Friday, June 29, 2007

Origins of cats

Thanks to Yskat for sending this very interesting article in :-

DNA shows domestic cats have origins in the Near East

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Swedish Cat Food


Swedish Cat Food
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The fun thing about travelling is to go to a foreign supermarket. This is the cat food section of one of the popular supermarkets. One Singapore Dollar is almost equivalent to four kronors.

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Thursday, June 28, 2007

I prefer to live with the cats

Checking my email while in transit and found an email from someone who wrote into their town council today to complain that the number of cats had increased. Unfortunately there are no caregivers in that particular area. The person wrote to ask that the cats be sent to the SPCA where they would be adopted.

I wrote back to explain that when the cats are removed they are killed. What is nice is that the person wrote back (and copied the TC) and said that while they still thought the number was getting large, killing the cats was too cruel. The person said that they would prefer to live with the cats then have them removed and killed. Sometimes people really aren't aware that when they complain, the cats get killed so it's good to let them know.

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Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Away

I'll be out of the country and back at work on 9th July (was actually on no-pay leave this afternoon). Will try and blog if there's anything cat related (and if I can get Net access!)

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Help from IMH?

I called up and spoke with some people from the Institute of Mental Health today to ask if they could provide any assistance to us on the whole Hoarding issue. The psychologist I spoke to suggested it might be useful to train people who go in and deal with hoarding issues (which would be I supposed mainly Rebecca and I and whomever else might want to go). She agreed it would be difficult to bring the hoarders in themselves, so this is the next best thing.

She will get her colleagues to call us back and let us know about what can be arranged. I hope it won't cost too much.

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Rebecca and cats


Rebecca and cats
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's Rebecca last night looking at the two sterilised community cats.

After the RC meeting, we went to walk around the carpark. When I had parked there earlier I had not seen any cats. Neither had Rebecca.

We also went to look at the car antennae of the different cars. Since the complainant was in the meeting, and this was the carpark he complained about, chances are that his car would be there. We did not see any 'spoilt' antennaes - all the cars that had them seemed to look perfectly fine. I am kind of wondering how a cat would spoil a car antennae as well - did they use their non-opposable thumbs to break it off? This must be a very dexterous cat! Or perhaps they have very strong teeth, able to bite through the antennae and break it.

Whatever it is, we're unlikely to know as the complainant did not seem willing to show us the car.

The complainant had kept saying that the number of cats in his estate was 'a lot'. When the caregiver pressed him as to how many, as she cared for the cats there and only saw three cats at most, he insisted that no one paid him to walk around and tell her. The other RC members shushed him.

He also insisted that there were more cats recently. The caregiver pointed out she had been living there for quite a while and that the number had in fact gone down as so many cats had been caught. The complainant then mentioned that the last TC officer was good - she had trapped cats whenever he complained, but this one did not.

In the end, the RC Chairperson agreed to let the caregiver know if there were problems. She asked the TC to do the same before trapping the cats.

One of the other RC members also whispered to me that she loved cats. She signalled to me that the complainant opposite hated them. She agreed to help the caregiver out.

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Black & white cat


Black & white cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Rebecca and I attended an RC meeting with the caregiver of this cat. She had been told by the TC that there was a persistent complainant in the RC. Within minutes of her speaking, we knew immediately whom it was.

When the caregiver tried to explain what she was doing, he kept asking how she could possibly help. We explained the vacuum effect to the RC members, most of whom seemed as if they were listening.

The complainant though sat with his arms folded looked rather cross. He said that the cats were scratching his car. I asked if we could come take a look at it, but there was no response. He also claimed the cats had spoiled his antennae.

He kept asking why the cats could not be removed and repeated several times that people should take the cats home even though we kept telling him that removing the cats did not work. We pointed out that if it worked so well, then there should not be new cats.

The complainant kept insisting that there was no problem till recently - but then mentioned that the previous TC officer had kept removing cats. He then started complaining about home owners too. The caregiver said one of the units complained about was hers - and she said the allegation then was that the cats were coming out of her house to bite people, which she said was patently untrue. I guess she knows who complained about her now too.

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Tuesday, June 26, 2007

RC Meeting

Rebecca and I are heading down for an RC meeting tonight. Rebecca is off to the vet first to pick up some cats and also to settle the deposit from this afternoon.

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Working with caregivers first

Someone just wrote in to say that her cat was missing in one of the TCs that has an active TNRM programme. I suggested she call the AVA, TC and SPCA as usual to just double check the cat was not there.

She wrote back to say that the TC had written back to say that they did not trap cats without first trying to work with caregivers in the area. I was so glad to hear that!

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Irresponsible feeders

This officer wrote back and said that he agreed - he said that he did know two responsible caregivers there. The problem he said was with other people littering in the area. He said he had tried to speak to some of them and were aggressive when he spoke to them.

He told them to feed away from human traffic and to clear away the plastic containers, but he said when he came back an hour later, they were still there.

I told him in that case it may be best to get NEA to step in and help. He said he had not done so yet. Unfortunately if the people littering will not listen to advice, there may be no choice.

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Treatment costs

We had two cases of people asking for financial assistance this afternoon. Literally the minute after I had hung up with one person who had a sick community cat (and who is so poor, Rebecca will need to go down and help to pay the deposit first), an SMS came in from the second person.

What I emphasised to both is that there is a need to find a place for the cats to recuperate afterward. If the cats have nowhere to go, and will get treatment, after which they will not get appropriate followup, then there's no point embarking on the treatment in the first place because the cat will not get better. Basically if you have a course of medication to finish someone has to administer it promptly and properly in order for the cat to get well. In most cases, putting a sick cat that isn't recovered back on the street is just going to mean the cat gets sick again and dies.

The first woman was able to get a friend who has offered to take in the cat when it is recuperating. The cost of the treatment was also not too high and the cat has a good chance of recovery.

In the second case, the woman who SMSed has insufficient funds. The cats have an eye infection, which can be cured, but she cannot pay for it. She says they need round the clock treatment, which she cannot do. She said she would look for a foster.

The fact of the matter is that it is going to be very difficult to find a foster who is able to take in so many kittens with eye infections. For one thing, if the foster is holding other cats it could spread. For another, most fosters work too and round the clock care is not possible. Without the proper followup though, treating these cats once at the vet is not going to help.

One thing that quite a few people underestimate is the cost of hospitalisation. I do realise that sometimes there is no choice but to hospitalise the cats but please do keep the stay to a minimum if it is not out of medical necessity. One woman I know kept saying she was too busy to pick up her cat though the clinic kept calling and as a result, her hospital bill ran into the hundreds. Some bills I have seen are much more expensive in terms of the boarding costs than the treatment The clinic is not a boarding facility, so please find somewhere else to board them if at all possible. It will save you a lot of money.

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Kittens galore

I've had three different emails and calls with people today who have asked if we can find foster for 10 cats (including one mother cat and her 4 kittens). Considering that we have a very small pool of fosters (two of whom are away right now), we cannot possibly find fosters for them all.

What we would suggest to people as always is to please not remove cats unless they are in a position where you feel that they will be in danger if they continue to stay where they are. If not, please leave them be, continue to care for them if you can and get them sterilised, but do not take them home unless you plan to adopt them yourselves. One of the young women who picked up the cats today mentioned herself she realised there are tons of cats out there.

Another important thing to note is that it is important to try and find the cats a good home - not just any home. If the cat is then thrown out when it is no longer cute, or not sterilised and breeding continuously, its life could be much worse than if it had been left on the street.

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All Cat Feeders are the same

Another email from a TC officer saying that there is a problem in the area. It seems that there isn't really a caregiver there though there are many feeders according to a caregiver who fairly familiar with the area.

The officer wrote that the brochures on Responsible Feeding state that food should be cleared up but that 'your feeders' are leaving food out in the open.

I pointed out that firstly, I don't know whom these people are he's speaking of. If anything, they are residents of his estate. Yet I don't hear him saying 'my residents'. For some reason, complainants are termed as 'residents' but feeders and caregivers as 'cat feeders'. Why is this so?

Secondly, I pointed out that just because people are feeding cats does not make them automatically known to us. I told him that if they are feeding irresponsibly and it is a problem because they will not stop, he should take action against them as in any littering situation.

It is annoying that all people who feed cats are lumped together. It denigrates the efforts of responsible caregivers who take so much effort and time to sterilise, manage and feed responsibly. Yet they are stuck in the same category as people who throw food all over, or toss food out windows, or feed and not sterilise, and not handle complaints or who are not bothered when the cats are caught. This makes it easy to think that cat feeders are the problem - and hence removing the cats would be easy and solve the problem. Easy - but simplistic and completely wrong.

If one wants to imagine how offensive this can be, one only has to think for example about discriminating against a whole class of people for their race, religion or gender. Just because you see some people in that class behaving in a certain way, does not mean that the majority of people in that class do. So lumping all 'cat feeders' together is similarly wrong and gives a very misleading impression.

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Monday, June 25, 2007

Kittens outside house


Kittens outside house
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Last stop of the day was to pick up a cat trap that someone was returning. The lady had wanted to sterilise the mother cat but she seems to have gone missing for now. Her kittens are however still in the house - and are very friendly. They do not think they will need a trap to trap them for sterilisation.

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Cats eating


Cats eating
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Next to the garden supply shop, we saw these cats. They were happily eating cat food. We spoke with the owner and he said he didn't see a need to get them sterilised as people who came to his shop, mostly expatriates, would adopt them. However he was not adverse to the idea of sterilisation - as long as someone would pay for it to be done.

He claimed that someone also had wanted the kitten on the right of the photo, but he felt it was too young to give up for adoption.

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Hose connector


Hose connector
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The adoption volunteer and I went to drop off two Scarecrows today because a woman said that she had problems with cats in her garden. Usually I drop off the Scarecrows with full instructions and leave it with the people there - so far everyone has figured it out.

This time however, the woman did not really want to look at the instructions and said she assumed that someone would fix it for her. She also said that we could charge a fee to install the Scarecrow. I told her we were basically trying to loan the Scarecrow free of charge so people can use it, but we don't usually do installations. Nor are we expecting to make money out of this.

She said that usually when she has things fixed, she gets a contractor to do it for her. She said in this case, she might need another hose put in as well (I suppose because she doesn't want to keep switching from hose to hose). I told her that basically we're not doing this commercially but to provide a service for people who are trying to keep cats out.

She said it used to be so easy to borrow a trap and get the cat removed for free. I told her the cats are taken away and killed.

I asked if there was someone mechanically inclined in her house, and she said her son was too busy and didn't live there.

The adoption volunteer and I then fixed up the Scarecrow but it would not fit her hose. So we went to buy a hose adaptor at a garden shop. It seems her hose is an older hose and hence doesn't fit nicely into the Scarecrow as most other hoses will.

We called back to ask if we could come by and fix it and she said she had another contractor by and I should call her back another time.

Rebecca and I were just joking how everyone else is busy except us - she had to go down and help someone rescue a kitten today because the other person was too busy.

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Kitten on a chair


Kitten on a chair
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Busy afternoon. Kitten on a string was having a nap when I went to collect photocopying. Strangely enough the man wasn't there (but I could see his shirt was hanging on one of the railings).

Also had to drop by the bank - one of two accounts was inactive because it's meant for GIRO. Michelle still hasn't been able to figure it out so I had to go and re-activate the account. I didn't realise people de-activated accounts with money in it!

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Early Intervention

The good news is that this feeder has agreed to go up and take a look (while insisting that his cats are not the ones going up). I pointed out that I agreed that in all likelihood they are pet cats. It is a good idea to look into the situation before it flares up for example. If you know there are pet cats running around upstairs, it's a good idea to look into it even before some complains, because chances are it's just a matter of time before someone DOES complain.

You might be one of the lucky few whose neighbours all don't mind a cat running around, but the majority of people will find that their neighbours DO mind, or that they mind when the cat defecates. Knowing about the situation early means that it is possible to intervene before the complaint goes to the Town Council.

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My cats don't go up

I realised that there is something new that has been occurring of late. We are all familiar with people who are not willing to keep their indoor cats in, or who feed cats upstairs, and claim the cats are not theirs. Or there are the people who claim their cats never go out/walk around. They do not much care what happens to the community cats if they are mistakenly rounded up or do not see it as being their problem.

However of late, I have noticed that there are some feeders and caregivers who are aware that people in the block are letting their cats out, and that the cats are either causing problems or may potentially cause problems. One feeder this morning however summed it up by saying that 'his' cats don't go up, so there was no need to bother about it.

Unfortunately there is. I do realise that pet cats are not community cats and therefore out of the purview of the caregivers so to speak. However, most complainants cannot tell the difference. If push came to shove, most of them think that the cats are the same cats. They are unable to tell a home cat apart from a community cat. Sometimes they don't even see the home cats, because some owners keep the cats in and only let them out at night, when everyone is asleep. All that is left of their presence is a pile of defecation.

What happens then is that the complainants blame the cats - and often the cats downstairs get fingered. So if someone does not want to deal with the home cat problem as well, then the community cats will bear the brunt of it.

I know it is unfair that caregivers and feeders have to deal with irresponsible home owners, but until the law changes, that's the way it goes unfortunately. If nothing else, you can show that the problem does not originate from the community cats - and ask that the right people be taken to task, the irresponsible owners, and NOT the community cats.

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Real need?

This guy wrote again. He wrote a long email - in my last email I had asked him to define what a 'real need' is as he pointed out that only 'real needs' should be helped. He wrote back to say I'm being difficult by asking him to define it. Along with a few other very confused arguments (people should be given blankets and not pure wool?) and the fact that he can't seem to decide if cats can fend for themselves or not, I came back to the question - how does this woman helping the cats bother him exactly?

I pointed out that if he can't define what a 'real need' is then how are people supposed to go about determining it?

He kept insisting that other things like climbing Mount Everest, slimming and nursing (?) don't bother him either but they don't advance nature. Very strange.

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Friday, June 22, 2007

What to do if your cat is caught

The caregivers have gotten their cats back. I was told the cats were very affectionate and happy to see the caregiver.

If you're missing your cat the first thing to do is to call the TC and AVA to find out if your cat is trapped. What happens afterwards though depends on what your working relationship with your TC is like.

If you are working with your TC :-

1. Call them up and tell them that your cat has been caught and that you need a letter to get the cats released.
2. With the letter, the AVA will return the cat to you, without a microchip and it can be returned to the community.

If you are not working with your TC or your TC is unwilling to help :-

1. If the TC will not give you a letter (and do try even if you aren't currently working with your TC), then you need to let the AVA know;
2. The AVA will then call the TC and find out why they will not let the cat go;
3. If the TC still will not give a letter then the cat will be returned to the caregiver with an undertaking that the cat cannot be released onto the street. The cat must also be microchipped.

Of course, if you are working with your TC generally the cat should not even have been caught in the first place though sometimes mistakes do happen and that's why the TC can ask the AVA to return the cat to you. If you are working with your TC, usually the complaint will first be referred to the caregiver and hence pest control isn't even called in. So please - try and work with your TC.

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Stealing food bowls

I had a conversation this afternoon with a feeder who was very upset that someone was throwing away her food bowls. She said she had called SPCA and they could not help her. She wanted to take photos and get the police to take action.

I pointed out that I understood she was very upset but I asked what she intended to prosecute people under. I said that in essence, leaving the food bowls out, there is a chance they might go missing. In addition, I said that they might get upset with her for littering.

She told me that she is in a condo and they have a special programme whereby she feeds the cats therefore the usual rules of littering do not apply.

She said she wanted to prosecute them for animal abuse for depriving the cats of food and water. I pointed out that that applies for animals which are somehow in the person's control.

I asked her why she didn't just go through her management and asked if they had not been supportive. It seems yesterday they went through all the garbage cans to try and find out whom had taken the food bowls - so it's not that they're not supportive.

I suggested instead of going to the police that she try working through her management. She complained that animals were treated badly here and the law was not working, but frankly, this isn't a case of the animals being abused (though she said she doesn't know what they do when she's not around). I also pointed out that with dengue fever around, people might not be very sympathetic she's leaving water containers out. I suggested she make it very clear the water is being changed every day.

She asked why the complainant didn't just come and speak with her but she was so upset that frankly if I were the complainant, I'd think twice about speaking with her too.

It's important to pick your battles too - don't go straight to the most extreme remedy when other solutions might work better.

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Another feeder knows guy in a van

Busy afternoon - just came back from a quick run to the post office and to drop some brochures off at a pet shop.

However the phone has been ringing non-stop. Guy in the van decided he is unable to do anything for the cat because he cannot care for it. The cat is also not one of the cats he is feeding but he happened to see it. Also I told him that IF it was FIV, his cats being unsterilised were more likely to catch it. Rebecca is trying to find a caregiver in the area.

He mentioned to me that he knew a feeder I am acquainted with. I managed to get hold of the feeder today. The feeder is also in financial need so we had just helped to pay for some of his cats to be sterilised - and it turns out that one of those cats was the sterilised female from guy in a van. The feeder said he is going to keep trying to get guy in a van to sterilise the cats. He exclaimed that there were already too many cats in the van. He says he will try and get him to sterilise the females first, and then slowly convince him to get the males done. Guy in a van had mentioned we had gone down to the feeder. Hopefully guy in the van may be more amenable to advice from someone he is friendly with.

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Guy in van

This guy SMSed this morning. He said he saw a sick looking cat and said it has kidney problems. He asked if we can help. I told him that kidney problems need long term care and that someone must give it the proper medical care and attention it needs. After SMSing back and forth it turns out that the cat is salivating - so I told him it might not be kidney problems. It could be a whole bunch of other things. Obviously we won't know till the cat can get to a vet. The whole concern is that when I mentioned long term medical care, he said that he would need to ask the vet to diagnose whether it is contagious.

In a usual situation, I would just ask the person to take the cat to the vet for an initial diagnosis and then work from there. What I am concerned about is that this guy might take the cat back to his van. I suspect that to be the case because he's asking about whether the disease will spread to other cats.

If this is the case, and the cat is ill, but would in a normal case be able to live comfortably as long as it is given proper medication and care, and he insists on taking the cat back then some other cat is going to get stuck in his van, which would be worse. This is a tough one.

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Helpful TC officer

A town council officer called this morning and the first thing he said was to thank the caregivers for their help. He said that they had been a great help to him, which I thought was really nice of him.

He mentioned he did have another problem in his area. Someone had complained that there were too many cats because someone was feeding at night. What I thought was really good though was that the officer went down himself for two nights in a row and waited to see whom the feeder was. He found the feeder but unfortunately he cannot speak Mandarin. Most of the cats were unsterilised. He took photos and sent them to us.

I was pleased to hear that the officer was willing to go down and went to investigate the complaint.

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Dismantling car to save kitten

This very nice story was sent in by Vegancat and Tarsier Girl. Thanks!

STOMPer dismantles part of car to save kitten

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ST (22-6-07)

This was sent in by Eslina - thanks Eslina for the heads up :-

Cats lured into traps and disposed of

It is a shame that traps are loaned out so that cats can be rounded up and killed. If these are home cats and one knows that one's neighbour is trapping the cats regularly though, the safest thing is to keep the cats in. Fencing can be put up to keep cats in their own yard.

If these are community cats though then it does make it harder. One option of course is to borrow the Scarecrow and Cat Stop and to try that. If it is hygiene reasons the neighbours are concerned about, perhaps they are concerned about defecation, and if so, something can be done to work around that possibly.

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Eurasian Community House


Eurasian Community House
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Through Vegancat's email, I met a man who runs a business in the area. He suggested several places I could approach to ask if they would put up our sterilisation brochures. The Eurasian Community House was one of them - unfortunately the people he asked me to speak with weren't there, but I dropped off the information anyway. There is a nice little museum at the Community House if you ever go by there.

Some people are good resources and know other people in the area. It's always good to meet up with these people because they are able to give you information about the surrounding area. As E_Cat, Rebecca and I find the other day, the woman we spoke with seemed to know every cat owner and quite a few feeders. If you're lucky enough to run into them, they can be an invaluable resource.

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Cats eating


Cats eating
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went to drop some brochures off at a CC yesterday after going to the army camp and saw these cats on the way.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Cat at Camp

We went by to the army camp. Rebecca got there first and fed the cat which had been caught. It has been in the trap for the last two days as they didn't know what to do with it. The guy who called us though had been feeding it.

We went and took a walk around - the problem is that the cat has been rummaging in the garbage and stealing food, as well as making some of the dogs in the camp bark.

The guy we spoke with had to check with his officer. Rebecca offered to book a slot quickly for him. We asked them to please sterilise and release the cats back onto the camp grounds.

They called back a bit later to say that they were agreeable and Rebecca made all the necessary arrangements.

We also left them a cat stop to try.

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Cats can be released

Some good news! The AVA has agreed to release the cats without a letter to the caregivers and they can collect them first thing tomorrow. The cats cannot however be released back on the streets and the caregivers intend to keep working on that.

Even better news : The AVA also wrote back today to say that they are changing their policy back to their original policy of allowing caregivers to take the cats back if the TC will not issue a letter if the caregivers do not release the cat back onto the street. However they are saying this is a trial project which they will monitor closely to ensure the cats are not returned to the street.

A big thank you to Ms Grace Fu for reacting very quickly to this situation as I wrote to her just yesterday. I am sure her intervention was most useful in this matter. I understand that the caregivers also wrote into the AVA to ask that the cats be released.

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Army Visit

Rebecca and I are heading down to an army camp where they have problems with cats coming in. We have been told not to bring in cameras or camera phones.

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Meeting another MP

Spoke to these two caregivers today. They went to see their MP last night, as did Jacin. It appears that the MP was not very supportive. Firstly, he kept telling them it was against the bylaws to 'allow' cats in housing estates (I checked up the TC bylaws to be sure - the only thing I can find is that it says animals are not allowed in fountaints).

Secondly, he asked them to remove the cats and perhaps buy a piece of land to move them to. He expressed surprise that they were there to speak for the cats. He said that he had only ever received complaints about cats. He explained that if there were complaints, the cats had to be removed.

One of the caregivers was very upset - she said only the sterilised cat in her area was caught. She said unsterilised cats in the neighbouring blocks were left alone and asked why. One of the other caregivers queried why only complainants are given special treatment.

The caregivers brought along some of our factsheets and information and left it with the MP. He said it was interesting and that he had never heard of CWS. Jacin asked if we might email him and he agreed so I emailed him late last night because it seems some misconceptions may be at work here.

In the meantime, the caregivers are worrying if they will get their cats back safely.

I wrote to the Minister, Grace Fu, again yesterday to mention this case. She wrote back to me and said she would ask the AVA to get in touch with me as well, and they called to see what can be done.

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MP surprised at number of caregivers

I wrote to the MP of the Meet the Peoples' session (MPS) we attended on Tuesday night to thank him for letting CWS attend as the caregivers had asked that we be there as well. He wrote back to say that it would be good to have more interaction to solve the issues facing the estate.

I spoke to one of the caregivers in the area this morning who is also an RC member of a neighbouring block. She said the MP went to her area last night and there were people who complained about the cats. She said the TC officer mentioned that there had been caregivers helping out and that was good, but on occasion the problems could not be solved. The RC member caregiver explained that these problems usually were in relation to home cats and as a result, these were hard to solve if the owner refused to co-operate.

The MP asked the officer to please refer the complaints to CWS to refer to the caregivers. At the same time, apparently a man came up and complained that there were 50 to 60 cats at the block during feeding time. The MP himself apparently remarked that he had only seen one, but the complainant was adamant that there were many more cats (the RC member said there weren't anywhere close to 50 cats).

The TC and MP also assured the RC member that sterilised cats would be left alone. The complainant then complained that all the cats there would be sterilised and hence could not be removed. The RC member then explained that if a cat was causing a genuine problem for some reason, they would remove that one sterilised cat.

The MP also mentioned that he was surprised to see so many caregivers turn up - he had not realised there were so many people caring for cats. The RC member told him that in fact, this was just a portion of the group. She said that there were more caregivers out there who could not make it for the MPS session.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Two of the cats


Two of the cats
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here are two of the cats. They look pretty well fed and healthy. The more worrying thing is that he intends eventually to breed the cats.

He also told us that he will kill anyone who tries to take them away and got quite upset at one point.

We told him we're just concerned about the welfare of the cats and don't want them to be hot or cramped (or unsterilised) in the van. We pointed out that if he was willing to keep ALL the cats that are bred, and has the ability to look after them, that's one thing, but he plans on eventually releasing the offspring. He said once they are too inbred it's bad for the cats. We pointed out that will just be increasing the population of the cats - even if it's not in Singapore.

He said that his cats are home cats and cannot be released - but the offspring will be feral and therefore they can cope on their own.

He says he plans to get a new vehicle and modify it for the cats to get more ventilation.

He just SMSed me and invited me for coffee or breakfast sometime.

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Cats in cages


Cats in cages
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here are some of the cats when the door is opened. We were trying to see if there was some way to help in the interim because the man says he is jobless and is living out of a car, which is parked next to the van.

Knowing he is homeless, of course the situation would be more difficult. If this was a situation where he is in a bad financial situation, but needs some help of course we would see if we could help in some way.

The cats did look pretty well fed and some of them are allowed out, but the rest are fighting and territorial - he says they fight over his attention, though Rebecca and I were trying to tell him that they were probably fighting because they were unsterilised.

He also says he wants to take all the cats and travel the world with them. He is going to move them to an unspecified country (top secret because the ISD would love to know according to him) where it will be nice and rural and they will be allowed to roam to their hearts' content. There they will be allowed to breed, because sterilising is unnatural.

He said it was not ethical to sterilise a cat because it is natural to breed. We pointed out there are many things we do to children as well - like vaccinations - that aren't natural and done without their consent but for their welfare. He said that was different, his cats do get vaccinated but that it was for health reasons. We pointed out that sterilisation does make them healthier and they live longer but he wasn't convinced.

I told him that it would be very difficult to drive out of the country with a whole bunch of cats. There are all manner of export permits to get - and it doesn't mean that other countries will be any more tolerant of the cats.

Rebecca and I had a little breather to look around the area and to regroup. As Rebecca pointed out that this isn't the first person who says that they are planning to move away with their cats.

Rebecca and I pointed out that the poor sterilised female is getting mounted several times - that this wasn't fair to her, nor was it very ethical to allow that to continue happening when she clearly wasn't happy. He admitted the cats were bothering her but said that it was 'natural'.

Also he plans to breed them when he has moved away to continue to line, but once they get too inbred, he will let them go, and because they will be feral and hence able to fend for themselves in the wild, they will be fine.

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Vehicle with cats


Vehicle with cats
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Rebecca and I just got back from this case a while ago. There is a man who is homeless at the moment and has 11 cats in his van. They're all unsterilised except for one cat. We talked and talked to him but he won't budge. The cats look pretty healthy, but the van is pretty smelly though he has a sand tray for the cats. Three cats were allowed to roam in the van - the rest are in cages.

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Cats in a bad condition?

Rebecca and I are going to check out a case that one of the SPCA investigators told us about. We're probably not going to have a lot of luck since the SPCA has already tried, but we discussed it with the SPCA and decided there's no harm giving it a shot. Apparently someone has a bunch of cats again cramped in a bad condition. Sigh.

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Caregivers outside Meet the Peoples' session


Caregivers outside Meet the Peoples' session
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Rebecca mentioned how she was also taken aback by how many residents came down. We met a lot of caregivers in this area for the first time last night. The good thing also was that there was no crisis in the area - the caregivers just thought it was a good time to get together and let their MP know what they are doing and to also get in touch with their TC for the same reason and to work with all the different parties. Some caregivers are already working with their TCs.

I noticed caregivers also swapping numbers so they can get in contact with each other afterward.

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Caregivers at Meet the Peoples' session


Caregivers at Meet the Peoples' session
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Last night, Rebecca, Michelle and I went down for a Meet the Peoples' Session though one of the RC members had asked for special permission for us to attend as CWS. Usually only residents are allowed to attend because it is held for residents in the area.

We were told that we would go in at 7:30 pm but unfortunately the MP was held up with another RC event so we didn't get to go in till almost 9:30 pm. A very large group turned up though - 24 people were there. One caregiver mentioned she didn't know there were so many people caring for cats and suggested a meetup. I suggested having a TNRM workshop for their area.

Unfortunately because the wait was so long, some people had to leave before the MP could see the group, including Michelle.

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Working pre-emptively

I've been talking to one of the feeders this morning. Her cat was caught yesterday and she has been emailing me about getting the cat out urgently last night. I explained that the first thing to do is to call the AVA and the TC. It is important to find out from the former whether the cat is there and from the latter if there have been cats caught.

The feeder was distraught, understandably so, but something almost exactly identical just happened in her estate a few days ago. The feeder kept telling me she wanted her cat back, which I understand, but if the TC won't issue a letter, and the AVA will not let the cat go without one, there isn't anything can be done by CWS. I had spoken with one of the managers, who will not budge, and the GM has not responded to my email and has not been around when I called (and I did so again this morning).

What is rather distressing as well is that one of the caregivers has been trying to organise the group and get them working with the TC for quite a while. She has been suggesting meetups to get to know each other and to then meet up with the TC on how to work together but there hasn't been much interest as a whole. She in fact, sent out an email about the cat caught two days ago, suggesting that the people in this area have to meet up and work together. Strangely enough no one replied to the email. The feeder in fact saw the email but did not respond.

It's important to work together and not keep working in isolation. If it happens to someone else in another part of your town council, it could very well happen to you. Don't wait till something happens - it's better to be pre-emptive to try and ensure your cats are not caught.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Meeting tonight

Heading out with Michelle and Rebecca to meet up with some caregivers and their MP.

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Fence


Fence
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

While we were there, we came across this house - the woman there had fenced up her entire front door so the cat could not go out. This may not be the prettiest way of doing it but it's fast and quick to attach - and most importantly, keeps the cats in.

She was also a fount of information, letting us know where all the cat owners in the block of flats lived. We spoke with most of them (those who were at home) and most had their cats sterilised and seemed to be kept indoors. One woman though had a cat that was peeking out the grilles and when we asked her, she said it wasn't sterilised yet but that it never went out. When we walked a few steps down the corridor, the cat-that-never-goes-out was seen in the corridor. The woman quickly came out and scooped him in and closed the door.

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Kitten on chair


Kitten on chair
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

E_Cat, Rebecca and I went to a home this afternoon. The woman living there is going through some personal issues and cannot afford to sterilise all her cats as she is in financial difficulties.

As we walked by her neighbour's home, we caught a whiff of cat urine. We were told by the woman we spoke with that her neighbour had dozens of cats in the flat - even though all the doors and windows were tightly closed, the smell was still wafting out.

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Kind nature?

I got another email from this woman who is helping the woman with 200 cats out. I had been enquiring as to the welfare of the cats. The woman who wrote to me said that the cats are overcrowded and its not healthy for the cats but that the woman with the cats now has found an even larger place. To my query about whether she was still taking cats in, she confirmed that the woman was doing so because of the woman's 'kind nature'.

I said that there really wasn't anything kind about taking cats in to an unhealthy, overcrowded place. Why not just leave the cats where they are on the streets? If she moves to a larger place, then there will just be room to squeeze in even more cats - who will then share the same miserable life that the existing cats do. For one thing, if there are too many cats in the same room, disease will spread and rapidly. Of course cats anywhere can catch a disease but if you have 20 cats squeezed into one cage for example, their chances of spreading disease are much higher.

Rebecca and I are going down to meet E_Cat and Aliyah to meet a woman who is having problems with her home cats now as well.

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And the numbers keep climbing.....

Talk about coincidences, shortly after writing this previous post, someone helping the woman I mentioned with 60 cats just wrote in. The woman now has 200 and is moving again.

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Hoarding

We were discussing the cases of hoarding that we seem to be seeing in our committee meeting which we held after the TNRM workshop and tea on Saturday. More of such cases seem to be coming to our attention of late, and in most cases it is very difficult to help because the people we have met do not think that what they are doing is wrong. Some are unable to stop themselves picking cats up.

I've been doing up some reading today about this again. Here's a definition of animal hoarding from the Hoarding of Animals research Consortium.

When I was reading up a while ago about this, I read that often hoarders take animals in out of a desire to save them. Then when there are too many animals, they cannot stop, but they cannot cope either. The cats look in very bad condition because they are skinny (often lack of food) and sick because too many cats are packed in together. If they are ill, there is often no money to bring them to the vet. Then when the cats start dying, often there is no money to bury them or get them cremated.

In some cases I read about in the US, people would pile the bodies into the freezer so that they could bury them altogether. By the time people came into investigate, there were many bodies sitting in these freezers. Often the animals are so sick, they have to be euthanised. From what people investigating these cases have found though, people who hoard these animals then feel as if the people who have euthanised the animals are killing their animals - and as a result, they go out and 'rescue' more animals.

The problem is that this may actually be a mental health issue and that solving the results (removing the cats etc) does not go to the root of the problem at all. The thing is that many well meaning people see the cats and then feel so sorry for the cats that they want to help, but this may actually make matters worse.

In some cases I have heard of, people provide food, litter and medical fees. Some even try and rehome the cats. Here's the problem - if this was a situation where a person realises they're in over their head and can stop, this would help to resolve the situation. However often people who hoard cannot stop - and so all that is happening is that these well meaning individuals are enabling hoarders to take in more cats because now the person hoarding has more food and resources.

In essence, these people are enablers - ie helping to enable the hoarding through their own well-meaning behaviour. It's very difficult when you see a case where someone is hoarding - but the question is whether your actions are going to actually help the cats. One woman we know had more than 60 cats and despite everything, kept taking in more and more. We helped her to sterilise some of her cats till we realised she could not stop. We heard that after we stopped, someone else took over.

In some of these cases where there were cats in cages as well, we heard that the person involved just turned around and picked up more cats. So the question to ask really is - will your actions help the cats? Or will it just be a case of different cats being in the same miserable condition somewhere down the line.

How does one stop this behaviour? Honestly it's hard - hoarding doesn't just encompass animals and it seems as if a multi-disciplinary approach may be needed. I'm not sure this would be very high priority in Singapore.

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Monday, June 18, 2007

Yelling does not help

I was on the phone for quite a while with someone who had been asked to help in a case where some cats had been trapped in a building. Apparently this is not the first time its happened and the owner or manager of the building has been by to open the building up to allow previous batches of cats out. As such he has agreed to open the building one last time, but not for a week or two.

According to the man I spoke with, the feeders say that there are 'new batches' of cats. I asked what they meant by that - that these were new cats that they had not seen before? Also according to the feeders and the manager, the cats go in through the main door and that is the only entrance. However the manager is now careful to keep the door closed at all times and he checked for other access points but could not find them. He had also allowed the residents in as well as pest control to try and get the cats out but no one was able to do so. As far as I understand it, no cat traps were used.

I asked the man who called if the feeders were sure that these cats were really 'trapped'. For example, if they had noticed their regular cats had gone missing, or if it's possible there is access into the building that no one has noticed. Since the cats are supposedly not going in through the main entrance, then how are they getting in? And possibly that does mean they're able to get out that same way.

It also seems that none of the cats there are sterilised, and he says that despite the manager asking them to feed away from the building so the cats do not run in, the feeders have not done so. Also, one of them got hold of the manager's number and according to the man I spoke with, had given it too all the feeders and urged them to call the manager. All of them have then apparently been calling the manager at all hours and yelling obscenities at the manager. This is obviously not a great way to get someone to help out with a situation.

I told the man to try and speak with the feeders and find out if they were sure the cats were really stuck inside - one way I said was to ask them if any of their regulars were not showing up for feeding time. He said the feeders might not be able to tell.

At the same time, he is going to speak with the manager to ask if we can go in to the building earlier. I told him that we need to try and see if we can solve this once and for all - perhaps put in cat traps and check if there are unsealed holes that the cats may be entering from. At the same time, the feeders have to start feeding away from the building - and to get the cats sterilised of course.

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Food


Food
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

We have a thank you tea to thank caregivers and volunteers for their help - and some caregivers bring food :) Those nice fruit cakes in the middle were contributed by a caregiver. Thank you to everyone who contributed to the event in one way or another - and to everyone for coming.

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Listening


Listening
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Photo care of Marcus.

This was one of the largest workshops we've run - 40 people attended, including some very experienced caregivers who stayed on after the tea. Here are some of the attendees - I noticed some people even took notes. Marcus took this photo as I was running through the TNRM packet of information.


Thanks again to everyone for coming.

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Caregivers being proactive

A caregiver called me today to say that there was a feeder in another area she knew, though not personally. This other feeder had lost a sterilised cat which was trapped by the town council and sent into the AVA. She gave me the name of the feeder and I spoke with the woman directly.

It seems that the woman was away for more than a week and that the cat had been caught during this time. In fact, an SMS about the situation had been sent around and the caregivers in the area were trying to find out who was caring for the cat but no one knew of the existence of this woman.

The woman tried to get the TC to release the cat to her, but she had no luck. The TC said that she should go directly to the AVA. The AVA on the other hand were still pursuing their new policy of not releasing any cat, sterilised or not, whether it is to be returned to the street or not, without a letter (we're still waiting a response on this matter).

The woman did not know whom her officer was but she did take down the number of the woman she spoke with. I called her up and found out that there had been a complaint in the area, and as such, the cats had been rounded up. I explained that there was a woman caring for the cats there. I asked if a letter could be written. She said that the TC's policy is not to write letters for cats to be released. She said she was under the impression this was practised by other TCs. I said that as far as I know, this was the first time I had heard of a TC not writing a letter.

If the TC refuses to write a letter and the AVA refuses to release the cat without one, then we have a real problem here.

I tried to speak with the General Manager of the TC but he was out of the office so I dropped him an email as he won't be back till tomorrow.

One of the problems with this area may be that the caregivers are not really working together and have not approached the TC. I know one of the residents has asked the other caregivers to meet up with an eye to doing so, but the rest don't seem very interested. When I spoke with the woman today and explained that it might be good for her to get to know other caregivers, she said that they lived further away from her and that she only managed her area. I pointed out that it's good to know other people from other areas - for example if they had known she was the person looking after this area, someone could have informed her earlier that the cats were caught at the very least. She agreed but said she only wanted to be in charge of her block, which is fair enough.

At the end of the day it boils down to residents in the area. If the residents there are not very interested in working with the TC and with each other, then very little can be achieved. If the officers and other caregivers are not even aware that someone is there, that person cannot be contacted if there is a complaint that needs to be resolved. And of course if the complaint continues, the cats get caught. It's important to be proactive. Don't wait till there is a problem to contact your TC officer - by that time, your cat may already have been caught.

It's also helpful to be part of a support network. It helps to know there are other people out there too - and they can help you out and vice versa.

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Get together


Get together
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here are Michelle and Jacin speaking with some of the guests on Saturday. Thanks to everyone for braving a rainy Saturday to attend the tea and workshop.

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Confusing

Mr "Helping Animals is self-serving" wrote back over the weekend and his arguments left me more confounded then ever.

He agreed that people were destroying nature and killing the environment, and responsible for destroying the habitat of animals as well. However he feels that the root cause of 'stray cats' is that people feed them and keep them out of 'loving desire' and hence they lose their ability to fend for themselves. I have to say I'm kind of stumped. I pointed out that since humans are the ones causing the problem, for example, dumping the cats - shouldn't we be the ones who set things right by ensuring these cats are taken care of? If we cause the problem, and then turn around and blame the animals, that seems very odd to me.

He also pointed out that acts of charity are commendable but must be done out of necessity, not altruistic self-desire. He felt that medical and social workers tend to people who are in 'real' need. He also felt that for example in natural disasters, people should therefore be helped - but only to a point. How one determines a 'real' need or at which point people should be cut off was not explained and I wrote back to ask how he determines this. I pointed out that in a natural disaster, people might still be in a bad condition years down the road, or in the case of famine. At what point does one decide that aid should be cut off?

He said there was a fine line between feeding people in a famine and feeding the cats. I said that I didn't see a fine line. According to his earlier arguments, nature has left these people hungry and we must not meddle with nature after all! However most community cats are either abandoned, or the offspring of abandoned cats - hence it is because of people they are there in the first place. So according to his argument, then shouldn't the cats be helped more?

He also said he believes that everyone has a desire - either to help animals or people. However in his view the 'correct' view is to and I quote, 'castrate pet lovers'. He said that feeding an able-bodied human for example would mean that they do not look out for themselves.

I had pointed out that among other things, cats had been domesticated for thousands of years and been living with humans closely all that time. Cats therefore aren't as he keeps insisting part of nature, such as an elephant is.

He still not respond about what he did to help. I said that from his emails frankly it seems as if no one should ever be helped.

I also pointed out that there is no such thing as completely altruistic desires. I said that maybe instead of concentrating so much on peoples' intentions, we should look at what people actually do. Sitting around analysing why people do things is all well and good - but it's probably better if you went out and DID something yourself.

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Cats on the mat


Cats on the mat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Photo care of E_cat.

These are the cat from the bathroom now allowed out. E_Cat went down on Saturday before coming to the tea and workshop and found them all out now!

He and Alyia were also able to get her to agree to continue with the sterilisation.

The only bad thing is that the cats looked very skinny now that they could be seen properly. In addition, some of them had bad worms and flu. E_Cat thinks only two can be sterilised - the rest need medical treatment first.

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Rebecca demonstrating scruffing a cat


Rebecca demonstrating scruffing a cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Photo care of Marcus.

Here is Rebecca demonstrating how to trap a cat using the carrier (only to be used with friendlier cats obviously) during the workshop on Saturday.

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I don't know what happens to the cats

I just had a fairly long conversation with someone who went to see their MP last week with some other caregivers. She said that they had put forward their desire to help and to offer their services where needed. Having spoken to another caregiver in the area, it seems the ex-RC chairperson was there and kept insisting that it wasn't fair to tell people in their area that cats would be killed. They were only 'removed'. He claimed that the RC had no idea what happened to the cats after they were sent to the AVA.

I have to say that I am surprised that people still trot out arguments like that. Honestly, if you are having cats removed, shouldn't one find out what happens to them - especially if you're supposed to be in charge of asking them to be removed? As an analogy, it's as if someone claims that they sent Jewish people to Treblinka during World War II but had no idea what happens to them there.

At the end, it seems that the RC did offer to work with the caregivers, but so far there's been no followup. It's good that the woman I spoke to said she will press on.

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Chatting


Chatting
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Photo care of Marcus.

It was a great opportunity to catch up with caregivers and with volunteers and I believe people also had an opportunity to meet other caregivers to chat.

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Chatting over tea


Chatting over tea
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

We had a TNRM workshop on Saturday at the National Library but before that, we had a small thank you tea for caregivers and also for volunteers who have helped out throughout the year. We did have a few people pop in who had been invited by other friends, and even someone who saw the sign outside the Imagination Room and came in to find out more.

Here's committee member Marcus chatting with some of the caregivers.

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Saturday, June 16, 2007

Giving to charity

Why people give to a charity, an interesting study though it's done on a small and uniform sample group :-

Can't buy me Altruism

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Friday, June 15, 2007

Cat in flowerpot


Cat in flowerpot
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went down this afternoon to look into this case and found this cat sitting in a flower pot on the top floor of the block. A few people said that a fellow resident owns a pet cat and two of them pointed me to the same unit (though no one was home when I went by).

Interestingly, people on the lower floors had not seen the cat - whereas the people on the upper floors had. The cat apparently runs into peoples' homes and also sleeps on the sofa of one particular family.

For those of you coming for the workshop tomorrow, see you there!

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It must be a stray because it's not a pedigree cat

I just spoke to a woman about a cat running into her flat. It only runs in during the wee hours of the morning and it has been doing so regularly for the last week. She said that there used to be cats running in periodically for the entire time she's lived there (the last twenty years) but it's gotten a lot worse lately.

I explained that cats rarely run up and that it could be that they only go in during that time because they may be let out when the owners are asleep. It is also possible that they go in during that time because it's quiet. I explained that usually when cats go up, they are community cats being lured up by someone or cats that are pets let out to roam.

She took this all in and suggested one family that might have a cat. However she said she thought the cat was a 'stray' - I asked if it was because it looked especially scruffy, or not well groomed or what made her come to that conclusion. I realised that she meant it wasn't a pedigree. When I explained to her that many people actually do own non-pedigree cats, she sounded surprised. I think it highlighted to me that sometimes people do have misconceptions of cats and that they come to conclusions, not necessarily because they are malicious but that they do not know any different.

She asked for some solutions to help keep the cat out and sounded quite willing to try them. I told her we'd look into the case.

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Trying not to inconvenience the neighbours

I was just speaking to someone who has quite a few animals and is living in a rented house. The cats are allowed to roam around the neighbourhood and about half of them are sterilised. In fact the man started out with only three cats but the number has increased multiple times by now. He said that they started breeding so quickly and he has sterilised about half of them now. He wanted to send them into boarding.

The problem is that the landlord has come by and told him that his lease says that he can only keep a certain number of animals and he has far exceeded the number. I told him that the main thing is that chances are the neighbours complained. He said he has crazy neighbours whom he thinks complaint. I pointed out that if there are multiple cats running around, half of which are unsterilised and which are fighting, spraying, caterwauling and dropping kittens, chances are that quite a few neighbours will be annoyed.

Most neighbours are fine if you have pets and won't care - but if you let the animals out, then they WILL have an issue with it. He agreed that he had people complain to him about defecation in the past but he insisted that the defecation did not belong to his cats because his cats have litter trays.

While cats are very good at using litter trays, the cats when they do out may have a little 'accident' and if they have defecated there once, the scent is still there, and they are likely to go back and mark the spot again. If you have pet cats, please do keep them in.

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Cats in Bathroom


Cats in Bathroom
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The next lot of cats were supposed to go in this morning for sterilisation, but E_Cat and the caregiver were told by the owner yesterday that she didn't think she wanted them sent in today. She said that she was sick and that the cats were sick too. The owner has also just lost her new job.

The caregiver and E_cat tried to go visit. The caregiver was informed by the owner through SMS that she wants to give the cats away to a friend. She tried to ask to visit but I understand the SMS was not responded to. They are still trying to see if they can take a look at the cats.

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ST (15-6-07)

Our response to Ms Helga Kamp's letter :-

RC should work with cat caregivers to solve feline problem


Again they used the work cat caregivers which I am pleased about instead of animal lovers. Feline problem isn't really accurate in that most of the time it's human related behaviour that causes the issues, but I do understand some sort of shorthand had to be used.

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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Long term management

Someone spoke with me this afternoon about a woman who wanted to get some cats sterilised at a hotel. She had been at the hotel a few weeks ago and saw the cats who weren't done. She tried to contact the management who told her to contact the pest control and said they were in charge, who told her to contact the management. She wanted to know if we could talk to the management.

This person asked a third party to call me and I suggested that she might want to speak with me directly so there isn't so much potential for miscommunication. The third party will be helping her if she decides to go ahead with the sterilisation.

The woman apparently was planning to get the cats sterilised, and to remove the females but to leave the males according to the third party.

I said that we'd be happy to speak with the management. However my main concern was what was going to happen to these cats long term. Who would look after them? It's great the woman wants to get them done - and it'll certainly help to reduce the population and cut down on complaints. However, the thing is that the hotel (and the vast majority of managements) in all likelihood doesn't care if the cats are sterilised. What they DO care about is how to handle complaints and minimise problems.

If there is no resident caregiver there, then who will take care of the complaints? The cats may be sterilised - but that doesn't mean the complaints will come to an end solely due to sterilisation. It will definitely cut down the complaints - but probably won't bring them to a complete stop.

In addition, should older cats die and new cats come in, what happens then? Also who handles the responsible feeding? Who will take sick or injured cats to the vet?

The third party told me that the woman rarely goes there and she may not be able to do all this. I told the third party that sterilising is definitely important - but that if she wants to try as much as possible to guarantee their survival in the area, sterilisation alone isn't enough. If she is prepared to sterilise anyway (and has the resources do to it), and not be too upset that they are gone if she goes back, then that's good to do.

The third party also pointed out that it would be a waste of time, money and resources though if the cats are caught. He said he would speak with her and ask her if she wanted to speak with me.

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Claims and reimbursements

A gentle reminder to people who are sending in their claims and reimbursements. Please do include your name as in your bank account and not the name that your friends and family give you or you won't be able to cash the cheque. Also, please do include your address and phone number or there is no way to send the cheque to you.

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Cat with 26 toes

Just back from the post office with quite a bit of mail, including a copy of Chicken Soup for the Singapore Soul which was kindly sent by the editor. I needn't have bought a copy after all :)

Here's an interesting story sent in by Jolanda :-

Cat with 26 toes

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Throwing stones

Sometimes when you speak to people, you realise that they've already made their minds up about something, and they just don't want to do it but they're trying to be polite. I spoke to this woman again this morning and asked if she had managed to see the woman who witnessed the abuse case. She had not. I asked if she had given any more thought to getting the cats sterilised with the money that the complainant offered to donate. She told me that she wasn't going to do it at this time.

She has basically come up with one objection after another, and has been mostly polite on the whole, but she just won't sterilise - not even if someone else is going to pay and not even if it will mean her cats are protected.

Another feeder I spoke to yesterday found some cats missing in her area. I encouraged her to call the TC, which she did but the officer did not return her call. She told me well, that was just fate, and she was too busy to contact anyone else.

Sometimes when speaking to some of the feeders, they are perfectly polite and very pleasant - and yet completely unconvinced. They'll take the brochures and thank you very nicely - but looking at them, you know that they won't get the cats done.

I told a friend that it sometimes speaking with these people feels like throwing stones down a deep well - you just know that you're throwing and throwing, but your words, just like the rocks, can't be heard reaching the bottom. Sometimes it makes you wonder if there's something wrong with your aim :)

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Adoption board help needed

Webgal, the hardworking young lady who does all the updating of the adoption board, is going away for a much deserved holiday from 12th July - 28th July. We need help to get the board updated during the period she's away. Basically what needs to be done is to crop and brighten the photos, to name the cats without names and FTP the photos and information to the server. Adopted cats will be deleted from the website and a remark posted on the adoption board. Can anyone help during this period? Updating does not need to be done every day if the person helping is busy but is usually done at least twice a week.

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Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Which block?

One of the caregivers called me to say that someone had called her to say that they had seen an injured cat - or a cat that she thought was injured. I spoke with the woman who saw the cat but it was very difficult to get information from her as she wasn't sure where the cat was. She knew the colour of the cat and that it was near a shoe shop that sells men's' shoes but apparently there are a lot of shoe shops in the vicinity. She also was unable to tell me where the area was saying that it was very obvious. Unfortunately it isn't always very obvious to people who aren't familiar with the area.

I had a good time trying to figure out where the NTUC was as she mentioned it was the NTUC in XXX estate :) I pointed out there were quite a few NTUCs in the whole estate. I still don't know which block she saw the cat in but she did manage to narrow it down to the general vicinity.

Fortunately, another caregiver pointed me to a second caregiver who called a feeder she knew in the vicinity and the feeder was able to confirm that it was a cat she looked after. The cat is apparently very old and not in the best of health - but not suffering or in pain either.

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No horning


No horning
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

When I was dropping off some of the brochures I saw this sign, which struck me as being rather amusing. This is a very Singaporean sign for one thing because the word 'horning' obviously isn't used in this context anywhere else in the world.

Also surely beeping your car horn has to be allowed in some instances - for example, if someone is unaware of the danger of an oncoming car. There were quite a few signs up (no plucking of flowers and no bouncing of balls off the doors being two of them!) :)

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Nee Soon Pets Carnival


Nee Soon Pets Carnival
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

We've been asked to take part in this event and so this afternoon I've been cutting and pasting over the typo in our Responsible Feeding brochure and counting out sterilisation brochures which I'll take over this afternoon.

Also going to be dropping off a cat trap.

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Keeping safe

A community cat caregiver mentioned to me yesterday she had been molested over the weekend. She was very brave about it and went to make a police report (which seemed to involve her going to two different stations for some strange reason but that's another story). She also told the culprit off - the interesting thing was that she was quite near a void deck with people around. However it did bring to mind the fact that many caregivers do feed in quiet areas and on occasions can be in dangerous situations. Also quite a few caregivers are women which makes them especially vulnerable.

There was a good article written by one of the caregivers giving safety tips in our newsletter last year, but in general here are some things you can try and do :-

1. Carry a mobile phone with you if you have one - if you have one with a camera phone even better, in case you need to snap a photo of someone;
2. Don't be afraid to yell for help - make a lot of noise. Some people try and take advantage of the fact that you're shocked and taken by surprise to accost you. If you yell or threaten to make a fuss (as this caregiver did), the person is likely to turn and run. Of course each situation is different, so do be aware and alert to the person's body language and what they are saying.
3. Try and feed in areas which are not too dark - while it may be hard to feed in an entirely well lit area it may be better to feed someone which isn't entirely dark - ie not down a dark alley. Be aware of your surroundings.
4. Don't be afraid to call the police - if you are molested or assaulted, call the police. Do not attempt to detain the person if you think they are going to be violent.
5. Carry a personal alarm.
6. Where possible, feed in pairs.

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Spay Day Organising Sub-Committee

Rebecca is starting the planning for Spay Day 2007 at the moment and we thought that since last year's Spay Day turned out to be logistically challenging it would be good to have a sub-committee to handle Spay Day this year.

The things that generally need to be done are to write to the vets, liaise with them to find out how many slots we can get on the day itself, collate the number of people coming and then deciding which cats need to be sent to which vets in which cars/vans/etc. There tends to be a lot of reshuffling at the last minute too because of the fact that of course people bring in cats that may be of a different gender or a different number of cats.

Of course on the day itself we'd also need people to help out at the pickup points, labelling the cats, ensuring the right cats go to the right vans to go to the right vets, etc.

If anyone can help out. please do drop an email to info@catwelfare.org. Thanks!

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Helping animals is self-serving

You guys asked so here it is - this guy just responded.

He wrote back to say that he understood and appreciated compassion and kindness but that they are misplaced. He said that cats should not be fed because it is interfering with nature, and that if crocodiles and elephants were to be fed, this would be problematic. He felt that every animal should look after itself. He feels that animals should not be kept indoors or in a sanctuary, or a farm, or in any way harmed or mistreated. He also felt that while feeding the cats stops them from scavenging, they are abandoned by people and this does not solve the problem.

He also said that people should help other people, whether they be deprived, hungry, sick or oppressed.

He kept reiterating that Mother Nature must take its course and that sometimes, it can be cruel like in the case of earthquakes and tsunamis, but that the best way to respect animals is by not feeding them.

He also said the woman was self-serving and that the desire to do good is no different from any other desire. He said that that people like her think they are doing good but doing harm.

I wrote back to say that firstly, cats aren't quite crocodiles or elephants, since they share an urban environment with us. Having said that, I said that the reason a lot of animals are going extinct is precisely because of human beings. I pointed out that we are encroaching on their territories, driving them out of their natural environment, and in many cases, cutting down their food sources. I said that we don't have to look far - the macaques for example are being seen more often as their homes get encroached upon.

Secondly, I pointed out that cats are living with us in their 'natural environment' which is the community about is but there really isn't anything very natural about it at all. The housing estates and urban areas that we see around us weren't even here a century ago but cats (and people too) have had to adapt. I'm not sure what nature there is in that sense.

I also pointed out that abandonment is a problem - that cats are living indoors and are suddenly put out on the streets. There isn't anything very natural about that either.

Since he never elaborated on whom he is helping, I asked him about that. I was curious to know what his criteria for helping people was - which category was most deserving of help?

I also said that using his analogy that nature can be cruel, then we really shouldn't BE helping people who are say, tsunami victims or victims of an earthquake. Also using his analogy we certainly should not be helping people in places with famine - after all, Mother Nature has clearly shown those areas cannot grow food, so we should, using his line of reasoning, let them starve to death.

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Workshop and meeting

Packing TNRM packets now for the people who have indicated that they are attending the workshop on Saturday. It seems quite a few people have indicated that they are coming for the workshop, which is good to hear.

Speaking of RCs, one of the RC members in an area has arranged for the residents and CWS to attend a Meet the People session next week. Meet the People sessions are usually for Members of Parliament to meet their own residents and outsiders are usually not allowed in. However this RC member heard about the zero stray policy and was so upset, that he asked the MP to allow the residents and CWS to meet with him and the MP agreed. This RC member has been caring for the cats himself for many years and is another good example of a person who helps the community, for people and the non-human animals who live in it.

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Photo Exhibition

I mentioned a while ago that I had met some people who were thinking of organising a photo exhibition.

Here are some details and the blog they have for the exhibition :-

Cats of the World


If you'd like to send in photos to them, contact details are all on the blog. CWS has been invited to set up a table to sell merchandise on the night of the launch.

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