Friday, September 28, 2007

Giving necessary information

Wiggie, one of our great CATSNIP volunteers, was calling someone about sterilisation slots and the woman told Wiggie that some of her cats had been trapped. The feeder was understandably quite upset and Wiggie advised her yesterday to speak with her TC and the AVA.

I just called her as well because Wiggie said that the TC denied trapping the cats and I wanted to find out more. Wiggie mentioned the woman could sometimes get a bit off track.

When I spoke with the feeder, I found out eventually that she had called the AVA and they had kept insisting they did not trap cats. The feeder said the person on the line would not listen and then hung up eventually.

I understood why when I spoke with her - she was understandably agitated, but the problem was that she was giving a LOT of detail, but not the right sort of detail. For example, she was giving me a history of all the cats, which cat was sterilised when, why she thought the ear was not tipped enough on this one cat, etc.

Now all this is fine - but I had a lot of trouble getting the information I DID need from her and it was all jumbled up. Was this the first time the cats were trapped? Did anyone see anything? What did they see? Did she speak with the TC? It was only after going around and around that I managed to get the information I needed.

So if you're calling and speaking with an officer especially, they're not likely to want to hear the relationship between one cat and the other - what they DO need to know is (1) when the cats were trapped (2) how many cats were trapped and (3) where the cats were trapped. You should also give a description of the cat - what colour, any distinguishing markings (special mark, bob tail, etc). Keep it factual - for example, cute things the cat does are not particularly useful at this point, especially as they're going to be so scared they are unlikely to do any of these things.

I also advised her to ask the people in the area to keep an eye out for whomever was trapping the cats and for specific details - what time they come? Are they wearing a uniform? Do they drive (presumably this would be the case as they need to transport the cats)? If so, what vehicle do they drive, any details - license plate number, colour of the car/van and the name of the company. The more detailed the description of the people and their vehicle in terms of what they look like will make it easier to trace them down.


Tomahawk Trap

Tomahawk Trap
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's one of the Tomahawk traps that are used here for trapping. They are smaller than the big traps we use and the catch mechanism is a little different - the door has a catch on the top, and there's no ring system like the one we use.


Watching the video

Watching the video
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Those of you who have been to our workshops will probably recognise the Alley Cat Allies video which we normally start our workshops with. Here are some of the attendees from last night's session.

It was a very interesting session and very enlightening to meet with two of the ACA staffers earlier. For example, some things here are quite different - I was told that it isn't unusual for people to start trapping and find a cat with a bullet in it and the cat needs to be taken to the vet right away.

Also one of the attendees mentioned that she was afraid of some of her neighbours, especially those who looked quite tough or had pit bulls.

On the other hand, some things never change. For example, we do have some people who seem pretty 'rough' in Singapore - but I was surprised that some of them were really nice to cats.

Also, there were two groups of people in the room. One group were feeders and/or caregivers who wanted to learn more. The others were neighbours who were at the workshop because there was someone feeding but not sterilising in the neighbourhood and the population was growing. Some people were starting to complain about - you guessed it - defecation.

What was nice was that some of the neighbours decided to come to the workshop, learn what they could do to help the woman, and try and get the population under control.


Clinic Admissions

Clinic Admissions
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here was some of the information on bringing the cats in, on the door of the Pump House of the Maryland SPCA. They have a special programme for rescue groups and welfare agencies.

Here's a list of low-cost options for people here in Baltimore. Bear in mind this is all in US dollars so it's quite a lot more costly than in Singapore.


Pump House, Maryland SPCA

Pump House, Maryland SPCA
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I attended a workshop last night at the Maryland SPCA held by Alley Cat Allies and it was very interesting. This is the room it was held in, an old pump room, which has now been converted into a Spay Clinic.


Thursday, September 27, 2007

ST (27-9-07)

Thanks to the person who SMSed me about this article in today's Straits Times about more dogs being abandoned because of the higher AVA licensing fines :-

More dogs being abandoned or given up


Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Who's my TC?

I was just speaking to a feeder whom someone emailed me about. Apparently the TC officer told him to stop feeding so many cats and to pick a few of the prettier ones to keep feeding and to stop feeding the rest.

The problem is that the feeder doesn't quite know whom he spoke with. He also wasn't quite sure which town council he is under. We managed to locate the town council (I think!) through the process of elimination, but he insisted the officer he spoke with was the 'head' and the name he gave was not similar to the GM's name, so it is going to be difficult to find him.

A tip : if you're not sure which town council you belong to, you can call the TC that you suspect you belong to and ask if they can help to direct you to the correct TC.

The feeder mentioned he had some friends who were willing to help him though (and coincidentally two of them emailed me). He also went to see the MP tonight and brought the Responsible Feeding brochure which one of his friends gave him along.

I spoke with one of the friends who happens to be a resident in the block - neither of them knew each other so I've emailed the two of them as well. It certainly helps to know other concerned people in the area .


Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Hoarding in Australia

Thanks to Kavita for sending in this very interesting post :-

RSPCA of South Australia post on hoarding

It looks as if they do fine/treat people for hoarding in Australia as well. Now if only we could have something similar in Singapore.


Cassie's 2nd Birthday

Cassie's 2nd Birthday
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to Patricia for sending this in. It's now time for Mikey's friend's, Cassie to celebrate Cassie's own birthday :)


Monday, September 24, 2007

Cats and Pit bull fighting

One of the issues that was mentioned about cat issues in Baltimore, where I am right now, is that in pit bull fighting - which is unfortunately becoming more prevalent - it seems that some people toss cats (or other animals) to the pit bulls for practice. One of the ladies I was speaking with at Alley cat Allies was saying that people have been known to pick up their pit bulls and toss them into colonies of cats to let them practice on the cats. She had asked if we had experience with dogs killing cats in Singapore - I emailed back to say that while there are cases of dogs killing cats, those are usually dogs that are themselves homeless and usually abandoned/left behind. There have even been cases of people letting their dogs off leashes to chase cats - but so far I have not heard of cats being used for practise for dog fighting.

It's terrible what people will sink to do - and not just to the cats, but to the pit bulls and other animals that are thrown TO the pit bulls.


Saturday, September 22, 2007

ST (22-9-07)

Thanks to Vegancat for sending this in!

Thanks to police, others for rescuing our cat

Lovely to see people going to some effort to rescue a cat!

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Friday, September 21, 2007

Complaint letters

The complaint letters were sent to Michelle finally and there were several from the same complainant. The Charity unit however does not seem to want to take further action and have asked that we write to the complainant directly. None of the details were given however - they were full of allegations but no actual details and some of them contradictory. We have been told however that we are not to reveal the contents of the letters which seems very odd - there were allegations that the woman alleged other people had made. If we cannot write to them to clarify - and the charities unit did not at any point mention if THEY had clarified with the people mentioned, then how is the allegation to be proven or disproven?

We had actually written to this woman in the past as she had been sending email after email to us and we had told her to stop writing to us or we would consider taking legal action against her. She responded by tearing the letter, scribbling on it and mailing it back to us. I had a fellow blogger call me as well and mention that he was thinking of making a police report against her for harassing him in relation to this whole incident as well as she insisted that she had been mentioned on my blog and for some reason started emailing him. Why she chose to write to him, neither of us are very sure.


Thursday, September 20, 2007

There will always be cats around

This woman just wrote again and said that she wanted to know if residents are supposed to live in fear of the cats as a result. What I had mentioned to her earlier, and which I think she may not have understood is that it's not the difference between having cats and NOT having cats. The difference is between having a manageable number of cats or having an unsterilised, growing number of cats.

Here's the reality - there are cats. There have always been cats. There WILL always be cats - the question is how to manage the population in the best way possible.

Now the woman has said that she doesn't want the cats removed and killed - so let's say the cats are taken away, and put somewhere else. Then new cats come in and they too are removed and put somewhere else. Now multiply this by the thousands of blocks in Singapore. Where are the cats all supposed to go and who is going to pay for them?

Say they're all killed - even then, how much money is going to be spent, removing the cats, killed them, and then when the new cycle of cats moves in, doing the same thing, over and over ad nauseum. Surely there is a better way?

There is - sterilisation. It will never get rid of all the cats - but neither will killing, BUT it will manage the population so there will be fewer cats. Isn't that what will make everyone happier?

Also as for the question of living in fear - here's a list of phobias. If I am afraid of vegetables, men, home, teenagers dust, open high spaces, etc - will the town council remove them for me too?

Interestingly, the TC which had copied me on the email, thanked me for replying but asked if I would refrain from emailing the woman. I mentioned that if she emails me, then I will certainly reply in case she has any questions.


Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Cats turing 'violent'

Another complaint just came in and one of the things the woman mentioned was that she was worried that the cats might 'turn violent'. She mentioned also that one of the feeders had scolded her children for chasing and playing with the cats.

I wrote back to say that animals don't usually attack for no reason, but that if her children were chasing the cats, that might well be construed by the cats to be frightening behaviour and it would be best to ask them to stop.

It does seem quite odd that on one hand, some people are scared that the animals might 'attack' but then don't try and stop their children from chasing after the cats and instead ask that the cats be removed. It would seem to me that the more easily controlled behaviour would be to ask your children to be wary if you were worried about them getting attacked - because that behaviour can be controlled by you.


Broken telephone

I just spoke with someone who was recommended by someone she knew and she heard from a friend of a friend that there was someone who had seen a box of kittens in a certain area. She said that she heard that the cats had been injured - one was crushed and it seemed as if there was some abuse involved. She mentioned that the person wanted the cats relocated.

When I spoke with the person directly, it seemed there was no question of abuse - and the person wanted to give the cats to us. He said that the mother cat there had given birth and he asked what I advised he do. I told him to get the mother cat sterilised as otherwise this would happen again. He didn't seem very keen on this though.

Interesting how information is sometimes passed :)

Speaking of abuse, I also spoke with the witness in this case. She had spoken with the police the day before yesterday and identified the suspects through photographs. If they plead guilty, she will not need to testify, but if they choose to claim trial, then she will be needed to testify.


Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Complaint about 'too many' cats

I managed to speak to the officer and he mentioned that there were too many cats in his estate - he said there were 10 or more and this was over 10 blocks. He also kept mentioning there were hygiene issues and that the cats were running in the void decks.

Firstly, the caregiver said there have always been cats - and she just sterilised the existing ones. The actual number is also closer to 20. The caregiver said that there were not just 2 cats as the officer claimed there were previously (and I seriously doubt that too). She also said that the cats come out at night to feed but otherwise disperse - and that's why she didn't think it was an issue.

Secondly I pointed out that the hygiene issue is the usual situation of cats going upstairs. We need to solve the issue by tackling the actual situation - not just picking up the wrong cats.

The officer asked if the cats could be moved to a cat farm - he had heard there were farms in Pasir Ris. I explained the vacuum effect, which he said that he understood, but then he kept saying that new cats might come in if the cats were sterilised. At any rate, he's agreed to monitor the situation for now - and hopefully will work with the caregiver. He's asked for her number.

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I just got in from a rather long drive and logged on to some bad news from Rebecca - that one of the caregiver had called her as there had been some pest control sent down by the town council in one of the areas. The problem is that there is hardly anyone there, and Veganmeowies who knows a bit about the situation (and knows the caregiver) told me that except for one resident, there's hardly anyone there.

I spoke with the resident and apparently the TC was not very helpful. There are only 20 cats or so over 10 blocks and all have been sterilised. The complaint though was that there were too many cats. One of the issues may be that the caregiver told me that she feeds all the cats in one spot. While there's nothing wrong with that, it DOES bring attention to the cats and could prove dangerous for the cats. It is best to split up your feeding spots.

I also rang the officer but was unable to get hold of him. I left a message for him.

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Monday, September 17, 2007


The adoption volunteer and I were speaking the other day about peoples' expectations and what they expect others to do for them. This was brought back to me because someone has been emailing about a situation where she is concerned that there is someone boarding a cat, and this person may decide to abandon it. The cat is being boarded with another person, whom is unlikely to continue boarding the cat if the owner decides she does not wish to continue paying.

The person who emailed me has been very sweet about wanting to help - but as I mentioned to her, and as I mentioned in an earlier post, the owner has to take some responsibility as well.

The adoption volunteer was telling me that someone wrote in asking for a foster. The volunteer managed to find one at the time, but the woman who picked up the kitten said she didn't want to supply food and litter to the foster. The woman claimed that it wasn't fair and that the cat wasn't her cat. She insisted that she should not pay. It isn't her cat of course - but she DID pick up the cat out of her own volition. The volunteer also pointed out to her that the foster hadn't even picked up the cat - and surely the FOSTER could not be made to provide help AND food, litter and other essentials.

At some point, some responsibility will have to come to bear on the person who made the decision to take in the cat, whether permanently, or just taking the cat off the street while they look for someone else to take the cat. Please don't take the cat off the street unless you are sure you can give the cat a home. There's no point picking it up and hoping someone else will take it - you have to be prepared to take that cat home if no one else will.

Certainly, there may be situations that you envision your circumstances change, then please DO ask for some advise and we'll try and see if something can be worked out with the owner/person who picked up the cat. The problem however is not one to be passed to someone else by the owner - the owner has to be an integral part of the solution.


Young people helping out

Sorry for the radio silence. Besides travelling, I promptly came down with the flu.

Here's an interesting article that Vegancatsg sent :-

Animal Lovers and Ah Bengs win in Podcast

Nice to know that there are young people trying to help out - would be even nicer if they spent the money on sterilisation :)


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

On No-Pay Leave

I will be away on no-pay leave till just before Spay Day. I will however be speaking at a conference and helping with a workshop in the US, so if you're in the area, drop by :)

I will continue working remotely from the US, so drop me an email if you need to contact me.


Fighting doesn't help

A complaint came in yesterday again from the same woman who had complained about another cat. The caregiver in the area said that she seldom sees the cat and that she doesn't think the woman is telling the truth about what happened. This is quite possibly so, but the caregiver said she was going to 'fight' with the woman if she continued lying.

It doesn't help to assume the person is lying without trying to look into the situation. They may be - but if you keep an open mind, it'll allow you to really look into the situation. It also allows you to maintain credibility - let's say the person's allegation is true. Then you'll look as if you have no objectivity and that you are very biased. Your TC or Management Committee is going to be far less likely to ask you to look into complaints if that is the case.

In addition, fighting really doesn't help. It makes you seem very unreasonable - and the idea is to try and look reasonable and trustworthy. It also doesn't solve the problem. The TC might think that you are impossible to work with and decide to remove the cat instead of working with you.

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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Opinion Poll in the US on cats

My printer is working again so finishing all the vet clinic letters and reimbursements with cheques to be sent out. A big thank you to Starsky for offering to help with the printing of the letters!

Here's a very interesting poll done in the US about how people feel about community cats and whether they ought to be left where they are or euthanised. This is an idea we've toyed with ourselves from time to time - but running a poll is very expensive if you want to do it independently, among other things.

It's interesting that 81% of respondents thought the cats should be allowed to live out their lives outdoors as it was more humane. Of course a poll was done by the AVA back in 1997 which found most respondents in an HDB estate, did not want the cats removed and preferred that they be allowed to remain and be sterilised - and these were people who weren't even asked to look at it from the angle of welfare of the cat. When I first met with Alley Cat Allies who commissioned the survey, I had shown them the AVA survey and they were very impressed by it and the results of that poll, which was the start of the Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme. They said was a very forward looking method of controlling the community cat population, which sadly was cancelled during SARS the next year.

Most people do feel abhorrence to cats being killed unnecessarily. What we need are more alternatives to solving problems - and not using killing as a quick solution.

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Alternative solutions

I spoke with the woman who was upset (and understandably so) about the cat defecating outside her home. It seems that she is very concerned as she is leaving the country for a few weeks and is worried that the problem may have gotten very bad by then. In fact, since she last contacted us in March, there hasn't been much of a problem.

At first she said she would ask the TC to round up the cats, but when I explained it wouldn't help, and I think coupled with the fact that she didn't want the cats killed, she emailed back to ask if we could look into other solutions, which was great news.

I told her about the Cat Stop and the Don't Cat at Daiso and she asked if she could buy the Cat Stop. I suggested she just rent it to begin with - in case it doesn't work for her, then she won't have wasted any money. I'm glad she's open to other solutions and is not just asking for the cats to be killed.

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Abused cat and kittens

Abused cat and kittens
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to Haliza for sending this photo in. This is the abused cat with her two kittens which she gave birth to, the day after she was beaten and abused. Apparently, she is not blind in that her eyes respond to light, but that the damage to the brain has somehow affected her sight. She also had to be force fed at the outset.

These are the two surviving kittens. Haliza is concerned that they may have been injured as well.

I spoke to the witness as well yesterday. The witness is going to be identifying the suspects from some photos after work today.


Black = bad luck?

Someone just wrote in to say that she picked up a cat that she wanted to adopt out. She said that her parents will not allow a black cat because black cats they felt, were inauspicious. I told her chances are much slimmer when it comes to adopting a black cat out as her parents aren't the only ones who feel this way.

It is still very hard to adopt out black cats - and many people still feel that black cats are unlucky and will not take them. I think it's high time that this superstition is put to an end because black cats are just as lovely as any other cat. In fact, some people feel that cats of certain colours have certain character traits - and people who live with black cats often tell me that they have the most gentle, sweet natures.

The funny thing is that in some countries, black cats are considered lucky - so maybe we should import that custom over :)


Town Council officers

I spoke to one of the officers who works with the officer I have been trying to contact (as the other officer was in a meeting). The caregiver said that the area is quite bad at the moment - she doesn't feed there but is helping the feeders in the area to get the cats sterilised. At the same time, there are people dumping, cats being left to roam unsterilised, and the usual problems associated with an unmanaged area.

I spoke to the officer and explained that sterilised cats are easier to care for then unsterilised cats and are territorial. I asked her to please work with the caregiver. I told her it is not possible to expect the population to decrease immediately but it will happen if the area is managed.

I spoke to another officer who was dealing with a woman who wrote in much earlier this year about the cat defecating outside her unit. Apparently that did not happen again till this weekend - and the woman got really upset. She tried to get the officer but it was a weekend and he told me she got rather upset she could not get hold of him. So pity some of the town council officers too who are expected to be on call at all times too!

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I've found your cat

Someone wrote in to warn other people who may be in her same situation. She said that she had lost her cat and had posted it on several websites. She said that someone emailed her and then texted her to ask a few questions, including when she had lost her cat, and how much compensation she was willing to give as he or she had grown fond of the cat. This person then said that if his or her 'demands' were met, that he or she would arrange for the safe return of her cat. The person then gave her a foreign number to contact him or her at.

The person who wrote in suspected this to be a scam and asks people to be careful if this should happen to them. Do bear in mind that if you do lose your cat, you may want to keep certain details private - for example, a special mark, or a particular characteristic. You can then ask the person who found it to tell you if there are any distinguishing marks to ensure it is the same cat. The vast majority of people who will call you mean well and just want to reunite owner and cat but often it is hard to tell different cats apart from a photo. However there are some people who will try and trick you, either because they are malicious or want to make money out of the situation. In either case, if there are certain traits or markings that can be verified by the person calling you, that would help.


Managed to speak to estate manager

I managed to speak with the manager this morning and she agreed to calling to the caregiver first if there is an issue with the cats in the estate. I told her that her colleague had told me to ring her and she said she thought I had been referring to the pest control, of which her colleague was in charge of calling. At any rate, she wanted to know how soon the caregiver would take care of the situation - I told her I am sure she will act on any complaints promptly, and that the caregiver works nearby as far as I know. She said that they would do so in the future then.

Still unable to get the town council officer though. The interesting thing is that the receptionist remembered me from my call yesterday and asked if the officer had not called me back yet.

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Monday, September 10, 2007

Given the runaround

I spoke with the manager of an estate (or tried to this afternoon). When I spoke with her earlier she told me the person in charge was another colleague, who told me she was busy and to call her back a bit later. When I was able to get in touch with the latter I was told she was actually the assistant manager of the complex. I asked the assistant manager if it was possible to release a cat that had been caught in the area and was now in the AVA. First she told me she wasn't sure where the cat was and I told her a few times that the cat had already been sent to the AVA and the caregiver needed their approval to take the cat back.

Eventually she said that it wasn't her decision. She said that she worked for the landlord that did not want cats in the area. I explained that new cats would enter the area and that it did not help to trap and remove them - and that the cats there were sterilised, which she knew. In fact the caregiver had been in touch with them in the past.

I asked if they could contact the caregiver instead of removing the cats in the future. Again she said she wasn't sure as the management was not very keen on the idea. I asked if I could speak with her management and she said she wasn't sure about that either. I asked her if I could send her some information for her management. She said she would write to them first. Then she said that she couldn't make any decisions. I asked her whom the right person to speak to was in that case, and she referred me back to the first person I had spoken with. It turned out that that person was her superior. That person has been uncontactable since I managed to get hold of her the first time.

At the same time, I spoke with the caregiver and one of the AVA officers - the cat was released but now cannot be put back in the same area. However it is home safely.

Another person who has been uncontactable has been the officer in one of the estates. A caregiver called him up and this person told her that there weren't many problems but he thought the number of cats in the estates was high. He did not have a problem with the cats but wanted the population reduced within a month. The caregiver explained she was sterilising, but that she could not reduce the population so quickly, unless perhaps they were relocated within the same estate. However she told me the number wasn't very high.

She said the officer told her that she could relocate the cats - but not in his estate. He suggested she remove the cats and put them in some other estate. The caregiver was rather astounded at the suggestion.

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Representing other caregivers

I spoke with someone this morning who had a friend threatened by some women who said they could have the cats removed in the area. I told her it is best to see the MP and to tell the MP and the town council what she has been doing. I said if the MPs and TCs only hear from the complainants, they don't get a full view of the picture and might think only people who do not like cats live there.

She mentioned that her friends do not have problems yet and hence they may not want to go with her. I told her that this was actually the best time to then see the MP and the TC because there isn't an issue - the longer the working relationship and the less trouble it is, certainly the more likely the TCs are going to continue working with you in the future. If however, the TC only hears about the caregiver when there is an issue, they may view you with more suspicion, bearing in mind that they don't know you at all.

She was concerned that she might not be able to get other caregivers to go with her at such short notice. She asked if she could just tell the MP she was representing the others - I told her that generally I would think it best that the people who she represents actually go. It definitely gives credence if you mention that there are X number of people and they care enough to go rather than a solitary person claiming to have X number of other caregivers, who are nowhere to be seen.

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Rebecca demonstrating

Rebecca demonstrating
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's Rebecca at yesterday's workshop demonstrating putting a cat in a carrier by the scruff of its neck.


Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to everyone who came for the workshop yesterday and we hope you found it interesting! People were responding almost to the last minute so I ended up packing extra TNRM packets right before I left for the workshop - response was good!

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Another complaint

Anonymous in this post made a good guess about whom had complained about us to the Charities Unit - I believe that the person who complained is a different individual, but the man who insisted that one must be sincere when helping him wrote in yesterday to the adoptions volunteer threatening to complain to the AVA, MCYS and whomever else he thinks he can get us into trouble with.

Here's what happened - after the episode of the other day, he decided to adopt one of his kittens out. The adoption volunteer decided to continue to allow him to do so as it was in the interests of the cat to be adopted out. This is one of the kittens that had to be adopted out because the mother cat had not been sterilised, and why the adoption volunteer had gotten involved in the first place. She felt bad that this person had not enough money and was unemployed, so she took it upon herself to get the cat sterilised at no cost to him, and to provide food as well.

After increasingly bizarre emails between him and some potential adopters (including one where he told the potential adopter that he knew what his leisure habits were and where he lived because he was in the private investigation business), he decided to adopt the kitten out yesterday.

This is when the problem started. He insisted on putting the CWS logo on his adoption contract. The adoption volunteer explained to him that this was NOT a CWS adoption because this was an adoption carried out via public bulletin board as a public service. Often we do not know the potential fosters or adopters, and we want both parties to be the ones responsible for the contract.

The reason for this is that firstly, we do not know the parties involved - nor the cat involved. No one would know the cat better obviously than the foster - besides looking out for things such as good health, the foster would be the best person to tell if the cat is happy and contented in the new home.

Secondly, we want both parties to be responsible - after all, the foster, especially in this case, being an owner, ought to have some form of responsibility. Some fosters are still too quick to adopt cats out to the first available home despite whatever the adoption volunteer may advise. At one point, our last head of adoptions agreed to take cats back if people didn't want them. That stopped because too many people started returning the cats, and this was often because many of the fosters didn't bother to check that the cats were going to go good homes - after all, if there was a problem, CWS would take the cat back, not them. So we ended up with cats being returned and the foster refusing to take the cats back. The last head of adoptions said she ended up with some cats she had never seen in her life whom didn't fit in well with her cats so that had to be stopped.

Thirdly obviously a contract between the adopter and foster can be customised between the two parties to put in whatever makes the two of you comfortable - so you have more leeway obviously if you're amending a sample contract to your liking.

Now the young man took umbrage at this - he insisted that because the adoption posting had been done on the CWS board, that therefore CWS had to be responsible and that we had to take action if the contract was breached. From a strictly contractual point of view, we aren't even a party to the contract - so you can't ask a third party to come and enforce the contract for you, which I pointed out to him in an email. He also made allusions to other charity organisations that he said had 'made mistakes'.

I explained in my reply why he wanted the two parties to be responsible and that our board was a public service and what was said at the top of the adoption page and that it was a public board. I also explained that this was a means of advertising, like a supermarket notice board - the supermarket cannot be responsible if two people contact each other and the deal falls through. It would be akin to say suing the Social Development Unit if at some point you and your date whom you met through their activities broke up.

He wrote back another rather strange email - half of which is hard to follow (he mentioned something about people writing in to see his cats, and these 'volunteers' not contacting him again and what action we were taking on this matter). I forwarded it to the committee and one of the committee members asked what exactly he was upset about as the email was so garbled.

He also upset the adoption volunteer, who had from the beginning tried to help him out with this in her own capacity. Of course, the young man then said he would be complaining to us to all the different bodies and would be getting us banned (much as he tried to get the person helping the other day banned).

In fact, as the adoption volunteer had written the other day, he HAD written into complain about the person helping with transport to one of the Ministers asking to have volunteers banned. The adoption volunteer replied to both and we did not hear from the Minister.

One could argue that we might be in good company after all - in an email he sent earlier, apparently he had complained about different MPs in his Town Council too. He said that he had written to the Senior Minister and Minister Mentor to complain about them.


Saturday, September 08, 2007

ST (8-9-07)

Here's another article from the Straits Times about animal abuse and penalties :-

Jail should be mandatory for animal abusers

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Friday, September 07, 2007


Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

These were rather thin, but otherwise, are cheap scratching posts. I think the car-pat on the left refers to carpet :)


Fever Check Card

Fever Check Card
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I found these fever check cards as well. There seem to be quite a number of cat related items in the store.


Daiso Pet Section

Daiso Pet Section
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Wandering around the store looking for Don't Cat, I came across this pet section. There were some interesting things for sale, which I will post.


Don't Cat!

Don't Cat!
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

A friend told me about buying a great product to keep cats off soil and gardens from a shop in Plaza Singapura and so I went down to get it today. It turned out to the the Daiso on the fourth floor. I know E_Cat has also bought a similar product at the branch in IMM. This will be great for Mediations.

These little spiky mats are $2 each and as you can see, there are two different sizes. One is for flowerbeds, and one for larger areas. I bumped into an old classmate while leaving, and she immediately recognised "Don't Cat" and said she had been using it to keep her cats from jumping out the windows.

If you are considering buying some, the section is near the far corner of the shop near the Garden Supplies. Look for the rack with hangars, and it'll be at the bottom - the two staff I asked didn't know where it was.


Thanking the vets

I'm preparing the Spay Day confirmation letters from the information that Rebecca has compiled which we are sending to all the vets along with the Spay Day Posters which we hope that they will put up in their clinics. Spay Day is on the 26th of October in case you might have forgotten :)

When you are next at the vet and see the poster, please do thank your vet for their support - they are offering CWS subsidised rates for sterilisation, and we are very grateful for their help. We are also writing to a few of the vets whom we have not heard back from to ask if they might be able to help out during Spay Day. If your vet has not yet decided whether to take part, please do ask them to consider helping out - this is the one really big day for community cat sterilisation in Singapore!

Of course, many vets do already help out on a regular basis, but we hope to make Spay Day a focus point for attention on the importance of sterilisation because of the sheer number of cats sterilised on that one day. We do hope there might be more media attention this year as last year, there wasn't much mention of it. It is always good to bring sterilisation to the forefront.

No thanks however to my not very good printer for hanging and making it difficult to print out the letters - it's a little home printer and not good for more heavy duty use. Also sometimes I think it's just cranky :)


TNRM Workshop on Sunday

Thanks to all of you who have responded and said you will be attending the TNRM workshop this Sunday. A gentle reminder - please do register before, not for any other reason, but so we will have enough TNRM information packets for everyone present.

Once again details of the workshop can be found at CWS' website here.

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One of the things that I find rather surprising is that sometimes the more someone tries to help somebody else, the situation doesn't improve despite the best efforts of the person helping out. Take the case E_Cat and Aliah are helping out with - they've gone by with food, helped out with medication, taken the cats to the vet, brought and screened adopters, and E_Cat has even tried to offer her advise (and got an adopter to keep an eye out for a job) on getting a new job as the woman is unemployed. This may be partly why she is feeling down at the moment too. The woman also now has a daughter living with her who doesn't particularly like the cats which may contribute to the problem.

While the cats have been sterilised, and some cats have been adopted out, the rest of the cats continue to get sick quite regularly. The woman has mentioned several times she wants to 'release' the cats downstairs.

Sometimes I think the question is one of ownership - the woman knows E_Cat and Aliah are worried about the cats and want the best for them, so it no longer becomes her problem any longer. If she doesn't worry about them, someone else will. So it ceases to be her issue. To date, I have not heard of her going to the vet with E_Cat and Aliah to find out what she ought to do for the cats.

Perhaps it's not so surprising - if someone pays a little bit of money for an item or service, they are far more likely to treasure it than for the person who got the item free.

People sometimes call and tell me that they have a problem and ask me what CWS can do for them - most recently a woman called, and said she couldn't keep her cats, and I suggested several options, including adoption. She asked what would happen if the cats were not adopted, and I told her that frankly that's something SHE has to think about because they are her cats. It's not that we won't offer assistance in any way that we can but at the end of it all, the owner has to take some responsibility.


ST (7-9-07)

An interesting letter in today's Straits Times forum :-

Send animal abusers to IMH for treatment

It's something I know we've talked about on this blog before - the need for medical counselling and intervention for animal abusers. If we can somehow extend it to people who hoard animals too, that would be wonderful.

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Thursday, September 06, 2007

Cat with Eye problem

Cat with Eye problem
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to E_Cat for sending this in. It seems that despite all the trips to the vet, these cats are still getting flu on and off. E_Cat suspects that the woman may not know how to medicate them properly. E_Cat took this cat to the vet today and he and the other caregiver are also helping to raise funds for it to be treated.


Life changes and adoption

I spoke to this woman today and asked if she had managed to find the foster's details. She said it was a while ago and she had lost them. I asked if this was back in May, and she said she believed it was. I explained that if the fosters want the cats back, then it will help matters tremendously. She mentioned she wanted to get some of the cats at her father's place adopted out first. However I told her that it seems to me that she needs to get all the cats out - or certainly most of them, in which case the quickest way to try and get some out is to ask the foster if they want the cats back. She had also mentioned to E_cat earlier that she was stressed by the cats in her house as they were spraying.

I also asked her why she had adopted the cats considering that she was facing such drastic life changes which she was aware of back in May when she adopted the cats. One of them included moving to a smaller apartment, in addition to the other personal issues she was (and still is) facing. She said she never imagined this would happen.

I told her that besides the fact that she is personally finding it difficult to cope now, the cats are also disadvantaged because they could have found a permanent home then, it would certainly have been better for the cats. Even if they find a new home now, it would have been better if they had been settled into a permanent home right from the beginning.

I really hope people will think very carefully before adopting a cat. If you are considering moving, or know that personal circumstances are going to be rather uncertain in the near future, please do NOT take a cat. It is very possible that the person adopting the cat may not be able to cope, and it's not fair to the cat.


Cat Playing

Here's the cat playing today.


Cat on String playing

Cat on String playing
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just got back a while ago from speaking to the man about this cat. Here's the cat playing when I went down today.

The man says he doesn't want to sterilise the cat because he has seen other male cats sterilised, and he worries it will make the cat half-male/half-female. I assured him that was not the case but I think he is somehow worried it will make the cat more effeminate. I also told him that the cat will live longer and be less likely to get into fights.

I asked him about his plans to move and again if he would give the cat up for adoption. He said that he realises it may be selfish but the cat is all he has at the moment and he doesn't want to give it up till he is forced to move. He said the cat sleeps with him on the pillow and they spend all their time together and it keeps him from getting into other kinds of trouble.

He said he would consider the sterilisation. He did seem to realise if the cat is caught, it may be killed. He also said however that he is concerned about letting the cat off if it is not sterilised as people will complain - hence it is also on the chain. I will upload a video later of the cat playing.


Update on the complaint made about CWS and myself

One of the people who wrote into the Charities Unit forwarded me the reply that he received from them about this matter. He was thanked for his comments, and was asked how he knew about the letter and in what capacity he was writing in.

He replied that he had read about it on this blog and that he wasn't sure what they meant by what capacity he was writing in as. I also wonder if the complainant was asked the same question when he or she wrote in.

As Michelle had not had a reply from them about the letter they sent, I called to speak with the manager and asked about the matter. The manager assured us that they were not taking sides on this. I told her that I am aware that they have a job to do, and that they need to look into it, but what protects the charities if people send in baseless and defamatory claims? I was told that our protection is to reply to the allegations. She said that we can go through the allegations again, and reply if we want to. I told her that categorically they are baseless and false allegations - but without any details we cannot refute them specifically. She said that they are cleaning up the complaint and will send the details to us. If they are satisfied with our reply then they will close the case.

I also asked for the letter in my personal capacity as I am looking into my legal options on this matter. I was told I may write in formally to request this.


Cat Management - the next step

I just finished reworking the Cat Management factsheet with Corbie's suggestions, though it still seems a little long. When CWS first started out, I think the main objective we were trying to get people to accept was sterilisation. While there are still quite a few people out there who are not sterilising, we now see that a lot of people have moved in that direction and are getting that done.

The next challenge is Cat Management. The most disappointing thing that could happen to someone is to come back and find that their colony has disappeared - and that can happen even if the cats are sterilised. The main difference is this - sterilisation reduces the population, but cat management is the best shot you have at keeping your cats safe. You may have sterilised the entire population but complaints may still arise - and often these complaints are due to people, not to the cats (for example the irresponsible cat owner, the messy feeder, the persistent complainant). The town council or management committee of your estate really isn't anti-cat in the vast majority of cases, but they DO want to stop complaints, and that's where Cat Management comes in. Handle the complaints - and the cats stay safe basically.

What's equally important is to handle them early - and not to wait till the situation is out of hand. If by the time you have approached your TC or management committee, there are 30 cats caterwauling under your block, you're going to have a hard time convincing them that starting a TNRM programme is a good idea.

Again if you'd like to find out more about Cat Management, do come to the TNRM workshop this Sunday at the National Library.


Life of a community cat in Hong Kong

Quite a few people have written in to suggest I share this on my blog. Thanks to fatcat, dawndie and wei for sending it in :-

My life as a cat in Hong Kong

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Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Best of your abilities

I was just speaking with a rather distressed caregiver. She has a sick community cat that was sent into the hospital. Due to all the various tests that need to be run on the cat, the bill has mounted and she wanted to know if she could send it in and ask for help. I told her that of course she could and we would try our best to help out.

This cat was apparently 'owned' by a man in the area. This was one of three cats. Apparently he didn't want to look after them any longer, so he took two of them and dumped them somewhere else, much to the frustration and distress of the caregiver. She went to the area but could not find them.

This cat is now ill and the man is uninterested. He has never even called to ask how the cat is doing. The caregiver has spoken with the vet and is trying her best. The vet had suggested she might consider euthanasia due to the cat's condition (it is still bright and responsive but the liver is badly damaged) but understandably, the caregiver finds this a very difficult decision to make.

One thing I told her was that she should consider the size of her colony and what she could afford. Some people may think it crass to talk about money when the cat's life hangs in the balance, but here's the thing - people often have large colonies they look after, and even more cats at home. Consider spending $1000 on one of those cats - now multiply that by x where x is the number of cats that you care for.

So what do you do? Go all out for the cat? Or remember that you have a lot of other cats, who may potentially all need health care especially in later life?

There's no easy to answer to this but one thing to think about is that cats now live longer in general. This is probably due to better health care and advances in veterinary science. At the same time, this means the cat's health is likely to deteriorate with age. This may be why we see more kidney diseases and cancers - kidney problems for example are common in cats above seven years.

Sometimes the only thing that you can do is just do what you can to the best of your abilities - and that includes your financial ability. I was telling the caregiver that it's not a hard road to go down whereby a caregiver spent all that they could on a cat and then realised that they started to get into debt. Once there was a bit of debt, what's a bit more - especially if another cat is sick? After a while, the you realise you can't go back to the vet because you owe them so much money - and you can't afford to feed them the right kind of food appropriate for their conditions, because it costs too much. The cats get sicker - and the vet care is more piecemeal because you're broke. Maybe they're not even getting vet care at all any more because you can't afford it.

As they say, the path to hell is paved with good intentions. Financial considerations ARE real - and you have to take them into account because you have to think about your other cats who also need you.

One thing I told the caregiver was that I know she is doing her best, and that if the day should come where she has to put the cat down, that she shouldn't feel bad because she is trying her best. If she wants to feel upset with anyone, I told her it should be with the guy who callously ignored his own cat in the first place. I also suggested she ask her vet if there may be cheaper options to treat this - they may not be the most efficient way or the 'best' way to treat the cat, but perhaps they can get the job done too in the long run.


Giving up cats

E_Cat just got back from overseas and is plunging back into trying to work with some women around his area, along with Aliah. Thanks to the both of them for their hard work.

E_Cat was saying that the woman that he asked us to help said again that she cannot keep the cats due to family objections and wants to let them go. E_Cat warned her about the penalties related to abandonment.

When I spoke with her last week, she had mentioned two of the cats were adopted recently. She said at the time that she could not remember any of the details of the fosters. I called her back a few days later to ask if she could remember any more information, but she said that she was not in the mood at her time of bereavement. I can understand that she must have more pressing concerns at this point and I didn't want to press her further during her grief.

What does surprise me is that she is keen to give up the cats, but isn't helping to try and find the fosters of the cats she adopted. This would be the easiest way of reducing the number of cats if those fosters want their cats back instead of putting the cats out on the street.

Interestingly, Yskat sent me this article today :-

Londoners and their pets

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From trolley to Bag

I was just discussing the new Cat Management factsheet we've been working on with Corbie and she gave some very good suggestions to incorporate into the factsheet. It may not be ready for Sunday but we hope to get it rolled out soon.

It's always good to see a well managed area - and it was illustrated again by something that Vegancatsg wrote to the TC today. He had mentioned this a while ago in his email that one of the things that made him and a fellow caregiver very happy was that when they first started TNRM in their area a few years ago, there were tons of cats. The feeder in the area used to come down with a trolley so she could carry all her food.

Due to their hard work, the cats there are all sterilised and the area well managed - and the number of cats has started to decrease. Owners have started to keep their cats indoors because they have spoken with them. As a result, he said that the elderly feeder no longer has to struggle with her trolley and that she now just has to carry a bag down to feed the cats because the number has reduced so much!


Cat on a string

Cat on a string
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I dropped by to speak to the man with the cat on a string this afternoon. He was fast asleep and didn't wake up when I called his name. For some reason, every time I've gone by recently, he's been napping (and so is the cat). I'll need to go down and speak with him again when he's awake :)



Just came back from running errands - went to deposit money at the bank and then went to drop off some Spay Day posters to some vets and pet stores.

One of the pet stores suggested that the vet next door was a more appropriate venue to drop off the poster as they did not offer sterilisations. I explained that the poster was for Spay Day and that it was for free sterilisations. He looked at the poster again, asked incredulously if it was free and then said he would put up the poster!

The hardworking catsnip volunteers are reporting that people are already starting to call in for Spay Day slots.



Some of you may remember this complainant. I spoke with the family whom he complained about, but they in turn said that the cat was not theirs and that they were caregivers in the estate. Their cat was always kept indoors - however a neighbour on a higher floor was according to them, the culprit. They said at the time they would take some photos of the cat in question.

I called them again today and they said that they had sent the photo to the town council. Apparently, they had spoken with the neighbour who lets their cats out but the person refuses to keep the cat in.

I called the complainant again and he said he would try and take photos too if he saw the cat.

As for the case of the cat abuse that was witnessed, I spoke with the witness yesterday and she is waiting for the police to ask her to go down and identify the suspects from some photos. However her son is rather ill at the moment. The caregiver who brought the case to my attention asked if I would accompany the witness to the police station. I said I'd be happy to if she needs me to do it.

As for the case of the cat in the school, the woman who contacted me said that the cat was removed without her knowledge. I asked if I might speak with her manager but she said there was no point as the cat is gone. From her emails, it also seems that he is rather displeased with her. Poor cat and poor lady.


ST (5-9-07)

Here's an article from today's Forum Page on animal abuse :-

Animal abusers are vandals - so cane them

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Thank you!

Thanks so much to those of you who wrote into the Charities Unit in response to this post. I was really touched that you guys took the time to write in. A caregiver I know also called from overseas to express his concern. Your support has been really great and has really been the silver lining to this cloud.


Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Cat under car

Cat under car
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Rebecca just dropped over with the Spay Day posters - she kindly offered to get them printed as she had a contact for someone who could do cheap printing, so we'll be sending them out to a vet near you soon!

I dropped a cat trap off this afternoon, and here's one of the cats in the estate sitting under a car.


Complaint made about CWS and myself to Charities Unit

Complaint made about CWS to Charities Unit
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I just went to pick up the mail and found a letter to Michelle from the Charities Unit. Michelle immediately called them about the complaint that you can see above. Both of us thought of the same person whom we suspect is behind the complaint.

First of all, if we're not helping with subsidies of sterilisation and setting up caregiver groups, I'm not sure what we do. We don't help with provision of subsidies for food - we have never said that we do, because our work is to promote sterilisation, not feeding on its own. As for mediations, I think that it's quite clear that we do often help out with that.

Secondly, I'm not sure when these so-called donations were solicited. Michelle has asked for the details, and the woman said she would send them via email. Michelle said the woman sounded a little disinterested (hopefully because she doesn't put much credence into the complaints too).

As for the blog, this is a personal blog in that it is under my name, but it is all about my work. The committee is aware of the blog and has been since before I started it, and know that I use it to blog about issues relating to CWS. Whether I use it to promote myself I leave you to decide.

Off to go process some of those subsidies that we don't give out :)


Domestic Help and Pets

The adoption volunteer mentioned to me that one of the things she noticed was that one of the reasons cats seem to be given up for adoption is when their domestic helpers return home. She said that quite a few people write in and ask for the adoption team to help to rehome their pets because they no longer feel they can cope. When the domestic helper leaves, the pet finds itself homeless. I was just thinking about this as I was writing an article we plan to contribute to the AVA newsletter on not abandoning animals.

Sometimes circumstances may change, and people find that they cannot cope - perhaps someone in the family is ill. It is true that there may be all sorts of valid reasons why people feel they really cannot cope. However, it is a shame if an animal is given up because it becomes inconvenient. It is certainly frustrating and tiring for example, especially for new mothers - yet you don't see them giving their children away if their domestic help suddenly has to leave.

The question I suppose is if animals are part of the family - if they are, then somehow people will try and struggle through. The adoption volunteer was asked to rehome a dog (yes you did read that right) over the weekend - someone told her that the dog had to be rehomed that same day because her domestic help had left. She said that she loved the dog very much but it had to be gone by the same day as she had to work on Monday.

Even if circumstances are such that you really need to adopt the animal out, surely for all the time that the animal has spent with you that you try and find it a good home - and not just anyone who says they will take it in? One thing that does bother me is that people often make plans months in advance if they are moving, for their furniture, their clothes, etc - but they only think of the animal they are not taking with them, at the very last minute. If you are going to give an animal up, then please, start looking for a new home early at the very least.

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Some people were responding to a forum post by a person on declawing community cats. In the first place, besides the fact that one should never declaw an outdoor cat because you take away their only defense mechanism, declawing is something that is actually illegal in some countries and considered to be mutilation in others :-

Declawing : what you need to know

The European Convention for the Protection of Pet Animals
outlawed it. Section 5 of the United Kingdom's Animal Welfare Act prohibits mutilation, which involves interfering with the 'sensitive bone structure' of the animal, excepting medical reasons.

Declawing is something to benefit owners - it rarely does anything for the cat. Some owner may decide they would rather give away or kill their cat then have it scratch their furniture - in which case I know some vets in Singapore do consider this as an option. Of course this may not stop the person from giving their cat away anyway after that (and we have had some declawed cats on our adoption board in the past).


TNRM workshop this Sunday

Just a reminder that the TNRM workshop is going to be held this Sunday at the National Library at Victoria Street from 2 - 4 pm. The response for this workshop has been good so please let us know if you are coming so we can get a TNRM packet of information ready for you.


Monday, September 03, 2007

Cat on beam

Cat on beam
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks again to Lay Ling for the photos - here's another photo of the house with one of the cats sitting on one of the beams.

The layout reminds me a little of the Cats' House.


11 year old recognises importance of sterilisation

An 11 year old girl called the catsnip voice message system. She saw a cat in her estate a month ago and decided she'd like to get it sterilised. Her parents are against her getting the cat done, so she's paying for the sterilisation on her own. She has an adult who is able to help her transport the cat to the vet, but cannot help with the trapping.

She called Wiggie on the Catsnip voice message system and she seemed a little unsure of what to do. I finally managed to get her today as it is the fist day of her school holidays. She said that she wanted to get it sterilised but isn't quite sure how to go about it. The cat is also unfriendly according to her. We were concerned that she might not be able to trap the cat as she is inexperienced and might end up getting scratched if she isn't sure of what to do. Rebecca offered to help her with the cat - thanks Rebecca.

It's impressive that an 11 year old would think of getting the cat sterilised and even more so that she's prepared to pay for it out of her pocket money.


No reply yet

Dr Teo wrote back last Wednesday to say that HDB and Town Councils are separate bodies and that TCs can set their own bylaws. We wrote back on Thursday to confirm that we were aware of this fact, but that Dr Teo had mentioned that HDB was the landlord, and that they followed what the HDB set out very closely when we met in May. However HDB is silent on the issue of cats in common areas altogether.

We asked if Dr Teo might be able us to tell why the Town Councils then banned cats in common areas if the HDB had no issue with it. We also asked if he might be able to cite the actual bylaw so that the residents in the area would know exactly what compliance entails.

To date we have not received a reply.

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Australians eating cat?

I saw this article in the Straits Times today and Mezzo sent me a link to the BBC article :-

Australians cook up wild cat stew

Besides the fact, that eating cats may be unsafe for consumption, why this would be successful in reducing the population is not apparent to me - this is yet another method of trapping and killing and will not help to reduce the population, only a sustained TNRM programme would do that.

What's even scarier is that this idea was apparently dreamed up by a children's book author.


Cat House

Cat House
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thank you Lay Ling for the lovely photo. What a beautiful home - and a gorgeous cat playground!


Spay Day Poster 2007

Spay Day Poster 2007
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to Barffie and Rebecca for working on this - here's this year's Spay Day 2007 poster! Thanks also to Barnie for providing the photograph!


ST (3-9-07)

A good letter from Dr Tan Chek Wee :-

Cat control : Town Councils should listen to all residents, not just the complainants

Already there's a comment from someone who is asking that cats be removed because they might scratch cars. In the case Dr Tan mentioned, I believe it is the same cat I am familiar with and the vet said that the scratches were unlikely to scratch a car.

I still wonder why people will just jump to the conclusion it is a cat without first checking it out. If one found a car scratched, then would you just grab the first person who you happened to see leaning on your car a few times and accuse them of the act?

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