Friday, February 27, 2009

Mr George Yeo

Some of you may have seen this blog post or heard about Mr George Yeo's intervention to help some caregivers have their community cats released from the AVA. I understand there was an article in yesterday's Lianhe Wanbao too.

It's wonderful to see an MP take an interest in this matter and to realise that caregivers are mostly responsible and interested in solving problems. Mediation, as we all know, is really the way to go.

Please do drop Dr Yeo an email, or a post a comment on his blog to thank him for his help!

National Justice for Animals Week

It's National Justice for Animals week here in the US - this is an interesting site. One of the laws that have been passed apparently is a law against hoarding in Illinois which mandates psychological counseling. Despite that, hoarding does often result in recidivism.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

TNP (25-2-09)

Thanks to Chinky for sending this in. It's surprising that it seems that Mr Lee is unaware that people have been working for many years to repeal the ban on having cats in flats. CWS has been working on it since its inception and that has been more than the 7 to 10 years that he mentioned. SPCA has also been working on this issue for many years.

During my time with CWS, we got the support of vets, gathered more than 3000 signatures in less than 3 weeks, met the HDB twice with two separate proposals (available online on the old CWS website - it is probably up on the new one as well). Even the AVA had no objections. Before I left CWS, we had sent in another request to meet with the HDB with our new proposal but were turned down flatly as they felt there was no need to revisit this issue.

CWS would have been happy to revisit the issue and we took HDB's concerns into our new proposals - but what happens when the HDB won't listen? I am sure that the many of you out there who have written and gotten HDB's stock reply will sympathetise.

It's also disingenuous that Mr Lee mentioned the case of Mr Tang. There was no active campaigning to change the law.

So where the arguments illogical then? As most of you know, our suggestion was that all cats be sterilised, microchipped and that there be a limit on cats in flats (subject to a compassionate period for existing cats as they did with the rule on dogs). There would be a register maintained, which we suggested that the RCs could help to maintain. CWS also offered to help with mediation in terms of complaints and advising irresponsible cat owners. We even had a town council willing to implement a pilot project with their RC, but again this was turned down by the HDB.

I was also taken aback that Mr Lee is so quick to tar the entire community of people working with cats with the same brush especially as he is an ex-committee member of the Singapore Cat Club. After all, isn't this the same community we're talking about?

Of course it is the duty of every citizen to obey the law, but as Mr Lee is well aware there is no law against cat feeding. In fact, his entire letter is an example of what he claims to dislike in others.

There is already a law against littering which is the same law that should be used against people who do not clear up after cat feeding. Why have an additional law to ban cat feeding specifically unless there is a particular bias against people who feed cats?

Mr Lee mentioned that "Those who feed cats near the homes of others may not experience their thievery, fighting and bad behaviour". Perhaps Mr Lee is in an estate where there are no responsible caregivers running a TNRM programme. With Mr Lee's experience, it would be great if he could start one. Certainly if the cats are fed, they would not need to 'thieve' in his words, and sterilisation would stop the fighting, though I am unclear what ‘bad behaviour’ he refers to.

If Mr Lee is serious about changing the law to allow cats in HDB flats, I am sure that people working for animal welfare would be happy to have him on board. One wonders though what his suggestion would be for the many community cats that cannot be housed even if the rule is relaxed.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


An interesting way to look at conservation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Socks put to sleep

Socks, former White House cat, was put to sleep on Friday after being treated for cancer. He was an ex-community cat who made it all the way to the White House and lived a long life.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Thanks to Chinky for sending me this lovely advertisement and the story behind it. I'm not posting the video directly because you really should go to her blog and read the story behind it.

The filmmaker incidentally also made this other very sweet advertisement.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Cats and predation

Talk about an inflammatory headline (and yes I know it is the Daily Mail). Still, here's the original study site. In additional to asking for cats that DO and DON'T hunt, they're also asking participants in the study to change the diet of the cats. I can only assume it is to check if it affects what they hunt and how much they hunt. It is a very small number of cats though and one wonders how representative it would be.

It's also disturbing to read about the declining house sparrow population - and how there is a mention of how cats may be contributing. I recently spotted some bluebirds in my garden and from some of the reading I've been doing, house sparrows are the bane of the universe. House sparrows have been known apparently to destroy bluebird eggs and to kill adult bluebirds sitting on nests. It's interesting how in some countries they seem to proliferate (they aren't even a native bird in the US), and in others they are dying out. Also interesting are the reasons some believe that house sparrows are declining in the first place. All else being equal, cats have always been around - but our encroachment on their natural habitat is not.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Parrot rescue

I saw this guy and his parrots when I was in Alexandria for the Alley Cat Allies conference two years ago. Apparently 81 parrots were just rescued by his foundation.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Stop funding this man

EJ brought up a very good point about this article - how much taxpayers' money has been spent on this one person trying (and failing) to get rid of all the cats in the area?

If you've been trapping and killing for several years - and there are still cats in the area, I think it's time to change your methods because they're clearly not working. Mr Tan has refused offers of help to go down and try and cat proof his house (including offers that I've made). He's refused to use the Scarecrow (which would have been loaned free to him) or even to meet to discuss possible solutions. So why are the authorities continuing to fund him? There must be a point at which the authorities should cut him off.

Let's say he's spent $9000 of taxpayers' money. This is assuming my guess-timate for trapping and killing cats at $30 a cat is right (and that involves food and water for the cat before it is killed, transport and labour to pick up the cat, gas for the van, labour to care for cat while it is at the AVA, the vet's salary since vets euthanise the cats, cost of medicine to inject the cat, etc). The actual amount could be less, but considering he stopped counting at 300 cats, I think it's probably more. Should we continue to spend more just because he's not happy that the cats come into his yard especially if he refuses to even consider other methods?

What's $9000? Quite a lot to Public Assistance (PA) Recipients (and whom I might add, have to fulfill certain criteria to even qualify for the scheme). We're so careful about welfare - and making sure that we don't have a system of reliance on the authorities. By continually funding Mr Tan's activities, this is in direct opposition to that ethos.

Let's break this down. Single PA recipients receive $330 a month.

That works out to 28 and a half months of public assistance money - so that means that someone who cannot support themselves could get more than TWO YEARS on the money that has been spent on Mr Tan. Alternatively, that means 28 individuals or 8 families (with 5 of more individuals) could get one month's worth of public assistance - these are people who are having trouble feeding themselves. Not people who are upset a cat came into their house.

Isn't it time that taxpayers' money stops being wasted on this man?

Say it is your 'right' not to have cats in your garden - but it IS your property and you ought to take some responsibility for it. Certainly it is not your right to sit around and ensure that the authorities take care of any problems you might face. Say your roof collapses, or you put up a fence - should the government pay for that too?

A few years ago we had a hive of hornets or wasps in our garden. My Mom didn't want to kill them but a previous hive had ended up in our dogs being stung pretty badly. Nparks and the NEA were helpful when my Mom rang for advice. They even eventually sent someone to take a look. We were told that if they swarmed and attacked, it could lead to injury or worse. If this was on public property, or abutting public property, the hive would be considered a hazard and would be removed free of charge. However, because the site of the hive was not facing the road and our neighbours were far enough away the only people likely to be injured was our family. As a result, we would have to pay to remove them, which was fair enough.

So why is it that Mr Tan and the cats in his yard have become something that public money is subsidising?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Ideas or just more prejudice?

I'm surprised at the misconceptions in this article. First of all, please explain to me how 'stray animals are a health hazard'. Seriously, what disease are animals known to spread that they constitute a 'health hazard'? Anyone? I'm sick and tired of hearing this statement made, without anything to back it up.

Secondly, there's this nonsense about community animals rummaging in the rubbish bins, unlike birds. First of all, I don't know where Mr Lee is watching his birds, but I've seen birds rummaging in garbage. In fact, if you have a garbage spill on the side of the road, chances are that its the birds that are going to get to it first. Also, the problem of animals rummaging in garbage is a problem 'in Singapore'? I'm pretty sure animals getting into trash is a problem anywhere in the world. In the US, you have to be careful because you might get bears in the trash. So what's the solution? How about just securing your trash?

Again, why beat up on cat feeders? Should they be stopped if they sterilise, manage and feed responsibly? How on earth are they the same as litter bugs if they clean up after themselves? That's like saying that heroin abusers and people prescribed antibiotics for an illness are all drug abusers and should be locked up.

There is a good reason not to feed monkeys (basically the same reason as the bears). Monkeys are having their environment encroached into, and if you lure them OUT of their environment with food, they're at a disadvantage, especially when people complain about them (ie they get killed). You basically don't want them to get too near people because they're not domesticated. Surprise! Cats have not only been domesticated for the past couple of thousand years, they are already IN the environment. It's not like you walk into a forest and find a cat - they live on our streets, in our void decks and just about everywhere we live. In fact, if you want them OUT of your trash, then feeding them is probably a good way to go about it.

I'm also surprised that Mr Lee would suggest letting pet cats out at all. In fact, Mr Lee is the exact reason why the HDB is probably not allowing people to keep cats if this is what he is suggesting. It's also in direct opposition to what he just said earlier in the article about how easy it is to keep cats indoors.

Pet cats and community cats are NOT the same thing. I find it extremely hard to believe there are estates with NO community cats. If there is a vacuum effect, there will be cats - why? Because of territory, not food. If they are territorial, yes they may be boundary incursions but newcomers will be chased out anyway if the area cannot support more cats.

Let's take Seletar Estate for one. Mr Tan has said that he has trapped more than 300 cats over the years. Say that for some reason the estate must be home to someone who really, really like cats and enjoy bringing them all home. Now knowing that you neighbour has been trapping and killing these cats, who on earth would bring MORE cats in and let them roam around for your neighbour to kill, especially when he is so well known? So where are these cats coming from? How about the fact that they're community cats - and they are bringing removed and killed, then there is a vacuum which is then being filled up again, and so the cycle continues.

I know someone who lives in the estate and she does TNRM there. She didn't even like cats to begin with, but felt sorry for them. She's not the only one who has tried to run programmes there. When they removed the cats FROM the streets so that they would not be trapped and killed, guess what happened? If you guessed that new cats come in, you'd be absolutely right.

Does this look like a suffering cat to you?

Cat lolling, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

Thank you Chinky for sending this to me.

I seriously doubt that putting an animal down is 'humane' just because community cats MAY have a shorter life. Also if cats on the street have a tough life, then shouldn't we be kinder to them instead of killing them?

If one follows this argument to its logical extreme, then if for example there are children who live in slums and have a tough life, ought they to be killed? Certainly they are in all likelihood more inclined to live shorter lives than the rest of us, because of hazards on the street as well. If you follow this warped logic, then charities who help to alleviate their suffering, educate these children, and try and feed and clothe them ought to be closed down. Instead the children should be killed! Does anyone seriously believe that?

Let's not forget people who are genetically predisposed to a terminal illness. Following this logic again, hey they should be killed! Not only are they very likely to suffer, they are almost certainly going to live shorter lives. If we take this ridiculous argument to its conclusion, then all these people ought to be dispatched with, pronto.

We can't predict life, nor the quality of life. Are most cats on the streets happy? Yes - unless they are ill-treated, abused or caught to be killed. And many of these cats actually live very long lives - I would argue that very often their lives are cut short precisely because they are caught and killed. If left on their own, they would live out their normal lifespans. It's not unusual at all now to see community cats that are older, healthy and well taken care of. With concerned community caregivers, many are given vet care and good nutrition. If the people trapping them, or calling up to complain about them would just leave them alone, then they wouldn't have miserable lives.

Want to be truly humane? Start a TNRM programme.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Woman awarded refund

Here's an interesting article about a woman who took a pet farm to the Small claims Tribunal for selling her a dog that had parvovirus. It seems that complaints against pet shops have been up last year as well. While we certainly hope people adopt instead of buying, it is good to know that people in the pet shop industry are aware that it isn't just inexpensive to file a claim against them, but that there is a precedent of someone being awarded money in such a claim. While there are responsible pet shops that don't sell animals, the majority do, and unfortunately, animals are often just a commodity for them.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Deer sterilisation?

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I was just speaking to some neighbours about the deer in the area. I love watching deer but apparently their numbers are exploding in Maryland. The state allows hunting during certain periods of the year but hunting season is over for now.

The deer can apparently cause damage to plants and trees. Is killing the answer though? Hunting thins the herds for a while - but the population just rebounds again with the next breeding cycle. It kind of reminds me of the whole cat situation. Culling is not the solution - here's an interesting article on population control through sterilisation for deer.

Here's an article that made me wonder what on earth they were thinking.

They also have oral contraceptives for deer - and since people are feeding them anyway, that sounds like a pretty good idea!

Monday, February 9, 2009

Friday, February 6, 2009

More speculation on the Seletar Cats

When I saw the headline to this article, I groaned - unfortunately there are already people in this article talking about how the cats' remains must be disposed of in the same manner in which birds culled after avian flu are taken care of. Of course, the fact that these cats are highly unlikely to have anything that is contagious to people was not mentioned. Neither is the fact that FIV, or as it is colourfully referred to in the paper, "Cat Aids", is not in transmissible to people.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Today (3-2-09)

Thanks to Chinky for sending this letter in.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Abuse or hoarding?

I heard about this case and was waiting for more details and here they are. Also as Anonymous in the last post said, do go to the SPCA website for more information.

While some people are suspecting abuse, my guess is that it's a hoarder. Why? There's the presence of two kinds of food bags - dog and cat food. Also the sheer number of cats is to me fishy. Yes it's possible that there is someone killing all these cats - but in most abuse cases we've seen, the bodies are thrown out. In this case, someone has taken quite a lot of trouble to conceal the deaths. We'll find out more and hopefully whomever it is will be stopped.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Unconditional Love

This is an incredibly sweet video about a mother cat and some squirrels.