She said that they would take the cats off the street and try and adopt them or relocate them in other caregivers' areas. She said she had taken more aggressive cats and put them in other areas. I pointed out that adoption is unlikely to work if one has a number of cats dumped every year. This would increase the number. She asked if residents would notice and I said that if the number is significant, they certainly would - and if people dump just 1 cat every month, that's 6 extra cats a year. That could easily double a colony.

She said that she would then ask other caregivers if she could leave the cats in their estates. I told her that they are likely to face the same issues and also if if it one or two cats, they might be able to help but not if this happens regularly.

The caregiver was worried that TNRM might be seen not to work as a result. I told her that by not dealing with these issues upfront and the population increasing through dumping, then it will clearly show TNRM has failed in these areas. TNRM CAN succeed - but if the number is being increased artificially through dumping then measures must be taken.

I suggested that this was the point to ask what sort of support the TC, RC and CC can offer and to work on the problem together. To promise to remove every dumped cat is going to be impossible - what IS possible is to work with the other groups in order to curtail or try and stop abandonment.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Dawn,

I guess you have delivered the story in a different way as what we have discussed. There are some misunderstandings here. Anyway, thanks for taking the time and trouble to come to our meeting with the MP.


1/8/07 7:12 PM  
Blogger Dawn said...

Hi Carmen, I believe this was actually what we did discuss -if you think anything was misrepresented please do feel to let me know what it was. When we met earlier I think you did raise some of these issues to both Michelle and I again (specifically the cat defecation issue).

This wasn't meant to be a criticism of you by the way - just that I felt that it was a good lesson in general of how sometimes with the best intentions it can not put your proposal across in the best way.

1/8/07 11:16 PM  

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