Speaking with your neighbour
I was speaking to a caregiver who says that her neighbour has been trapping cats and is very unpleasant. I asked if she had tried to speak with the neighbour and she said that the neighbour had yelled at her once. She said that it is better if the Society speaks to people as we can better educate people about cats.
First of all, as I told her, in general I've found that most people prefer to speak with their neighbours. Most people ask why their neighbours didn't come by themselves and sent someone else down.
Secondly, it's not as if we wave some magic wand and make people understand things or that we have tons of knowledge available that is inaccessible to everyone else. The thing is this - we've learnt along the way as well. A lot of information is of course readily available on the Internet and I know that I am still learning every day. Many of you have in fact sent me useful information from things that you have come across as well.
Most of the information we think is really important is written down in FAQ sheets or is available in the TNRM packets which are made available to anyone who requests them. And here's the thing - it IS important for every caregiver to know these things.
As I explained to the caregiver, most complainants like to know that there is a neighbour who lives nearby, whom they can go to for help. It's all well and good to have someone come down and speak with them, but given a choice, most people prefer to know there is someone close by who can help them if they face an issue. If it comes down to this and the caregiver has no clue on what to advise the complainant about the vacuum effect, why management is important etc, then it's very difficult.
The third thing I mentioned to her was to be careful sometimes how you phrase things. For example, most people hate to be told that you're there to 'educate' them (the caregiver told me that she was just using the phrase with me, which is fine). Most people feel they're educated enough, thank you very much, and don't need someone to come and basically tell them they're ignorant.
Also stay away from language obviously telling people that they hate cats or that they 'must be tolerant'. Some people will ask why they ought to be? It's better to point out that there are better alternatives to help solve their problems permanently - rather than trapping and killing the cats, which DOESN'T solve the issue.
Of course there will always be some people who refuse to listen - but they will be in the minority. Most people are generally quite receptive when you explain that you're there to try and solve the problems they are facing.