Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How do you recover from this?

Two old aunties rushed down to AVA after they found out that their cats were caught. A mother and her baby.

The officer brought the cats out but said he could only release one. The aunties had to choose.

The cats jumped for joy at seeing these familiar loving faces, not understanding the anguish and the tears.

They chose the mother. Because they had seen her as a baby, as a young playful adult and then an unwitting, unsavvy young mother. Then they witnessed the baby frantic, hysterical in the cage as she was carried back into the unspeakable backrooms.

How does anyone make such a decision? How do you expect them to recover from it? This happened some time ago but the aunties will never ever forget this.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

great kitten migrations,

Breaking News: Ninja adopted and lovin' it! Adopted, Rejected, Adopted again: Someone coming for Ranger tonight!

It's hard to keep track of the comings and goings sometimes but we try.

The woman made a long overdue house visit, so here's another before and after from Ah Ma's Gruesome Foursome...

Big handsome boy still behaves like a kitten. When he was smaller, he used to fish out, play with and cuddle their hamster every night when everyone was sleeping. Now that he is so much bigger, they decided not to risk it by locking poor hammie up in a cat-proof cage. I hope Big Boy still visits his friend often.

The last of the foursome turned up at the CWS Cat's Night Out in July.

Small rules his household from the icy north pole. When you scold him, he will face north (or anywhere where you aren't standing). He can do it for up to 3 days. I am nowhere near that cool.

This is the kitten the woman catnapped from Ah Ma's. We were all prepared to overlook the sudden presence of this ugly cat in our midst but as a stroke of luck will have it...

Melody cuddled the Cat's Night Out mascot all the way home! Now they have to contend with his constant sucking habit, muahahahaha. They love him lots, despite.


Can you believe these kiddos have not found homes yet?!

Moo and Boo. You can barely tell them apart except for the straight tail and the kinked tail. (Update: Moo and Boo adopted!)

as predicted, their two white siblings went to new homes first.

Whitley here was almost adopted but for her kinked tail. It's not her fault, swear!

and mystic ocean

Someone left these 5 babies in a plastic bag outside Ah Ma's front door. Why ever did you do this?? Fosters tried but none of them made it. Goodbye, we will be seeing you again soon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

before & after kittens

The horror show in the video has thankfully been averted through the efforts of volunteers from Pawpledge, Vineyard Community Church and others. The flat is painted, cats sterilised and kittens evacuated to the animalfamily.

Previously, White Challenger and Mixed Ranger were confirmed for adoption. Wallflower's condition was touch and go.

Since then, White Challenger has been rehomed. By a twist of fate... Wallflower has also been rehomed, leaving Mixed Ranger and Black Ninja still in our midst.

"Did you think I wouldn't recover? I am all pretty now!"

"My adopter found abandoned kittens in her neighbourhood so she doesn't have room for me anymore. I am happy for the kitties but someone please adopt me!"

"yes, i'm still here too..."

remember this formless lump that was heartlessly left by the dustbin?

He was lovingly raised by Bukit Purmei's P.A.W. Vet Centre, then a super foster. When he became all cute and plumb, he found his way back to the animalfamily and immediately decided to lose his appetite.

Only after some frantic panicking did we realise that Boo Boo did not like being quarantined on his own so he was thrown in with Mixed Ranger and Black Ninja. They hate him but he sure is loving it. Appetite returned and plumbed up again!

He goes to his new home this weekend.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

these old ladies, so cute you gotta love them

*Wendy* the functioning schizophrenic and *Maggie* her senile partner in crime rescued an injured cat during one of their nightly feeds. The tom got better and Wendy decided to keep it but wouldn’t sterilise because she felt he might have too weak a constitution to survive it.

The tom thanked her by turning his full libidinous and destructive nature on - copulating with her young kittens causing a miscarriage, launching bloodbaths on her other cats and he sprayed, everywhere.

After the umpteenth inconveniently-timed call from Wendy to lament about how much stress the cat is causing her and looping labyrinthian arguments about whether to sterilise the cat or not, the woman decided to cut Wendy short on one of her voluble and outrageous wall of consciousness monologues. She hung up.

Her colleagues were momentarily confused. Didn’t the woman tell them she didn’t have kids? She was all “Are you listening? I am going to hang up now if you aren’t listening. When you are ready to listen, then call me back.”

It worked. When Wendy called back, she was considerably calmer. She paid attention and finally agreed for the woman to come collect the cat for sterilisation. They did have one problem, the cat was so hostile he wouldn’t let anyone near him.

The cat trapper was called in and Wendy annoyed him by telling him that if she couldn’t catch him, he couldn’t. And she wouldn’t let them move any of her mountainous possessions that clutter all available space in the flat. She simply wouldn’t shut up. All the while, the cat teased us by darting from one victorian knick-knacks nook to ethnic trinkets cranny.

The woman had to be bad mammy again. “The trapper can’t work if you keep talking. Go to the back room and sit there. Don’t come out until the cat is trapped.” “But…” “Hupp, go back”. She did as she was told.

It took the trapper, the trapper assistant and the woman one hour to get that delinquent cat with the help of a torch, a net and 2 of Wendy's Indonesian decorative poles. Every time Wendy sneaked out, the woman went ‘Hupp, back.” She trotted back. These old ladies, they can be so… cute.

Before they left, she gave them one of her Christmas trinkets with thanks, - a porcelain cat sitting on a gift box.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

litter of critters

4 out of 6 of the leukemia caregiver's kittens have been adopted! they still had remnants of the cat flu so only 2 went straight off for their home trials with the more confident adopters. The rest were packed off here for recuperation and fattening up.

A pretty little head on a bag of bones, Mixed Ranger has to pile on the pounds before heading to her new home. But she is the least worrisome, all brass and sassy attitude!

Perk up, little wallflower. She was burning hot when she got here and dehydrated. She gave the woman a scare by lying limp on her lap. After a couple of squirts of water, she finally looked up with her big sad eyes. She hasn't caught any adopter's attention yet.

White Challenger doesn't sweat it, he has a new home waiting for him when his adopter comes back from vacation.

Black Ninja's conjunctivitis is clearing up. He wonders why black cats are the last to be adopted, if ever?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

ah ma & leukemia caregiver update

The woman was BANNED from Ah Ma’s place because she catnapped a kitten held hostage by that incorrigible hoarder.

So she kept away while Ah Ma fumed and hissed. (The kitten has since been adopted.) It looked safe to resurface again this week although Ah Ma, as befuddled as she is, remembered. Quite surprisingly, she only asked the other volunteers if the woman was there to take anymore of her kittens. They said no and they all moved on from there - Ah Ma back out to her favourite coffeeshop and the volunteers back to work on the cockroaches.

And it wasn’t even a surprise to find Ah Ma with 2 more kittens.

It’s tempting but the woman will try to accumulate more brownie points before pulling another catnap. After all, there is no end to the supply as long as people in the neighbourhood treat Ah Ma as a dumping ground. Since the start of the clean-up - 13 new kittens - 1 dead, 5 rehomed. The rest are where they are but thriving at least.

They headed over to the leukemia sufferer with 30+ cats after Ah Ma’s. The situation was already very much under control with most of the old furnishings cleared out and adult cats sterilised.

The old auntie was tired, overwhelmed, almost resigned. One kitten, degenerated to skin on bones, had to be rushed to the hospital. The others were in fairly good shape but teary. In her state, the soul is willing but the flesh is weak. She is just not able to keep up with the care the little ones need right now and we are desperately seeking new homes for these sick babies.

As soul-gutting as these cases are, it is hard to be upset with these old caregivers turned hoarders. No one taught them any better. And they themselves suffered enough for it. So I save my wrath for the ones not sick, not old, just dim, who cling on to archaic ideas that cats must roam and that neutering is evil and immoral.

On one of her trapping days, the woman had to fight off a teen who insisted one of the trapped cats is his. When it roams, pal, it is fair game. She offered free sterilisation for his other 2 cats. He said no. She shrugged. She will get them on their next wandering.

That makes 15 new young cats discovered, caught and sterilised this month alone. 50 and counting since January in a 10-block area. Half of them from homes. It’s hard to reconcile sometimes why we have let other people’s responsibility become our own. But in cat welfare, their problems often become yours. After all, if they are not sterilising, they are either a hoarder or a chronic abandoner and some one has to pick up their pieces eventually. We can at least take heart that some people are coming to their senses before it is too late.

And quite unexpectedly, they become your newfound cat welfare neighbourhood watch. This one-week old kitten was dumped next to a dustbin wrapped in a tissue and saved by our neighbour’s 7-yr old daughter.

It is with the vet, fighting for a chance on this callous earth.

How you can help:
* Donate cat food.
* Foster or adopt a kitten.
* Sponsor the medical fees for the 2 hospitalised kittens.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

this is what I think of teeth scaling

So I had a little gum inflammation, didn’t bother me much, but you thought drooling very unbecoming of a cat.

For that, I made you spend the night with me on the sliver of cold hard floor between the utility cabinet and the junk you keep in the backroom. Because I won't suffer quarantine on my own, not quietly anyway.

You brought Fruitcake in with you, which was a nice touch. We had fun playing hide and seek in your sleeping bag while you were sleeping. So much so you were surprised that we were nowhere to be seen when you woke up the next day.

You called for us and we took our time before we popped our heads out from the top of the cabinet in unison. Gotcha.

Friday, July 03, 2009

mystery call to AVA

An AVA officer got a mystery call today at their Toll-free Hotline for the loaning of cat traps from a particularly exasperating caller. He didn’t know he was conversing with a cat, masquerading as a cat-hater. That would have made his day.

The bare facts are such: The loaning of free traps from AVA is open only to people living in private residences. They will need to present their IC at the Centre for Animal Welfare and Control for collection, where they will be shown how to use the trap. Only one trap can be loaned at a time by the same person for a period of 2 weeks.

Here’s where it gets interesting. I asked what happens after a cat is trapped and the officer said that you must call AVA to collect the cat by the next working day. I asked what happens to the cat and got the obvious answer. I then said that some family members are not comfortable to send cats to their death, can we catch and release them in other areas? The officer strongly discouraged this on the grounds that the cat may be disoriented and cannot find food, leading to suffering.

Tooty the exasperating caller then asked, but you won’t really know what people do with the cats after they are trapped right? The officer was getting slightly alarmed saying have you seen cats getting skinnier and skinnier if cannot find food? At least when it goes to AVA, it will be at peace.

The system certainly sounds good on paper, AVA provides free service to private home residents, nuisance cats removed to a misery-free end. Win-Win.

But so many questions unanswered. How do you ensure that the trapped cats do end up in AVA? How do you ensure that the trapped cats are properly treated overnight, over weekends by trappers who have no love for them?

Someone with a private residence address should go down and borrow a trap to see what information is being imparted to trap loaners. Cat Welfare Society has broached to the Ministry of National Development before to provide information about Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage as an alternative to culling. Whenever someone requests for a trap, AVA can inform people about sterilisation as an alternative, or send a brochure along with the trap. Has this advice been trickled down to the ground staff?

The officer obviously feels for the cats but his hands are tied by a system that is clearly flawed. He was getting annoyed by this heartless caller and hung up even before I said thanks and goodbye. Good for him.

Friday, June 26, 2009

CWS: A Look Ahead

Cat Welfare Society has had a solid month of fundraising with the LPN Cat Day at Suntec City, the Cat’s Night Out “In Search of the Most Beautiful Domestic Cat” at Jurong Point and that unforgettably tongue-in-cheek STrip “What’s New Pussycat?” campaign.

Besides raising funds for stray sterilisation, these light-hearted occasions gave us a rare chance to let our hair down with other cat groups, volunteers and with the public.

Now the fun is over, it is time to get back down to the serious business of cat welfare.

Engaging govt agencies

CWS is planning a series of engagements with AVA, HDB and Town Councils. And it cannot be timelier that Sunday Times dedicated a full page on animal welfare last weekend, giving voice to the poisoned bayshore cats, abandoned animals and tireless animal welfare volunteers.

(They had to juxtapose it with an article on our good friend Mr TTK to provide a perfunctory journalistic balance to the spread, but that is easily forgiven. A contrary article on a less controversial figure would have been more detrimental. So thank you, Sunday Times.)

Also featured in the full page coverage is a small victory for cat welfare. AVA has put it on record, “AVA… is again open to subsidising the cost of sterilisation of stray cats, if caregivers, town councils and communities are willing to participate.”

So our upcoming meeting with them can now fast track to the mechanics of the stray cat sterilisation scheme: what is required of town councils and volunteers, and how to streamline the scheme for greater success.

After which, we can start working with dedicated caregivers whose stray management work in their areas through Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage or TNRM, mediation and community building work has reached a healthy maturity. We will talk to their Town Councils first.

How you can help:
If you are a caregiver with a well managed cat community, come forward. Also start keeping records of the number of cats in your neighbourhood, the number of cats you have sterilised, your encounters with Town Councils and the number of complaints handled as these will go a long way when we engage them.

If your area does not have a TNRM programme, start one! Look out for our upcoming stray cat management workshop and meet-up on how to get started.


CWS continues to single-mindedly put our funds into subsidising the sterilisation of stray cats. All our fundraising efforts are for this very purpose.

We get appeals from time to time to provide financial help for caregivers in need and for cat rescues. And this the committee members and volunteers do on our own personal basis.

The reason CWS funds are not diverted that way is this: The cold honest truth is that we have had to dig into our reserves last year to cover sterilisation and medical subsidies. And one had to go. It is a sign of the times that donations are down and reimbursements for subsidies are up.

We must keep stray cat sterilisation going simply because sterilisation makes the biggest impact to the welfare of our cats in the long run. It is this consistent, demanding, unglamourous work by dedicated caregivers and volunteers that provides a compelling reason for AVA to enter into a dialogue with cat welfare advocates. And we cannot afford to derail now.

The moment the government finally takes on the funding of stray cat sterilisation, that will really open up everyone’s resources to help the sick and suffering.

That moment is close and what will get us there is to make sure more community cats are sterilised and managed.

How you can help:
Start a TNRM programme in your neighbourhood. The next best thing is to sponsor a sterilisation!


This is something that we struggle with immensely because we don’t have a full-time person in CWS. The committee members and volunteers handle our cases after hours or through phones and emails.

Mediation remains the most stressful, unrewarding part of cat welfare work. Being yelled at by irate people with cat pee on their slippers after a long day at work is not anyone’s idea of a fulfilling existence. But we still do it, together with our network of caregivers and volunteers because it goes hand in hand with TNRM. Stray management just doesn’t work without it.

What we find is that people come to CWS for a magic pill. And five after-hours dispensers to pill an entire nation is beyond ridiculous. We need more mediators.

It is a fact that Singaporeans hold an uncanny esteem for authority. People from an organisation are often seen as more respectable than someone from the neighbourhood. That is how Singaporeans work, so “I am from Cat Welfare Society” goes a long way. But anyone with the passion, a little gumption and knowledge can register with CWS and fulfill this role. And all the better if they are actual residents in the neighbourhood.

These resident mediators have their nose on the ground, they get to the problems quicker and they can better establish long term relationships with the Town Council officers and other residents. Town Councils can’t ignore them simply because they are residents, therefore constituents and more importantly, voters.

The magic pill? Don’t yell back and don’t wear your house clothes when mediating.

As much as mediation is daunting and completely thankless, just a word from you can save a cat from being caught and culled. If you are lucky, you can instill a little conscience in the neighbourhood, one cheesed off resident at a time.

How you can help:
If you want to be a mediator for your neighbourhood, register with CWS and contact your Town Council officer. Also look out for our upcoming stray cat management workshop and meet-up on how to get started.

Beyond CWS

If you have been following the posts and thread on the Cat Welfare Society’s Facebook page, you would have a good idea of the spectrum of cat welfare activities required to fully tackle an issue as broad as cat welfare.

There are the numerous appeals for medical fees for sick or injured cats, the many catteries and shelters in trouble in these tough economic times, cats and kittens that need fosterers and homes, AVA officers and Town Council officers to negotiate with and the unenlightened public to educate. As individuals, where do we start?

My own experience with the animalfamily is to start where your passion takes you. I started with the rescue and adoption of an old mangy toothless cat that stole my heart.

6 years on, the family has 10 cats at home, 40 cats fostered (and thankfully rehomed), hundreds sterilised and we dream of a cattery. We have seen cat shelters and their antithesis, cat hoarders and left a part of ourselves with each and everyone of these animals, the cheery ones, the sadly neglected, the dying and the dead.

Still, it is not enough. There must be a more sustainable solution to the plight of our cats, the kind that makes it less necessary to take cats off our streets for anything other than to loving homes. This will happen only when the responsibility for stray cat welfare is not just on caregivers but the entire nation. That is the prize worth working towards.

Friday, June 19, 2009

an inconvenient people

In a post-AWARE world, there is a growing wariness of groups who “push stridently for narrow interests, at the expense of other groups”. This was mentioned in the parliamentary reopening speech, albeit about political representation. The concern is that this would polarise and divide our society.

Stray management is such an interest. You just have to look at some of the posts in STOMP to see how it polarises. Cries for compassion for strays are met with cries for compassion for humans who are affected by them.

But can we really afford to contain polarising issues while we wait for social and cultural tides to change? Environment issues had the same bad rap a decade ago. They have since entered the mainstream simply because the problems have become too big to ignore.

And before them, liberties for minorities, women, the sick and the poor arrived after enormous hardship and suffering. All the while, the privileged cried injustice, instability, loss of traditional values, inconvenience.

And they are still crying over inconveniences posed not just by animals but two legs - migrant workers, aids victims, homosexuals, ex-convicts.

All narrow interests? Maybe. But the lessons are there to be learnt. People thought there was something defective or culpable about the people they dominated by numbers or by circumstances, justifying their actions and they were proved wrong. They thought they could dominate the land and they were dead wrong.

People a.k.a voters don’t want to be pushed into change but the world around them is changing. 10 years to irreversible environmental damage. 50 years to the end of sea fish. The threat of scarcity and the chaos that follows is real. All the more, the guiding principles henceforth must be to Save, to Conserve, to Share and to Free, regardless. They have to become as habitual as it is to brush our teeth and that leaves little room for pickiness.

Save. Conserve. Share. Free

We may be all about cats, others about dogs, marine life yet others about children of ex-convicts with aids. This is not because our interests are narrow but that they are realistic. Different concerns require different strategies and approaches within the constraints of available resources, but what binds them are those very objectives: to Save, to Conserve, and to Free.

To Share? Maybe we still don’t do it quite so well.

How then to hardwire Save, Conserve, Share and Free into the two legs?

The challengers to civil societies would be the first to tell you that these values are not new to them. They just don’t look past their in-group sensitivities when it comes to application. (All the more ironical when civil societies adopt the same attitude they are trying to fight.)

We all have it in us to do it

Then I pawed on this charming TED video on the discovery made by brain scientist Jill Bolte Taylor the morning she suffered a stroke. Like a true scientist, she didn’t panic, she said Oh cool, now I can study my own brain from the inside out.

She already knew about the very different personalities of the left and right brain. Simply put, the right brain is all about the now and how our senses gather and distill information about our environment, while the left is all about me, how I process information about the past and present to project a future.

She hemorrhaged in the left hemisphere, felt her grasp of language slip away and fascinatingly with it, her sense of self. Her right brain took over and she floated on a sense of blissful wonder at not knowing where her body started and ended. She was at one with the world.

Arguably, environmentalists, humanitarians and animal people feel that kind of intense connection with their surroundings everyday. It’s just how their brains work and they didn’t get a stroke to stumble on it.

Could the contemporary emphasis on right brain development evolve a new generation more in tune with the ground they stand on and all there is on it? Can it turn the volume of the self-seeking left brain down to become a people less worried about where they started and where they end?

Until then, it must be inconvenient for those who find others saving and conserving things that threaten their health, safety, aspirations, livelihood and decorum. There are bigger inconveniences ahead when the water rises, food prices rocket and the fish disappear. If they are not part of the solution, would they be part of the chaos?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Singapore Animal Welfare Symposium 2009 II

The Cat Welfare Society gave a presentation as part of the second panel session on Domestic Animal Welfare. It raised up our community's two main issues - that HDB allow cats to be kept as pets in flats and the reinstatement of the stray cat rehab scheme - amidst positive evidence of the effectiveness of sterilisation and a growing community of cat caregiving and advocacy in Singapore.

Can we make a cat auntie's dream come true?

Since 2004, there has been a year on year drop in the number of cats surrendered and impounded.

Long overdue, these caregivers are starting to receive well-deserved recognition in recent years.

So, what do these community cat caregivers want? They want more eligible homes for community cats. And they want to know that their cats are safe from being indiscriminately caught and culled.

While stray cat population figures show that sterilisation is effective, what it doesn’t do is reduce the number of cat nuisance complaints, which is constantly cited as one of the reasons for resisting cat-friendly policies.

On the ground, there are many parties and their differing concerns to balance when trying to achieve an amicable level of human-animal co-existence. A lot of the resistance to the reinstating of the Stray Cat Rehab Scheme is from the town councils who are skeptical about how the scheme benefits them and also the additional workload that comes with administering the scheme.

(AVA confirmed that if they were to bring the scheme back, it would be in a decentralised form and only with the consent of the town councils.)

It reinforces the point that helping town councils reduce instances of human-cat conflicts is paramount in winning them over. And that is a task that CWS will take up this year. It is making plans to engage HDB, MPs and TCs and call for like-minded people in this community to come forward with inputs and support towards this campaign.

In contrast to the stray cat, stray dogs remain far less tolerated on our streets. The govt still does not recognise the same trap and neuter programme for our canine friends. Yet the pet dog trade trumps the cat anyday.

Singapore being a free market, the govt does not interfere with the market supply of pets from breeders or in pet shops. Many advocates argued that more must be done to curb the supply, especially in the face of a growing number of abandoned pets in Singapore, many more dogs and an alarming number of pedigrees.

This would be music to our ears certainly but as unlikely as it is that the govt will restrict the trade in pet animals, they must at least answer for how well these animal traders are being policed. It became clear that AVA relies on whistleblowing to keep these traders in check.

As the day progressed, several areas of overlap surfaced that animal welfare groups could potentially collaborate on:

1) Allowing more categories of pets to be kept in flats like cats and medium-sized dogs.
2) Regulating the loaning of traps to the public for errant cats and monkeys.
3) Policing of unscrupulous breeding and trading of animals.

To their credit, AVA indicated a willingness to continue the dialogue beyond the symposium on many of the issues raised. One person from the floor said it best. She asked AVA to tell us how we, the animal welfare community, can help them make some of these long-awaited changes a reality. And this is an opportunity that AVA cannot quite afford to pass up.

Students made up a large percentage of the audience at the symposium, many recipients of the animal protectors grant with an impressive showing at the event. These student leaders and activists with a passion for animal welfare are likely to become our next generation of veterinarians and advocates. If AVA wants these future leaders in their fold and not on the opposite side of the table, this is the time to engage them.

And what these students want is the confidence that the govt and its policies can change. More than that, what they want is to be part of the movement that leads and that inspires the conscience of this country for animal welfare and for conservation, not trail behind it. You can just see it in their eyes.

blogger templates | Make Money Online