Tracking a lead
I had a most interesting evening. I got a call from a caregiver in this area and she told me that through a long and complicated set of phone calls from one person to another, arrangements had been made so that we could go down to one of the catteries where the cats might be. However she was told (I am not sure by whom) that tonight was the only time she could go, and if she didn't, the window of opportunity would be lost and we would not be able to retrieve the cats if they were there.
The caregiver was trying desperately to get hold of the feeder as the caregiver actually sterilised them but didn't feed though she could recognise them (and vice versa). However the feeder was not home and could not be contacted. The caregiver was also concerned about going on her own, as she did not know any of the people we were to meet personally. She said she would ask if I could come along.
Another caregiver called me up and said that we were to meet someone at a certain MRT station and this person would take us to the cattery. The caregiver and I agreed to meet there. When we got there, the person who was to take us there told us where we were to go. However she wasn't sure how to get there so I was navigating and driving which I think made her a bit nervous. The people we were to meet called a few times to check we were on the way - as it was a long drive, it took us a while. One of the people who called turned out to be a caregiver I knew.
The woman who was with us in the car said she had trapped in the location we mentioned on behalf of someone else. I know she has helped other caregivers trap cats for sterilisation. She said she had tried to raise the issue of not trapping the sterilised cats that were cared for to the person who was paying her to trap the cats. However she said she didn't have a choice as to which cat was caught. I told her that the problem was that people were very upset that their cats were caught and had disappeared and that if she was a caregiver I was sure she could understand that. She said that was why she was there to help. She said she hoped the people at the cattery would return the cat.
When we got there, we were let into the compound in the cattery. The woman who let us in was quite upset. She said that people were saying things about her. I pointed out that I didn't know whom she was, nor did I have any idea of whom I was going to meet or even where I was going till just shortly before. We looked around the compound. There were quite a number of cats and the area was clean and there was no smell. The woman told us that this was a once only opportunity and that this was her area and she could have the owner remove us in the future if we tried to come back. The caregiver I knew who was with her said that there was so much fuss over this. I told her of course there was because people were missing their cats.
I tried to take a photo to send to the caregiver who could not be informed in time but was told not to do so.
As the caregiver was busy checking the cats out (we weren't allowed into the actual cages but could see most of the cats), I explained that the caregivers were very worried and wondered what had happened to their cats and this was natural.
The caregiver I knew told me that people should be thanking their lucky stars that the cats were in a nice shelter where they were safe from the elements, complaints, etc. I told them that wasn't the point - no one had asked the caregivers or informed them. I asked what made them think the area they were originally from was unsafe. They insisted that it was common knowledge that cats there were trapped and asked if I could guarantee the cats would not be trapped. I said that the TC worked very closely with the caregiver and they could ask her for themselves as she was standing right there. One of the woman asked the other if this was true and the caregiver I knew said they would need to investigate.
I also asked the caregiver why her cats were not in the shelter if it was so ideal. I pointed out new cats would just move in due to the vacuum effect in the area.
The owner of the whole cattery came around and recognised me and we were told by the people whose compound it was, not to say too much as he wouldn't like it. We chatted for a while as well. He also mentioned that with some people moving so many cats in and out, diseases do spread.
The first woman said that people could come visit if their cats were there and they would have a good life. I kept telling the two women that it wasn't about whether the cats had a 'better' life - that's arguable too - but that no one had asked the caregivers what they thought. One said that the caregivers should take the cats back home if they liked them so much. I pointed out that new cats would move in and what would happen then? Would all the cats be taken in?
I also said that some people might genuinely be happy to send in some cats to a shelter - recently dumped cats for example - but that the main thing was to ask if it was okay and not just remove the cats.
We were unable to find any of the cats there and so we left the compound. The first woman had calmed down by this time and was much nicer towards the end of the visit. She said it was good of us to come and check. I told her that we had to - if there was a chance the cats might be there we wanted to know. She also asked for a reimbursement claim form for sterilisation which I gave her.
The caregiver who went with me to the cattery kindly gave a donation for our help. That was most kind of her. We're still not any closer to finding the cats though and that's frustrating.