Monday, March 23, 2009

hoarder crisis averted – for now

It was inevitable. Our old hoarder neighbour got her eviction letter.

The woman negotiated with HDB to give her time to help resolve the situation, namely, the smell that caused an entire floor of residents to band together crying for blood. They gave her a week. Deadline: Today.

First visit

The flat had not had a change of air in years. There was no moving air as every single window was shut to keep the cats in and prying eyes out.

Both kitchen and yard sinks were clogged.

While the walls and tiles were yellow with age, the space at first glance did look tidy and neat but for the bits of cat biscuits scattered by moving paws. The old woman is a cleaner and really, no one can fault her for not cleaning her flat. She sweeps and she mops relentlessly. Unfortunately, she only cleans what she can see.

And no one taught her anything about cat litter. The cats were given a large metal cage, encrusted over the years with rust and dried shit. It had an unwieldy bottom tray that on the day of the woman’s first visit, was inch deep in cat urine. No litter, not even newspaper to soak it up.

The woman then inspected the toyogo boxes. In every one of them were pools of age old urine seeped through when the cats had good sense to avoid their designated litter space for greener pastures. Obviously, these boxes had not been opened for years as the old woman had no idea!

The woman’s nickname at Ah Ma’s is “Chu Liu Xiang” for being able to withstand the worst smells. This time, the woman’s eyes and nose went on strike with water pistols.

The cats

The old woman started with two and they bred to double digits. Fed primarily on Friskies, they are nonetheless all healthy, full-figured with thick coats.

But the woman witnessed the heartbreaking sight of a mother rejecting her babies. The old woman had to chase after her with the newborn, only to be rebuffed. One had already died and it looked like this one would not survive the night either. The place was no longer conducive for newborns and the mother knew it before the old woman did.

So intervention could not have come too soon and the cats were sterilised in a week-long mass logistical exercise. Three were pregnant.

It was apparent even to the old woman that she could not cope with this many cats so she released some of her cats downstairs under the auspices of our TC officer and our cat feeding community.

They are terrified of course but they will be looked out for. Whitey and Orange took turns to shield each other from loud noises.

The clean up

The grills went up on the windows for air.

Out went the cage. They saved what they could from the toyogo boxes, including some rather nice glassware and crockery, and chucked the rest. It’s a good thing this old woman is not the stubborn ox that Ah Ma is, adamant on keeping every shred of her croach-infested human history.

The TC cleaners came for the old rusted fridge and the rotten kitchen cabinet.

The plumber came, the painter came.

It was something the old woman never imagined. That she could have strangers come into her flat and it would be ok.

Although these two kitties were none too happy with the invasion!

The neighbours

The neighbours also came to look in on the commotion. One thought the woman was moving in.

It was a good opportunity to ask them for their understanding of the old woman’s situation. Obviously, no one knew she was alone with no children, looking after a retarded brother.

They in fact, came to their own conclusion that it was not possible to take away all the old woman’s cats without causing her much pain and suffering and finally only asked that the situation with the smell be resolved.

One neighbour even spoke up to say that even though she was affected, she would not complain against a lonely old woman, causing some sheepish looks from the others.

All in all, the situation still needs to be carefully monitored to assuage neighbourly frayed nerves. The HDB officer is giving her a second chance and we need to cherish it.


Anonymous said...

Oh dear... I feel sorry for the lady and the kitties at the same time, even the long suffering neighbours. This is one tough case. I hope and am keeping my fingers crossed that the situation will be resolved.

Daisy said...

Thank goodness the lady is getting the help she (and the cats!) so desperately need!

lingcat said...

Hats off to you!!!

I am amazed by what you did!

2Vamp said...

This is heart breaking :(

Carrie said...

How lucky for the woman that she has such wonderful people looking our for her! This is originally a sad story, but with a good ending. I think this says so much about getting to know your neighbors, especially the elderly and the shut-ins!

Katie and Da Katz said...

We iz purring fur deze kitties dats dey gets vettie helps n stuffoms...

I likes whitey a da orange boy.

Katie Too

Anonymous said...

They are only cats-for Petes' sake! They are a nuisance-they spray peoples doors,cause noise.Wake up to yourselves-you are all mental.


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