Monday, December 31, 2007

Nap Time


Nap Time
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Today is my last day with CWS. I've really enjoyed my 6 years working with the Society and volunteering with the Society for a few years before that.

I have to say that these 6 years have been frustrating at times, often tiring, but never uninteresting. It's also been my honour and privilege to have gotten to know many amazing individuals who are caregivers, both in person, over emails and phone calls - and lastly through this blog. I've also had the honour to work with many wonderful volunteers who have helped the Society out. Of course on the flip side, I've also met some very strange, rude and downright nasty and malicious people, but fortunately they've been in the minority.

I've faced some of the greatest trials in my life while working at CWS, especially during SARS and this year's 'no stray cats' policy - but at the same time, as the old cliche goes, the human spirit really can triumph in adversity - and I've seen caregivers rise to the occasion.

The one thing that has made me happiest is seeing caregivers start to work together and with their Town councils and management committees. The way forward is to work together and not as adversaries. One of the things that has struck me this year is that when caregivers work together and are able to have a cogent, logical discussion with their town councils, that the town councils have responded in kind.

As I leave, I urge you to continue working with your town council to help protect the cats. And don't fall prey to the mindset that some do - that you can't make a difference. Every one of you has already made a difference. You are never too old, too uneducated, too shy or whatever it is that you think holds you back, to be able to make a difference. Some of the most amazing caregivers I know are elderly and have little or no education, but they have not let that stop them. The most important thing you can remember is that you DO count and that you are the voice for the cats.

Not only that - you are helping to shape a Singapore that we can all be proud of. One where every citizen works to make Singapore a better place, where everybody really does their part - and doesn't just complain to some authority to take care of whatever it is that makes them unhappy.

Remember we all live in the society we deserve - and if you don't speak up, then you cannot complain if someone else happens to speak up and say something that you don't agree with.

Lastly, I am just an email away. My new email address has been uploaded and you can click on it on my profile. At the same time, because several people have asked, and because I don't want to lose touch with all of you, I will be starting a new blog. Watch this space for the new URL in the next few days. I'll also be leaving this blog up.

Have a Happy New Year everyone - and to all the community cats.

Now I'm off for a rest :)

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Cats to be sterilised

I just spoke with a caregiver. She said that another caregiver knows a feeder in this area and called the town council. Apparently the TC said that they are willing to try and work with the caregivers. The caregiver I spoke with has decided to donate some money and is getting friends to chip in for a project in the area and to get the cats sterilised. They're starting right away but are trying to get the feeders in the area to step up and take some responsibility too.

I'm sure all the emails asking that the TC consider other means such as TNRM are helping too!

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Lianhe Zaobao (31-12-07)

Thanks to Kootoo Monster for sending this in. Thanks to the earlier complaint letter to the Lianhe Zaobao, the town council has moved in and taken cats away to be killed.

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Friday, December 28, 2007

Dumping

A caregiver wrote in after reading this post and mentioned that she had seen increased dumping in her area after posting some information on her blog. It always pains me - and never fails to amaze me - that people will think that because a caregiver is doing a GOOD job, that it's a good idea to throw more cats in their area. Why on earth would people think that caregivers want more cats? Their own idea is to reduce the number of cats so that they can live out their lives safely. If the number increases, those cats too are at risk. Or perhaps, more accurately these people who dump aren't thinking - or if they are, they are only thinking of themselves.

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Information

It seems that some people on the adoption board have been getting harassing calls (according to one foster) and someone else said that unfortunately people were able to tell the area that he was caring for the community cats in and started dumping there. It may be a good idea to be circumspect about what information you put on the board - a number is usually fine, and certainly an email address is good, but if you do send a link/website/etc be careful how much information you put out there because anyone can access a website. Unfortunately that's the beauty and the bad side of the Internet - the information is out there for everyone.

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Kittens

Someone called to say that they had found two new born kittens. The umbilical cords were still attached. Unfortunately he had been told the mother cat was dead. The man who found them then went to the public adoption board and found that someone had a nursing mother cat - and the foster offered to let try letting the kittens latch on to the mother cat that she had. Let's hope it works out and thank you to the foster who agreed. For these kittens, it really is a question of life and death.

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Thursday, December 27, 2007

Testing for FIV/FELV

I'm going through the bills sent in by people right now. Someone just sent in a bunch of bills andI realised that almost every cat had been sent for a SNAP test (to test for FIV and FELV). This obviously made the bills a lot higher than they would otherwise have been.

Here's the thing - what does testing really do? Assuming that you tested the cat, and it DOES turn out positive, what are your choices? Will you take it home? Put the cat down (which chances are, if this is routinely done, and not in response to specific symptoms, is a healthy cat)? Will you put it back in the colony? What if the test is a false positive? Are you going to re-test? What will you do in the meantime? What if the cat has had a FIV vaccine and is now obviously going to test positive?

Some people will not put the cat back in the colony - though of course you have no idea if the other cats are FIV positive or not, unless you test all of them. And here's the thing - tests are expensive. For the price of testing one cat, you could easily have sterilised another. If you really want to cut down infection rates for FIV, then sterilise more cats because it spreads mostly through biting, and that's through aggressive male cats, which generally indicates, these cats are likely to be unsterilised.

So here's the question to perhaps ask before you decide on that FIV test. Will knowing that the cat is FIV positive change the way you treat the cat in any way - ie are you going to treat the cat (and clearly if it is healthy, there isn't anything to treat right then)? Do you have a plan for after-care and what to do with your existing cats in the colony? If not, then consider whether your money might be better spent on sterilising the cats instead.

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The media

I was speaking with a caregiver today who called about a television crew coming to film some caregivers in the area. She asked if CWS would want to go down. I told her that frankly, it seemed that it was a programme about the work of the caregivers in the estate - and it should stay that way, since the focus ought to be about what they did.

I did ask her however why the crew was coming, and she mentioned that she wasn't sure and that another caregiver was arranging it. I was telling her that I was sure that the caregiver would weigh the pros and cons of appearing on television, but that it is important to have gone through the thought process.

Now I'm no media consultant, but there are some simple pointers to think about when deciding to do an interview/go to the press. For one thing, what do you hope to achieve by appearing on television/in the newspapers, etc? As with any publicity, there are pros and cons. You need to be very focused on your aims - is it to bring up a certain issue? If so, what is it? If you can convey it to the press in a short, snappy way, that is best obviously. If you can't explain it in a pithy manner, then the journalist or reporter will need to sieve through all the information that you have in order to understand what you are trying to say. And it may not be what you are trying to put across.

Also remember what you think is important may not be what the press decides to cover. Say you want to talk about TNRM and mention that there are a lot of complainants in your neighbourhood who are unreasonable in your opinion. The reporter may feel this is a more interesting story - and it could become a story on neighbourhood disputes, rather than on TNRM.

Next, remember that there is the possibility of a backlash. Some people will think what you do is wonderful - others may not. The worry is that among those others may be some who complain about the cats. Or a third group who decide that they might dump THEIR cats on you because you'll care for them.

Do speak with the journalist - you can ask as well to check your quotes to ensure that they are put in the right context before it goes to print. Journalists are usually very accommodating about this.

At the end of the day, be clear about what you want to say and WHY you want to say it.

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Mail

Heading out to pick up mail - for the last time probably. It is pretty sad to be doing many of these routine things that I've done for the last 6 years, knowing this will be the last time I do them.

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Voice message

Poor Wiggie was given a scolding over the phone. She checked the voice message system and there were no messages in the morning, but due to some glitch, when she called again, she got a message, saying that someone needed help to rescue a cat. She did not leave a name or location. The woman eventually called the SPCA who went down.

Wiggie called her back and explained that this isn't what CWS does - and that the catsnip number is for booking sterilisation appointments. The woman scolded her and said that there was no point in having CWS and that we were the only Cat Welfare Society in the phone book. She asked for Wiggie's name, then hung up on her.

CWS as regular blog readers know, is NOT a rescue organisation. We focus on sterilisation and management. We do not do rescue work, and our focus is more on advocacy in working with the TCs/management corporations and caregivers. Also, the voice message system is only to book sterilisation slots and not for urgent matters. We used to have a message that said that but for some reason, the message has disappeared (Wiggie is working on that).

Here's a bit of trivia for you - when CWS first started, the founders wanted to call it the Cat Project to have more of an emphasis on sterilisation. Unfortunately at the time, the Registry of Societies did not allow Societies without the word "Society" in the name. So on the spot, our then-President Jean came up with Cat Welfare Society - no one has actually liked the name, including (especially!) Jean.

So please don't leave urgent messages on the voice message system - email info@catwelfare.org if there is anything urgent - and sorry Wiggie. You didn't deserve to get yelled at, or hung up on!

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Lianhe Zaobao (27-12-07)

Thanks to Kootoo Monster for sending in this link in response to the letter to Lianhe Zaobao three days ago.

In a nutshell, the person writes that while he or she believes that caterwauling can be very annoying, the best solution is sterilisation. The writer also says that there used to be a programme that allowed for cats to be sterilised for free under the AVA and asks that the AVA bring this scheme back. The writer adds that it would help many people who do not have the financial ability to pay for the sterilisations.

Kootoo Monster also added that the editor weighed in on this too - and this translation is from Kootoo. Thanks Kootoo Monster!

"The issue of strays and feeding of stray cats has been discussed many times on Zao Bao forum. We hope that the discussions do not merely repeat what has been said before, but to raise the awareness of the issue so as to allow readers to have a deeper understanding and to eventually establish a consensus."

I have to say that more people are writing in response to letters in the Chinese media too now and I'm very glad to see it!

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Managing cats

I was speaking to someone who had called a while ago. Her parents had been feeding cats but were adamant against getting them sterilised. She called again today to say that her father has been diagnosed with dementia. She said that she feels that something has to be done before the number of cats increases dramatically and she is absolutely right.

Unfortunately with people growing older, sometimes people fail to (or are unable to) think of what will happen to their cats if something should happen to them till its too late. Of course this may be something that can happen to any of us - no matter how old (or young we are). At least, if they are sterilised however, the number does not keep growing - someone might well be happy to have 15 cats and more being born, but the next person taking them on may well not be. A manageable number of cats is definitely easier to plan for as well.

The woman I spoke to said her mother may well feel she cannot cope with the cats and may ask for them to be removed - so it's a good thing to start thinking of what options there are as soon as possible.

I suggested she try and convince her mother that if the cats are sterilised, that the number is still pretty manageable. If her father gets worse, and her mother is not in the best of health, there is going to be a real issue of how to manage all the cats. She will speak with her brother and get back to me.

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Feeder threatening to poison cat

I knew all the good Christmas cheer was too good to last. A caregiver emailed yesterday to say that they were having problems in her area with a woman who is threatening to poison one of her cats. Here's the interesting thing - the woman is herself a feeder!

A new cat moved into the territory a while ago and they have been having some problems trapping it, though they have tried and used a cat trap. Unfortunately this cat is quite aggressive and bit one or two of the woman's cats.

The woman approached another feeder in the group and said the cat had better be sterilised or removed a month and a half ago. The group had no luck and apparently it happened again on Christmas Eve, whereupon the woman came and banged on the caregiver's door.

The caregiver asked that I try and speak with her as the woman then claimed she was going to poison the cat. She had repeated this threat to at least two feeders.

I spoke to the feeder this morning. I told her I understood she was frustrated and I was sure that she did not mean what she said about doing anything to the cat, but she insisted that she would take action against the cat if nothing was done. She kept insisting that the cat has to be removed or sterilised. She insisted the rest of the people are not co-operating.

I told her if that was the case, then why did SHE not do something? I told her that she could help to trap the cat. First she said that she was not the feeder. I told her that she could always use the cat trap. Then she said that she was under stress at home and could not bring the cat home. I told her it was always possible to bring the cat in to some vets the night before.

She started to tell me how when everyone else was sleeping, she was up caring for the cats, but I cut her off and told her that the main issue here seems to be an unsterilised male. Why not work together and not against each other. She insisted that the other caregivers and feeders did not want to call her. She also criticised their trapping methods.

I told her that in addition to killing a cat, the poison could very well spread in the colony and kill HER own cats. I told her for example, if the cat she was trying to poison threw up the poisoned food (which is quite possible) and another cat ingested it, then the other cats - 'her' cats - could be killed too. She said she could not think that far. She kept insisting it was a last resort - and I told her it was not. There were plenty of other options, like helping to get the cat trapped and sterilised.

I asked her why she, someone who supposedly cared for the cats, would not only kill a cat, but kill cats that she herself was supposed to be feeding? I asked her why she would put her own cats at risk like that. She then said she could not talk to me anymore, and hung up.

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Musashi's Xmas song

What's Christmas without strange Christmas songs? It's been a slow day (not that I'm complaining) - bear with me :)

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Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Merry Christmas!


Merry Christmas!
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Merry Christmas - and goodwill to all (and that includes cats! :))!

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Monday, December 24, 2007

Letter in Lianhe Zaobao

Thanks to Kootoo Monster for sending this in. This writer is basically complaining that since the writer moved into his or her flat in May, the number of cats has increased. The writer complains that the noise is bad at night, the cats are unsterilised, and repeats the common misconception - if the cats are cared for by people, why would they leave? He or she also asks what laws are to protect people especially since he or she has spent thousands on his or her flat. He or she says that there are laws to protect animals but nothing to help people like the writer, who suffer sleepless nights. That's my bad translation - please feel free to improve it or correct any mistakes I made :)

The point is that the cats will always be there - the question is how to manage them properly. Plus I never understand the point of mentioning that you've spent a lot of money to buy your flat - sure, you do spend money to buy your flat, and of course you hope to be able to enjoy the quiet environment. However so what if you paid thousands of dollars? There are other factors at work that affect where you live - for example, construction noise (which is happening where I live at the moment), traffic, noisy neighbours. Does the fact that I paid money to live here give me the right to tell the contractors that they cannot make noise? Certainly, there are limits to how much construction noise can be generated - and that is the way it should be. If my neighbours make a lot of noise, can I have them removed? However, when it comes to cats, if they caterwaul, I can call the town council and have them hauled away - which doesn't solve the problems when the new cats come in.

I understand that caterwauling and fighting at night can be noisy and disturbing - but removing the cats is not helpful. It also doesn't solve the problem. Clearly sterilisation and management would be a better option. Unfortunately I do not know whom the feeders in this area are.

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Prowling cats keep rodents on the run

You know how the regulations are about cats in eating places - they apparently have something similar in New York City. However, the cats have an important function - keeping the rats out, which a lot of shop owners think are much worse (seriously, would you rather have rats running around or cats in the shop?).

Thank you to Mezzo for sending in this link.

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Friday, December 21, 2007

Cheques

Just back from the post office - a word to the wise, if you can stay away from Orchard Road and town unless you really cannot help it. It's chaotic out there!

Also, reimbursements will be held up this week as the new chequebook hasn't arrived. Sorry!

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Lawsuit against LA County's Department of Animal Care and Control

Interesting case - some people, including the No Kill Advocacy Centre, are filing a lawsuit against the Los Angeles County's Department of Animal Care and Control. They allege that the Department of Animal Care and Control has not treated the animals under their care appropriately. For the article, click here.

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Manny

Here's foster cat Manny. As you can see, he has a funny habit of suckling at his favourite toy. He is also very affectionate. Manny is looking for a loving adoptive home if anyone would like to take him.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Cat on the leash


Cat on the leash
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I was a bit busy earlier trying to talk to the officers about the case with the cat that was caught (the caregivers just called - they're going home with the cat now as there was some problem with the fax not getting through) so didn't get to write too much about our visit to cat on a leash.

Here he is at his new foster home. His foster parents have been taking very good care of him and he's grown very big and handsome - I almost didn't recognise him for a minute there. However he has also continued his bad habit of biting. And now with his being older and bigger, the bites are clearly also more painful. His poor foster parents have put up with quite a lot - as have the other cats sharing the room with him.

The adoption volunteer had thought perhaps he was intimidated by the others - but it seems that he's actually probably the most dominant cat there. His foster parents are trying to work him out of his biting - and if so, then he can be adopted into a new home.

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GM to the rescue

I had a phone call from a feeder about a sterilised cat being caught in one of the areas. Now it seems that they used to be in touch with the TC back when SCRS was on but they have not kept in touch with the officer since then. They could only tell me the officer was a long haired girl at the time.

I told them they needed to try and speak with their TC but that if they had problems, they could call me and I would speak to the officers.

Apparently the officers refused to give them the letter to have the cat released, asking whom owned the cat. Then they agreed to write the letter but refused to say the cat could be released without a microchip.

So the feeder called again and asked if I could speak with the TC. I called the Property Manager involved and he said that they wanted the cat released to the owner. I said that there were caregivers there willing to take responsibility and that they had said the TC could call anytime if they had a problem.

The Property Manager then said he could not promise that they would call all the time - he said for example, in Singapore there are four million people. He cannot call everyone when there are complaints because he's just too busy. I pointed out he was not looking after four million - just a portion of the estate.

I also pointed out that the caregivers would be able to help out with the complaints. I told him that they still needed to call the pest control for example - so it would still involve calling someone. He said that complaints came in at all hours, and they might get a complaint at say midnight. I told him that they would still need to call pest control when the cats were caught - and I doubt they would take calls at midnight. He then said the calls were logged and the calls made during business hours.

I asked him why this cat was caught - and he said he did not know as he was not the one who ordered the cat be caught. He said to check with his property officer whom he would speak with.

He also said that he could not go around a statutory requirement to have the cats micro chipped - I told him this was NOT a statutory requirement. The AVA micro chipped the cats so that they could not be returned to the town councils and it was entirely the TC's decision if they wanted them to be micro chipped or not.

I tried to call the property officer and was finally able to get hold of him. He said he was unable to ask for the cat to be released without a microchip. I told him I had just clarified with the AVA officer and he said this was not his understanding, so I said I'd speak with the AVA officer again and ask the latter to call him. The officer claimed that he too did not call in the pest control. I asked him who had the authority to call in pest control. He said his manager!

By this time, the two feeders were getting quite desperate. I asked them what the officers had told them - apparently according to one of the feeders, the Manager had told her the AVA had trapped the cats! The AVA however checked and said the pest control company sent in cats and said that they had trapped under the orders of the town council. The feeders said that they felt they were trying to push responsibility back and forth.

I tried to call both officers and could not get them. I left a message with the Property Manager.

A few minutes ago the General Manager called. He said that HE would write the letter and have the cats released immediately. He just wanted to know which caregivers were in the area and whom to call if there was an issue. He said he remembered having met me at a meeting before.

I know this TC has always been very helpful in general and that most caregivers there (whom the TC know of) work with their TCs when there are issues. I am very grateful for the GM's assistance and his quick response. I know the caregivers certainly are too!

The caregiver just spoke to me. They're waiting for the letter. She spoke with the GM and said he was a very nice man who told her to remember to take good care of the cat.

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Cat on the leash


Cat on the leash
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's the cat on the leash sitting in the foster's home.

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Cat on a string visit

Remember cat on the string? Adoption volunteer and I are going to visit him this afternoon.

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Cat Wedding

I was looking for an unusual news story that I saw in the newspapers yesterday about a couple who got married and had cats for their best man and maid of honour. However, when I googled, I came across this- arguably even more unusual. I hope that both cats are sterilised! Since Needy is supposed to remind people of responsible pet ownership, I hope that they are reminding people of the importance of sterilisation!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Why Singapore is clean


Why Singapore is clean
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

It certainly isn't because Singaporeans are innately clean but thanks to the hard work of the person sweeping in this photo. There was actually a lot more junk - saw this on the way out to picking up a cat trap, dropping by the bank and picking up photocopying.

And they say cats are dirty.

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Cat walked home

I just got an email from the community cat caregiver who lost her cat. Apparently she put the cat (a favourite of hers) with a friend while she was away for a few days as she was worried the cat might get lost. The cat has been to this friend's home before, recuperating there from an injury for a month earlier this year.

However this time, the cat pried open a window and escaped. The caregiver came back, put up advertisements everywhere and checked with whomever she could think of.

This morning she went to feed her usual community cats and there he was in his usual spot. The cat had walked from the west of Singapore right into central Singapore. This isn't the first story I've heard of cats covering pretty amazing distances - and not even the first one in Singapore. I read somewhere once that cats are able to tell direction from the angle of the sun. Considering it's been raining so much, who knows how this cat got home but it's amazing he did!

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Of Found cats and Cameras

We've had three people write in recently to say that their cats had returned - in the last week actually. Some of these cats had been missing for weeks. I cannot imagine a nicer Christmas present than to have your lost cat home.

Someone just wrote in to say that her lost cat had walked home. She says it basically walked back from one end of the island to the other so am trying to find out how she knew where the cat had turned up - she said the paws also looked quite blistered from all the walking.

It WOULD be nice to see what the cats see on their day to day routine - and it would certainly help if they were lost or trapped. Apparently someone came up with the idea of a doggy camera from the original Japanese invention - they're now asking for cat submissions. The camera can either snap in one continuous shot or take shots at pre-determined intervals apparently. I'm pretty sure a camera wouldn't see very long on a cat though - and people might actively try and steal them. If someone could figure out a way to transfer the images direct to a PC though then it could also work as a measure against abuse and even abandonment. Thanks Lyanne for the link!

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The cat has been there a long time

I spoke to a woman this morning who said that a cat had been caught. The feeder there apparently called the town council, and they told her that they wanted a letter from the FEEDER as to what she wanted to do with the cat.

In the middle of the conversation, it turned out the cat was NOT sterilised or at least not ear tipped. I asked the woman what had happened and she said according to the feeder, the cat was a home pet and may have been abandoned. The woman said the cat had been there for so long it should not have been caught. She said the feeder said according to the behaviour of the cat, it must have been sterilised. She said they would take it to be sterilised if the TC and AVA released it.

I asked if anyone had taken the cat to the vet to check - she said she wasn't sure, she would need to ask the feeder.

I asked if she had spoken with the TC prior to this and the woman who called said that there hadn't been a need to do so.

First of all, it is always better to speak with the TC prior to a problem popping up then after. That way they know and can call you if there is a problem.

Secondly, the argument that the cat has been there a long time isn't a very good one - if it's been there a long time, the TC is going to ask why during this period it was never sterilised? Guessing as to whether it has been sterilised is not very useful either - nor can any of them say with certainty if they think it has been sterilised.

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Monday, December 17, 2007

Audience


Audience
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's a shot of some the people who came for the workshop on Saturday. Thank you to everyone who came, to the caregivers and well wishers who brought food and cards and little gifts, and to Rebecca and the adoption volunteer for speaking. Thanks also to Jacin, Nan Nan, Sophia and Michelle for coming down to to help.

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Collapsible trap


Collapsible trap
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Someone contacted the Society to say that they had brought in collapsible cat traps and came down to show it to the committee at the workshop. Michelle felt that it might be good to show it to the caregivers present so that they could take a look so some caregivers had a look at it.

Please note though that this is not meant to be an endorsement of any kind as we do not endorse any commercial products or companies. The trap did look a little flimsy to me, though we were told that it will not collapse on the cat during the course of trapping. It was also quite costly.

There are also some links online that have the cat traps for sale - it is cheaper online though the shipping of course may be a bit more costly.

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Animal Hoarding

This is a very interesting article about animal hoarding. Thank you yskat for sending it in. There are some characteristics of hoarders, as well as how people start hoarding in the first place.

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Hand over the money, but you can't see the cat

I just received a call from someone who was quite worried as she had heard about some people offering a service to take in cats for a fee but that afterwards, the person giving up the cats was not allowed to see the cats again. She suspected that the people offering this might be up to no good.

I asked if she knew anyone personally who might have availed themselves of this so that we could speak with them, but unfortunately she did not. She mentioned that some people were probably quite relieved to pay a sum and have the cats boarded, and after that probably did not make an attempt to find out what had happened to the cats.

If someone IS taking the cats and is doing nefarious to them, they really ought to be ashamed of themselves because they're preying on both people AND cats. It may also be illegal - or at the very least, a breach of contract, since the person is giving the cat up in the expectation that it will be well looked after. However, the only people who can really stop it are the people who are parting with cash and giving the cats up int he first place.

There's a saying that my grandmother used to say - that there aren't big ducks jumping across the road for the taking. In other words, if something looks too good to be true - it probably is. If someone is offering to take a cat off your hands for a sum, do the sums work out? If you're giving even say $10000, that's $1000 a year for a 10 year life span - is that going to cover food, litter and most importantly medication? If the cat is sick, and the bill is in excess of that, what happens to the cat?

In addition, if someone tells you that you cannot see the cat again you should immediately be suspicious. If they are taking care of the cat, and you are paying for it to be looked after properly, then clearly you want to know that the cat is fine. Any reasonable person would let you come and see the cat - most would in fact welcome it because it shows you care for the cat. On their part, they know that they're doing a good job and aren't worried to let you see the cat (if the person is a particularly difficult client of course, it may be slightly different - and in which case I think most boarding providers would probably just ask the client to take the cat home). I certainly would not be comfortable handing a cat over with no expectation of ever being allowed to see it again if I am paying for it and have been reasonable in my dealings all along.

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Trapping demonstration


Trapping demonstration
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's Rebecca demonstrating how to use a cat trap. She gave a very good demonstration on using a carrier and a trap on Saturday.

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Food!


Food!
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

What a spread! It turns out one of the caregivers is a caterer and another caregiver sponsored all the food here! There was a lot of food to tuck in.

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Workshop


Workshop
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

The last workshop of the year, and my last workshop for CWS. It was also the last workshop for Jacin and the adoption volunteer. Thanks to everyone who came - it was probably our most well attended workshop!

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Thank you

Just a quick note to thank everyone who came for the workshop today - those who came for the workshop itself, and those who came to say goodbye. Thank you for coming down, for bringing food, cards, gifts but most importantly for bringing yourselves - it really touched me that so many people came. I wish I had more time to speak with all of you. Thank you again.

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Workshop tomorrow

Just finished all the preparations for tomorrow's workshop. Again it's at the Bras Brasah National Library at Victoria Street at the Imagination Room at 2 pm. To all of you coming - see you tomorrow. Rebecca will be doing a demonstration on trapping, and the adoption volunteer will speak on some dos and don'ts for adoption. I'll be speaking about Cat Management and Mediation.

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Not abandonment because its not my cat

I just spoke with someone whose friend asked me to call her. Apparently she told her friend that she wanted to get rid of her cat because she was worried it would jump out the window. Her friend and other friends offered to fence the windows up for the cats but the woman refused.

I called the woman up and she said that she did not want the cat because she has a dog. She said the dog has diabetes so she cannot cope. She said she will put the cat back out. She has had the cat since 2003.

I told her that the cat cannot survive on the streets. She kept telling me it was sterilised and she would put it at a food centre. I told her that the cat has lost its instincts AND that the territory has been taken over. Cats left at food centres are as well subject to rounds up because they're not 'allowed' near food areas by regulations.

I asked her how she was finding it difficult to cope. She said the cat is tied up because she is worried it may scratch on her furniture. She also said that she lets it out at night but sometimes it dirties its basket. I told her that putting some double sided tape on the furniture for example can stop the cat scratching, but she said it was too 'troublesome'.

She also told me that she had a responsibility to the dog because the dog has been with her since it was a month old. The cat however was picked up when it was 2 years old so she can put it back.

I asked her if she would say the same thing if it was say a child - would you pick up a two year old or even a 6 or 7 year old and decide you can toss it back after a few years?

I told her abandonment was illegal as a last ditch. She insisted that this was NOT abandonment because this was never her cat - she only took it in because of pity and she started to feed it. I told her she could have continued to feed it without taking it home. I also told her she made the choice to take the cat in. She then cut short the conversation.

By taking a cat that is already ON the streets off the streets, keeping it at home, and then tossing it back, the woman is making it much, much harder. The cat will have lost its instincts AND its territory. The cat would have been so much better if the woman has not 'pitied' it.

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Mess


Mess
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Packing TNRM packets!

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Workshop preparation

Packing TNRM workshops packets today - looks like I may have to zip out and do more photocopying because so many people have indicated they are coming. Also it seems we may have a last minute TC/RC meeting tomorrow so want to be sure we have enough information for all.

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Mobile CSI unit

Here's an article about a Mobile Crime Scene Investigation unit that has just been launched in the United States - very interesting tests and equipment they have.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Cats released because caregiver knew what to do

One of the groups was facing problems with their town council - the town council had come in and trapped some of the sterilised cats in their area. They were at a loss of what to do and we had some email and phone discussions to talk about it. One of the caregivers called the officers today. Another caregiver had spoken with the officer yesterday but the officer was adamant that the cat would not be returned.

The caregiver today did several things right I think. First she called the officer up and asked why the officer had gone back on their agreement that the cats would not be trapped. She also went up the chain of command - when she got an answer that didn't make sense from her property officer, she went up to the property manager and then to the General Manager.

Secondly she was very calm but explained the benefits of a TNRM programme to the TC. She also said that there were several very upset caregivers who wanted to know what was happening and had gotten several of them to sign a letter which was being sent to the TC. She also copied the MP on the letter.

Thirdly, she stressed that she wanted to work with the town council but wanted to know why the TC was not working with them. She also wasn't afraid to call up the GM and ask for an explanation.

In an hour, she got a call back from the Deputy General Manager. Within two, she was told that she would be given a letter and that the cats would be released. The Deputy General Manager also agreed to meet with the caregivers, the officers and the RC members to see how the groups can work better in the future.

Why did this caregiver's approach work better than the other's? It's not that either of them is a 'worse' caregiver - but that this caregiver knew what she had to mention in order to get the town council to listen. She didn't bring up 'poor innocent cats' - she brought up the fact that the complaints would not be solved AND the wrong cats killed. She was calm, did not break down into tears (which a third caregiver did) and was able to therefore be an effective negotiator. She was also able to talk to the TC about the long term working relationship and not just releasing these three cats. In fact, afterwards, the TC asked if she could be the liasion in the future.

It doesn't mean that other people don't deserve to be heard if they're not the most coherent and logical - certainly every caregiver who wrote in made a difference. It's also good to let the TC know that there are people who care passionately what happens to the cats - but to effectively get the point across, it may take a caregiver who is able to be a bit more calm about it.

If the TC sees that you are logical, calm and reasonable, they are certainly going to be more inclined to work with you then say another person who is upset, belligerent and emotional.

The other thing that was really good to hear was how happy the caregiver sounded when she realised that she had managed to get the cats released through her efforts, and the help of the other caregivers.

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Sign


Sign
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Just met with some caregivers and the management of an area. Here was a sign I saw - it is a rather literal sign in a sense, no feeding of FISH. One of the caregivers and I were joking it's fine to feed other things then!

After being on the blink for a few days, my camera is also working again so am able to take photos :)

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Errands

Just been running errands (picking up photocopying for the workshop, getting drinks and going to the bank). Am heading out for a meeting now.

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Be Kind - Sterilise

I spoke to a woman who said that her husband recently passed away. He left behind however a few colonies of cats - all unsterilised. I asked the woman how many cats there were and she said she wasn't sure, but she estimated in the region of 12-20 cats.

I told her that it was difficult enough to find someone to start feeding someone else's colony - because everyone who is a caregiver has a colony of their own. In addition, these cats aren't sterilised which means that the caregiver is going to have to trap and send them to the vet, even if the money could be sponsored (as the woman cannot afford it). She mentioned that her husband had also taken in many cats because he felt sorry for them and out of kindness and now she cannot cope as well with the cats at home. Her relatives are pressurising her to get rid of the cats which she is resisting.

The thing about feeding is this - it takes away the temporary need. The cat is hungry today, it'll be hungry tomorrow, and obviously the day after. It's great that people want to help the cats - and feeding IS an important component of TNRM. If it's JUST feeding though, the cats are better fed, they're more likely to breed, and have their offspring survive AND these cats will reproduce more and more.

Sterilisation on the other hand ensures they don't breed anymore. They no longer have kittens, are less likely to get cancer, are healthier and are likely to live longer. If the man had sterilised the cats as well, a lot fewer cats would be going hungry today.

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What makes a good TNRM group

I was just speaking with a caregiver this morning. She mentioned that when there are problems in her area, often the town council will call her. There is a story going around that her cats are 'protected' and therefore they won't be caught - and the simple reason why is that she works with the TC.

Here's the thing - a lot of people wait till its too late to think about working with the management or the town council. Usually this happens after the cats have been caught, and then the most pressing consideration is to get the cats back. Of course I understand this - but if the cats are returned, then as sometimes happens, these feeders subside back into their normal routine and don't work out how to prevent the cat from being caught again.

It's great that you saved the cats - but it's more important to do prevention than rescue. It's certainly better to prevent the cat from being trapped, then to have them be trapped and then 'rescue' them. And the only way to do it is to work with the town councils.

Looking around at the different groups, I realise the difference between a good TNRM group and those that are not doing so well boils down to a few things. One, the group has to look out for each other and work together. In some estates there's a mentality that if it happens to someone else's cats, and not theirs, then it's not an issue that they should concern themselves with. That's until the complaints start hitting THEIR area.

In estates where the programme works well in contrast, it's because the group works together - they help each other out, welcome new members into the fold and are supportive. They can count on each other for advice, AND for support when they see the TC or MP.

Two, the group lives up to what they promise to do. If they promise the TC they will look into a problem, they'll make sure they do it. If the TC or MC sees that you are trustworthy, why would they NOT want to work with you?

Three, they're able to explain why they are doing TNRM and why it is important and are calm doing so. To be honest, when I read some of the emails sent in by caregivers wanting to meet the TCs, I'm not sure I would want to meet them either. They're not very convincing, they're very emotive, and they don't tell the TC why TNRM is useful.

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Catmasutra 4


Catmasutra 4
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Here's an exhibition you guys might find of interest. Paul and Mysh have contributed designs to both our t-shirts and Christmas cards. This is their latest, very popular Catmasutra exhibition and it starts today and runs till 23rd December at Utterly Art.

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Wednesday, December 12, 2007

AVA replies

We got a reply from AVA about a few things we enquired about.

First of all, they DID send out letters to the town councils to express MND and AVA's support for sterilisation. They felt that sterilisation and killing the cats were both necessary components of a community cat programme.

The AVA also encouraged the town councils to work with caregivers and mentioned that the AVA was prepared to give a sterilisation subsidy and whom to call for more information. This letter was apparently sent out to all the town councils in April!

I'm certainly delighted to hear that the AVA is willing to sponsor sterilisations, and perhaps even more importantly, to support sterilisation AND working with caregivers. They've asked the town council to approach them for more information on the programme and for further information on the subsidies. Now the ball is really in the town council's court. Caregivers can (and should) speak with their TCs about getting this programme on the road!

Secondly, the AVA felt that it would be a breach of confidentiality to give out the details of complainants in private estates whom borrow cat traps. What we asked was that if someone borrows a cat trap, that they sign a form saying that they are willing to speak with caregivers if there is anyone there so I'll write to clarify this.

Thirdly, they mentioned that they would be willing to consider handing out the brochure on alternatives to killing cats for people who borrow cat traps. However, they wanted CWS to have a brochure that mentions alternatives to trapping AND killing.

We're clearly not going to do that because we're trying to provide alternatives to having the cats killed. Clearly also if someone borrows a cat trap, they KNOW about the killing - plus it's not a solution to solving the nuisances, so we're going to write about that too.

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Presentation

I've been working on my presentation for this Saturday - now heading out to get some supplies for the workshop! A reminder - the workshop is this Saturday at 2 pm at the Bras Brasah National Library. Email us if you're attending so we can get a packet of information for you.

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Talking to your TC

A caregiver called me this morning. It seems that some of the cats were trapped in her area. She called the officer up who refused to give them a letter for the cat to be released.

She did ask why the officer had not called them when complaints were received - apparently this officer said that there were too many of them, and since the complainants had left no details, they could not be contacted!

It seems that during the course of the conversation, that almost all the officers that they had previously worked with (except their property officer) had left. As such, the people who had been briefed about TNRM, and who were agreeable to working with the caregivers were no longer there.

This is one of the dangers of agreeing to work with property officers and not bringing the matter up to a higher level in the TC. Officers change, get shifted around, and even to new TCs altogether. Some of them may continue to support TNRM in their new areas (and indeed some do) but it doesn't help your area.

It is therefore a good area to speak to someone who is a bit higher in rank - say the Senior Managers or the General Manager. They are less likely to move around. So should a new officer move in and start to trap - you can ask them to refer to the GM for example, who has agreed to support the programme.

It is also a good idea to keep in touch with your officer - try and have a working relationship with them. Call them up from time to time just to touch base and say hello and find out if there are any problems. Officers are people too - and if you manage to establish a good working relationship with them, they are more likely to work with you.

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Now watch the 'Translation' done by a You-tuber

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The two talking cats

Here's a funny video to cheer up a rainy mid-week morning from Youtube.

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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Willing to work together

I'm working on my presentation for Saturday. Usually I go through the TNRM packet and talk a bit about the different information - and I'll still do that, but this workshop I'll be focusing a bit more on Mediation and Management and why it is important to do both.

I was speaking with a complainant today. One of the neighbours apparently has pet cats and two caregivers have gone by twice to speak with the neighbour already. The cats are let out and defecate outside the complainant's flat. One of the things she said was that she was scared of cats, but that she did not want them harmed. Apparently some of her friends had advised her to throw things at the cats. Others told her that THEY relocated the cats themselves.

She said something interesting to me - she said it was very nice to see caregivers who were willing to do this. She also said that she always thought that people who cared for animals must be more compassionate as a general rule. While she wants the problem to be stopped, it seems that she's more than willing to work with the caregivers. One of the things that was striking about this complainant was that when her husband had first called me last week about this problem, was that he immediately gave me his name, unit number AND phone number.

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The luxury of time

I spoke to the feeder who is the usual liaison in this area. Apparently, she had not left yet (though I had been told differently by the other feeders) and this morning got into an altercation with the town council officer - not I believe, the first. I do remember one of the cleaning supervisors got really angry with her as well.

At any rate, she said the officer said that feeding would not be allowed - or that if there is food around, the cleaners are supposed to pick it up and throw it away.

The feeder called me and said that she wanted help and would see the MP. I told her that when I had spoken with the other feeders in the area they had said they were going to see their MP. I asked what had happened.

One of the feeders called me back and said that when she had said she was going to see the MP, she wanted to get more prepared first, and perhaps to attend the TNRM workshop. I told her that was one way of handling the situation - but sometimes there isn't the luxury of time. If you think there may be trapping carried out, then you don't have the option of waiting - if you wait too long, the cats may be trapped.

It is of course good to be as prepared as you can be, and get all the information at your fingertips, but there are times when you just have to do something, whether you are 100% prepared or not.

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" A Resident"

Someone sent a video into the town council, signing off as "A resident". The writer complained that there was food leftover, cats are dirtying the corridor, there are increasing numbers of cats and that once a kitten had been killed in his engine. He attached a video clip.

I turned it on, thinking that the evidence of the litter, etc would be on the video. Instead, the clip showed the carpark for 16 seconds, and during some of this time, the camera pans over part of the surrounding area. The person then zooms in and tada - there is ONE cat sitting on a car. No evidence of the dirtying, increasing cat population, or the other complaints there. In fact in the short video clip I didn't even see any other cats at all - and I presume the person would have taken them if there had been any. The person stood four carpark spaces and a grass patch away and just zoomed in on this one cat.

I've written to the TC to ask if they have noticed if this is a valid complaint. In fact from the video, it looked like a nice, clean carpark.

It also really is annoying that TCs continue to take complaints from "A resident". How do we know if they are really a resident? What if someone just walks by and decides to complain? I understand town councils are there to serve their residents but surely there must be some proof that you ARE a resident? Say I walked into a shop and demanded a refund for example. Shouldn't I be expected to show some proof that I actually BOUGHT the item in the shop?

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Removing Kittens

A woman just called me. Apparently two weeks ago, she went down and picked up some newborn kittens. The people in the area told her that the mother cat was around, and would be back in the afternoon and to leave the kittens be. However the woman said that the kittens might die without water before then (I'm not sure why she thought that) and so she picked them up and took them home. Two of the kittens have since died.

Now the woman has a trip planned and now she is going away. She wanted someone to take these kittens and help bottle feed them till she gets back. Unfortunately there are no available fosters at all, especially when the festive season is coming up.

So now the woman has decided she will go back and put the kittens back in the area. I told her that the mother is very likely to reject them because they have been gone for so long and have a strange scent on them. I told her that generally I always advice people to leave kittens alone.

She mentioned she often brings cats to the vet when they are sick and they die. She said perhaps these vets are not taking good care of the cats. I asked her what was wrong with the cats in the first place - she said she had no idea. For example, if someone has terminal cancer, you can't blame the doctor if they die.

She also mentioned that someone had complained about her to the HDB. She had marched down to the area office and complained and it seems the letter has been rescinded (according to her). She said she knew people with 50 cats in their flat and they had no problems. I said that it all hinged usually on complaints. She went to confront the neighbour. She said her cats were clean, there was no smell, they were nice cats, etc. I asked her if she had any idea why they were complaining then - it seems the complaint came in because the cat went on heat and was crying in the flat.

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Factsheet translated

A big thank you to Barffie who translated our latest factsheet "What you Need to Know when speaking with your Town Council or Management Committee" into Mandarin. She did a really quick job too! If anyone would like a copy, let us know and we would be happy to send it on to you. We'll also be including it in the TNRM packet this Saturday.

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No Bank Accounts

I just called someone who sent in a bunch of reimbursement forms and receipts but each reimbursement was for a different area. I called to double check if someone was caring for the cats and was doing management in these areas and to encourage her to consider doing so, if there was no one there.

She told me that she was actually sending in reimbursements for caregivers who did not have bank accounts. I have to say that since I joined CWS, I have been surprised by how many people do not have bank accounts and wanted to know how they could ask for reimbursements. Some mentioned the minimum amount to start an account was too high for them - it's amazing to me that they continue however to sterilise the cats and bring them into the vet, though they clearly aren't well to do. It's also very impressive that they are willing to do so despite their financial situation. Often people who claim they cannot afford to sterilise the cats are much better off then these caregivers who do.

We do not send out blank cheques obviously or cheques made out "cash" because if those get lost, then anyone can claim it. Fortunately, there are a number of people like this young lady who will claim the amount and reimburse it to the various caregivers.

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Anonymous Donor

I got the chequebook on Thursday evening so sent out a bunch of reimbursements on Saturday. I'm now doing up the rest of the cheques for last week. If you are claiming reimbursements, you may notice that there is a mention of how the amount is being sponsored by an Anonymous Donor. Someone who has requested to remain Anonymous donated a very generous sum of money to be used for medical costs and sterilisation of community cats so the money is being used for reimbursements. This will help the Society to stretch out our money more to help more cats and caregivers!

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Enticement

I was speaking to a woman who moved out of her rented house in Singapore. She lives in a neighbourhood with quite a number of expatriates. Unfortunately when some of them have moved, they have dumped some of the cats. Unfortunately it is also not limited to expatriates - a family of Singaporeans moved out while their home was renovated ten years ago and asked her to feed their cat. They returned but never came back for the cat.

Fortunately this woman loves her cats very much and took them with her when she left. She sent me some photos of them in her new home. However, she is returning to Singapore and in the meantime was a bit hesitant to remove the community cats in her area because there are several families, both locals and expatriates, who are very fond of them. One is a long time community cat in the area who is ten years old and much loved.

After speaking with her the other day though, we talked about a neighbour who has been trapping the cats. The woman decided to trap the community cats and send them to her home overseas because she is worried that they might get trapped. She said that she is very upset with the neighbour because she said that the neighbour cooks fish and leaves it out for the cats - and that is why the cats walk into the traps.

It does make you wonder - how much do these complainants entice the cats in by leaving nice smelling food in their traps?

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Audience


Audience
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This was just about the entire audience for the Alley Cat Allies video we screened - unfortunately when the video was over, they left too, so it was decided that there was no point having the talk.

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Pets Day Out


Pets Day Out
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is where I went on Saturday to give a talk.

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Friday, December 07, 2007

RC Talk

So it seems like this event is going ahead after all. Thanks to Tassie for writing about the venue - which was confirmed with me today (initially we were given two alternate venues). I'm glad the news did get out - we had hoped to let some caregivers know so they could attend but unfortunately it is a bit late now.

I have however come down with food poisoning or stomach flu so I hope that I'll be okay to speak tomorrow!

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Abuse

Someone called about an abuse case this afternoon. She said that a neighbour had seen another neighbour kick the cat down the steps. The cat subsequently died.

The person who called wanted to know how much it would cost to take the person to court. This is not legal advice and it's always best to consult a praticising lawyer, but as animal abuse is a criminal case, you won't need to pay anything as it isn't a civil suit.

I told her that the most important thing is to gather as much evidence as possible and file a police report. The next step which the police will evaluate is if they have enough evidence to pursue the matter. For example, a vet report would be very important- obviously the more witnesses to the act as well, the better, because chances are, the person will turn around and deny that they abused the cat.

She said her neighbour wanted to know if CWS can help and I explained that while we can always write to the police and ask what the status is if nothing is done, we cannot file the report. I also said that for example, the police in the past have not told us the exact status of the case citing confidentiality. I can see why - for example, a case happens to someone and everyone decides to call the police for information. Clearly they cannot go around and give out this information to all and sundry. They have told us that they will update the person who filed the report, and that person can then update whomever he or she wishes to tell.

The girl who called said that they were all going to file as a group but I told her that as not everyone in that group had witnessed the abuse, only direct eyewitnesses would probably give testimony. By that same token, even if everyone goes down for moral support, the police will probably only update the witness.

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Article on Baltimore Sun

Here's an article sent in by Lyanne about TNR in Baltimore and the legislation being passed there to make it easier for people there to carry out TNR.

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Dead Lizard


Dead Lizard
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Half of this lizard was chomped on but as you can see, it wasn't all eaten - in addition, it WASN'T because Pinball was hungry. He is free form fed and has food in his bowl at all times.

I'm sure later on today I'll get the rest of the lizard regurgitated - talk about the gift that keeps on giving.

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Pinball


Pinball
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This is Pinball - some of you long time blog readers may recognise him from earlier posts. Pinball lives in my study where I work which is why he is usually the cat featured in photos - he is also a much nosier cat than his friend who shares the room with him and far more aggressive.

Now Pinball is NOT pregnant -though he may look fat, Pinball is a boy. Pinball is also, as you might be able to tell, not a starving cat, though he'll often tell me different when he wants food in his bowl.

By all accounts therefore, some people, like this RC member, will tell you that cats which are fed like Pinball, will have lost all their instincts. Being well fed, they will no longer hunt. See post above to see what 'present' Pinball left for me this morning.

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Feeding

Someone called up this morning to speak about a woman she told us was banned from feeding in a certain area. Coincidentally I have met and spoken to this woman with the young woman running the TNRM programme there. She had called me a while ago and said she was told to stop feeding. However the young woman and I spoke with the management of the area at a meeting- it was agreed that if she fed responsibly and in a better area, there would not be an issue.

We had gone down to discuss the issue with the management and they agreed that if the feeding could be moved to an area away from the food areas it would be fine.

However since then apparently the feeder has said it would be difficult to relocate them. She wants to move them in carriers to the new feeding spot. This is not going to work because the cats are just going to run back. We suggested feeding them and moving them slowly to the new location and making the new environment more attractive to the cats. She also complained to the woman she saw yesterday that after eating, when she walks back to the original spot, the cats will follow her. I suggested to the woman that she can advise her to go out a different entrance so the cats will not go back to the original location. It will be a slow process but it IS necessary - and it's certainly a better idea than saying she wants to board them but that she has no money.

On the other hand, I understand she continues to feed on the footpath at 6:30 pm. That's probably the worst possible time to feed the cats.

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Thursday, December 06, 2007

It's a party

Besides the usual TNRM workship next weekend, one of the caregivers called me up to say that she was going to attend and bring some food along. She said that as I was leaving, she was inviting other caregivers to say goodbye. She also said that they would take care of all the food and wanted to know how many people they ought to cater for.

I told her there was no need and it would be good to just see all of them - so it looks like next weekend's workshop (which I am packing TNRM packets for now) is going to be a mini-going away party - and for Nan Nan, Rebecca, and the adoption volunteer who will all be there. Rebecca will do her trapping demonstration and the adoption volunteer will share some tips on adopting a cat out.

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School cats

I got a call today from someone who said that a mother cat had given birth to a bunch of kittens near the statue of the Buddha in their school. The person who called had called a temple and asked them to remove the cats the last time, which they did. However the temple encouraged him to speak with me today and to discuss the possibility of a TNRM programme.

The person I spoke to was concerned about whether the cats might cause a fright to the teachers who are frightened of the cats and the students with asthma. I pointed out that there will always be cats there - the important thing is managing them. At this point, they are unmanaged and more cats will come in. That's far worse than sterilising and managing the cats.

He kept saying that they could not allow cats in their school compound but I explained several times that one cannot stop cats from coming in. He mentioned being vigilant and preventing the cats from coming in during the day but that they can't do anything at night. He also mentioned that no one was feeding them. I pointed out that the cats have taken this area over as their territory. Therefore, they would definitely have some cats there. The question is how best to manage the issue - and that is by sterilising and managing the cats. I also told him that in addition to controlling the population, it can be a very good way to teach the students compassion and responsibility.

He was also worried about whom would handle this if they signed up. I explained that while it's called a TNRM programme, it's up to each individual area to tailor it for themselves and see what works - there's no specific guidelines they must follow.

As they were a Buddhist school, he did seem reluctant to have them sent away to be killed, so I hope that will be one more factor that may influence them to try the programme.

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Cat under car


Cat under car
Originally uploaded by dawnkua.

When I dropped the cat trap off just now, I saw this cat sitting under a car nearby.

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Errands

Out to drop off a cat trap and some Singapore Cat books to someone who is leaving Singapore this weekend and wants to bring them with her as Christmas presents!

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Scarecrow loan

One of the AVA officers called this morning - apparently they spoke with the man trapping the cats in this estate and some altercation is going on in the area. The officer advised that he might want to try the Scarecrow because it seemed that feedback suggested it was quite effective. The man apparently said that I had been down to loan him the Scarecrow and he had tried it once and it was ineffective. He said that it sprayed the cars that went by. He also said it was too sensitive.

I explained to the officer that (1) the Scarecrow has to be used over a period of time and that (2) I had already suggested that they change the radius which the Scarecrow covers so that it does not shoot at the cars outside. However, his wife told me that the cats were in the same area and they wanted it to spray at the cats. I explained that the Scarecrow cannot spray at the cats but not the cars.

The officer had said he would check with me and told the man that he would ask me to call him back. The officer asked if I wanted to speak with the man on the phone and I told him that the man had refused to give me his phone number. He does however have MY number.

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Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Protecting the cat before it is caught

I just spoke with a woman who said that she needed a trap for a friend who wanted to sterilise some cats. Apparently the cats were being fed and presumably not sterilised. Quite a few of them were trapped though there are some still not done.

We made arrangements for the trap to be dropped off but I asked the woman if her friend had tried to approach any of the complainants. She said that in her experience, there was no point talking to people who complain.

I told her that on the contrary, most people want to solve the problem - not kill the cat. I spoke with a complainant this morning who told me he wanted the cat removed. However when I asked him for more details, he said that the cat was urinating outside his flat - he knew exactly which cat it was and he wanted the urination to stop. He said that he was fine with the cat remaining as long as the urination stopped.

Furthermore, this woman feeds mostly in private housing estates which she does not live in. One of the things I often hear from people in these estates is why these feeders come into their estates and feed other cats - they wonder why they don't care for cats in their own estates. I think one of the things underlying it is often the thought that they don't want the mess and inconvenience in their own area, so they do it in some other area. In addition, when the cats are fed and not sterilised, the number grows. To residents, the feeders are the source of the problem - if only there were no feeders, they think, there would be no cats because the cat population often becomes more obvious if the cats are fed. Obviously this is not the case - but did anyone tell the complainants that?

The woman said that she did not have time to do management. She said that she was already feeding and caring for so many cats. I told her that some people sterilise - they realise that this may not save those cats but it cuts the population down, and to them, that helps already because less cats will suffer overall. That's perfectly valid because obviously everyone has limited resources and they do what they can. However as I told this woman, sterilising the cats alone will not save them because there are complaints and these need to be dealt with. If not, the cats are still going to get caught.

She said that she cares for these cats and goes down and pays to have them taken out of the AVA when they are caught. I told her that in that case, management IS essential. Whatever it is, if the cat is caught, the cat cannot be released back on the streets - which means it has to go into a home or boarding somewhere. How long can this be kept up and is this really what is best for the cat? It is stressed and scared during the whole process - if the cat can be spared the ordeal, I would say that would be a very good thing. Instead of 'rescuing' the cat after, why not preempt and try and protect the cat before it is caught?

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Stranger

This case is getting stranger. It seems that the woman with the cats has called several different people and said several different things. The latest status though seems to be that she will have them sterilised.

It also seems that the AVA had gone by to advise her last week. The woman kept insisting that the AVA had told her to keep the cats in several years ago. I am not sure if this was indeed the case, but she agreed that I had been by and spoken with her on the phone and told her that she had to stop taking cats in.

The caregiver removed several cats and says that they are in bad condition. According to the caregiver, the woman told her that she has found a place to put the cats but the caregiver wants to see where this area is before returning any of the cats to the woman.

The woman kept saying that the caregiver was trying to get her into trouble and she was worried that the SPCA might come down and check on her if the caregiver reported her. I told her that if as she says, the cats are all in good condition, then what does she have to worry about? I told her that she should only worry if she thinks that they are badly off, which she insists they are not.

The caregiver is now also talking about going to the press. I said that has to be considered carefully. For one thing, the cats might really all be removed if there is a lot of negative publicity - and she has to consider where they will go if that's the case. It might be better (if possible) to work with the woman and try and improve the situation. It might also play into the scenario of the crazy cat people who cram too many cats into a small space.

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Changing her mind?

This woman called the AVA to say that she had lost my number and wanted to ask how to get in touch with me again.

I called her back and she says that she wants to get the cats sterilised. Apparently she said the caregiver had come by and taken some of the cats. She said she is worried that the caregiver will not feed the cats and may be starving them. Now she says she would like to get them sterilised.

I reminded her that she decided to send the cats to the SPCA. She now says that she has changed her mind. However she continues to say that there is no problem with the cats in the room and that they are fine.

I also told her that putting the cats in cages is not a good idea. She kept insisting they might get run over on the street. I told her that if she really wanted to help, that she should sterilise the cats on the street - right now, new kittens are constantly being born.

I am trying to find out more now as it seems that the AVA may have been called again and the SPCA.

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Cat sterilised

The adopter wrote back to say that the cat had been sterilised, enclosed a receipt and a photo of the cat. For some reason it seems that something the foster said rubbed her the wrong way or perhaps there was a misunderstanding of some kind. At any rate the cat has been sterilised. She said that her vet had told her that the cats could not be sterilised till 8 months - I have to say this is not the first time I've heard that.

I did ask one vet about this once and the vet said that if the cat was indoors then they did not think it was much of a problem. However there are other things to consider - the caterwauling, the noise, and the fact that it is best to sterilise before the cat goes on heat. It only needs a little window left a bit ajar, or a cat escaping out the door to end up with a whole new litter. Obviously if the cat ISN'T on heat they're much less likely to try and make a run for it too.

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Thank you Nan Nan

A big thank you to Nan Nan, who has been helping to book slots for sterilisation with catsnip@catwelfare.org since its inception. I know many of you know her and have written to her and that she always promptly responds to emails.

Unfortunately Nan Nan has found a full time job and wrote in today to say that she is finding it increasingly difficult to manage her job, her community cats and the catsnip emails as well. She will therefore be stepping down once a replacement can be found.

Would anyone be able to take over booking the sterilisation slots? This would involve answering emails on bookings of sterilisation slots and then making appointments with the vets. Please email us if you can help.

As a final word, I would like to say thank you again to Nan Nan for all her tireless work - and if she has helped you to book slots before, please do drop her a note to say thank you :)

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RC event happening?

We were asked a few weeks ago to give a talk at an RC event this weekend. I've just checked with the organisers so I could post the details in case anyone in the area might want to pop down but unfortunately, there still doesn't seem to be any information confirmed, including the venue. I somehow don't think the event may happen after all as the schedule still has not been fixed. I also am uncertain what sort of publicity could have gone up in that case telling residents about it.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Helping Feral Cats.

Watch this great video from Alley Cat Allies that gives a very nice summary on TNR, the vacuum effect and why catch and kill doesn't work.

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Tuesday, December 04, 2007

'Interfering' with nature

Someone just trying to start a programme wrote to their town council to ask if they might be willing to meet with her and talk about a TNRM programme. The officer wrote back to say that cats should be left to survive on their own because humans are interfering with their environment. The officer goes on to say that some animals will die, others will live and this is survival of the fittest.

The officer writes back to say that feeders are killing the cats by being kind, and that it is difficult to find them homes and this is as it should be, because there are homeless people around in third world countries and that in Singapore there are poor people with almost no food. The officer ends off by saying that if the cats are left alone, their population will control itself.

First of all, yes animals do survive - and if people remove and trap and kill the cats, then it has been shown that cats are actually more likely to have larger litters in an attempt to survive.

Secondly, the cats have homes - in the environment. They are in the environment, have been in the environment and always been in the environment. The question is how to control their population - not feeding them is NOT the answer, sterilisation and management is.

Thirdly, I fail to see what homeless people have to do with this. Of course it is a terrible thing that there are homeless people in other countries. Does this however mean that in the meantime this can be an excuse to refuse to do anything - ie there's no point helping my neighbour who is elderly and needs a bit of help sometimes because there are homeless people in third world countries? Or there's no point giving money to children's educational initiatives because there are homeless people in third world countries? Or there's no point helping to sterilise and manage cats because there are homeless people in third world countries? Isn't the idea to try and do good where you can, when you can?

Cats will breed unless sterilised. Period. If they are not sterilised, they will have more kittens and the attendant issues that entails. I also think it's a little disingenuous to argue that people should not interfere - we already interfere every day because of urbanisation. Plus if the TC wants to leave nature be, then clearly they should stop trapping too. Certainly THAT is interfering with nature as well.

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Different stories

So remember this woman? Someone called me yesterday morning to tell me that she was going to remove the cats and perhaps bring them back to her area. I told the caregiver to be careful as her area had been the subject of numerous complaints already and I wasn't sure that bringing more cats in was a good idea. In addition, the cats were going to be spooked if relocated. Most importantly, we still had no assurance the woman would not take in more cats.

The caregiver was very certain that she would be able to remove the cats and get them sterilised. She said that the woman had agreed. She then removed several cats.

This afternoon, someone else I know called me who runs a pet transport service. The person was very worried and mentioned someone had called her late yesterday and asked her to transport cats to the vet. During the course of the conversation, it occurred to me it might well be the same case - it was. It seems that after telling the other caregiver that she could take the cats and get them sterilised, she had then decided to call the pet transport lady to ask her to take the cats to SPCA for her. She also apparently called another feeder and asked THAT feeder to do the same because she doesn't want to do it.

I called the first caregiver back and said that the woman had decided to send the cats to the SPCA yet again. She said perhaps the woman was confused. I told her that both I and the pet transport woman had told her that the SPCA simply has no space and will have no choice but to put the cats down. When I ASKED her if she knew what happened to the cats, she said she knew they would be killed - but to her, it was better than living on the streets.

She also apparently told the pet transport woman she might want to consider releasing them all too - though she told ME she was firmly against that. Sigh.

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