I was speaking to a caregiver the other day who said that she had been trying in vain to get her town council to meet with her. There had been complaints which she and various other caregivers and residents in the area had been trying to resolve. However the town council had threatened to send in pest control.
While lamenting with her on this turn of affairs, I said to her that with elections around the corner, the town council is probably going to put off meetings for the time being. She retorted that they're too busy to meet with her, but they're not too busy to arrange for trapping of cats!
Fortunately, she and the others have gotten a temporary staying of the trapping order (but still no meeting the last I heard). What she said was made me think. Why is it that caregivers and people looking after cats are always treated as if we matter less than people who have complaints? From what I understand, there was one complainant who did not want to see any cats in the area at all. On the other hand, there are many residents who want to meet up and resolve the problem AND they want the cats to stay. Yet they are being ignored.
So here's the thing - this election season, let our elected representatives know how we feel. We are not second class citizens who matter less than complainants, many of whom are not even held accountable because they are anonymous. Caregivers are committed, concerned and ready to help - so why are they treated as if they don't matter?
When candidates come around campaigning for votes, ask them what their stance is on community cats. How will they respond to anonymous complaints and round up cats to be killed? How about their stance on sterilisation and getting the old SCRS re-started in town councils? How do they feel about the HDB policy in relation to cats? Will they work to getting that law overturned?
I know that I am not alone in feeling that these issues are important to us. Are they more important than say the standard of living to most Singaporeans? Probably not. For those of us who care for community cats however, I would say that these are some of our most pressing issues. Will our community cats be safe? When we share our homes with beloved pet cats, will we worry that the HDB will come knocking and we might lose our homes?
With so many constituencies likely to be contested, many of us will get a chance to vote at this election. Vote in the people whom you think will represent what you care for most - for many of us, that would be our cats.
In a world where diseases seem to be mutating more than they used to, God forbid that we have another SARS-like incident. If we do however, I hope that our leaders will not respond with massive hysterical over-reaction but in a measured and logical manner.
When you vote, remember the cats.