Friday, April 4, 2008

Assertive, not aggressive

I spoke with a caregiver this morning. It seems that the town council officer gave her 24 hours to remove a cat because it hissed at someone. She mentioned that she quickly had it removed because she was worried. Another caregiver was however quite unhappy about this, thinking the TC officer had been unreasonable and I tend to agree.

The caregiver who called me also felt the officer was not being fair, but she's worried that if she complains, that he won't call her in the future. Also she said that the cat was actually wandering around upstairs on the third floor of a block.

I asked her if she had spoken with the officer about not removing the cat and asked if she thought it was aggressive. She said the cat hisses but is defensive. I also asked if she had tried to find the feeder so the cat won't go up as the cat is highly unlikely to be walking upstairs otherwise. She said that she was worried that the people in the block would mind her asking. She also said that they might not admit to being the ones who fed the cat or who were the cat's owners.

I told her that if she doesn't try, then she'll never know whether they do come forward or not. In addition, if you knock on peoples' doors or slip flyers underneath, they may mind, but what other options are there?

I also told her that she has to be more assertive with the officer. There is a big difference between being aggressive and rude and being more assertive. The problem is that this particular caregiver tends to be easily intimidated - by other caregivers, by the TC, by residents. As such, she tends to give it.

If the officer has two competing parties - one party complaining loudly that the cats be removed on one hand, and a timid, shy caregiver on the other, who will the TC listen to? It's much easier to lean on the caregiver and get them to remove the cats.

Is this fair? Of course not - but if you happen to have an officer who is trying to resolve a problem as quickly as possible, they'll try and work on the party who is less likely to complain. It's human nature. In this case, if the officer tells the caregiver the cats are a problem she removes them promptly. Problem solved for the officer.

So it is absolutely essential to be a bit more firm when dealing with officers. It's not about being hostile and unfriendly - it's about not being a pushover. Either that or you have to be prepared to keep removing cats for the long haul whenever you get a call.


Anonymous said...

Cats sometimes go upstairs and it may not be because the feeder feeds upstairs. I know of caregivers who only feed downstairs, but some cats are smart enough to go upstairs to look for the feeders' unit, or wanting to go into their flats, esp. if the caregiver is staying at lower floors. :)

Dawn said...

Hi Anonymous, it may be because it is a lower floor as you said, but in general, in every case where I've seen a complaint of its kind, there is someone feeding. Sometimes there are several people feeding as well. In this case, the caregiver does not live in this block, nor any of the other feeders that she knows, so chances are it IS someone feeding upstairs or someone's home pet.

Anonymous said...

When someone feeds "upstairs" - the feeder may not know that the cats could get into trouble with the authorities when cats go 'upstairs';
or he/she feeds cats because it makes him/her feel good.

If the feeder does not care if the cats get trapped - then it is probably the latter reason that she/he is feeding.

It would be good to talk to the feeder concerned so you know what is the best course of action to take.

Dawn said...

Yes I spoke to another caregiver there and apparently there is someone feeding on the third floor.

chinky said...

From our experience of such situation, we resolved this by
1) Inserting CWS' flyers on responsible feeding to every flat in the flat concerned.
2) Speak to feeders, identifying by cat food and water outside the flats.
3) Speak to the complainant if the TC will reveal the identity.
4) Inform the complainant of the units feeding the cats
5)Inform TC and complainant of the futility of removing cats as irresponsible feeding will continue to lure other cats up!

Aminah Bee said...

It is kind of frustrating when we have cat feeders who easily caved in to TC officers ridiculous demands, like removing stray cats within 24 hours, put their strays in pet farm or their cats will be send to AVA. Why are some cat feeders easily intimidated and bullied by their Town Council officers while fearing for the safety of their cats. Wish those timid cat feeders show more guts and courage, voice their opinion, reasoned with the TC officer and don't put stray cats in pet farms everytime there is cat nuisance complaint.

Dawn said...

Good pointers - thanks for sharing Chinky.