Monday, March 31, 2008

NTU Cat Cafe

I was going to scan this wonderful article in, but Aunty P saved me the hassle when I found this on her blog.

Thanks to everyone who wrote in and mentioned this. I wrote to the two ladies mentioned as well and Marcella said that she had told the journalist how CWS had been helping with the cat cafe all along as well but unfortunately there probably wasn't space for that. I was at the initial meeting with the caregivers and the school authorities - at the time, it was much smaller than it is now. It's wonderful to see how much it has grown in such a short time! CWS also helped to sponsor quite a number of sterilisations (and I believe that still is happening).

Friday, March 28, 2008

Followup on man with who wants cats removed

It seems that a lot of people have read the post on the man threatening to call pest control on STOMP by this point, and unfortunately it has degenerated at this point into a lot of name calling and unbecoming comments.

Eskywan has been in contact with the complainant, and it seems that the complainant has told Eskywan that he does not want the cats killed. According to him, he had asked initially for the cats to be moved out of the carpark. I have to add that I did not correspond with him and this was mentioned by Eskywan but it seems that he is willing to have someone mediate. Thanks to Eskywan for offering to do it.

Now I don't know what happened to the feeder who may have a good reason why the cats cannot be moved from this block. However none of this was shown on the video - perhaps the feeder has mentioned all this earlier. I also have no idea whom the feeder is.

In general however, I do think there is often a big disconnect when complainants and feeders speak about issues like this. For example, when complainants come up and ask why you have to feed the cats, they are often working on the basis of a lot of misconceptions. They may think that by feeding the cats, you are bringing more cats into the estate. They may think that this will lead to littering because there will be food all over. Many of them have no idea that the cats are sterilised. Many people I have spoken with have never heard of the vacuum effect (and that includes feeders).

Now this is where a good caregiver can come in and help make the situation better. How? By explaining and tackling the complaints head on. For example, if someone asks you why you are feeding the cats - explain. Now the complainant may be cross, angry or even aggressive, but if you keep your cool, and explain, most of the time, it does work because they will then understand what you are doing.

What often happens instead (and here I'm not referring specifically to this case), is that feeders get defensive, which is understandable. However it does nothing to help the situation. Statements like I've fed the cats X number of years, or I've sterilised all the cats here often mean nothing to the complainants. Certainly bringing God or deities into it is no help either - everyone has different conceptions of what God is to them, not to mention that there are a number of people who are atheists.

So here's the most important thing - listen to what the complaint is actually about. If the complainant is telling you that the issue is that the cats are scratching the cars, or that there is defecation outside their door, then your telling them that the cats are sterilised is of absolutely no use. How does it help the complainant with their problem at all? The complainant doesn't care if the cats are sterilised or not (is a sterilised cat less likely to defecate outside your door?). They don't care that you have fed them for X number of years, or how many hours you spend out there, or how much money you spend every month feeding and sterilising the cats. What they do care about is that they have an issue, and they're asking you for help to solve it.

As a caregiver, you now have a very important role - you can make the situation much better and safer for the cats, or you can make it much, much worse. If you try and offer constructive solutions to the problems, you'll find that most complainants are actually quite happy to hear them. You'll be surprised - sometimes the fact that you are willing to offer, even if there is no quick fix solution can do much to get the complainant to work with you.

On the other hand, if you tell them irrelevant details (and a general rule of thumb - anything that has to do with you is probably irrelevant), they may not see a way out of their problem. This causes them to view YOU as the issue now as well - because they may mistakenly believe that it is your fault that there are cats in the estate in the first place.

Think of it this way. In an examination, someone may ask you for example, to explain how plants help to prevent soil erosion. You can give a great essay on photosynthesis, and why plants are important to human life. You're still going to get an F because you didn't answer the question. This is just like an exam - but here the grade is whether the cats get to live or not.

Focus on threes Cs : Cats, Complaint and Calm. By this I mean, remember that it is about the cats. You may not like the complainant, you may think he or she has a bad attitude or is annoying. That doesn't matter because it is the cats' lives are at stake. If you handle it well, then you get rid of a complaint and may even gain a potential ally. Handle it badly and the cats get rounded up and killed.

Secondly, focus on the Complaint - why is it happening? How can you work with the complainant to make sure that it doesn't happen again? Are the cats the real reason behind the complaint? If so (and in most cases they aren't), then how do you stop it from happening again? If not, can you explain to the complainant why they are not the reason for the annoyance?

Thirdly, stay calm. If you are calm, you're better able to control the situation. If the complainant is rude or intimidating, then it only goes to show you in a better light. If you lose your cool, then you may end up saying things that put you in a bad light. Insulting the complainant is certainly not going to make the complainant more willing to work with you.

Last of all, remember, the complainant is not a mind reader. Most people know very little about cats. There are and always will be a minority of complainants who do not want the cats there no matter what. The rest however are generally people who don't understand why there are cats there in the first place. Most complainants I have spoken with, do not want the cats killed. A few have told me at the beginning that they did want them removed and killed, but usually they have clarified that they were extremely frustrated and spoke in anger but now understood the situation better. Anger is something I am sure we can all appreciate - the anger of complainants, the anger of caregivers who fear the cats are going to be killed. Let's just try and channel that anger into something more constructive for everyone - cats, caregivers and complainants alike.

Paintings and Miscellaneous

It's more than a month away but here's an exhibition of paintings to be held next month.

The CWS AGM was held last night and I understand there are some new committee members as well so a big welcome and good luck to them all. I'm not sure whom the new members are as I was too tired to attend the AGM but I'm sure all of us will find out in due course!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Video of man demanding cats be removed

Thanks to Tarsier Girl for sending this link in. It's pretty sad to see someone making threats against the cats again. I'm not sure if the caregivers were allowed to see if the marks were indeed made by cats or if the person in the video just made the assumption. Obviously removing and killing them will just mean MORE cats move in rather than less as the vacuum effect kicks in - which is something the people who ask for the cats to be removed never seem to consider.

I'm not sure what was said before the person started filming but appeals to the complainant on the basis that he or she will be punished by God rarely work on their own. It is of course better to explain that the cats are there, they are sterilised and that removing them means more cats will move in - meaning that if the person is convinced cats are scratching it, then using his or her logic, there will be MORE cats potentially scratching his car. This of course may all have already been said prior to the video being filmed.

At the end of the day, it's a public carpark. There ARE risks parking there - and working WITH caregivers helps to minimise risks, and helps the car too.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Cats in Thailand

Some of you may have seen this article about a 'mystery virus' killing cats in Thailand. It seems that the Thai Department of Disease Control thinks the most likely cause is feline distemper. This cannot transmit to people. Let's hope that people keep their heads about them - but then often facts aren't a good defence when full blown hysteria breaks out.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

In defence of the macaques

There's a great article in the Straits Times Review section today on the whole macaque incident stating all the reasons why he felt that the poor monkeys had been vilified. I couldn't agree more. Unfortunately the article is not accessible for free so you may need to get a copy of the Straits Times or check out the article if you're a subscriber (the article wouldn't load when I tried a few minutes ago).

Also here's another article about a dog in a Buddhist temple sent in by Aminah and Yskat - thank you!


Just a reminder to all CWS members that the AGM is on Thursday night at the Singapore Management University. Please do go down and show your support.

Unfortunately I am unlikely to be able to attend. I had an operation two weeks ago, and actually have a follow up appointment on Thursday. I am fine but haven't been out for too long as I tire quite easily, and I'm not sure if I'll be up to attending after a day at the hospital.

Please do attend if you can though - and it's a good time to speak with the committee as well!

Monday, March 24, 2008

Cats of the World

You guys may remember last year's Cats of the World photo exhibition. Here's some information about the upcoming exhibition - and a chance to enter your photographs.

Saturday, March 22, 2008

It's not just cats that are trapped

Here's a sad story about the number of monkeys trapped - and killed - last year and how the number is rising. The traps are borrowed from the AVA.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


This is a rather unusual (some would say macabre) way of remembering a dead pet.


Waterbowl, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thanks to Vegancatsg for sending this in.

A caregiver he knows uses used juice cartons to make water bowls, which helps both the cats and the environment. A nice idea!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Today (18-3-08)

Thanks to Vegancat for sending in this letter from Today on dog abandonment and the failure to curb the sale of dogs.

Guest Post

This is National Poison's Week in the US and I received an email about guest posting on my blog about this important topic.

Tylenol is close or similar (though the composition is different) to Panadol (Paracetamol). So it's worth noting that while dogs can sometimes be given Panadol, cats never should be. Some common plants are also very poisonous and it pays to be careful as cats often have a habit of nibbling plants!

Here's the post :-

"Thank you for letting me write a guest post for your blog!

My name is Susan Daffron and I'm the founder of the National Association of Pet Rescue Professionals ( and the author of books on caring for adopted dogs (Happy Hound - and adopted cats (Happy Tabby -

This week is National Poison Prevention Week and I'd like to offer a few tips people can take to keep their cats (and other pets) safe from poisonous substances. As every cat owner knows, cats and particularly kittens love to get into things. That old saying "curiosity killed the cat" can be all too true when it comes to poisons.

Cats are hunters and unfortunately people often use poison to kill rodents or other "varmints" in their house or yard. In the world of toxic substances, you sometimes see references on labels about injury or death of "unintended target species." If a cat hunts, kills, and eats a poisoned rodent, she can become one of those "unintended targets." (So can kids, dogs and wildlife!)

Another unintentional way cats are poisoned is when humans attempt to give them over-the-counter medication. For example, acetaminophen, which is used in Tylenol and various cold medications is extremely toxic to cats. Never give your cat Tylenol; one tablet can kill a cat.

Cats are particularly sensitive to chemicals absorbed through their skin, so read labels carefully on the pet-care and household products you use. Topical flea products, soaps, cleaning chemicals, and insecticides you might use in your house or garden often contain chemicals that are toxic to cats, so read the label of any product you intend to use.

Also be sure to "pet proof" your household. Many common houseplants and outdoor plants are toxic to cats. The ASPCA site has a lists of toxic plants and other common poisons.

Toxic Plants -

A Poison Safe Home -

Any time you suspect your cat may have been poisoned, get her to a veterinarian immediately. Prompt treatment can save her life. You want your cat to stay healthy and live a long time, so take a few simple steps to keep her safe"

Monday, March 17, 2008

Animal Hoarding

Here's an interesting article about animal hoarding.

Friday, March 14, 2008


Here's an article from Alley Cat Allies about sanctuaries and why they prove too expensive and ineffective in the long run.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Cat and Dog

Cat and Dog, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I met this lovely pair the other day. On rainy days both of them can be found cuddling together to sleep. Both are rescues - the dog was dumped and the cat was found with a satay stick through the eye I believe.

So who says cats and dogs don't get along? :)

Monday, March 10, 2008


Hey everyone, just a note to say that I'm likely to be out of commission for the next few days, but will be back blogging just as soon as I can! If you send me email during this period, I'll be unlikely to be able to answer it as well.


Magnet, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

This funny magnet came in the mail from Corbie along with some other kitty items. I wanted to share because I'm pretty sure most of us have found ourselves distracted by a cute cat running past :) Thanks Corbie!

News on cats

Here's two articles sent in by blog readers over the weekend.

First the horrible article on cats being killed in the run up to the Beijing Olympic games. Anonymous posted it in one of the comments for an earlier post but I thought it was of interest to repost it in case anyone missed it.

On the other side of the spectrum, read this story about a lion and his human family. Thanks to Wiggie for sending this in.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Cat in container

This is an amazing story about a kitten from Singapore that travelled to Cleveland in a container. The kitten's siblings and mother sadly did not make it.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Here's something cheery for a Friday. Thanks TarsierGirl for sending this in :-

Let Me Out

Also the next time someone accuses a cat of scratching a car, tell them that they're lucky it wasn't the Lizard Man!

Thursday, March 6, 2008


Cuddling, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

What house cats do on a cold afternoon. I reminded them that their community cat brethren were out in the cold, but they just went back to sleep.

Trapped cats

I received an SMS from someone who had forwarded it from someone else which was rather garbled. It seems that someone had trapped the cat on a Friday and meant to send it away only on a Monday either to the SPCA or AVA (it wasn't specified). The person claimed that the cat was given no food or water and wanted someone to get the cat out. The person was asking that someone ring a number given, who was somehow connected with the cat.

First of all, it is best that the person who is directly involved call at once. If you've seen it happen, you are the best person to call because (1) you know all the information and (2) you have evidence of it happening. If you're trying to get someone else to call and that person has neither information, nor evidence, then they're just going to deny it.

Secondly, if you DO know of someone starving a cat, then please DO call the report it to the AVA or police. No one is allowed to trap a cat and then deny it of food or water for a few days. A few of you may remember the dogs that were in a van over a weekend a few years ago and they died. The owner of the van was prosecuted. It does not matter that they intend to send the cats to be killed - during the time that the cats are with the person who has trapped them, that person is obligated to treat them humanely.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Black and White cat

Black and White cat, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I saw this pretty adolescent cat who was sitting around with a few other cat. Unfortunately none of them were sterilised, though I saw a water bowl under a nearby tree. No one was around as well. I do know that some other cats nearby had been sterilised so possibly the person is going to sterilise these cats too.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Of dead Cats and feeding

Here's a really nice video from Vegancat - I like that he not only left an irresponsible feeding brochure, but also a folded up bowl for the irresponsible feeder in the area. Let's hope the person took the hint.

At the same time, here's an exhibition you will WANT to miss. It seems that she does kill the animals for use in her photos. Her gallery's website has a statement which when you click on it doesn't work - but this is apparently the statement they issued earlier.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Don't give them more ammunition

A young lady wrote to me to say that her condominium manager had put up a circular about cats in the area. The circular mentioned that feeding the cats would encourage more cats to come in and that they were a health hazard to all residents. Both statements obviously are untrue.

The caregiver wrote a letter to dispel these misconceptions, which was clearly a good thing to do. Unfortunately some of the information in the letter probably went some way to causing more confusion and/or panic.

Firstly, she mentioned that unsterilised cats do not mix with sterilised cats because they form cliques with those with those with similar likes or dislikes, just as we humans do. That's not strictly true - nor can one really consider being sterilised a like or dislike. It's not the same as for example liking the same kind of music. Sterilised cats drive unsterilised cats out because they are more territorial (and she mentioned this). It is important to give the right information because otherwise causing misconceptions of a different kind may cause more confusion. For example, what if someone gets it in their mind that the estate is going to be colonised by UNsterilised cats who then drive all the sterilised cats out?

Secondly, while the letter did not mention what kind of health concerns there were, she went and enumerated the numerous potential concerns people might have. She mentioned toxoplasmosis for example, but did not mention that the risk factor is practically zero as the British Medical Journal said in an article. She DID mention that it's probably only possible to catch it from eating the defecation - and then proceeded to mention that the people are risk were pregnant women or people with lowered immunity. She also gave information about FIV and FELV and mentioned that worms can be passed to people as well, through skin contact and ingestion. What she DIDN'T mention is that skin contact usually involves for example walking barefoot across soil where the infected animal has defecated and where the eggs have since hatched (which usually takes a few weeks) - ie by practising good hygiene you won't catch it.

She ended her letter by saying that the statement that the cats were a health hazard to all residents was wrong, and that unless you were pregnant, immune compromised or you might dig and eat the soil, that the statement was clearly untrue.

I understand why the young woman was worried when the circular went out as she was worried that the cats might be caught, and she has sterilised them. I also understand that she meant to dispel the myths by giving out information.

However if I am a resident in the area and I knew nothing about cats, I think that her circular would have caused me a great deal more worry than the original circular. In this case, she has unwittingly enumerated all the potential health hazards - whether or not these are actual risks. If I was pregnant, immune compromised, or had a child that liked to dig in the soil, I might get potentially worried - and that could actually be a huge proportion of residents in the block. Instead of protecting the cats, this might have the opposite effect and give weight to what the manager said.

I have not heard from her as to the result of her letter, but I would strongly advise anyone writing to their management to consider what you want to put in. For example, we know that FIV and FELV will not spread to people - but mention that FIV is in the same class of viruses as HIV and you panic people, even if you mention that they do not spread. The idea is to reassure people - and sometimes putting in all this information does the exact opposite.

Often when people get a circular which is long (as this one was), they are also likely to skim. They may not take in all the information, but they may for example have seen FIV compared to HIV - which again could cause unnecessary worry.

As an example, say I am a childcare operator, and you are a parent who is concerned about diseases that might spread. Imagine I tell you that children might get bacterial meningitis but that if your child is not likely to kiss other children, you'll be fine. Now are you as a parent more or less likely to leave your child with me?

It would probably have been better in both cases to have said what steps are being taken to ensure that diseases don't spread, and to take the necessary precautions. It might have been good to suggest certain simple hygiene steps that people can take to protect themselves and then to follow up and ask what particular concerns the person has.