Tuesday, September 29, 2009


Someone I know just had a community cat of hers caught and sent to the AVA. Fortunately, she was able to retrieve the cat in time before it was killed, but it turns out that a neighbour trapped the cat while she was away. She was upset and aggrieved, that a neighbour would do so before speaking with her as the neighbour knew the cat was a cat she cared for.

It is extremely upsetting to lose your cat in such an upsetting fashion, and it is true that some neighbours are very trigger happy. They would rather trap your cat (knowing it is under your care), rather than wait to speak with you.

However it is a good idea to try and get on good terms with your neighbours BEFORE there is any friction. You don't want your first contact with your neighbours to be one where there is already some unhappiness over a cat, for example.

If you first move into a neighbourhood, or there is a new neighbour who moves in, do take the initiative to go over and introduce yourself. It can be as simple as just offering to give them your number or telling them to knock on your door if they need anything. I tend to like to bring over something to welcome them - baked goods (if you bake), flowers, etc. It doesn't have to be something expensive. That way your start off your first interaction on a positive note. Your neighbour is then more likely to approach you if they do have an issue in the future.

Especially if the cats are very obvious - ie lounging around and impossible to miss - you may want to also let your neighbours know, that you help to care for them. You should also let them know that if there is any issue, they should not hesitate to contact you.

Of course, it doesn't mean that the relationship will not go sour in future no matter what you do. However, it's always better to have a friendly first interaction then to meet your neighbour only when they have an issue with the cats.

A caregiver I know is so friendly and helpful to the neighbours that one of her neighbours who really doesn't like the cats at all, keeps an eye on the cats when the caregiver is on holiday. The neighbour still doesn't like the cats - but she DOES like the caregiver, and that makes all the difference.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Peacocks on Sentosa

Some of you may have read the article about peacocks on Sentosa. I remember seeing some of the signs when I was last there a few years ago, and here's a photo, a blogger took of the signs. What's especially interesting to me is that the peacocks are actually SEEN attacking the cars, but that most people seem to be okay with it, or rather that they understand what the peacocks are doing. Some people have even bought car covers, according to the story. This leads me to the question - are people on Sentosa just more accommodating to wildlife, or is it just because peacocks are rarer?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

TC report cards

Many of you have probably already read these articles on town councils and their new ranking system. As some of you have mentioned in the past, it is quite worrying.

There are a few things that are cause for concern. Firstly, cleanliness is assessed in terms of how many average complaints there are per block. Again, it doesn't seem from the report that this takes into account whether the complaint is from the same person or from various people. So technically, you could have a block where 99% of the block is happy with the level of cleanliness, but the block could get a bad grade because one person complains repeatedly. This leads to what a few of you have mentioned in the past - the possible knee jerk reaction in response to complaints about cats.

Of course TCs are going to want to be extra responsive - and if there is a complaint, are they more likely to work with residents or trap and remove cats? As we all know, removing cats doesn't help because most of these cats are not community cats, but someone's household cat let out to wander. Again because the root cause of the problem isn't solved - the problem will reoccur when the same irresponsible residents just gets another cat and lets it out to wander.

At the same time, will TCs feel they need to solve the problem even 'quicker' lest they get another complaint from the same resident about the same issue? Will they exert more pressure on caregivers? The only hope I have is that TCs start to realise after getting repeat complaints from the same resident that it's driving their complaint numbers up and that they may be more willing to come to a more permanent solution by consulting with caregivers.

Secondly, I had thought this exercise was going to be about transparency. The main concern that everyone had was when people realised that town council funds were being put in investments which were losing money. While I appreciate that financial information is available online, surely the idea is that residents should be able to access any relevant information about TCs both easily and for free. For example, when I last checked, many TCs still did not publish their bylaws online. In order to get them, you need to buy the bylaws. In addition, while in theory you are supposed to be able to buy them at the TC counter, the TCs I spoke to didn't have them.

Instead of assessing TCs on the basis of arrears collected, there must be a better system of determining transparency. Certainly if a TC has problems collecting arrears in a large number of cases, there is probably an issue there. On the other hand, what if there are residents who are unable to pay as was mentioned by Ms Grace Fu herself?

One of the issues I think we've talked about often is service standards - and again, I don't see that being addressed. This should include guidelines referring to how long it will take for a TC officer to get back to you - ie within the day? Never? It was very disappointing that this was not addressed. The GEMS programme already at work in other sectors might be a model.

Another thing that concerns me is that this seems that unfortunately again this is going to be a complaint driven report card. What if people are happy with their estates? Is there no criteria that can measure it? I am sure that people are more likely to criticise than praise in general - but there should be some room for people to praise a TC when it deserves the accolades.

Whatever is said about the TCs not being compared with each other, it is inevitable that people will do the ranking themselves as they're all being measured on the same scale. It's sort of like school rankings and the inevitable craziness that used to occur when schools were ranked. No TC will want to be at the bottom of the list and I worry what methods they will use to achieve this.

Finally, while there is talk residents and TCs deciding on the standards and how much they are willing to pay for it, I don't see how this will happen in practise. Most people will naturally want the cleanest estate for the cheapest possible price. Some residents are willing to pay more for a cleaner estate as one of the people quoted in the article mentioned. On the other hand, other residents as another person mentioned, do not want to pay more but want to be more personally involved in keeping the estate clean. I don't see how the TC report card is going to help resolve this in any way.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Sterilisation for cats

Thanks to yskat for sending this in. I think we discussed the grant to fund research into sterilisation, but here's a story about the guy who is putting his money to try and find injectable contraceptives for cats. I am surprised the story called TNR 'exotic' though.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Egypt belated spots flaw in killing pigs

While our garbage collection is definitely better than the one described in this article, this reaction to H1N1 certainly sounds familiar. This serves as a good cautionary tale - animals react and respond to the environment and fill the vacuum there. Removing them causes a myriad of other unanticipated problems.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Hari Raya

Selamat Hari Raya to everyone who celebrates - and may you have a wonderful year ahead.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Podcast taping

I went and taped a podcast with the lovely people from Alley Cat Allies on Mediation, aka community relations today. It was a fun session and I'll let you know when it's available to hear!

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Dolphin killing

Considering how intelligent and gentle dolphins are, it makes it even sadder that they are hunted and killed.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Pier 39 with sealions

Pier 39 with sealions, originally uploaded by dawnkua.

I was away in California over the past week and came upon these sea lions.

What was however even more interesting to me was the fact that these sealions started migrating to the area, and that at first they were viewed as a nuisance. People wanted them gone because they were noisy. Several people around me also commented on the smell.

What was really interesting though was that they decided to try and accommodate the sea lions instead of driving them away and now they are a huge tourist attraction. There were tons of tourists taking photos and just basically watching the sea lions.

Food for thought for people who think our community cats are pests?

Monday, September 7, 2009


This is an interesting article about declawing in the San Francisco papers. San Francisco, is known to be one of the more progressive cities in the US in terms of animal welfare, and their SPCA is world famous.

Interestingly, the SF SPCA and some of the vets do not want to ban declawing. One of the reasons given is that they do not believe city council should legislate on the matter. Another is that there is a worry that owners might give their cats up if they are not given the option of declawing.

A couple of issues - again, I'm not a huge fan of unnecessary legislation as you guys know. Often, without enforcement, how effective is it just to HAVE a law? However, a few years ago when we considered this topic, we talked to the vets in Singapore. Instead of having a strict law against it, the vets, as a body, could decide amongst themselves NOT to practice declawing. That way, if there were also very specific reasons why they might want to practice declawing in certain cases, they can still make that decision. For example, if someone comes to them and says that their cat has scratched them and the cat will be tossed out on the street otherwise.

On the other hand, some of the vets told us they thought that cats might be thrown out on the streets otherwise. First of all, even in Singapore, where declawing is not very common, we have found declawed cats abandoned. So I don't think that argument holds much water. Secondly, most people declaw cats when they first adopt/buy a cat, so it would not really affect that many people who already HAVE cats. If it stops someone from adopting a cat, then so be it. Also, as I mentioned, if it is a practice direction that the veterinary association agrees to adopt, then they CAN make exceptions where they think it is necessary.

Another point I think to consider is that declawing has been illegal in the United Kingdom and I believe much of Europe for many years as has tail docking. If it has worked there, then I think it's high time to consider doing away with the practice - whether by law, or by internal regulation.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

ST (2-9-09)

Here's a letter from Mr Tan Tuan Khoon that I can agree with. It's something that we've been advocating and talking to the vets about since I was with CWS (and on this blog and on the predecessor to this blog). Perhaps Mr Tan may not be not aware that not all the vets are comfortable doing early age spay-neuter or more caregivers and pet owners would be happy to do it. There have been caregivers who have worked with vets to get cats sterilised before four to six months (which is normally done here).

Mr Tan may also be unaware that there are already people reporting animals abandoned but that it is very difficult to prosecute and find proof of this. You must for example have witnessed the animal being dumped - and obviously, you'd be hard pressed to find someone actually abandon an animal where others can see it. It's mostly done somewhere remote or in the middle of the night.

Let's hope that Mr Tan has a change of heart. Since he obviously advocates sterilisation (and early age sterilisation too), then let's hope that he actively walks the talk.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

What happens to cats caught?

I was talking to a caregiver and she mentioned that one of the complainants had asked for the cats to be removed not knowing that the cats would be killed. On hearing what would happen to the cats, the complainant said that he wanted to withdraw his complaint. He had thought they would be relocated.

It's really important to try and let complainants know what happens to the cats - animal control or town council isn't going to tell them in general. Many complainants may want the cats removed - but they do NOT want them killed. If a solution can be found to whatever issues they are facing, many are fine with the cats remaining where they are.

This is why it's so important to let people know that cats do not end up in what I call Cat Disneyland - they're not in a lovely shelter being cared for. They are being hauled off to be killed - and it doesn't even solve whatever problem there generally was in the first place.

If you're doing TNRM, let your neighbours and others know - and let them know the fate of the cats should they be taken away.