Friday, November 30, 2007

Cats in cages

Last night, one of the feeders wanted me to speak to this woman whom I have gone down twice to see. She has dozens of cats crammed into a back room in cages. The feeder said the cats are in bad form.

I told the feeder I have spoken with the woman before but I called her again. First off, she told me that she had taken all these cats in and gotten into so much problems. Apparently the SPCA and AVA had been down. She said that she wanted to send them to a shelter though she claimed that none of them could speak English. I explained that if she sends all the cats to the SPCA, they will likely be put down. She said that she had no choice. I asked her why she couldn't leave them where they are on the street. The woman said that they might get run over by cars - she said that she had seen cats there run over and she felt sorry for them.

She also said it was too much problem and that AVA had told her she couldn't feed. I asked her if she was sure this was not the NEA and she faxed me the number. I spoke to the AVA officer and they had gone down not to tell her not to feed but because of a complaint about animal cruelty. They had advised her to control the food and to get the cats sterilised - otherwise the population would grow out of hand.

When I rang her back, she said that she had not understood that, and she wanted to send them to a shelter. I asked her how this was better for them if the idea was to try and save their lives in the first place - I told her that on the street, the cats have a 50-50 chance at least.

She said that she could not believe that someone would complain about cruelty. She said the cats were happy. I told her that putting 60 cats into a room in cages makes them unhappy. I asked her if some of her cats were balding. She said they were. I told her this could be a sign of stress. She told me she thought cats shed their coats every once in a while. I asked if any were spraying - she said some were, again obviously another sign of stress.

I asked her if they were all sterilised and she said they weren't. I asked about getting them done and then she said she thought she'd send them to the SPCA again.

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Witnesses and evidence

Last night at the meeting, one of the feeders who came said that there was a neighbour abusing the cats. He said that he had reported a case because someone saw the neighbour walking into the flat with the cat. The next morning the cat was found outside or near the neighbour's flat injured. The police are apparently looking into it but at the same time, they told the man that they may not be enough evidence.

If for example, I am seen with someone the night before going into my home, and the next morning the same person is seen dead on my doorstep, can I be charged for murder? Certainly I would probably be the prime suspect but I cannot be charged on the basis of being seen with the person. Maybe the person came out, tripped on the doorstep and hit their head and died. Maybe someone else came and killed them. Maybe the person had a heart attack as they were leaving. There are many possibilities and the law presumes innocence until guilt is proven. While I understand that it is very frustrating that it is difficult to prove abuse the law is there to protect the innocent - and sometimes that does allow the guilty to get away with it.

What happened after though is that the man we spoke to (and who was complaining the law did not help) said that not one, but several of his neighbours, had seen the same neighbour abusing another cat. This had happened while he was at work - and they had all rushed to tell him when he came home. THAT is direct evidence - and with several eyewitnesses that is good evidence. However he said that none of the neighbours would testify. He said they were frightened, they were uneducated and would not go to the police. I told him that I would go with them - but that they had to be the ones to testify. He told me it was not going to happen.

The other caregivers told him that in that case he should stop complaining since the problem here was not the fact that there wasn't evidence but that the people who witnessed the crime would not come forward.

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Posting cats for others

I was speaking to a woman who was rather upset because she wanted to post a kitten that someone else had called her about on the adoption board. She had sent a rather grainy photo provided by the couple who picked it up, and no description. The adoption volunteer explained to her in an email that more details are needed - for example, age, gender, whether the cat is toilet trained, etc. Also, there must be some way of getting in touch with the people who picked the cat up. If not, it would be very difficult should someone really be interested.

The woman called to say that she felt the board was there to help the cats and it didn't cost us anything to post a photo even if none of these details are on. I understand that she wants to help and doesn't want the cat to be put back on the street. However I pointed out that if the couple who picked it up, and whom she said felt it was too difficult to post it on the board, did not seem to be interested then there is a good chance if someone calls, they may not bother to respond either.

I pointed out that it doesn't cost us anything - but it does potentially cost another cat a home. As you may have seen our adoption board is very full. There were something like 25 cats posted in the last two weeks. For every cat that is posted, another unadopted cat gets 'pushed off' the board. That means that cat is going to lose a chance to get adopted. Most of these cats have fosters who are willing and eager to find the cats a home and whom WILL respond promptly (and if they don't, and too many people complain the foster has not responded, the posting will be taken off the board).

Why not have more pages? We used to do that and found almost no one would ask for kittens on say page 8 - but if it is all on the same page, people will scroll down. The photos also need to be large enough to attract peoples' attention.

The idea is to try and get as many cats into good homes as possible. Trying to get someone else who is not particularly interested to adopt the cat out just means that cat and another cat lose out on a chance of a home.

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Unmanaged areas

Some feeders called up today. Apparently yesterday pest control went down and trapped some cats that were not sterilised or managed. I have been calling around to try and get some details. They are now asking to see the town council on this. Their agreement has always been with the TC that if there are sterilised and managed cats, they will not be caught - but unsterilised cats will still be caught.

The problem obviously is that if they are unable to help with the sterilisation and management, then the town council IS going to trap the cats there if there is a complaint. One of the feeders there in fact had a complaint in a block right near hers and when I called her up she told me it was not her block. Another feeder took more than two months to look for the 'owner' of a cat which someone else offered to adopt, and which he would not let them do. These two other blocks are not anywhere near theirs - so who is going to manage the issue if something crops up?

I spoke to another woman who knows them and she said they are overloaded at the moment as they have cats in a farm. I can understand they have other obligations, but then who is going to handle complaints if issues pop up in these unmanaged areas? And issues WILL pop up because these cats are not sterilised!

At some point, the town council is going to realise that the cases are not being handled properly and decide that they are not going to bother referring this to the caregivers anymore. You obviously cannot keep stalling and hope the TC forgets - because they won't especially if the complainant keeps complaining.

This will boil down to credibility. If you cannot manage your area well - then please don't take on another area.

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Unsterilised cat


Unsterilised cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this cat last night when I went for a meeting with the residents chairpersons of the RCs and the TC in an area. The TC wanted to have the chairpersons bring up any queries they might have had.

Some people were concerned that the cats might lose their instincts if fed (I explained that cats do not hunt for food but as instinct as any one who has seen a cat kill a cockroach then walk away, can attest to).

We did get some rather odd questions - the man who brought up the feeding wanted to know if this was the reason they were so fat and what would happen if he (being rather rotund himself) tripped over the cat that regularly sat outside his RC, and as a result was accused of harming it.

Other questions were more usual - including how to tell if a cat has been sterilised. One of the RC people present mentioned that cats are rarely the problem, but people are, to which the caregivers heartily agreed.

The town council reiterated that they would not remove sterilised cats and continue to work with the caregivers. This session was more to clarify with the RCs any doubts that they might have had.

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Farm better than home?

I just spoke with a caregiver who has some friends fostering a cat. She called because she is very concerned that an expatriate has shown an interest in the cat and will be viewing it over the weekend. She kept saying that expatriates might dump the cat and she had seen several cats at the SPCA left by expatriates. She was saying a farm might be better.

First of all, I pointed out that the couple fostering the cat were responsible people. They were not going to just foist the cat on anyone and leave it be. Secondly, there may have been irresponsible expatriates, but there are also irresponsible people of every other race, local or otherwise. There are very responsible expatriates who take their animals back (including some of our committee members). Thirdly, compared to a loving home, a farm almost certainly will not give the cat as much interaction and love. It's a question of finding the right home. She agreed. I also told her that she should share the concerns with the fosters as they would make the decision.

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Cat trap Removed

I just had a bunch of SMSes from a woman who had trouble with her neighbour, whom I had gone down to loan the Scarecrow to a while ago.

It seems that since then, they borrowed another cat trap, and got into an altercation with the woman next door. The police were called in as well. Since then, the woman emailed/faxed the AVA and also threatened to go to the press. As a result, the cat trap was taken away and she just texted me to tell me that it was removed. She has asked to go for community mediation with the neighbour so let's hope that something good comes out of that.

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Appealing to the MP

This is the story of a woman who wrote to her town council and to her MP. After managing the cats for years, apparently there was a repeat complaint and the cat was caught after the complainant went to see the MP. The officer was apparently new and inexperienced.

The property manager then apparently wrote back and said there was now a 'zero stray cat' policy in their estate. The caregiver wrote back to ask when this had been put in place and why. She wrote a very cogent and logical email pointing out what they had done, and asking why this had happened. She asked when this new policy had been introduced and why. She got what she called a 'standard reply' from the Property Manager. She also pointed out that the property manager had pointed her right back to the property officer whom she had already spoken with.

The MP wrote back on the same night and said he would look into it. By the next day, the cat had been put back into the estate. The property manager also texted her to say that he understood the woman was out of the country and hoped she had a good holiday and would meet up with her when she was back. According to the other caregiver in the area, he was very nice about the release of the cat.

Obviously, much of it I am sure depended also on the MP and his very quick and efficient handling of the situation. However the thing that should not be overlooked is what the caregiver did - she wrote in, explained the programme and what was being done, and also what steps they had already taken to address this issue. She further asked for clarification. She came across as reasonable, logical and wanting to work with the TC - and that's why I think they will be willing to work with her (and because the MP said so I'm sure!).

So it pays to write/talk to your MP and to always keep a calm head!

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Management

I just had a feeder call me to say that they had trapped some sterilised cats in her area. I do not know this woman at all though I do know that there is hardly anyone there working with their town council in this area. She said that one sterilised cat was deliberately caught.

I asked her if she had spoken with her town council. She said that there was no use, she had seen them two years ago and they asked for some letter from CWS. I asked her what she meant and she did not know. I asked her if she had called them to see what had happened, or even if the officer was still the same person she met with.

I asked if they might have trapped that cat because it was the particular cat complained about since it seemed that it was the only cat caught.

I told her that we have never issued any letters to anyone - nor did I even know what letters these are supposed to be. However we could go with her to see the town council and work out a programme.

She kept saying that if we did not want to help then to forget it. I told her that we were more than prepared to help but that she has to decide to work with her TC. She said to forget it and she spends so much money sterilising. She said there is no use working with the town council.

I tried to convince her one more time that it's important to work with the management. I said otherwise, the cats are going to get caught, sterilised or not. She said in that case she will stop and she is busy anyway.

There is NO guarantee that the TC will not trap cats just because they are sterilised unless you have a prior agreement with them. This is why it is imperative to remember that management is just as important as sterilisation.

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Verifying rumours

Another SMS came in this morning (and also via phone calls) that trapping would happen in several parts of the island. Again no one happened to be able to verify it or could not reveal their source.

One of the caregivers decided to call her officer, whom she was good on terms with, to ask about this rumour. The officer said that incidentally he was the officer in the area and that he had not ordered any trapping of cats. He said he would check and get back to her - indeed, there would be trapping, but of rats, not cats.

Incidentally I also wrote to the TC, about this SMS which was received by several people on Sunday and Monday. The TC wrote back yesterday to say that there was no such order given and we were told to let them know if there were any cases of officers not following the correct protocol.

Another caregiver SMSed this morning to say that she wanted to know what had happened and if she should stop sterilising the cats as she had an appointment for tomorrow. I told her that it is good to verify the source first because it's precisely because we want to stop panic and worry among caregivers.

It was very good of the caregiver to call her officer up and check first - I notice that in two of these trapping rumours so far, that two caregivers immediately called their officers up. Both of them have good working relationships with their officers and are able obviously to get their information verified. This helps to cut through the panic which is what is necessary.

Another caregiver asked me if I thought that it was possible these rumours were being planted to undermine the caregivers' relation with the TC.

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Meeting tonight

I just received a call from one of the caregivers - the caregivers were supposed to meet with the TC officers, the heads of the different RCs and ourselves tonight. The only problem was that the person who was supposed to inform the caregivers and ourselves forgot to do so - so now the caregiver is scrambling to arrange for the caregivers to turn up. It would be pretty pointless if none of the caregivers can show up obviously. I wonder how many officers and RC officers will come as well.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The great divide

I had someone else call this afternoon to complain about a resident trapping cats in the area she feeds in. She said that the cat has been left out in the trap - and she suspects that the cat has been left out in the sun. We have had a number of people write in or call about cat traps being put out and the cats being left exposed to the elements. So far, two of them have complained to the AVA in the last two weeks and I sincerely hope that the people using the traps will not be given more traps to use!

At the same time I asked if the woman who called had spoken with the complainants. Apparently they had turned over the first cat caught to the other feeder in the area. However subsequently when she went over, the complainant refused to hand the cats over. I asked her what the complaint was - and she mentioned it was defecation in the gardens.

One of the things I mentioned to the feeder who called was this - oftentimes the complainant thinks that the problem is the feeder. If there is no feeder, their logic often goes, then there would be no cats - and no problem. On the part of the feeder, the misconception is often that complainants are 'cat haters' and hence there is no point talking to them. Hence there is a huge divide and no communication.

I'm not saying that there aren't unreasonable people who don't want any cats ever and seem to enjoy trapping the cats. However I would say that they are in the minority and that most people want a solution - they don't necessarily want the cats killed. So what caregivers need to tell complainants is that there will always be cats there - and it has nothing to do with the feeding. In fact, running a TNRM programme will help to reduce the problem.

At the same time, trapping the cats doesn't solve the problem - and it doesn't mean new cats won't come in. Caregivers though can help to work with complainants to solve the problem in an effective AND humane method. Caregivers though need to act early - and not wait till the problem has gone on for so long that the complainants are thoroughly annoyed. Given an alternative, complainants may well take up the options suggested and refrain from trapping.

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Cats everywhere


Cats everywhere
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Unfortunately the caregiver is going away for work for a period of time, and as the occupants of the house won't feed the cats, it is going to be difficult to find someone to feed them.

The caregiver mentioned that there are people who come by. One of the occupants of the house does throw out some food occasionally. Other people come by to feed the cats - while we were standing there, a car stopped to look at them. The couple in it had cats themselves and the woman's mother is a caregiver herself in her own estate, which unfortunately is nowhere in the vicinity.

Other people come by once a week or occasionally. It seems that another resident in the area has a domestic helper who likes the cats. The caregiver had spoken to her about the possibility of feeding the cats as the domestic helper loves cats too. However she was worried that she might get into trouble.

We went by to speak with the resident and her domestic helper and we told the domestic helper that it should not be an issue as she was not doing anything wrong or illegal. The caregiver had a bag of food which she left with them and told them to use it for any cats in the area.

The resident however was most worried - she kept asking whom would feed the cats. She asked if the caregiver can hire someone to come by but we both explained that it's an issue of people managing their own colonies - no one will be able to drop their own colonies and travel somewhere else to feed them, nor do we know anyone in the area who can help out. More accurately, the people in the area don't want to help out.

The domestic helper mentioned that she does go by and feed the cats there sometimes too - I suspect she will go by and feed them with the food left by the caregiver.

The caregiver said that when she gets back to Singapore, she will go back to sterilise whichever cats remain and are not yet done. She said that already a few cats have disappeared since she started sterilising them.

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Kitten


Kitten
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is just one of the kittens in the area. We talked about the possibility of putting the kittens up for adoption but the caregiver mentioned that when she goes by often the cats have disappeared and are no longer there. She said that if one asks the caretaker of the property, he would probably ask that all the cats just be taken away. He has told her on several occasions not to return the cat she has sterilised.

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Cats in house


Cats in house
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The caregiver then brought me over to this house where you can see just a small proportion of the cats in the yard. I easily counted 16 cats and I understand from her that there are a lot more.

The caregiver has been sterilising the cats there but the people in the house are of absolutely no help. They let her come in, but they won't assist her. I spoke with one of the people there who came out immediately when we entered and he said he was just a caretaker and the house belonged to a relative. I asked if he could help to just put the cats into carriers for the caregiver to take them to the vet but he said he was very busy - as are apparently all the other people who live in the house.

The caregiver told me that she noticed the cats were not being regularly fed so she had offered to provide food to the occupant to feed the cats, but again the occupant was too busy to leave the food out.

The caregiver also mentioned that quite a number of cats run onto the road and get killed. I mentioned this to the caretaker and said that they have to be sterilised or else, people are going to start complaining. I said that if they run out and get into peoples' gardens, they are going to get trapped and killed. He said he had no idea if they went out - the caregiver told me that they were always running along the street.



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Cautious


Cautious
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I went to pick up some cat traps this afternoon from a caregiver and here are some of the cautious cats she feeds. They are however all sterilised.

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Cat traps

Heading out now to collect three cat traps from someone who is returning them.

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The AWOL fosters

I was just speaking with the adoption volunteer about postings. Occasionally some people help post for others who may not have Internet access, which is very nice of them. However, what is important is to ensure that the person who actually HAS the cat is really keen to adopt it out. What often happens is that when a potential adopter calls, the cat has long been adopted out/released/etc.

On the other hand, some people wanting to do a nice thing will see an advertisement somewhere and decide to put it on the adoption board. By the time someone is interested in the cat, the person posting cannot remember where the cat was from, or whom they were posting for (as happened today).

Also while you may want to do a favour be sure the person who you are doing it for appreciates it. Someone wrote in yesterday who said that someone asked her to adopt a cat out if not it would go back on the street. However the person did not want to post the cat because they thought it would be too much of a problem (what exactly was a problem they did not say). Oftentimes when an adopter is indeed interested and the person who posted the cat contacts the person who actually HAS the cat, the cat is gone or the person is uncontactable. Or in some occasions, the person has gotten quite upset because the photo was posted without their permission (the volunteer had to explain to an upset man who was angry about the copyright in his photo being infringed that the person who had sent it in had said the cat was their cat).

It would not be so much of a problem except that you can see there are so many cats being posted on the adoption board and there are fosters who genuinely are looking for people to adopt their cats. If a potential adopter keeps running up against cats that are no longer available because the foster is AWOL, then they may just give up altogether. There are so many cats on the board that it would be good to leave the postings to genuine cases with fosters who will be contactable.

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Encourage Kind Acts


Encourage Kind Acts
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I meant to post this the other day after our tea but realised I had not put it up. I like that the cafe has several messages that they want to encourage and that this was one of them.

It would be a much more gracious society if everyone went around trying to encourage kind acts and tolerance rather than always insisting on their rights, or what they see to be their rights.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Cheques

Just gotten on top of all the cheques finally! Will need to wait for the next committee meeting for them to be signed (which is Friday) and then they'll go out. We've written almost 70 cheques this month - some of which obviously came in the later half of September and October as well as I was away.

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Witnesses

Sometimes people tell us about abuse cases or abandonment cases and ask us to act on the situation. While we are happy to assist and advise people, the fact of the matter is that we cannot file a police report because we are not the ones with direct evidence of what has happened. We also cannot prosecute as we do not have the power to do so.

We had two people call today. One of the people who I spoke with mentioned that a woman had told everyone in the estate that she had witnessed the abuse - I told her that while the witness might have done that, there are really only two places she needs to really be prepared to stand up and speak out at and that is in court and at the police station. If she is not willing to testify (or make a police report) then there is no case. This is despite the fact that she may have told the whole neighbourhood because no one else can testify to the fact of the abuse except the witness herself.

Another man I spoke to wanted to know if CWS could file the report or go ahead and prosecute though he WAS willing to be a witness. I explained that we cannot prosecute - only the police or the AVA can. If he is willing to be a witness, and AVA agrees that there is enough evidence to go on based on his testimony, then the case can proceed. We are not like organisations overseas that have the power to prosecute or go in and seize animals - what we can do is basically inform the authorities and ask them to step in.

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Guidelines for Town councils

A caregiver wrote to her town council last week and gave them some details of some action she had taken in response to a complaint. She wrote to ask that the sterilised cats should be left in the area and that they would help with mediation of complaints.

I dropped an email to her today to ask what the TC had said and she wrote back and said that as she had expected, they never wrote back. This made me think - obviously the town councils must have some form of service standards that they have to follow. If so, what are they? Can they refuse to answer emails altogether for example?

If anyone has an idea where these guidelines are or where they can be found, I'd be most interested to see them.

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Carriers

I was just speaking with someone who mentioned that she had lost a cat out of a carrier at the vet a while ago and wanted to know what a good brand of carrier is. I told her that most carriers are fine - what is most important is the condition of a carrier. For example, the catch may have been very secure when you bought the carrier, but may not be any longer if the catch is old and may spring open easily. It is a good idea to check your carrier periodically to make sure that it works well.

Also one thing you might want to do is to tie the carrier with string tie, raffia string or some other means to ensure it closes properly if you want to be extra cautious. There are quite a number of cats that go missing in the vicinity of the vets - and sometimes when I see people come in with cats in pillow cases or cats with no collar or leash, being carried in arms, I am surprised more don't get lost.

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Save this Cat

It's not just in Singapore that people don't know that cats are being killed - and so Alley Cat Allies just put out a video on this.

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Monday, November 26, 2007

En Bloc victims

I was just speaking with someone who mentioned that their estate is going to be torn down and redeveloped so everyone is moving out. I have had caregivers tell me that en bloc sales have meant that many community cats end up without homes. However in addition, in this estate, the family has apparently moved out and left their pet cats.

The person who called is very concerned - he said that the cats were often seen jumping in and out of their windows and though he offered several times, they would not get the cats sterilised. He also noticed that one of the cats that used to sport a collar now no longer has a collar.

The person who called was asking if the family can be prosecuted for abandonment or at least be made to take the cats back somehow. It's sad that the cats were good enough for their old home but somehow not good enough to be taken to their new home. Or maybe they felt that since the cats were from the estate to begin with, they can just go back onto the street - which they can't obviously.

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Cat trap

Just got back from dropping the cat trap and picking up photocopying. This company that I dropped it off to want to start trapping the cats for sterilisation as soon as possible and they have even set up an office 'kitty' to get the cats sterilised.

On the flip side, this lady wrote in to complain that her neighbour had trapped a cat and left it in the sun for several hours despite the fact that it had been trapped the night before. She has written to AVA to ask them to stop this person from borrowing another cat trap. I spoke with the AVA officer as well at her request, and they said that the more corroborating evidence the better.

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He's from the 'government'

I spoke to a woman who called late last week to ask me to come down and mediate in her neighbourhood this week. I had already been by once with Michelle. She called up and said that there was no need for me to go down anymore as she was told that AVA would be trapping all the cats because there were many complaints in the area.

As she lives in a private estate, I told her that this seemed most unusual and that AVA does not send people down ordinarily to trap cats. Nor does it seem that this person was from the AVA. I asked where and whom this person was - she did not know. She said that the person was from the 'government', took down her details and checked her identity card and told her to stop feeding the cats there. He said they had received numerous complaints about cats defecating in the gardens.

I asked if she was sure this for real. Did the person give her a name card? She said the person took out a badge to show to her but she didn't look very closely. All she knew was that the person may have come from Buona Vista Road and was a Malay man.

I told her that it was important to talk to this person to try and find out where the complaints were coming from and try and resolve them. She told me that she thought he was lying as she said that there weren't that many complaints. However when I went down, we heard of at least two unhappy neighbours - and she just mentioned a third. The woman said that she knew that some people there had cats and hence they could not be complaining.

I told her that sometimes people start out alright but get upset when the situation drags on (which is what one of the complainants had told us). If there is some unhappiness, it is good to handle it as soon as possible and not let it continue. She said if the man comes by again, she will ask him for his name.

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Who is going to take over from me?

A woman called me up about a complaint from a block of flats. This is a perennial problem block because the feeder who called has another friend who is also a feeder and who loves to let her cat out. She leaves food out and the cat walks in and out of her flat, and defecates on the doorstep of another family on a floor lower than theirs.

I have gone by to this flat several times and spoke to the woman's daughter. The daughter told me that she has scolded/advised/told her mother that she is putting the cats at risk by doing this. Her mother however refuses to listen and told me that her cat never goes out. The daughter told me that unless her mother was fined, she was not going to stop.

The feeder who called me said that one of the cats was trapped there last week. I asked her if it was a sterilised cat and she said no, but it had been there and she had been feeding it for five years. She asked why the cat was caught if it had been there for so long. Her husband however came on the phone a while later and said that this cat was usually picking fights with the community cats in the area.

I explained to the woman it's not how long the cat has been there, but a question of whether it is being sterilised and managed. If there is a constant problem as well (for example of defecation), the cats there are in danger, whether or not they are sterilised.

I also advised her to call the AVA and TC if any of her cats are lost. She kept insisting that she is elderly and does not know how to use the phone, but I pointed out that she can call me. I told her that it is best to call in a timely manner and to call the AVA and TC directly. She then told me that she may not know if the cats are missing - I told her that frankly if she is the feeder and doesn't know, no one else will be in a better position to know.

She also said that she wants to stop soon but she wants to ask someone to come and take over. I told her that the problem is that it's very difficult to ask someone to stop feeding in one area and move over and feed another colony somewhere else. It just doesn't work that way since caregivers have their OWN cats to look after. It also seems that there are at least four feeders in this area but none seem to really be working with each other. It would make sense if she spoke with them and asked if they could help care for the cats at her block too. When I asked her, she said they were busy.

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Chatting


Chatting
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Some of the volunteers chatting - though they helped out at different pick up points, almost all of them are caregivers. They had a lot to share - there were discussions on their cats, about town councils, etc.

During the course of tea, several of them who were caregivers in the same area, received an SMS about upcoming trapping but no one could trace down where the SMS originated from as the person who sent it on did not know either.

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Food for Thought


Food for Thought
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's the cafe where we had our thank you tea for the Spay Day volunteers yesterday.

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Friday, November 23, 2007

Why do you allow cats?

One of the town council officers wrote about a complaint. This officer mentioned that the number of cats had stabilised, she did not see litter from feeding, nor were any cats unsterilised. I am so pleased that the caregiver is doing a good job AND that the officer was very fair about it and noticed the good work the caregiver is doing.

Apparently someone wrote into the TC to ask why the TC 'allows' CWS to have cats in estates when cats aren't allowed in HDB flats.

The TC officer wasn't sure how to respond - and I don't blame her. You have to feel sorry for officers who deal with complaints like this really. I wrote back to say that HDB has clarified that their policy is NOT against cats in estates - and their bylaw only exists in relation to cats in flats. In addition, the TC was not 'allowing' the cats there - the cats WERE there already, and there will be cats there even if the cats are removed. If anything the TC is being responsible by managing the cats through a TNRM programme. Lastly I said that this was a case of residents in the area trying to help other residents to make the estate a better one for all (and not a CWS initiative) - and that this should be encouraged.

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Caregiver found?

The sister-in-law of the woman who called me about this cat just rang. It turns out she is a caregiver in her own area. She was asking what could be done about the man who will not sterilise the cats.

I told her that I had been by and spoken with him. She said that the mother cat seems to have disappeared since this morning and she's not sure if the TC came and trapped it. She told me she was baffled why someone would just refuse to sterilise the cat.

I explained that in this case it wasn't just the sterilising. The people in the block didn't really mind the cats per se (which is quite unusual but this a pretty unusual block - there was a sense of community I don't always feel in other areas) but they were really unhappy about the cat defecation in the block. Clearly just sterilising the cats here without management is not going to work especially if this person keeps luring the cats upstairs! Moreover there are tons of feeders here - but so far no one wants to step in and sterilise.

She said that she couldn't come over every day and take care of those cats - but she would speak with her sister-in-law. She said her sister-in-law loves animals but has no experience with cats. She said that she will talk to her and get her sister-in-law to call me again about becoming a caregiver in the area. Hopefully something good will come out of this - though I think getting the guy to stop feeding the cats on the fifth floor is going to be a real challenge.

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Cat in condo


Cat in condo
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I just received a phone call from one of the women who is involved in this group of cats. She told me that I was not aware of all the facts and that she had not seen it necessary to keep me updated on the matter as I was not part of their group. I assured her that she didn't need to - and that every community needs to decide what they want to do for themselves and that I'm more than happy to keep out of the situation.

I told her that the only reason I had gotten involved again was that one of the people in her group had contacted me and asked for help and urgently, and that yesterday when I had met them, it was agreed that talking to the management would be useful.

I also said that I thought it would be useful for the group to decide what they want to do in the long term because people might be on completely different pages and I had gotten different information from the other caregiver. She told me that the woman I spoke with doesn't have all the information either.

I reiterated again that this is her community and that I'm not telling them what to do in the long run but that I thought it would be useful for her to speak among themselves. She told me that it was really my community (she is an expatriate as are quite a large number of them there apparently) and that therefore my input would be valuable at some point.

I told her that nevertheless that I thought it was a good thing that they were sterilising the cats there. Unfortunately she seemed to take this in a negative manner. I told her that was not what I meant and that I sincerely meant it.

She also said that she found it disconcerting that I called up to have this conversation (though actually she was the one who called me) and that while she appreciated my help, I needed to back off. She said she would call me if she needed my help, though it might be an urgent phone call if they run into anything.

I asked for a minute to try and explain as I wasn't sure why she was taking what I said negatively when I had not meant it to be a criticism. She said that she didn't need my stamp of approval - which also wasn't what I was trying to say.

I also tried to reiterate that I was only involved because her fellow caregiver had contacted me and that I wasn't sure what I had done to offend her. She told me that I had already taken up several minutes of her time and she had to go.

Whatever it is, I hope that the cats there will be fine.

I really am uncertain what caused this misunderstanding. To be honest, I am more than happy when a group can handle itself - it's better for the community to be directly involved because it is their community and their cats. Also, it leaves me more time to work on other areas that DO need help - I have spent a part of today trying to figure out what was happening, and this time could have been better spent on something else.

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Sigh


Sigh
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Some of you may remember this case (and this is the photo I took when I last went down). A woman rang up from the same block again today. If you guessed that she called about the same unit that I went down twice to, you're absolutely right (and no prizes for you - that was too easy! :)).

It's no laughing matter though that after numerous warnings, visits and emails, after the last lot of cats was trapped - they decided to lure yet ANOTHER group of cats up to feed. And guess what? It's yet another mother with a bunch of kittens.

The woman who called didn't call to complain - she's worried the kittens aren't getting enough nutrition, and wanted to know if we could convince the owners to feed them better. She had our flyer from the last time I went down and hence she called. She was surprised I had spoken with this unit before. This is the same young man who claimed the cats didn't belong to his family, and then asked for monetary compensation when the cats that weren't being cared for by theirs were caught.

Seriously, what is it going to take to make people like them stop feeding the cats upstairs? Clearly they don't care about the cats because the thought of them being killed doesn't bother them enough to stop feeding them upstairs.

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Check with the TC/Management

A caregiver called me and was very worried because she had been told that trapping was going to commence in her area next Tuesday. She said that she had heard about it from a friend who heard about it from someone else.

I asked her to call the TC to check but she was reluctant to do so at first because she said that they wouldn't tell her anything and would come and trap anyway. I told her that first of all, we do not know how reliable this rumour is - the best thing to do is to check with the town council and see what they have to say. Secondly, it is important to find out from the officer what is going on. Even if the officer is tempted to sneakily trap the cats and NOT tell the caregiver, I told her that this would let them know that SHE knows - and they're more likely to not try trapping in this manner. She agreed and said she would speak with the officer.

Vegancat is in the area and I know that he works very closely with the TC there and was fairly confident that they would let him know if there was a problem. True enough when he checked, the Property Manager also told him there was no trapping going on and that while there was a new officer in the area he had been briefed about TNRM.

Vegancat suspects that the confusion may have arisen about a poster that talks about nuisance behaviour that is more about pet cats wandering.

This is why it's really important to speak with your officer and ask them directly what's happening. Rumours like this cause panic - and can cause caregivers a lot of unnecessary worry. The best thing to do it to go to the horse's mouth and check with your TC or area management directly. Remember this rumour? None of the caregivers involved whom people were trying to get in touch with ever called - nor were there any verifiable reports that cats were actually caught.

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Who borrowed the trap?


Who borrowed the trap?
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

After going down to see the cats yesterday, I spoke with a tenant in the area this morning. She spoke with the manager of the building, and the interesting thing is that he said that he had not given instructions to borrow the cat trap or asked for one. In fact, he said that he thought that TNRM was a good programme and he offered to ask the caretaker of the building to help them trap the cats for sterilisation too.

So now the question is - who borrowed the trap? A resident might have taken matters into their own hands.

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Adoption volunteer needed

The adoption volunteer is asking for volunteers who might want to help out with adoptions with an aim to taking over. She has been volunteering for four years and would like to step down at the end of this year. If anyone would like to help out, please email dell@catwelfare.org for more details.

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The cats have a home

We just had an email from a group of students who want to go a project on sheltering cats because they feel sorry for the cats and wish that the cats have a home and that they have proper food and shelter. While it is very admirable of them to wish to help the cats out, sheltering isn't the way to go. Besides the obvious thing which is that sheltering only picks up on the after-effects of the problem (and this editorial in Animal People deals with it very nicely), which is that the cats are breeding too quickly on the street, and spends a lot of money which could be used more effectively to tackle breeding through sterilisation, here's a thing I think we often overlook. The cats HAVE a home and their home is in our communities. It is on our streets, under our void decks, in our carparks, our schools, etc.

We often think we are being kind to take these cats in and we do it for the best intentions, but often cats are so much happier on the streets than in shelters. Having visited shelters, no matter how well run, often the cats on the street look so much happier and healthier. Conversely community cats lounging around the neighbourhood often couldn't look any happier or more contented.

By saying that cats should be taken off the street we also deny them their rightful place in the community - we are in essence agreeing that they should all be 'taken home' as detractors often say. Of course ideally one day every cat will have a loving home off the streets - but that's an eventuality that isn't going to happen anytime soon. It is also something that is going to make a lot of cats unhappy in the meantime if we try and put them somewhere we think is better for them, but which is not necessarily the case.

We should realise that many cats already have a loving home - and that just because it doesn't fit our definition of a home in the traditional sense, doesn't make it any less so.

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Thursday, November 22, 2007

Calm


Calm
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I just met this cat a while ago - a group of people are trying to start up a programme in their area. The problem is that apparently a lot of people are feeding them and the number is exploding. The other problem is that while they just started the programme, it seems as if the management of a building nearby just started putting out traps.

There are quite a number of cats there - I managed to speak to someone who is a tenant of the building, and she will get us in touch with the management.

One of the women I spoke with mentioned that they'll get the cats sterilised first, and worry about the rest later. That's a good approach to take if your idea is to control the population and it's certainly laudable to sterilise, but it's not so good if your concern is the welfare of the cats in the long run. Adoption as was suggested by one of the woman, is not going to be an option for most of these cats. Another agreed and said that they would definitely need to be returned.

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Factsheet

In accordance with Calsifer's suggestion, I've just finished a new factsheet on speaking with your town council/area management. It includes some pointers on what to say and do and I've sent it on to the committee for comments. If anyone would like to see it in it's raw form, you're most welcome to email me - we have three new factsheets in the work right now, including the two others I worked on this week.

Heading to the accountant's office now.

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Getting to know a resident

I had another email from someone today who says that the cat she cares for goes into a school nearby. She heard rumours that the cat is going to be trapped and killed. There have been emails from people worried because cats are being trapped in estates, condominiums, buildings or schools that they do not belong to.

The management of these areas are concerned about one thing - that is their residents. As I mentioned in an earlier post, they're concerned with their stakeholders. So the first and most important thing you can do after deciding you want to sterilise in an area is to contact someone who IS related to the area - a resident, a student, a teacher, occupier, etc. They can speak up and mention that you are helping to care for the cats. If not, there is a good chance that should the management decide to start trapping that nothing can be done - because as we know, complaints are usually the reason that trapping is initiated, and if a resident wants them removed, and no one speaks up for the cats besides someone who is an 'outsider', then those cats are at risk.

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It's not just animals

Thanks to Mezzo for sending in this article about a hoarder killed by the items he hoarded.

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Tom cat


Tom cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is one of the few unsterilised cats still left in the area. I went down with the young lady who is organising the sterilisation of the cats in the area and managing the project. Along with some volunteers who are helping her out, they have sterilised an impressive number of cats.

The problem now is one of feeding. The feeders who are currently in the area will be leaving. At the same time some are making a mess which upsets the management.

We went down to speak to the management about the possibility of a cat cafe programme yesterday and they are considering it.

Afterward, we spoke to a feeder in the area. The woman comes down to feed the cats every night and the management has warned her several times as they say that she litters. The woman insisted she does not. However she was feeding in an extremely high traffic area at 6:30 pm. In five minutes, I counted 10 people walking by and the cats were extremely visible.

The young woman and I spoke with her and hopefully she'll change her feeding time and area to someone a bit more isolated and to a slightly less obvious time.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Cats on the grass


Cats on the grass
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I got back a while ago from a meeting where I saw these two cats on the grass. That's one really nice thing about sterilisation - it makes cats far less likely to get into fights and able to share moments like these :)

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Meeting

Heading out for a meeting now.

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Smile!


Smile!
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

It's a dreary midweek and it's both rainy and hazy - hope this will make you smile :)

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Putting the message across

I received an email early this morning from a woman saying she had spoken with a feeder in her area. The woman had told her that there was no point seeing the TC as she has seen them 5 years ago and they weren't helpful. I wrote back to say that I was at the meeting with the feeder and I can see why it wasn't successful. The problem was that the woman got very emotional and started crying. She started clutching at the officer's sleeve and I had to guide her out of the room. She didn't speak about why sterilisation was important - she spoke about not being cruel and killing the animals. That may be how she feels but it's NOT convincing to the town council and needless to say the officer wasn't very impressed.

As I've said before, if I'm trying to sell you shampoo, what you, the consumer wants to hear is why the shampoo will work for you. Focus your message on that. As a consumer, I don't care if the shampoo is good for YOUR hair - I want to know what it will do for mine. In the same way, the town council wants to know how TNRM will benefit them.

I got another email from someone just a while ago. She wants to write to her town council and ask them to meet and she sent a draft copy of her email. Now I am very glad to see that she is writing in, and this is not meant to be a criticism of what she did - better that you stand up and speak for the cats, then not do anything at all. It does however serve as a reminder to me of why some TCs don't work with the caregivers - and that's because the message isn't put across in a way that convinces them. The effort then is wasted, and the caregiver goes home disheartened.

First of all, the word 'cat lover' is loaded with connotations - and none of them good. So what if you love cats? Sure, we like cats because otherwise the majority of caregivers wouldn't be doing TNRM - BUT TNRM is the best option, whether or not you like cats. You can be perfectly indifferent to cats, or even be afraid of them, and still think TNRM is the best solution because killing has been shown not to work in controlling the population and managing the area.

Also using a term like 'cat lover' just polarises the camps - then there is an "us" (the 'cat lovers') versus the 'then' (the 'cat haters'). It's NOT about that - it's about a community working together to solve a problem that faces us all.

Secondly, the word sterilisation (or even describing what it was) was never used in the letter nor was the idea or concept of management introduced. Don't use an argument like "don't kill the innocent cats" (which was used in the letter) because let's face it, that's probably your weakest argument. Try using the term "don't kill innocent cockroaches/rats" in place of that and you can see why it fails (a feeder told me the other day that cockroaches are pests - guess that, some TC officers think CATS are pests). It's not about the innocence of the animals, it's about the effectiveness of the method used. Arguments based on ethics can be raised certainly (and should be raised) but it should never be the main thrust of your argument.

Thirdly, the writer said that cats should not be killed even if they are 'not accepted by the community'. If I am the officer, and even you the caregiver think that the cats are not accepted - then I would be MORE likely to trap and kill. In the first place, I don't think the cats are not accepted - so be careful how you put an argument like that across.

Next, the writer asks for 'approval' to look after the cats. There is no need for approval because this isn't a right given to you by the TC. Anyone can look after the cats - it's not illegal. You don't have to ask the town council permission to use the staircase outside your flat - you don't need to ask for their 'approval' to look after the cats. What you DO want to do is work with them together.

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Factsheets for HDB estates on common problems

As I was writing the factsheet hopefully for the AVA to hand out when they loan out cat traps, it occurred to me that it might be useful to have a brochure for people in HDB estates detailing information that they can use to solve problems that they are facing - for example, cats defecating outside the door, etc. I know that some of the groups have come up with wonderful factsheets on their own explaining what a sterilised cat is and what is being done in terms of management in their estate.

It might however be good to have a factsheet that targets the complainants. Not all town councils are very good at extracting the necessary information needed to solve the problems - perhaps we should instead reach out to the complainants directly and make them aware of the situation. This might include the fact that if there is defecation outside your doorstep, chances are that it's NOT the community cat in the area. This might also perhaps allow us to reach the complainants who remain 'anonymous'.

I'm working on that factsheet now - the information to be added is quite different from the advice given to private home owners.

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TNRM workshop on 15th December

We're having a TNRM public workshop on 15th December at the National Library's Imagination Room. If you'd like to attend, please drop us an email and let us know at info@catwelfare.org.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Alley Cat Allies Seminar

Here's a link on the Alley Cat Allies seminar I spoke at. The presentations given are on the website and you can download them, including the one I gave.

By the way, the Asian lady in the first photo is Karyen, who is a former Singaporean and now a board member of Alley Cat Allies.

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You can't make someone care

Just got back from meeting Corbie to pick up the cheques and deposits for this quarter ot hand to the accountant, and also from picking up the mail. A very sweet note from someone came in saying that he hoped part of the (very generous) donation he was sending would be used for a bonus for me - thank you Anonymous Donor for the kind thought (though I don't think we'll be doing that :)).

Also went to pick up the name cards. I had a number of phone calls from some people while I was out. Two of them are from the same area and are very upset that there is another feeder who insists on letting the cat out into the corridor. One of the caregivers there spoke with the officer who had sent pest control down and explained that the wrong cat had been caught and that the problem of defecation was still on-going. As such, this caregiver said that this would not solve the problem.

Another feeder who works with her called me and kept insisting that I try and email the daughter of the feeder who lets the cat out. Apparently she had also spoken with this feeder, and I had emailed the daughter yesterday. The feeder is upset that the woman will not keep the cat in. She kept saying that the cat might be caught.

I told her that at the end of the day, you cannot make someone care if they don't care. If she knows that the cat might be caught, has been warned, and insists on doing it, then there is absolutely nothing that can be done. It's not that you WANT that cat to be picked up - and it's definitely not the cat's fault, but otherwise as happened in this case, the community cats downstairs will keep getting picked up because this owner won't keep their cat in and it's defecating outside someone's house.

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How much information?

I was speaking with a feeder today. She was wondering what she should say if the town council asked her how many cats she is caring for. She said she has a difficult officer who will baulk if she told him the real answer and she wondered whether to lie. I told her first of all, lying is a bad idea - if you get caught (and chances are good you will) then your credibility if shot.

She was still fretting over this though when I told her that she had no obligation to give the exact number. For example, she can decide not to tell the officer if he asks and she is uncomfortable about it. And she can tell him so. For example, complainants are not obligated to give any details - so the caregiver can not give details if they're not comfortable either.

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Stakeholders

People are often contacting us and saying that they want us to contact their management committee/town council/residents committee to tell them about a management programme. Here's the thing - quite a few caregivers or people who like cats think that we have some special power or influence over these different groups, but we don't. Most of these management committees or town councils don't care either way about us - they care about you, the resident, the occupant, the tenant, etc in the area.

The idea of a management committee or a town council clearly is to protect the interest of the residents or the occupiers using the property. Unless they are extremely far-sighted, why would they care what a group working with community cats have to say? Even if they did think TNRM was a better option, say their own residents don't - they cannot go against what their residents think and want for their estate.

Here's where the resident comes in - because you are as much a resident as someone else who may NOT want the cat there. More importantly, you're willing to do something about it - you're willing to help out with TNRM. You're willing to mediate, and you're someone who has a stake in the community. As such the management will listen to YOU (provided you make a reasonable argument of course).

So if you'd like us to come with you to speak with your management committee or town council, we're always happy to - but you do to let them know that we're coming.

I've recently had two people approach us about speaking with the management of two different areas with which they have no connection - ie they have been or intend to sterilise the cats there but neither of them is a tenant/occupier/resident. At the end of the day, if neither of them are able to find someone within the compound who is supportive of what they are doing, and a resident complains, those cats are still going to be at risk of being trapped and killed.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

Trapping cats as revenge?

I'm working on the text for a brochure that we spoke with the AVA about. We're hoping that they might give the brochure out to anyone who comes in to borrow or requests for a cat trap to be sent to their house.

As I was writing this, I got an email from someone in a private estate who said that she has pet cats that she lets out at certain times. Another neighbour apparently has dogs and one of them keeps running out of his gate. The woman said that the dog has chased her cats on several occasions. The woman who wrote said she spoke with him and asked that he please keep the dog in, but he told her to complain if she wasn't happy.

On one occasion according to the woman who wrote in the dog chased the cat up a tree and the woman called the police. The police did not take action according to the woman, and the man claimed that the dog would not have run in except that the cat was teasing his dog.

She said two days later, he had a cat trap in his yard and a cat was trapped this morning. She said that she is sure he is doing this to taunt her.

I offered to help mediate but obviously this can only work if the man seriously has an issue with the cats and isn't doing this to get back at his neighbour. Obviously as well, he cannot let his dogs run off a leash in the neighbourhood as well.

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AVA advertisement


AVA poster
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's the postcard of the new AVA advertisement telling people not to abandon their pets.

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Defaulting on agreement

Josephine and I were speaking earlier today about a letter of undertaking Josephine had drafted a while ago. E_Cat and Aliah as many of you know have been going to help out with this woman. However of late, she has refused them admission into her house and so they have been unable to check up on the cats. SMSes to her daughter have also gone unanswered.

The problem now is that E_Cat and Aliah are concerned the cats are still unwell as quite a few had a bout with the flu. Also some of the cats are unsterilised and obviously they cannot be adopted out. It seems that E_Cat had asked if the woman could help contribute some money to the cat food for her own cats and that may have been the point she decided to stop speaking with them. This is after months of E_Cat providing her with food and litter for free.

It is very disappointing that she seems to have decided to cut off contact and ignore the caregivers in the area. This is especially after they have spent time, money and effort bringing the cats to the vet - and we've of course spent money as well to get them treated and sterilised. Obviously the letter of undertaking did allow the caregivers to go in and check on the cats (and ensure they are in good health, not in cages etc) which she is in breach of. Hopefully with the letter Josephine is drafting, that she will let them go in and check the cats.

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Food

Someone just called because a pet food company wanted to check if CWS had been passing negative remarks about their brand of food. Apparently someone had called them and said a "CWS member" had made a remark about the food being not particularly good.

First of all, CWS does not promote commercial products which is why we have steered clear of pet food promotion or to say X brand is better than Y brand. We're a non-profit and people should make up their minds about what constitutes good or bad food, and if you ask ten different people you're likely to get ten different responses or what food if good or bad. As a result, we don't disparage brands either. The best person you can and should speak to about what your cat is eating is your vet and certainly you can do research and see what works best for your cat because every cat is different.

Secondly, I explained that we have no idea whom this CWS member is. There are hundreds of CWS members out there who pay a membership fee to be a member. This does not mean obviously that their opinions represent the Society's. I've asked them to just check whom it is as well.

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Cats getting fed by more than one feeder

I spoke with a feeder this morning who was telling me that a cat that they had been feeding for years had suddenly started going upstairs to defecate. I told her that it was very likely that the cat was being fed by someone upstairs. She said that she thought it was more out of habit that the cat went out, but I explained that habit must be caused by something - ie the cat must have been lured up by something in the first place.

In the course of the conversation, she mentioned that there was someone who was definitely feeding one of the other cats upstairs in the block of flats. She said she always saw food left outside the house. I pointed out that if one of the other cats is going up, then what made her think this was not luring the cat she feeds up as well?

It turned out that she wasn't sure why the cat she feeds goes downstairs to eat if it's still being fed upstairs. I pointed out that the cat would likely do that - it just gets fed MORE times and possibly with different kinds of food. It's unlikely that a cat is going to turn its nose up and refuse to even go and see what's on offer. It's much more likely to just turn up and snack or even check out what's on offer before turning its nose up. Some community cats have been known to be fed by as many as five different feeders, all unaware of the others' existence.

The other thing that she felt made it unlikely that the cat was going upstairs was that she saw it defecate downstairs after she had fed it. I pointed out that cats may defecate more than once a day, and are likely to do so after food. So it's quite possible the cat is just eating twice and causing a mess upstairs by defecating there too.

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AVA Roadshow


AVA Roadshow
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The AVA Roadshow on Saturday. Jacin and volunteers were down at various shifts, but a big thank you to Jacin who was there the whole of the weekend.

I dropped by to man the booth on Saturday at lunchtime but it was pretty quiet. The roadshow seems a bit quieter this year.

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Friday, November 16, 2007

AVA Roadshow tomorrow

Don't forget the AVA Roadshow tomorrow and Sunday at Ngee Ann City! We'll have a booth there and a few of you have said you'll drop by to say hi to Jacin and the other volunteers!

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And now for something completely different

A nice piece of news for a Friday after a day of complainants and complainants. A woman emailed to say that there were kittens on her roof and she was frightened of them. I called and spoke with her and she said that the cats she thought were a month old as she heard from crying on the roof. I suspect from what she was saying (that they run up and down the roof) that they are a bit older.

I asked if her roof might support a trap so the kittens might be taken down and then released back on the street thinking she wanted them gone right away, but she asked if they would be okay. She asked about getting them sterilised, and I told her they might be a bit young.

She said that while they were quite noisy, she could always put up with it - she was more concerned about what would happen to the cats though she admitted she is scared of them. She also said she would be happy to sponsor their sterilisation.

I'm trying to see if we can find anyone in the area now though it seems that they may be feeders but no caregivers.

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Borrowing a Scarecrow AND a trap

This woman called this afternoon. She said that the Scarecrow was leaking and she tried to clear it out but it wasn't working. I told her that I would bring her a new unit if she would like. The woman said she didn't think it would work as she said it went on when the cars went by on the main road.

I told her that it might be a good idea to then make the range smaller, so that it wouldn't spray out onto the road, but she said she WANTED it to spray there because the cats walk there. I had suggested yesterday that they turn it on only at night because the cats usually would be likely to go in at night, and she agreed. It's a pretty quiet street so I doubt many cars will go by and get sprayed actually. She asked when I would go by.

I just got off the phone with the neighbour next door who has cats that go out. She said she just had an argument with the neighbours. She said that this afternoon the complainants had another cat trap delivered, so she went over to ask what the issue was. She said the man started hollering at her on the street and yelling at her. She said the man told her he would have them trapped. She apparently went down to the AVA and asked why they continue to let someone constantly trap the cats there but they said there was no other option.

It's very odd that the woman will borrow the Scarecrow and then turn right around and borrow the cat trap - and not mention it to me. I will still go around with the Scarecrow because hopefully at least the cats will not be caught again if the Scarecrow is in place.

The neighbour is also looking for options to see if she can get her garden fenced up (she is allergic to cats and so are her children so the cats live in her garden which has a nice porch front and back and go out). She said she is quite sure her cats do not go in next door but I said that we can't be sure - and one time would be too many. She also said if they trap any of her cats she will consider taking legal action against them.

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Man shooting cat

This is the case that has been getting a lot of attention in the American media. Serina just sent me this latest article and here's another.

I am not familiar with the cruelty laws in Texas (and obviously they are different in every state) but I don't think the issue here is about ownership or lack of ownership. Someone shot a cat and left it to suffer for 40 minutes before it died. If that isn't cruel, then what is? It's a good thing the laws were changed as a result of this if nothing else.

Even if the cat was shot quickly, what gives someone the right to go out and shoot a cat? It always surprises me that someone who says that they love birds would go out and shoot a cat. In that case, what if people decided to go out and shoot some birds then? Some caregivers have had cats killed by dogs that roam and as painful and as horrible as that was for them, I can't think of one who called the AVA because to them, dogs and animals too and someone who cares for animals would not knowingly harm another animal.

Unfortunately another case of abuse in Singapore. Thanks Vegancat for sharing.

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Cat returned

Remember this cat? It came home safely. It seems when the cat went missing, the mother of the girl involved called Rebecca - so they definitely knew that the cat was at risk. The girl has written back to say that they will try their best to keep their cat in. I wrote back to say that if she needed advice on how to fence up the windows and doors to let us know. She hasn't written back yet but I hope she will. If not, it's only a matter of time before the cat is caught for real.

It does puzzle me. If you know your cat is in danger, why would you let it out and then get really worried when it doesn't come back?

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Food & Bag of Water


Food & Bag of Water
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

We saw this bag of bottled water and food on a paper near some very contented looking cats, who were grooming themselves after a nice lunch. Though we looked around, we did not find the caregiver, so I left my card and a note asking him to call.

The caregiver called this morning. He and his wife care for the cats there . They are all sterilised and the water is for him to wash up any additional food or mess. He was in a nearby block feeding those cats and had come back to clear up when he saw my note. He mentioned that he saw some brown stains that he thinks were left by shoes scuffling the cement, but he washed it too in case someone should complain.

He mentioned he HAD been in touch with the TC but that there was a new officer. There were signs up saying not to feed 'stray animals' and I suggested he get in touch with the new officer to bring those up and in case the man complains to the TC.

The caregiver said that he suspects the complainant is a man who came up to yell at him a while ago to stop feeding. He also said he'd be happy to meet him. He has seen two cats that do sit on the cars for warmth but he makes it a point to drive them off when he sees them.

SPCA has been in touch with the complainant again to offer more solutions.

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Friendly cat


Friendly cat
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Yesterday I was speaking with Deirdre of the SPCA. They had gotten a complaint from someone complaining about cats scratching his car.

Unfortunately I didn't know anyone in the area, but I was out for dinner and was giving someone a ride home and the person mentioned that they were living in the same area.

Otterman who was with me as well, got dragged around uncomplainingly, as we wandered the estate close to midnight. We bumped into a nice couple who were a bit wary that we were there and when they found out why were very helpful. The man told us that he did not use to like cats but had become very fond of them through the course of meeting someone with cats.

We found all the cats sterilised and they looked like they had just been fed. There was a small one and they seemed very content. It was a quiet estate as well. I did not see the car in the carpark though one of the possible cars was parked in a carpark just behind.

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Complain, complain

I just got an email from someone complaining about the cats forwarded by the town council and I must say that besides being a repeat complaint apparently, it does bring to mind the fact that people who complain about cats often complain about a whole host of other things.

Besides, complaining about urine in the lift, another issue according to the complainant is that cats have defecated upstairs outside his flat and that he has cleaned it up at least twice. He also complained that the cats are urinating and there is a stench and that there is food all over the place left behind by irresponsible feeders. These are obviously valid complaints but he goes on to add that there are cats loitering around in his block and in other blocks. He says that his wife is frightened of cats and that they have asthma.

Then he goes on to complain about the birds that fly into his kitchen and how he thinks it is due to the town council not trimming the tree outside. He says that this makes it an ideal height for the birds to fly in. He then says that he asked for the tree to be trimmed but so far nothing has been done and as a result he has to cook with the windows closed and he is using cylinder gas that might then leak and kill his family.

Trees obviously really upset this man because apparently there is yet another tree near his son's window. This pesky tree is apparently growing quite fast and it almost blocks the view. He asks what would happen if a bee hive or unwanted animals climb into the room when the window is open. As a result, Junior is now apparently afraid to sleep in the room (because of potential scary unwanted animals presumably) and he has to close this window as well. He wants to know why this particular tree is not being trimmed.

While I understand some are valid complaints (the people and cat urination for example - and it also makes me wonder if the cats are possibly being blamed for people urinating), at the same time, it seems that there are a bunch of other pretty strange complaints. It seems that he has written to the town council several times according to him (and one of the times I requested more details as we were given none, and we did not receive them) and now he has written to someone else to complain about the town council not responding to his complaints. This person, who I am guessing may be an RC member, is now asking that the case be dealt with ASAP.

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

Removing black cats

I was speaking with a caregiver who is having some problems in the area. There is a persistent complainant who apparently asked that all the black cats be removed. She said that he didn't seem to like animals and didn't seem to have any issue with the fact that they would be killed.

One of the other caregivers working with her suggested that they offer to remove the black cats in the area to appease the complainant. We spoke about this, and she shared some of the same concerns I did.

First of all, this is clearly a ridiculous complaint. Say I think that people of XXX race shouldn't be living next to me. Would the TC agree and move them out? A black cat is a cat - it didn't ask to be born black, and it certainly isn't any more lucky or unlucky than any other cat (and incidentally they are considered to be LUCKY in some countries).

Secondly, there is no guarantee that the complainant will stop complaining - and what happens if the new cats that move in are also black? Will it be an endless parade of the removal of black cats? And what happens if the complaint then becomes ginger cats or ALL cats?

I understand that since they have had no other complaints in their area (and they have been managing the cats a long time) that they hope this will resolve the problem. They are also hopeful that the TC will stop trapping cats in their area (which the TC has been doing) if they remove these black cats, and which clearly is very worrying for the caregivers. I know they are trying to protect the rest of the cats. However a complainant may not be easily appeased - especially one who seems to have no rational basis for complaint. The town council that gives in as well is likely to find the complaints may no longer remain limited to complaints about cats.

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Scarecrow & trapping

I went down to drop off the Scarecrow this afternoon. The man came out and tried to put it in, but then realised it had no battery. To be fair, I did forget to bring one as most people so far have bought their own. He tried with a battery at his home, but it didn't seem to be working, and he seemed a bit reluctant. His wife came out to join us and I heard him mention that they hardly have any use for the battery and I wasn't sure if he wanted to buy one if not, so I offered to go out and get one for him in case they changed their minds.

I came back and as he tried it, I spoke with his wife. She asked why we were doing this and why not just use a cat trap. I explained that the cat would be trapped and killed. She said then the cat had to be killed. I said that it was basically ineffective. I explained also the vacuum effect and the different kinds of repellents that could be used. She asked if I was from the AVA and was a cat lover. I explained that I loved all animals but that this was also the most effective way of keeping the population down.

The woman said the problem was with the neighbour's cats that came over. She said most of the community cats did not actually come into the yard. She said sometimes the neighbour's cats fight with community cats outside her home and it is noisy. I said that the cats are sterilised, and she also knew about the ear tipping. I told her that we work with the community cats to ensure that people and cats can live together. She remarked that she didn't have an issue if the community cats were killed either.

I told her that the best solution is TNRM and told her how many cats were killed a year. She asked me if AVA didn't put them in the shelter and feed them until they could not be kept. I told her this was not the case and that they were always killed unless they were claimed. I told her that sterilisation keeps the population down. She said that she had actually noticed this in the estate, which is incidentally Jolanda's old estate when she lived here. She said that after Jolanda started sterilising the cats, she had seen a decrease in the number of community cats. She said her main issue was with the neighbour's cats.

I just hope the Scarecrow will keep any cat out of the yard!

I also popped by the neighbour next door and showed her the Scarecrow. I asked her if she was sure she didn't want to borrow it. She said that it was fine. I told her to please call me if she had a problem and that she could also see the Scarecrow in action in her neighbours' home.

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Waiting for feeder


Waiting for feeder
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This cat was waiting for her feeder and I stopped by to look for the feeder I spoke with yesterday but she wasn't there.

I dropped by with the Scarecrow and will write about that in a bit.

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Thank yous

I'm preparing all the thank you notes to the vets for Spay Day along with a little token of our appreciation, which is a voucher from Breadtalk. Some of the vets were very kind and offered us special deals on top of the subsidised rates - for example, for X number of cats, one sterilisation would be free. We appreciate their help.

We're also organising a thank you tea for the Spay Day volunteers who helped out and that's going to be next Sunday.

Interesting article from Tarsiergirl on a cat that goes wandering every day but waits to be picked up at the same spot! I somehow think if he had done this in Singapore, he would likely have been trapped!

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'Co-fostering' a cat

I got an email from someone who said that she lost her cat. When I checked the block number, I realised it was a block that both Rebecca and I had gone down to on separate occasions - a block with a sand tray in the corridor. There have been several complaints about this block and we know several people feed upstairs or let their cats wander. We had spoken with several of the residents, and left flyers under the doors of those who were not at home but who seemed to be looking after the cat.

The person who wrote in said she was, in her words, 'co-fostering' the cat with another family. This other family lives two floors below the person who wrote in. She said that she was worried that might have been a round up and that the cat cannot be kept in.

I wrote back and told her to check with the town council but again I told her that of course the cat can be kept in. She mentioned the cat scratched to be let out. A toddler may cry to be let out too - but we don't open the door and give a baby free rein. So why is it different with a cat?

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