Thursday, January 31, 2008

Dog therapy

Here's an interesting video on dog therapy - in Iraq! Apparently the dogs are flown out from the US and help to give some relief to the soldiers in what is undoubtedly (whatever your view of the war) a very stressful situation.

I do wish though that instead of flying dogs in (presumably I am guessing so that they are well trained) that they would adopt dogs off the streets instead. In an earlier post, I wrote about the strict rules the US military has on animals. There are some groups which also try and reunite the dogs with the soldiers once they have returned to the US. In times of stress, the bond that you form with an animal is probably even more profound - and I can't imagine being separated forever from an animal I share my life with, especially knowing that the animal might be in danger.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

It's about the cats?

This woman wrote in again - apparently several people wrote to tell her off for not getting all the cats sterilised and she was most upset. She said that she was very disappointed that no one went down to help her because she had been told off by the family in the estate where she feeds. She also said that the family is not unhappy with the population of the cats, and do not want them killed. She said the issue was with defecation. The feeder also complained that she was upset that people are not dealing with the important issue - what she says is harassment - and are instead talking about sterilisation. She has said that she has found another feeder, and given them the food and told them to feed for her from now on as she 'has' to stop - she apparently called the police but the policeman told her that the residents have a right to speak with her as they are residents there . She insisted that she didn't run away from the situation and that she only cares for the cats.

I found this quite unusual - first of all, if the complaint was about defecation, then what did she do to offer solutions and explain what she is doing? Secondly, if her consideration is that she 'only wants to help the street cats' then the cats aren't in any danger because according to her, the family isn't going to trap the cats (whether this is true or not, I have my doubts - some people if they feel that they have been pushed beyond a certain point, will trap). Also, if her 'only' concern is the cats (which she said), then the issue of the family telling her off is really secondary, because it has nothing to do with the cats. It has to do with her being unhappy at being told off. Sterilisation however, IS directly relevant - to the cats.

Cat for adoption

Cat for adoption, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to E_Cat for the photo.

This is one of the cats available for adoption from this case. If you know anyone who might want to adopt this cat, please email me and I'll forward your emails to E_Cat.

Complaints Choir of Singapore - Live

By now, most of you may have heard about how the Complaints choir's public performances had to be cancelled because some non-Singaporeans took part in it.

Here's a video of the performance - it's a bit long to watch and you may want to just go to their website to read the lyrics. Unfortunately cats get complained about too (complete with meowing) - but as JaQ who sent me this (thank you!) said, that's a pretty typical complaint as as all of us know all too well.

It's an interesting project because the things people complain about are reflective in a way on both the things complained about as well as the psyche of the people complaining, which I am sure was the point.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Bad service

I received an email from a feeder who said that a TC officer came up and told her off for feeding in her estate. He then proceeded to call the police and was apparently quite rude with her. The police officer apparently told her that she could complain about the officer too. The feeder then got worried and thought about relocating the cats.

Relocation should only ever always be the last option. Removing the cats just means new cats will move in. You cannot keep removing cats forever - nor does it help.

In this case, I urged her to call up the TC and complain. She is thinking of waiting to see the MP, which is fine - but she can also make a complaint based on the behaviour of the officer. For example, the officer does not seem to know what is allowed or not allowed under the bylaws, and is trying to threaten her - all of which is pretty bad customer service. You can, and should, complain to the TC if the officer is in any way rude or threatening. It's just bad service - and every town council officer is the face of their TC and should be expected to adhere to a certain standard of service.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Cats in bathroom

Cats in bathroom, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Some of you may remember this case. E_Cat and Aliah were able to get into the woman's house again finally last Wednesday.

They found that most of the cats were plumper and that this cat with an eye infection was doing well too. 5 of the cats were let out to run around.

Unfortunately, 5 of the cats were back in cages, and two of them were still unsterilised. In addition, one cat had died. She had also taken all the fencing that E_Cat had put up for her to prevent the cats from falling out the window.

It seems that she had gotten the letter we had sent her last year asking to be let in, but had ignored it.

E_Cat and Aliah have asked her to adopt out half of the cats and she has agreed. CWS has agreed to pay for the two unsterilised cats. If anyone knows someone who might adopt these cats, drop me an email and I'll let E_Cat know. Thanks!

Five legged cat

Scout on cushion, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to Tarsier Girl for sending this in. She reminds me very much of Scout (above), who has come to live with us - though Scout had a deformed fourth paw and now has three (and a half) legs. And she too is very adept at getting around with three paws.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

The Regent Singapore welcomes animal guests

There was a nice letter in today's Life from the Regent Singapore saying that they welcome guests' pets and that they have special amenities for cats and dogs. Staff are to greet the dogs and cats when they see them and they have special treats for them too. It's a nice idea if you know of anyone with animals who need to stay in a hotel! There were also a number of letters on people about animals in public areas.

Friday, January 25, 2008

I only take care of feeding

I was just copied on an email which a woman sent to CWS and a whole list of people. It seems that she feeds the cats in an area (where from what I can tell she doesn't live in). She said one of the neighbours had come out and scolded her. She said she had dropped a flyer which she printed from CWS' website to show that feeding was not illegal. She wanted CWS to help her out. One of the caregivers wrote back to say that as long as she was cleaning up, there was no issue.

However as I read the email I realised that she mentioned that there were several cats including kittens. I wrote to ask her if she was sterilising the cats. She said that she was not and that she wanted someone from CWS to do it as she was scared to see the cats trapped and sterilised and she wanted to take care of the 'feeding'. There is no one else in the area except her as far as I know.

I wrote back to say that if she continues to feed without sterilising the cats, the population will grow. This will lead to more cats and hence more complaints - and it is likely that neighbours will start trapping the cats when the population grows. I asked her to please consider sterilising.

Imagine this - someone comes into your estate. You don't know anything about cats but you do know that since she arrived there are far more cats than there used to be including kittens. It's not a surprise that they might get annoyed.

She just wrote back to say that she wanted everyone to pretend that she had never written at all.

It still surprises me that some people feed without thinking of the consequences. Yes I know some people are poor - but there are resources to help those people, including CWS having programmes to help those in financial need. If they keep feeding without sterilising though, the population will grow, especially if the cats are being fed well. This means more cats are likely to be born - and to survive into adulthood. And this will mean more complaints - which means at the end of the day MORE cats are likely to get trapped and killed.


I was speaking to this caregiver yesterday and today and realised again that there is an issue of trust. Caregivers don't trust officers and officers feel the same way about caregivers. Caregivers have had bad experiences with officers - and officers have had bad experiences with caregivers. Some caregivers have not had bad experiences themselves but have heard from other people that their officers were mean - so you start off with a mutual distrust.

Here's the thing I've noticed. Yes there are some really difficult officers - but there are also some really difficult feeders. The rest however are basically people who are trying to do their job. If you can work with them and show that you are trustworthy - and expect that same level of trust from them - they generally reciprocate.

I've noticed that in the areas where the cats are pretty safe, that the basis of most of them is a good working relationship with the TC or the officer in charge of whichever area this is in. It does not mean you have to be best friends - and after all, this is a working relationship, so a certain degree of formality should be there. Don't expect to have the officer's number as a matter of course for example unless they're comfortable giving it out - think of it this way, if you're working at a job, do you want someone to call you at home when you're watching television and trying to relax to ask you about some work related matter? Generally most people would not. If you do get the number, try not to call unnecessarily after office hours unless it is an emergency. Having said that, there are several people I know whose officers do give out their numbers because they are comfortable with them enough - and they know these residents won't abuse it.

I just saw an email that a caregiver sent to his MP - and in it, he specifically mentioned that he wanted to say that he had a good working relationship with his officer. I thought that was a very nice email to send. The MP wrote back to say he was glad that residents and the TC were working together. The officer will certainly be happy to have been acknowledged by a resident to the MP - and this will likely have a positive effect on their working relationship too.

If an officer is unprofessional, rude or basically unhelpful, then you should bring it up - but praise should also be given where praise is due.

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Encountering problems with officials

I've been talking and emailing quite a lot to a young lady who is a caregiver over the last few days as there has been a setback in her project. I am very sorry to hear she is disappointed about the fact that her management strategy in the area she has been managing has been turned down after an initially positive meeting when we met with the people in the area.

I think though that there are a few things that I realised from this. First of all, it can be very disappointing and distressing when you think of all your work going down the drain and that's completely understandable - so it's good to step back, think about your next step, and when you are calm enough to then decide what you want to do. Take that time out - you've been disappointed and you need time to regroup - and then decide on your next course of action without being too clouded by emotion.

Secondly, it's important to find out whom or what the exact obstacle is in your programme. If the problem is a certain person who refuses to listen to reason, then you may want to go to the next person in hierarchy and speak with them. If there is a specific issue that they are worried about (abandonment, increase in the number of cats), then you need to know what it is so you can counter it as well. You then need to decide what you need to counter that evidence - could it be statistics you've been keeping in the area? Other people who can bolster your case with supporting evidence? You need to decide what is important to your case and then gather what is necessary.

Thirdly, remember at the end of the day if you are dealing with a town council officer, a person from a statutory body, or someone who is from the authorities, that they are there to serve members of the public. Don't be intimidated by them just because they hold a position. They are there to serve you and members of the public. They are in fact accountable to members of the public - as the many letters to the forum page where people write in to complain about a variety of things happening show. If you notice, every one of those letters which involves a town council, statutory board or government agency is promptly responded to - and that is because they are accountable to members of the public.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

ST (23-1-08)

Here's a nice letter that Vegancat sent me this morning. Thanks Vegancat!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Two paws up!

Scout and Redemption, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I read Redemption over the weekend and thought it was a really good book. It was thought provoking and a good summary of the No-Kill movement and what's been happening in the US. Not everything obviously is applicable to Singapore (I don't think we have an increase in homes wanting animals as in the US because of the HDB rule for one) but much of it is good common sense - for example, if you want people to come and adopt from a shelter, you need to be open at hours that they can come (ie after office hours) and not when they are working because then you're cutting out the people you most want - people with jobs. Obviously he says that the backbone of no-kill is having a low cost spay-neuter programme because people are much more likely to sterilise when it's cheap or free.

Winograd comes up with basically several steps to follow to basically be No-Kill but the most basic one is that there has to be a will to do it and not to be entrenched in what is commonly thought. For example - there are irresponsible people abandoning animals, hence we have no choice but to kill. He believes one does not follow the other - there ARE irresponsible people and thus shelters exist. However he believes in tapping into the community to try and find solutions - and that if the community knows a shelter is no-kill, then they are much more likely to want to help. Again, with smaller households and the no-cat rule, I think finding fosters is harder here too - but even if not every step can be replicated, certainly going down that road is a start.

Unfortunately I don't believe you can get this book in Singapore - I tried some bookstores yesterday. I ordered mine online and had to wait a while to get it but it was worth the wait. I am thinking of ordering a few more now!

Monday, January 21, 2008

ST (21-1-08)

Thanks Anonymous for sending this in, I was about to post it too. Here's a link to a great letter in the Straits Times online forum today on the HDB cat ban.

These friends you don't need

I had an email from a caregiver. Apparently there are people feeding cats upstairs in a block and there have been complaints. She went up and spoke with the people feeding and asked them to stop. Not surprisingly, they said the cats weren't theirs and that they could not stop the cats from coming up. She has tried repellents, mothballs and the like for the past two days.

She said that she spoke with the complainant who had spoken with me a while ago. The complainant she said was quite nice and had used mothballs, sticks in their flowerpots and bleach but said they could not do so all the time. Here's the strange thing - the complainant used to feed the cats too! At the same time, the complainant told the caregiver that it could not be the orange cat defecating as he was 'friends' with the orange cat.

The caregiver is at her wit's end at this point. She asked for advice. I asked her to emphasise to the complainant that the cats would be killed - all of them, including his friend the orange cat.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Articles in the Sunday Times

The issue of how dirty our housing estates are is something that has been brought up time and again - and I don't think anyone was surprised to see this article in Sunday Times today about how cleaners are the ones who give Singapore our title as a clean city. And to think cats are blamed for being dirty.

At the same time, increasing disputes between neighbours, also reported in the Sunday Times, is also something I know many of you will not be surprised by - and often the cats are caught in the middle. Is it because we're just getting too intolerant? Or are we living too close to one another or is a matter of both these factors and more? Possibly it's also due to our belief that the authorities will take care of everything. For example, the woman who complained that her neighbour doesn't bathe and wants to start a petition to get the authorities to do something. I can appreciate it can be unpleasant to have a neighbour who may smell bad, but what can the authorities do? Force the neighbour to have a shower? Some things you just have to grin and bear - or perhaps just stand downwind.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Resident Cat

Cat, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Unlike some other condominiums, this condo I visited had resident cats - and they even had new collars given to them at Christmas. What a nice change :) As you can see the cats there are sterilised and managed.

Taipei officials urge people to sterilise cats

This came via Becky from Alley Cat Allies - thank you. Check out this story about Taipei - true right now the budget is insufficient (and the number of traps is lower than the number we have) but I really like that officials are urging members of the public to go out and sterilise one cat each and to control the issue in a humanitarian manner!

Thursday, January 17, 2008


Thanks to simian for sending this in :-

Armour for Cats and Mice

These are purely decorative and not meant for actual use on cats OR mice - see the artist's FAQ. Unfortunately they're not much use when the pest control come around.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Cats to be removed?

Someone just wrote about three cats at a condominium, all sterilised, that are in danger of being removed. The caregiver there had made contact with the chairperson whom I had spoken with last year. Unfortunately the chairperson didn't seem very convinced but did back off when the caregiver spoke with him. The caregiver is currently away and now the cats are in jeopardy again. It seems that someone complained that they had defecated in the carpark - which of course could be dealt with. Another resident wrote to say that the chairperson won't meet with her but has asked that she put all the comments she has down in writing.

I've been by and the cats are sterilised and there are only three of them -I do hope that the condo won't remove the cats but will work with the caregivers to allow them to stay.

The Happiest Country in Asia?

Thanks to Corbie for sending this in :-

The Happiest Country in Asia

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Report on PETA

Thanks to Simian for this news report on PETA. They've been known not to be supportive of TNR. Jolanda and I had a not very pleasant experience with some people who claimed to be the PETA representatives for this region a few years ago which left a pretty bad taste in the mouth. Since then I can't say I've been a fan.

Paro the Seal

Thanks to Chinky for sending in this article from Today and for a video of Paro the seal in all its mechanised glory that he took over the weekend! Though more sophisticated, this reminds me of the dolls that would close their eyes when you put them down horizontally - and was that a pacifier in the seal's mouth?

Monday, January 14, 2008

Sunday Times (13-1-08)

Sunday Times (13-1-08), originally uploaded by dawnkua.

By cartoonist Miel in the Sunday Times yesterday (sorry my scanner cut off part of the cartoon) - lovely cartoon with a little cat poking it's head out in the panel on the left.

ST (14-1-08)

Here's a letter about the show on cat feeding on Channel News Asia the other day.


Here's something fun this morning from Mezzo :-

Kitty Wigs

And here's a sweet piece sent in by Simian about a dog and his cat friend :-

Dog retrieves his best friend

Hey neighbour, don't be a stranger (Sunday Times, 13th January 2008)

It's not just the pets that bring people together as mentioned in the Sunday Times today - but also the community cats. There is a very cute cartoon of two sets of neighbours greeting each other in the Straits Times today as well - have to scan that in. It's a very sad thing when people feel that they cannot even speak with their neighbours and show concern for fear of being labelled a busybody. There is a big difference between concern and poking your nose into someone else's business and I think most people are well aware of the difference.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Cats found to be healthy

Thanks to Aminah for sending this in :-

AVA finds cats to be healthy

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Pest control companies and price rigging

Thanks to Yskat for sending in this very interesting article on pest control companies. In another story in the Straits Times, there were more details of the pest control companies and the alleged price rigging.

Dispute over cats to involve authorities

Thanks to Aminah for sending in this link :-

Dispute over welfare of 130 cats to involve authorities

You can also click on the accompanying video. Sadly the losers in this are once again the cats. It also unfortunately does give the impression that feeders fight among themselves and aren't very united even when they are supposedly all working for the same cause. It does reinforce a negative stereotype.

I do not know the situation in this particular instance (though I do know both feeders) but I think this shows once again why shelters cannot work. No matter how well you try and run it, it's a huge drain on resources and so many more cats could be helped with the money. Imagine what can be done with $30000 a year to help the community cats and how many cats could have been helped with that same sum of money.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Gracious Society?

We talk so much about a gracious society - and here's what our Minister Mentor had to say about it in today's Straits Times. We have a ways to go - and being compassionate to animals would certainly be one indication of that.


I just watched the programme and must say I was pretty surprised they managed to stretch what they had for half an hour. I got the impression that the programme was more about the students and training them to be journalists rather than about the topic because there really wasn't much about feeding cats or looking into the issues at hand. It's certainly good that Channel News Asia is trying to train aspiring journalists and that the students are so enthused, but I think the topic was really sort of beside the point. What I got from this episode was more about what the students learnt (waiting for people can be long and boring, not everyone wants to be interviewed, the hours are long, etc) than about feeding - and I think this is what the layperson would have drawn from it too. Perhaps they were on a rushed deadline because I only got an email from them on 31st December and more work would have made it a better piece.

It was a shame that a more balanced viewpoint was not put across though Selina from the SPCA did speak well about TNRM. It would have been better to perhaps try and find caregivers and to interview them rather than to lie in wait for them. That would I think have prepared the people who were to be interviewed and would have meant that someone who was willing to go on camera might be found. Passers by also looked pretty apprehensive when a camera was shoved into their face - and caregivers who are often made to feel guilty or even criminal about their behaviour are probably even LESS likely to want to be interviewed on television and is I think understandable. It would also give a better idea of whom caregivers are - they certainly aren't all (or even mostly) women having marital problems (though I know that was given as just an example) but come from a wide range of occupations, ages, races and gender and people all feed for many different reasons. Ask ten different people and I would not be surprised if you might get ten different answers.

I hope the colony there doesn't get into trouble after this piece.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Programme on cat feeding

Thanks to several people including Aminah and E_Cat for telling me about this programme airing tonight on Channel News Asia at 8:30 pm, called I-Journalist. Apparently the programme is about people feeding cats. The show will also be repeated tomorrow morning at 10:30 am.

One of the journalists contacted me but unfortunately only did so after I had left CWS, and I explained that I could not speak as a representative, and that it was best to contact the Society directly. I did say however that if they needed members of the public to speak in some context, I'd be happy to. I understand the journalist did contact a few animal welfare groups so hopefully we'll see some of that during the programme!

Cat on a leash's human found!

The most amazing thing happened - Kaori wrote to me to say that he happened to be at an elder care home yesterday and who should he have seen but the man who used to be with cat on a leash? I'm not too clear on the details - and perhaps Kaori can fill them in if he happens to stop in on this blog - but apparently he WAS arrested. He also cannot leave the home.

Kaori has written to the home. He thinks it unlikely that they'll let the cat stay at the home, but being extremely sweet about it, he would like to give the man some closure. As such, he's asking if the home will let him bring the cat for a visit.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Japanese Pet Owners gets 'family allowance'

Okay - so it's really not a lot of money ($9!) but it's a step in the right direction. Animals are an integral part of the family unit for a lot of people and it's time they are recognised as such. Some people I know mentioned that when they were asked to work overseas, there were problems about making arrangements to take their animals along. Companies were reluctant to help pay for the animals to be relocated. On the other hand, these same companies would spend a considerable sum on education of children. The cost of transporting the animals is usually a fraction of what it costs to educate and transport a child (or children) to the parent's new job posting.

I'm not suggesting that children are the exact equivalent to animals - but I DO think that for many people, the animals are part of their families, and it is a wise company that appreciates that and makes arrangement for staff that are sent overseas for example. I would think staff would be much more inclined to go abroad - and to be more loyal to a company that takes care of the welfare of themselves and their families, both human and animal.

Even for those employees who aren't the most responsible of owners, it would be helpful. It would certainly help to cut down on abandonment for example if employees are posted overseas - they would be more inclined to take their animals with them and there might be less dumped animals when people go to their next posting.

Packing CWS files

Packing CWS files, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Michelle has been quite busy so was only able to pass her all the CWS files on Saturday - this photo was taken after a box or two had been removed from my room. The car was so packed that I wasn't sure everything could fit into it! Note Pinball in the left hand corner directing operations :)

Friday, January 4, 2008

Catmasutra 101

The Catmasutra team is doing another exhibition starting tomorrow - it's called Catmasutra 101, so if you have some time this weekend, you might want to pop in!

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Blog fixes

As you can see, I've been playing around with my new blog a bit - deleted some of the dead links, added a new image bar, courtesy of help from Imp (though not anywhere as good as hers). Was also having some issues with the photos, making that show up on the right of the page. Hope it's fixed now!

Robotic pet therapy

Thanks to Yskat for sending this in :-

Singapore hospitals may get first robotic seals

The first thought I had was why a robotic animal when one could have a real one - but the article says it is to cut down on allergies, scratches, biting, and other inconveniences like having to work around volunteer's schedules, if they bring in live animals.

That's life isn't it? The whole point of life is that it IS messy and often inconvenient, but that's what makes is special. You can programme a robotic seal to replicate the behaviour of affection, but not affection itself. I'd take the real animal over a well-trained robot, programmed to show affection anytime. Kind of how I think most people would still have rather interaction with real people rather than robots. What's next? Replacing doctors and nurses with robots who don't spread infection, and who would be sure to give the 'right' clinical diagnosis based on the symptoms the patient shows?

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Direction of CWS

For those of you wondering what direction CWS will be taking, here's a message from President Michelle Lee on what you can expect from the Society in the year to come.

Brochure from ACA

Here's a nice brochure I received in the mail from Alley Cat Allies - they had a nice letter talking about the work they had done, and saying how important it was to work with property managers as well!
Posted by Picasa

New Year celebrations

New Year celebrations
Originally uploaded by dawnkua
Here's hoping everyone had a restful or celebratory (or both!) New Year!

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the new blog! Just to hope you have a restful day and a wonderful year ahead.

And here's an interesting article about how cats were used to get rid of a rat problem - note, the cats didn't have to KILL the rats just leave their scent around for the rats and mice to decide to leave the area alone. That's one thing people often ask - if cats kill rats and mice - but often they just need to be present for the mice and rats to move away. That's certainly been my experience when I moved once - the mice all vacated the building once my cats moved in.