Category Archives: Complaints

Issues Singaporeans lodged about cats et al. Mostly whines and whinges.

Help: Save the pigeons living in Singapore

Pigeons_20100317_006x Unless you’ve been living under Singapore River, there’s no way you are unaware that living among Singaporeans in this cold home of concrete that demands we give and give and give, is another “homeless” animal who has been targetted for the Singapore brand of population and complaint management.

The letters that have seen print argue for both sides of the coin… but it seems like as soon as “potential hazard” or health concerns are trotted out, that’s the end of the argument. Is that valid? There was even a letter that tells of the letter-writer’s father brush with death due to inhalation of dried, power-form pigeon shit. While I feel sorry for the letter-writer’s father, I am concerned at the myopic nature of her call to arms as it were. Yes, pigeon shit caused the problems her father suffered, but the pigeons were just being pigeons, but the true cause? Human neglect. Yet the letter writer does not go after her neighbour for negligence leading to the “perfect storm” that hit her father.BirdStatue_20100317_002x

There is too much fear-mongering, what-ifs, laziness, illogic, blame-shifting and complacency in this matter.

Sounds familiar?

Let’s extend our empathy for our homeless kitties’ fellow victims of the Singapore brand of population and complaint management.

Help the pigeons sharing our homeless kitties’ space, check out savepigeons.blogspot.com to find out how.

Bureaucracy, boxes, beer. Blech

Reading Dawn’s thoughts on the Cat on MRT tracks incident, one has got to wonder why Singapore bureaucracy has this tendency to stick around in the revolving door, and go with the flow to nowhere. Doesn’t it get motion sick at some point? Or rather, how long does the Singapore bureaucracy like to punish itself and those it affect before it does something and drag or throw itself out of it and perhaps give relief to the affected populace?

Dawn says:

“… the staff member may not have felt empowered to do this – or to face the consequences especially when the management may not already be very cat-friendly to begin with. I remember at least one case where I wrote in to offer our help because we were told that the unsterilised cats were usually rounded up and sent to the AVA if there were complaints or if they were found to be a ‘problem’.

So what needs to be done? Clearly what this episode shows is that there should be some manner of procedure or protocol devised so that staff members DO know what do in future. This would ensure that we don’t have to cross our fingers and hope that if this happens again, the staff member knows something about cats.”

It’s like the long long slate of mrt track “intrusions”. Only now are we getting platform screen doors for the doorless above-ground stations.

And consider the train service disruptions which jolt us out of our complacency every so often. The LTA says it takes a serious view of service disruption. But there’s been 92 instances of disruption over a 3 year period, and it’s always the same old same old in the bag of grievances when the letters of complaints flood the media. About how staff don’t seem to know about crowd control, traffic direction, or plain don’t know what they’re supposed to do. About alternatives which are non-existent or cause more “hardship” to the already inconvenienced commuters.

In place is a SOP which received a parliamentarian airing, so why are there still so many unhappy commuters who complain about the same things each time?

Do we dare hold out much hope that a SOP will be set in place to handle kitties in stations, or that it the SOP in place will actually be followed, or even applied correctly?

It’s also the same old same old in the bag of grievances us minions caregivers have about how we and the kitties living in Singapore’s streets are treated.

The powers that be keep relying on the same tired old excuses for keeping status quo.

Curiously, I keep thinking about the latest Tiger Beer ad making the TV rounds when I think about our situation.

Not that I’m stumping for the frothy or want some morose dousing, but it does demonstrate a life lesson (the ad, not the draught), which is saying quite something since beer ads never make much sense (though the Heineken ones I always found most palatable among the hordes).

The ad is no philosophical dissertation for sure. Two guys fighting over the last bottle in the bucket — can’t they just order more? – decided on arm-wrestling, and end up trying to one-up each other, morphing into bigger and stronger opponents which also happen to counter the other guy’s latest incarnation. The winner morphs into a blond hot chick and wins by shorting the circuits of his robotic rival.

No, there is no kitty involved but how cool that instead of being stiff-necked, conventional, and deadboxed into the one-track idea of bigger must be better, the winner takes stock of the situation (while in the very pleasing form of a buff Jungle Man who stares down Philly_Rheilly_20090927_005xsilverbacks), basically jumped out of the box and threw his then stronger-than-Jungle-Man robotic foe out of orbit with his twist on oneupsmanship. Imagine if he had been lazy and conformed with the flow, and morphed into something stronger than stronger-than-Jungle-Man-robot instead. Bore, broken record, tiresome, credibility depreciation. Vicious cycle.

Whenever I see the ad, I ask myself the million dollar question: why can’t the powers that be do the same when confronted with ideas, facts, or complaints about Singapore ’s cats? Have a tiger or whatever’s their poisons of choice, untie the knots they’re in and LOOK the issues in the eye rather than trotting out and nursing those so-old template responses that don’t do a thing except tighten the knots they’re in, and grind our noses in it. Vicious cycle, anyone?

Maybe this post should be titled “Saatchi & Saatchi for government” instead. [EDIT: Or maybe I don't want that actually, imagine legislation that decree ad-watching quotas on citizens... ]

Footnote
Remember: if you come across an SOS, whether from a fellow human or a little kitten, don’t just walk away. And drink responsibly.

Foster Mum’s Homeseeker: Kanly, lovely doggy needs a home

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Kanly is a 8 month old black female puppy, medium-large size. She is sterilised and seeking a permanent home.

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Temperament: Friendly, trusting, affectionate, and calm. Does not bark. Shy with men.

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Kanly seems ok with cats. The orange blob in the lower right is Yo-yo aka Bonnie, a female ginger kitty in the cattery.

Her Story

Kanly was picked up of the streets as a young pup  5-6 months ago by a young brother and sister pair. She lived in a HDB flat happily, and without problems as she does not bark.

However, as she grew and grew, her family’s neighbours decided they would not tolerate her presence and made a complaint to HDB. Of course, the ultimatum was issued to her young owners. The kids were distraught but luckily, they were able to seek help. Kanly was rescued by Noah’s Ark and is now being fostered by Foster Mum.

Kanly is a victim of the same draconian HDB pet rules that threaten cats. As such, she cannot be rehomed to someone living in HDB.

ENQUIRIES: ADOPTION AND PROCEDURE
Please email sephycat@gmail.com with the following:

  • your name
  • contact
  • a summary of your background and experience with dogs

Serious adopters only, please. All info will be treated in confidence and forwarded to Kanly’s guardian.

NewPaper 20090327: Seletar Hill residents get catty over strays

The ghosts of the 45 dead cats of Seletar case are still haunting the estate it seems, and have exposed a long open can of worms. Us-vs-them doesn’t work, but obviously these folks aren’t willing to sit down and talk. It doesn’t help that

Mr Madhavan Kannan, head of AVA’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, said those troubled by strays are informed about AVA’s free loan of cat traps and free collection of trapped cats.

Hello, vacuum effect? Is this conveyed to the aspiring trapper? Are aspiring trappers also told the cats are killed once they reach AVA? And who is paying for the costs of such trapping and killing? How about actually suggesting effective options like the Scarecrow for a change? Options that happily, also happen to be humane?

‘The borrower is informed to ensure that the trapped cat is not subjected to ill-treatment or injury and that it is an offence to subject an animal to cruelty,’ he said.

Yes, public service announcement. Well and good. But who ensures the trapped cat really wasn’t ill-treated? What action is taken if such ill-treatment is discovered? Who checks the trapped cats for signs of ill-treatment or injury before they are sent into the kitty murder room in AVA grounds?

For complaints on a large number of cats in a house, an AVA officer will visit to check on the number of cats and their welfare, and advise the owner to confine them within the premises, sterilise them and also to reduce the number by re-homing them.

At last, some recognition that sterilisation and keeping kitties indoors is the way to go. But why are such simple pre-emptive measures not suggested and promoted BEFORE such a case happens? And once again neighbours should be told about the impact of vacuum effect rather than offered the free traps upfront. It doesn’t take much to convey the message, especially if it’s men-in-uniforms doing the conveying.

Re-homing them… what is the likelihood of successful rehoming? What aid is given to ensure the re-homing is done properly and the cats’ new homes are genuine refuge for them where the risk of abandonment or neglect is minimal? Otherwise, what is the point of ‘advising’ the owner to re-home? Lip service? I hope not.

Here’s the article for your vigorous exercise in logic

Seletar Hill residents get catty over strays
Cat lovers & trappers divided over hygiene & stench problems
By Teh Jen Lee
March 27, 2009

SELETAR Hills Estate residents are getting increasingly divided over stray cats.

np_images_jlfightr2t
TNP ILLUSTRATION: FADZIL HAMZAH

On one side are animal activists who insist that it’s fine to keep cats in large numbers. They feed strays and take them home when they are sick.

On the other are neighbours aggrieved by problems such as the stench when too many cats are kept in one place.

Since the start of this year, three of them have resorted to trapping strays and sending them to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) to be put down.

When 45 cats were found buried in the area, accusations started flying between the two camps.

The New Paper received an e-mail from a resident who accused her neighbours of animal cruelty because they were unhappy with her keeping stray cats. Two of her cats were found with their tails injured.

Another resident was fingered as the culprit for the cat burials because he is known as an avid cat trapper.

Netizens posted his address online and threatened to harm him.

We’re not naming those involved because we do not want to aggravate the situation.

Other residents who are neither cat lovers nor trappers feel caught in the fracas.

Humane

One resident told The New Paper: ‘Cats are okay but it’s more of a cleanliness and hygiene issue when there are many cats in one house.

‘I was told that NEA (National Environment Agency) officers almost puked when they entered (one such) house, so you can imagine how bad it was. The person must be an ardent cat lover to be able to withstand the smell.’

The woman, who requested anonymity, said Jalan Rengas in the estate is famous for its cat stench.

Mr Lim Kuan Zhong, 24, a marketing executive who raises money for stray cat caregivers in Seletar, said: ‘I’m not a resident but I do know there is a conflict. However, I’m for the keeping of community cats.

‘Some problems are due to residents’ intolerance or lack of understanding of what caregivers are doing. They spend money to neuter. I see this as a practical benefit, controlling stray numbers in a humane way.’

Sterilisation also decreases the likelihood of caterwauling, he said.

Caregivers also medicate strays so that disease doesn’t spread to other cats, including domestic cats, added Mr Lim.

He said when strays are adequately fed, they don’t go into people’s houses or rummage through rubbish bins. They help keep the population of rats and pests down.

But what if they are so well-fed that they don’t go after rats? ‘It’s not necessarily true. It’s in their nature to catch lizards, cockroaches, rats and moles, unless they are so overfed and obese that they are sedentary.’

What about cats that defecate indiscriminately?

Mr Lim said: ‘Actually, by natural instinct, they will dig the soil and cover up after defecating. They do this even when they have diarrhoea. However, they may not cover it that well.’

He felt that dog owners who don’t pick up after their pets cause a bigger problem.

What about too many cats in one house?

Mr Lim admitted that more than 30 cats was excessive, but said: ‘There are limited shelters and houses to keep cats in Singapore. The Housing Board should repeal the ban on keeping cats.’

Another Seletar resident, who declined to be named, said a neighbour who lives near a house at Jalan Rengas with 80 to 90 cats told him that four neighbours sold their homes and moved away.

‘The matter has gone all the way to our Member of Parliament but there’s just no solution. It has been a problem for the past five years,’ he said.

The MP, Dr Balaji Sadasivan, told The New Paper: ‘Whenever complaints about cats are received, the complaints are referred to AVA.

‘Cat lovers have also voiced their concern about the need to treat cats humanely and this has also been relayed to AVA.’

When The New Paper visited Jalan Rengas, only one resident was around and willing to speak with us.

Renovation work was going on around the house with many cats and the contractors working next door were acutely aware of the smell.

Mr Xu Shu Long, 46, said in Mandarin: ‘I’ve been working here for almost a week, it’s very bad. This is the smelliest site I’ve worked at since I came to Singapore four years ago. Even in China, such a stench is very rare.’

Mr Percy Jeyapal, chairman of the Seletar Hills Estate Residents Association, takes the position that ‘we must live and let live’.

‘Obviously, we don’t encourage stray cats all over the place as it does propagate disease and can be a nuisance.

‘We must also ensure that cats are not abandoned. Having a large number of cats is a problem but we can’t interfere with people’s lives. Those living close by need to suffer certain inconveniences.’

House visit

Mr Madhavan Kannan, head of AVA’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, said those troubled by strays are informed about AVA’s free loan of cat traps and free collection of trapped cats.

‘The borrower is informed to ensure that the trapped cat is not subjected to ill-treatment or injury and that it is an offence to subject an animal to cruelty,’ he said.

For complaints on a large number of cats in a house, an AVA officer will visit to check on the number of cats and their welfare, and advise the owner to confine them within the premises, sterilise them and also to reduce the number by re-homing them.

Mr Jeyapal said owners must show some responsibility on hygiene and smell issues.

He said: ‘If they can’t manage… then they have to keep cats in moderation.

‘Those with more than 30 cats, we acknowledge their love for cats, but there must be some places such as farms where cats can have a better life.’

Myanimalfamily averted hoarder crisis

[EDIT 20090329] MyAnimalFamily: Animal hoarding in Singapore


Today, myanimalfamily blogs about a temporarily averted hoarder crisis.

I believe this is the same case V mentioned he was doing the transport for when we were making arrangements for Bradley and Saba as the details match, from the house filled with scaredy ginger-coloured cats, its unforgettable ‘fragrance’ and a retarded resident who needs help.

Hats off to the woman of myanimalfamily for managing this case, helping the cats and the people. I believe it is telling that transforming the sentiment from

… an entire floor of residents to band together crying for blood

to

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.

was no mean feat. It helped that the woman was able to describe the situation inside the flat.

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.

Most people are reasonable and tolerant. Most people with complaints or grievances want the source of their pain taken care. Most people don’t want to see lives snuffed out or cause another to lose heath and home if there’s another way about it. There can be no better example than this case. So why do Town Councils still tend to be so trigger happy when it comes to cat-complaints?

The TC and even HDB officer in this case exempted of course. Give credit where credit’s due. Go read the account now.


[EDIT 20090329] MyAnimalFamily: Animal hoarding in Singapore

At last, trapping happens for Area2. And juicy gossips abound

Quick update: It’s now 12.05am, 23 Jan, and we’re just back from another trapping session, and unlike the last round where we targetted Area2 and ended up with 2 Area1 kitties and 1 marauding male, we went to Area2 and got 5 Area2 kitties!

Aside from the torbie calico female kitten, Brielle who remains at large, and the short-tailed agouti who’s been missing since mid Dec, the dilute calico family comprising Mum-Brina, short-tailed and small-sized black kitten with white mittens-Brayden, 2 cream-coloured tabbies-Brenna (long-tail female) and Brennan (short-tail male), are slated for mojo freedom tomorrow. We also got a new adult male Jerry, whose gentle and sweet nature belies his experience. He is sterilised but ear’s untipped, so we’re sending him to get that done and to get him checked for the surgical wound he appeared with. We started out at 9.50pm (22 Jan), and called it a night at 11.30ish.

Bradley continues to elude efforts to get him but there may be hope. While waiting for V, we met A and her daughter, J, who feeds the cats nightly. A says Bradley usually waits for her behind the eatery at around 8something. We’ll work with her to get him. For interested readers, since we named him, we’ve not been able to find him until last Wednesday. He’s growing up quite well.

A has also sighted Stanley recently, and we’re glad to have the confirmation that he’s well since we’ve not seen him since his release.

Other interesting bits: A lives in the same block as Saba‘s family, and confirms she has a new litter she’s hiding in the drains somewhere.

Scottie has been claimed by the family’s man of the house due to his super sweet nature. Scottie was found with a knife wound to his tail last week and the family has applied medicine.

They also have a new white cat with a a fluffy tail which they paid more than $100 to get sterilised voluntarily but is still terribly unwilling to sterilise Saba. They told A they wanted to ask us to help sterilise Saba but can’t contact us as we’ve changed our numbers- which is incredible since both btmao and I have kept the same hp numbers.

A has been persuading them to get Saba done, but the same excuses as the ones they used on us were trotted out apparently. They even asked A to sponsor $30… a rather brazen request considering that they now have 2 wall-mounted large LCD TVs, expensive looking wall-mounted sound systems, and even renovated their home for the last Hari Raya.

Now that Saba has kittens, she has also been going up to A’s flat to ask for food too! A provides food outside her door. I told A to stop doing that and to feed in common areas with discretion as she would any other cat. I have also requested A not to let the family know she has made contact with us – I am fed up with them and the case with the white cat shows they are more than able to afford and find their own vet.

On a related tangent, btmao is trying to handle a complaint. The TC has pictures of a cat which an Area2  resident claims is noisy in the early morning but will not share the picture nor reveal the complainant’s contact details. In frustration, btmao asked the TCO why can’t the complainant then talk to the feeder or the cat’s owner since he is able to take the cat’s pictures. The TCO has no answer except that people don’t take ownership of their own problems. The TCO then said he would call HDB, so btmao reminded him that HDB does not allow pet cats, which means it would result in more cats outside which means more potential problems for him. He then said he might need to talk to the MP, and btmao said fine, we’ll go see him first. To be fair, the TCO is a nice person and he does try to work with us, but this was a conversation that really got nowhere fast.

Anyway, from our convo with A today, we believe the cat in question is the family’s white cat as A says it goes into the carpark nearby in the early morning and cries for food. We’ll need to think on how to handle this one.

Sally, whom we thought missing or displaced by Saba and the steady stream of later additions to the family is also on A’s floor. A Malay family allows her in to play with their children and shuts her out when they sleep.

Sunny has died, knocked down at the very busy intersection nearby.

The elusive mother cat and second litter we heard about and have yet to locate is most probably Sarsi. Only 1 kitten from her first litter survived, likely kitnapped for its looks. As for her second known and current litter, no one is sure how many there were nor how many are alive now. We shall try to locate her.

A new male cat we named Robby has been on the prowl for love. Two nights ago, he was after Brina like a greyhound was on to a hare. He was sitting right by the drains Brina’s family called home as we were about to call it a night, so V set the trap for him. Unfortunately, he was not interested in food at all, and eluded capture this time. We can only hope Brielle will remain safe until Brina’s return on Sunday, and that his lust will subside soon.

There is another new male cat we sighted early last month untipped and unsterilised. He then turned up 2 weeks later with a tipped ear and a collar. We call him Jet due to his spraying. From A, we got to know that he belongs to the family’s neighbour. The family DEMANDED Jet be sterilised as he was getting intimate with Saba and they don’t want more kittens. The wonder is that the neighbour complied. The bigger wonder is that the neighbour didn’t demand the family reciprocate with Saba’s sterilisation.

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No wonder my head get achesies

We’ve exchanged contact info with A and J and will be sharing more info, esp kitty food info.

Details and of course pictures of Brina and her family, Jerry, Jet to come.

Help Alabama post-office cat keep his home

Apparently, the phenomenon of complainants causing problems for community cats isn’t a Singaporean-only trait, small comfort that it is.

Worse is the stranger phemon of authorities’ willingness to bend like pretzels for 1, that’s o-n-e, 1 sole (not very strong) complainant against an animal who doesn’t bother anyone and is more than tolerated by the silent majority. One woman doesn’t want Sammy in the post office he calls home because she’s highly allergic.

You’d have to wonder: how much time does she spend in the post office compared to Sammy that the U.S Postal Office has to do her will? What would the U.S. Postal Service someone comes along and complains she’s highly allergic to the materials used in the stamps being sold? And I thought it was bad enough that Singapore has a town council chief who advocates a zero cat policy. Bureaucratic tail-chasing isn’t such a uniquely Singapore trait after all. Oh joy.

Go to Dawn’s blog and read Cat banned from Post Office to watch the vid report. Read more reporting here: Post office feline sparks cat fight in small Alabama town

P O Box 173, Notasulga, Alabama 36866, United States of America.

Fined for righting a wrong

Homeless dogs in Singapore have it worse than cats in a lot of ways – for one, they are bigger and more visible, and it doesn’t help that they run in packs.

I just came across this article and the reply from AVA about the conditions of the dogs. Once again, loopholes you can dance the sub-prime crisis through abound. Kudos to the TWO GOOD SAMARITANS. There are too few people with heart in Singapore.

ELECTRIC NEWSBukit Batok strangers become STRAYS’ BEST FRIENDS
By Hedy Khoo

September 22, 2008

WOULD you spend thousands of dollars to give a stray dog a proper home?

Click to see larger image 
KIND: Madam Tan with her dog Angel May. PICTURE COURTESY OF MADAM MAY TAN <COPYRIGHT></COPYRIGHT>

Two Good Samaritans did just that.

When they found out the stray dogs in their neighbourhoods had been impounded by the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), they decided to claim ownership.

But they each had to pay between $400 and $500 in fines first because they were regarded as owners who had allowed their dogs to wander around without a license.

The two of them do not know each other.

After claiming the dogs, they paid a monthly fee of $130 for them to live at an animal boarding house, Pet’s Villa, in Pasir Ris.

Madam May Tan, 43, a trader, first came across her dog, which she named Angel May, at a park in Bukit Batok West last year.

She would see the dog regularly until last September, when it went missing.

‘She was usually with a pack of dogs, and I found her special because she was the only one which would come up to me and allow me to pet her on the head,’ said Madam Tan.

She then heard that officers from the AVA had caught some dogs in the area.

‘I panicked and went to the Centre for Animal Welfare and Control. I was so relieved that she was alive,’ she said.

Madam Tan paid the fine and applied for a licence for it. But that wasn’t all.

She later paid more than $2,000 in veterinary fees as Angel May was badly infected and in a poor condition.

‘I couldn’t keep her at home as I already have three dogs. I managed to get a place for her at Pet Villa, but she had to be sterilised and vaccinated,’ she said.

Every Sunday, Madam Tan, her husband and her daughter go to Pet Villa to see Angel May. They also help to clean the area and feed the other dogs there.

Said Madam Tan: ‘It’s not just about giving money. There is a lack of volunteers to maintain the area, and I want Angel May and the other dogs to have a clean home.’

The other dog lover, who wanted to be known only as Mr Lin, had first seen the dog, which he calls Ah Boy, at a park in the east in 2005.

‘Other park-goers who went there regularly would feed him. He would usually eat and then wander off,’ the 28-year-old, who is self-employed, recalled. ‘But even when I didn’t feed him, he would sit near me whenever I was there. Maybe he could sense that I like animals.’

Mr Lin would visit the park two or three times a week. Then, last November, he noticed that the dog was gone.

Like Madam Tan, he became worried and called the Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, which checked and told him that the dog was with the AVA.

Forlorn

Mr Lin then went to the Centre for Animal Welfare and Control to claim the dog.

‘I was shocked when I saw him. He had been there for almost a week and had lost a lot of weight. He looked very forlorn,’ said MrLin. ‘Though he wasn’t my dog, I decided to pay the fine and get him a licence.’

Mr Lin also took the dog to the vet and had him checked and vaccinated. He had to pay another $400 in veterinary charges.

‘I would love to have Ah Boy live with me, but I live alone and it is not fair for me to leave him in an apartment on his own,’ said MrLin. ‘He was a stray dog and he needs a lot of space to roam around.’

He now pays $130 monthly for his dog to be boarded. He visits the place every weekend to bathe and play with the dog.

‘It’s amazing to see how Ah Boy has transformed. He is about 5 years old, but in the past year, I managed to get him to obey some simple commands like ‘Sit’ ‘.

Asked why he chose to adopt and care for an adult stray dog, Mr Lin replied with a smile: ‘He is my friend. If you know a friend is in trouble, you would do your best to help.

‘He needed me and I did what I could. It was fate. I didn’t pick him. He chose me to be his friend,’ he added, tears glistening in his eyes.

And here is the apparent torchlight into the dank and dark labyrinthe of the AVA’s lofty standards

AVA: Impounded dogs are kept in pound and given food, water and care
October 11, 2008

WE refer to the letter, ‘Touched by animal lovers, puzzled by AVA’ (The New Paper, 30 Sep).

As one of our measures to keep the stray dog population in check, the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) impounds any dog found straying in the streets.

Impounded dogs are kept in the pound at AVA’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Control and are provided with food, water and veterinary care until they are claimed by their owners or put to sleep (in the case of unwanted stray dogs).

Dogs which show signs of ownership (eg. if they wear a collar or appear well-groomed) will be kept for five days pending possible claim by the owner.

Unwanted stray dogs are put to sleep after two days.

Owners who claim their lost dogs have to bear the costs incurred for the impoundment, food, lodging and care of their dogs. Owners of unlicensed dogs will also be fined as it is a compulsory requirement under the Dog Licensing and Control rules for owners to license their dogs.

In the case of the dogs in Bukit Batok, both dogs were not licensed. The dogs were released, in good condition, to Madam Tan and Ms Lin within three days of impoundment.

Madam Tan and Ms Lin claimed to be the respective owners and the dogs were observed to respond to them.

Both Madam Tan and Ms Lin were fined for failing to license their dogs. They also had to pay for the expenses incurred for the duration of the dogs’ stay at the pound.

We would like to take this opportunity to remind dog owners that it is compulsory to license their dogs.

Dog owners are also encouraged to let their dogs wear identification tags so as to facilitate the return of the dogs in the event of loss.

Dog owners must also practise responsible dog ownership by having their dogs on leash in public places and not allowing them to stray.

GOH SHIH YONG, ASSISTANT DIRECTOR,
CORPORATE COMMUNICATIONS
for CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER,
AGRI-FOOD & VETERINARY AUTHORITY

In Singapore’s context, Canine Control definitely presents The Stray Dilemma For Animal Groups. Culling is not the answer, and it has never been the answer. So after decades of culling, why hasn’t the light turned on for someone in a seat of Singapore political power? Why still no concerted effort and drive from the vaulted Singapore government to EFFECTIVELY control homeless animal populations and SOLVE the root causes? Imagine if the Singapore government adopted this attitude towards nation-building… what a cold hard thought.

Cat attack complaint – follow at your own peril, kits!

Another prime example of how far people can go to get a harmless community cat removed or killed, and potentially, how willing town councils and MPs are willing to pander to such creatures. Why don’t they all pick on somebodies their own size is something I keep wondering… oh wait, I forgot, they just did are doing just that.

Complaint about cat attack

A lady complained to the MP that she was attacked by a cat loitering at a car park and causing her a sprained ankle. This cat is a ginger male, a friendly but rather shy community cat.

She also warned that the cat could attack children at the nearby playground and therefore should be removed.

Later she told Sylvia that the cat didn’t actually attack her but kept following her. The cat is a sterilised ginger male, friendly but rather shy.

The “attacks” happen at around 10.30 / 11.30 which is around feeding time. Could the cat have mistaken her for the feeder?

Nevermind about the “heart” in “heartland”, where is the Singaporean heart, mind and logic???

I can only say I am innoculated against human stupidity and egotism by virtue of prolonged exposure.

NewPaper 20080721: CARS ALONG JALAN PEMIMPIN SWERVE DANGEROUSLY TO DODGE CATS

(EDIT: Scroll to end for link to follow-up)

This feature is from another paper and precedes Canine Control. The Stray Dilemma For Animal Groups. However, it provides yet more insight into the gaps between perception and actual root causes.

Before going on to the article proper, I’m pasting here my source for it, and the writer, Dawn’s thoughts about the situation (emphasis mine):

Monday, July 21, 2008

Cats in accident

Here’s an article about cats in the Jalan Penimpin estate. Apparently one of them was run over and now people are complaining about the cats being a traffic hazard. The caregiver says that she was misquoted and that the two security guards there were actually new and not very aware of the situation in the estate. It is a shame that a situation like this, while undoubtedly unfortunate for the man and the cat involved, should make it to a national newspaper. Also how this has become ‘cat town’ is also beyond me. One can only assume it was a slow news day.

Posted by Dawn at 12:22 PM

And here’s the article itself:

Kitty debate divides residents in ‘cat town’
CARS ALONG JALAN PEMIMPIN SWERVE DANGEROUSLY TO DODGE CATS
By Ho Lian-yi

July 21, 2008

WHY did the cat cross the road?

 
At risk: One of many cats spotted along Jalan Pemimpin. A security guard claims that one or two cats are hit by cars every week.TNP pictures: Jonathan Choo

Pizza despatch rider Syed Faizal Mohsen, 25, would like to know, after getting into a crash because of one.

The Ngee Ann Polytechnic student, who works part-time, was riding a company-issued motorcycleon 6 Jul near Bishan, at Jalan Pemimpin, an area he said is ‘notorious for cats’.

He was delivering pizza at around 8.50pm when he saw from the corner of his eye a stray white cat dash across the road.

He braked heavily and was thrown off his vehicle.

Mr Syed Faizal, who had cuts and bruises from the accident, said: ‘I’m a cat lover so I didn’t want to hit the cat.’

Two security guards who work nearby called an ambulance and he was sent to hospital for outpatient treatment.

The two guards told The New Paper on Sunday that Mr Syed Faizal was not the only person who had had mishaps because of the stray cats.

One of the guards, Mr Affendi Ismail, 37, said he had witnessed some of these accidents.

 
Here kitty: Boyfriend of cat lover, Ms Ong, feeding a stray cat at Jalan Pemimpin.

He said: ‘The cats, they just cross the road, it’s very dangerous. Sometimes, the cars try to avoid the cat and they will swerve. It’s dangerous for pedestrians like me.’

His colleague, known only as Das, said: ‘Every week, one or two cats will surely be hit by a car.’

Just a day before the pizza despatch rider accident, Mr Affendi said that he saw a car hitting a cat and injuring it.

And the day before that, a cat was killed in another road accident in the area, he added.

Mr Affendi said that there were many cats in the area because someone had been feeding them.

He claimed that one of the feeders, who arrived after Mr Syed Faizal was sent to hospital, had made sure the cat was sent to a vet.

But when told about the despatch rider who was also hurt, she seemed ‘expressionless’.

MISSING

On 8 Jul, The New Paper on Sunday met the feeder, an executive secretary in her 40s who wanted to be known only as Ms Ong.

She was petite, bespectacled, and was hefting a backpack.

Ms Ong said that what Mr Affendi said was ‘prejudiced’. She claimed that she had told him she was ‘concerned for both parties’.

She said she knows that the rider was receiving treatment, but what about the poor cat?

‘It is also a life,’ she said.

As for the cat population boom cited by the security guard, she said that the number of cats there have actually dwindled by more than half since she first started her nightly feeding at least eight years ago.

‘Many have gone missing,’ she said.

Perhaps pythons have been eating them or residents have been trapping them, she suggested.

Ms Ong admitted that she has had some run-ins with unhappy residents, and said that she has sterilised the cats. She believes that she must have neutered more than 100 cats at the vet in the last eight years.

She agreed to let The New Paper on Sunday follow her on her daily feeding.

Her boyfriend, who lives in the east of Singapore, also joined her.

Pointing to one group of cats, she said: ‘There used to be 20 cats here.

‘Now only five.’

As for the cats being a traffic hazard, she said that it works both ways. In the last six months, more than 20 cats have disappeared or died, some possibly to vehicle accidents, she said.

‘People don’t think of cats, they only think of people, and their cars,’ she said.

While some people who visited and worked in the area said that the cats did not inconvenience them or pose a traffic hazard, others, such as Madam Ng, 68, a housewife, called them a disturbance.

She said cats sometimes invade her kitchen to get at the food and leave their droppings in her garden.

However, another resident, a pharmaceutical salesperson in her 40s who wanted to be known only as Judy, said that she was surprised that there were complaints, especially about the cats causing traffic accidents.

‘You hardly see them,’ she said, adding that they appeared only when a feeder was around.

 


Stray cat problem: Does neutering work?1. The total number of cats being impounded by Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) over the last three years has been falling:

  • 2005: 5,518  
  • 2006: 5,134  
  • 2007: 3,777 
  • 2. Does a trap, neuter and return policy work?
    Sterilising a cat helps to prevent procreation. However, sterilised cats can pose other problems, such as when they go into houses and defecate or take food from the premises. It would depend on the community of the estate if they are willing accept a trap, neuter and return scheme.

    3. What is AVA’s policy when it comes to people who feed cats?
    People should not indiscriminately feed cats and litter the area. They should, as far as possible, find homes for the cats, have the cats sterilised, or surrender unwanted cats to the authorities.

    4. What can you do if there is a stray-cat problem in the area?
    AVA provides loan of cat traps to residents troubled by stray cats. It is a free service. Residents may contact AVA’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Control, 75 Pasir Panjang Road, to arrange for a loan of traps. (Tel:1800-4761600)

    - Information from Mr Madhavan Kannan, Head of AVA’s Centre for Animal Welfare and Control
     


    SHOULD THE FEEDING OF STRAY CATS BE BANNED?
    SOME residents at affected housing estates are in favour of making the feeding of stray cats in housing estates an offence because it could cause the population to increase further.While some people have been fined for feeding wild monkeys, there is no rule against the feeding of stray cats.

     

    Experts have said that feeding monkeys changes their dietary habits and makes them aggressive when they are denied food.

    Be they cats or monkeys, Mr Wong Tuan Wah, National Parks Board’s (NParks) director of conservation, said: ‘We do not allow feeding of stray animals in our parks.’

    Under the Parks and Trees Act, monkey feeders can be fined up to $50,000 and/or jailed up to six months. NParks also increased the composition fine from $250 to $500 in February.

    While it is not an offence to feed cats in housing estates, those who do so can be booked for littering if they dirty the surroundings.

    Mr Chong Gid Chuan, 38, a manager, said he found the feeding of cats ‘very dirty’.

    Madam Hau, 55, an assistant general manager, said that she would be fully supportive of a ban. She claimed that one cat that was ‘maintained’ by a feeder loved to go into her lawn and leave droppings behind, and it was ‘very smelly’.

    But others were against the idea of a ban. Ms Deirdre Moss, executive officer of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA), said: ‘The SPCA objects strongly to the suggestion of banning the feeding of stray cats. It is an extremely shortsighted suggestion, and not humane.’

    SPCA has a voucher programme for the sterilisation of strays, which enables members of the public to take a stray animal to a participating veterinary clinic for sterilisation. SPCA pays the cost.

    Mr Marcus Loo, 28, a businessman selling pet products, said that as long as feeding was done discreetly and cleaning up was done afterwards, he had no problem with it.

    He said: ‘If you really take out the majority of cats in the area, in a month’s time, other cats will just take over the territory.’

    Video editor Farah Iqbal, 26, said that cat-feeding is not comparable to monkey-feeding, since cats do not become aggressive.

    A resident in the Jalan Pemimpin area, who wanted to be known only as Judy, said: ‘Some cat-feeders are responsible people who sterilise the cats. If the population of cats is under control now, why can’t we feed the cats?’

    Responses:

    Today: Where’s the ‘heart’ in heartland? 25th June

    From the cws unofficial diary: Today: Where’s the ‘heart’ in heartland? 25th June

    My heart goes out to Ms Helga Gamp, the letter writer, since we’re essentially in the same army. But I’m not surprised at all by her encounters with her tc. Talk about offering your right cheek after being slapped on your left or grinning and bearing with being stabbed in the back while looking at your stabber and continuing to extend a hand.

    Because it is a fact, a sad one, but fact nonetheless, that town councils tend to view cat caregivers with us-vs-them view, though of course there are also stories of TCOs who are more eager and understanding than caregivers in their areas on Dawn’s old blog. (I wish I had one around the vicinity.)

    However, tcs tend to find nothing wrong with bending over backward for the most frivolous complaints, even coming up with a ZERO stray agenda.

    Neighbours don’t have to be strangers, but how much are officious tea/block parties helping to close the gap? A glance at the bored looks of the scraggles of participants is rather telling.

    Relationships and ties can only be hothoused so much. If the authorities would climb down off their high-caddy, they might just see how organically grassroots are growing under their feet, without their benign interference. Any interference thus far that they have in fact bestowed on such organic grassroots served more to trample on and mess things up. Case in point: Tampines tc (latest salvo here). The kampong spirit would do well with some careful and progressive nurturing, rather than forced down residents’ throats as great milestones.

    “THE road ahead for the Housing Board (HDB) is to meet the housing needs of a growing population with increasingly different needs and aspirations,” so said National Development Minister Mah Bow Tan. But housing needs are not just about brick-and-mortar issues, never mind accolades about its contributions to superficial cohesion.

    EDIT 20080625: Outside of Singapore, caregiver groups do hit brickwalls too, “Compassion often eludes feral cats; groups out to save them

    Singapore Laguna Park: Cats blamed for car scratches

    Talk about guilty until proven innocent, it’s a fatal human-caused affliction for the kitties. Yes, somewhere in a plush locale in Singapore, where the residents are deepening their pockets in anticipation of an en-bloc windfall, it seems they’re entertaining themselves with the perennial favourite passtime of Singaporean car owners: blame cats for scratches on their cars.

    Laguna Park cats in danger
    ( 24 Jun 08 )

    The residents of Laguna Park stand to pocket millions of dollars from En Bloc but wealth only creates more attachment to their material belongings that they will not spare even a mere cat!

    Please speak out for the cats.

    Management’s email is lagunapark@singnet.com.sg

    Please forward to your friends who live in Laguna Park to stop any possible killing of the cats!

    Source: Laguna Park cats in danger!

    Click on the picture to see the original large-size scan and for more details. It’s really quite a forgone conclusion what action will be taken against the cats if no one speaks up. So please help if you can.

    But really, show me a human, aka homo sapien, who is able to leave scratches on a car. Then I’ll believe a cat can do likewise.

    The perpetuity of ignorance and intolerance

    Complainants strike again.

    Mypaper
    (Click for details)

    Yesterday 2 letters appeared in mypaper. Details on the Unoffical Cat Welfare Society Diary. It’s the same gamut of typical calls/justifications to “solve the problem”:

    • Fear of cats spreading disease to children
    • I don’t hate cats but they shouldn’t appear in my field of vision
    • Feeders are irreponsible, causing messes, so instead of fining them, remove the cats who could not have cleaned up the mess, as Dawn said.

    Rather than re-rant, I ask that you check out the CWS diary as I agree with the blog writer, Sarah, who deciphered and commented on both letters. I would add that it is rather surprising at both letter writers’ claims that they have been given the pinball treatment by AVA and Town Councils, which is rather more likely, and all too common, for caregivers, or even hackjobbers at their beck adn call, and whim and fancy.

    One of the whinge letters has been reprinted in asiaone, and it is rather unfortunate and, imo, bad taste on the publishers’ part to display one of the pictures originally accompanying the recent NTU Cat Cafe Society article.

    Incidentally, 3 letters rebutting these 2 letters were printed today. glad to see new and different names speaking up.

    Such complaints are not the first, and they’re definitely not the last we’ll hear of it. Take for example the tasteless goings-on on a morning radio show that seemed to have started this latest round. Ignorance and intolerance still run rampant in cyberlongkang, as evidenced here and here (which were quite amusing in their exasperating blinkeredness).

    Singaporeans need to sit down and take a good long think: Why the difference in acceptance level in how our cats are killed?

    Why so like that (Selective compassion and apathetic ignorance)

    In Dawn‘s latest blog, she wrote about her thoughts on the sudden flurry of help for a few unsterilised cats whose lives are threatened by complaints and the lack of responsible caregivers in their community.

    Dawn said:

    While I am glad so many people are taking an interest in these cats and wanting to rescue them, it does make me wonder, why these cats in particular? As far as I know, no one knows these cats personally. Here’s my question – what about all the other cats at the AVA that are caught? Why isn’t there a huge outpour of emotion to try and get all of THEM out? Amongst them, there are some unclaimed sterilised cats too, which means that at some point in their lives, they did get some care – they were sterilised after all. There are also even more unsterilised cats whom no one has ever taken care of. Why aren’t people asking for these cats to be released?

    I feel very deeply with this sentiment. This is the comment I left on the post:

    I think it’s a common human affliction.

    All that outpouring of grief for Ah Meng and her granddaughter Atina, but no one’s raising as much as a whimper at what the orang utans in Indonesia are threatened with.

    Same as with whale slaughter – NZ only specifically requested the Japanese whaling fleet to leave Migaloo the white Humpback alone when they announced they were going to kill 50 humpbacks this season as well. Why only Migaloo? Aren’t the “normal” humpbacks just as deserving of a reprieve? What about the 50 to 70 highly endangered Fin whales, and 1,000++ little piked whales the Japanese kill year after year after year?

    The beef recall that resulted from the downer cattle abuse also – I got an sms and also an email calling for a boycott of US beef. But the abuse is not unique to the slaughterhouse or at this time. It’s been ongoing for so long. Mad cow has been around the block too. And so has bird flu and assorted farm animal epidermics. But people still eat beef and farm animals, and people still don’t care how they’re getting their meat, that factory farming is a problem and they are contributing to it.

    Carmen the dog featured in that TODAY commentary is another good example. People went all out to help look for her when she got lost. But why didn’t people do things that would prevent other dogs from going through what she did in the first place? Why so eager to help her, but not other dogs?

    After all the protestations of affection, and the outpouring of grief and assorted emotions, life resumes, and it’s as if all the browbeating and breast hammering didn’t take place. And all the abuse and cruelty resumes and keeps happening, until another bout of outcry and outrage. It’s like a merry-go-round that won’t stop.

    Why are humans like that? How can we differentiate and compartmentalise our feelings so clearly and so distinctly? I’m sure there’s a scientific name for this condition.

    Neighbourliness in Singapore

    The follow-up to the Sunday Times’s Hey neighbour, don’t be a stranger two weeks ago, 13 Jan 08, has been interesting.

    I’ve said what I’ve had to say, so I’ll leave you with the reading, in chronological order. But I just want to make an observation: article 4 is a very pleasant surprise, simply because it is by a Malay fellow-caregiver. I hope it helps break the stereotype that caregivers are Chinese females and show that caregivers transcends racial lines too.

    1) Neighbours who just can’t get along (20 Jan 08)

    Jan 20, 2008
    Last week, we looked at how Singaporeans barely knew their neighbours despite living beside one another for years. Here, we focus on un-neighbourly behaviour and the rising number of complaints the authorities have been dealing with
    By Mavis Toh

    MS PERDICHA CHEN accuses her neighbours, the Sims, of hanging cages with their loud-chirping pet birds along the common corridor from as early as 6am, and claims that the family’s dog is often unleashed.

    FOUR birds kept as pets by one household have become a flash point for residents living on the eighth floor of an Hougang flat. Ms Perdicha Chen, 48, who lives opposite the Sim household, has lodged more than 20 reports with the town council, the HDB and police, and has even been to see her MP twice over the past six months.

    The birds’ loud chirping, says Ms Chen, has led to many sleepless mornings as her neighbour has the habit of hanging his bird cages along the common corridor from as early as 6am.

    ‘When the authorities come, he would keep the cages in the house for two days and then they are back to their old ways,’ says the frustrated accounts executive who has lived there for 20 years.

    Cases of neighbours bickering are becoming more common these days, say parties which have to deal with such complaints.

    The HDB says that there has been an increase in feedback regarding annoyances caused by neighbours – such as noise disturbances, dripping mops and wet laundry.

    MPs have also noted that more residents, unhappy with their neighbours, have approached them for help at the weekly Meet-the-People sessions.

    And at the Community Mediation Centre (CMC) last year, 277 sessions were conducted for disputes between neighbours. This made up just over half of the total number of mediations at the centre last year.

    The year before, there were 306 disputes between neighbours.

    In Aljunied GRC, MP Cynthia Phua logged 30 cases of such disputes last year, double the figure in 2006. More recently, she adds, at least two such cases have been popping up weekly.

    Over at Jurong GRC, MP Halimah Yacob sees at least two cases a month.

    The disputes, MPs say, range from petty issues such as the hanging of underwear and burning of joss paper along common corridors, to more serious ones such as the tossing of rubbish out of kitchen windows, with the garbage landing on neighbours’ laundry.

    Of the cases heard at the CMC, 80 per cent are about noisy residents or those who hurl verbal abuse and harass their neighbours. Common corridor obstruction and dripping laundry make up the other cases.

    Besides the chirping birds, Ms Chen and another neighbour, Mr Alan Ang, 56, are also annoyed with the Sims’ barking terrier. They say that the dog is often unleashed and has even run into their homes.

    When approached by The Sunday Times, Mr Samuel Sim, 42, denies their complaints.

    He says he owns only two birds and does not hang the cages along the corridor. His dog, he adds, is always leashed.

    Mr Sim, who lives in the three-room flat with his wife, three teenage daughters and a maid, accuses his neighbours of hurling vulgarities at his family and maid.

    ‘They’re the ones trying to make trouble,’ says the businessman who moved in five years ago. ‘We don’t disturb them but they have nothing better to do.’

    Over in Bedok, resident Chen Wen Ling, 39, is looking forward to getting away from her neighbour of 20 years. So great is the animosity between them that both sides barely exchange greetings.

    The bad vibes started almost 15 years ago when her neighbour started crowding the common corridor with more than 10 pairs of shoes and up to 20 flower pots, she claims, adding that the other party refused to clear the area despite repeated requests.

    The housewife says: ‘When my friend visited me, she asked if my neighbour was operating a shoe shop.’ She is moving out this September.

    Such long-drawn festering disputes are common, say MPs, and leave little hope for reconciliation as the warring parties are no longer on speaking terms.

    For Ms Perdicha Chen, she has taken to snapping pictures of the birds and recording their chirping to use as evidence for the police.

    ‘We don’t want to go to the extent of meeting them in court,’ she says. ‘I just hope they put their birds away and give everyone some peace.’

    mavistoh@sph.com.sg

    (source for link)

    2) Tidy city? It’s all down to cleaners (20 Jan 08)

    Jan 20, 2008
    By Jamie Ee & Samantha Eng

    THIS BLOCK ON HOUGANG AVENUE 8 had random rubbish scattered next to the garbage bin. The bin cover had been removed, perhaps by someone who had been rummaging through the refuse.

    SINGAPORE is clean but not because of the habits of its people. In the wee hours of two mornings, The Sunday Times trawled five precincts and saw them at their ugliest before the cleaners got started.

    A used sanitary pad had been pitched out of the window of an HDB flat in Circuit Road. So, too, had a soiled baby diaper at a neighbouring block.

    The stench from puddles of vomit and urine clouded lift lobbies and staircases, while cigarette butts, used tissue paper, cotton buds – and even tufts of hair – were strewn across the void decks.

    The area directly beneath kitchen windows was the dirtiest. Plastic bags, apple cores, orange peel, broken eggshells: All these and more had been chucked out of the windows at night.

    The cleaning brigade clears up the mess in time for the harsh light of day.

    Cleaner Heriati Mohd Isa, who sweeps two blocks in Hougang Avenue 8, is especially annoyed but thinks nothing can be done.

    ‘I don’t understand. They have dustbins at home. Why must they throw things out of their window?’ said the exasperated 55-year-old as she swept the void deck.

    Despite the ongoing keep-clean efforts of town councils, cleaners told The Sunday Times that housing estates are anything but.

    They are resigned to it.

    Madam Heriati said: ‘Singaporeans are too pampered. They know they can always rely on the cleaners.’

    (source for link)

    3) LETTER: HDB should reconsider replacing ban on cats with ‘motivational’ regulations

    Jan 21, 2008

    I READ with amusement the article in The Sunday Times about ‘Getting to know your neighbours” with a cartoon by Miel showing a smiling lady poking her head from her flat and a cat beside her (The Sunday Times, Jan 13). The problem we face nowadays is really ‘not knowing your neighbours”. In my neighbourhood, I am fortunate to share a common concern with a few fellow residents on the plight of the community cats.

    Cats are pushed to the brink by an increasing human population and decreasing tolerance. They are killed for reasons ranging from noise made during mating, defecation in ‘upstairs” common areas (usually caused by cat owners who let their cats roam out), residents’ phobia of cats, scratches on cars, etc.

    Incensed by the ineffective killing of about 13,000 cats every year for more than two decades and at the public expense of more than half a million dollars annually, we decided to get our butts out of our flats and spent many evenings trapping the cats in our neighbourhood and brought them to the vet to be sterilised.

    After about three years, we achieved a near 100 per cent sterilised colony of cats. We also work with the town council to help resolve complaints about cats.

    Through this community work, we met fellow residents from all walks of life, of all ages and of all races. We also got to meet residents who complained about cats and residents who owned cats but were unaware of responsible pet ownership (that includes sterilisation and keeping them indoors).

    We were touched by the fact that almost all the residents who complained about cats did not want killing as a solution. This was often not known to some town council property officers who assumed that engaging pest controllers to remove ‘downstairs” community cats was the solution. This naturally resulted in a recurrence of complaints. By identifying the right cause of the complaints, we could offer a solution that costs only a bottle of vinegar and a packet of camphor balls (to clear the smell of cat poo and to repel the cats).

    However, the lack of HDB regulations on responsible cat ownership is a major setback to the success of a managed colony of cats. Irresponsible owners abandon cats and kittens for reasons ranging from moving house, spring cleaning and unwanted litters from unsterilised home cats.

    Irresponsible owners let their cats roam freely, resulting in complaints from neighbours. Town Council officers are reluctant to speak to such owners about pet responsibility because they said that ‘HDB does not allow cats”. Referring such recalcitrant cat owners to their HDB colleagues will only result in the abandonment of these cats in the estate instead. This will only transfer the problem to the Town Council which may then blame the expanding population on caregivers like me and my fellow residents.

    I appeal to the HDB to urgently reconsider replacing the ban on cats with regulations so that such irresponsible owners will be ‘motivated” by fines to keep their cats indoors and to have them sterilised. This is a win-win situation to residents in general, to caregivers and also to the property officers in the town council.

    Tan Chek Wee

    (source for link)

    4) LETTER: Community cats bring Singaporeans together – let us give ourselves a chance

    Jan 23, 2008
    IT WAS like a breath of fresh air when I read the article about ‘Getting to know your neighbours’ with Miel’s cartoon showing a smiling woman poking her head from her flat with an equally happy cat beside her (The Sunday Times, Jan 13). I recalled a similar picture of a woman in red feeding a group of community cats at an HDB void deck with fireworks in the background during our National Day celebrations of 2007 that came out in the National Day edition of The Straits Times.I do not recall if Miel was the artist but the picture made a strong impression on me then too. I also read the letter by Mr Tan Chek Wee, ‘HDB should reconsider replacing ban on cats with ‘motivational’ regulations’ (Online forum, Jan 21) and I realised that even though the HDB may have antiquated notions about how cats affect the neighbourhood, it is undeniable that cats and, particularly, community cats can be a great source of joy and inspiration to many in the heartlands.Community cats bring people together, as Miel’s cartoon shows. Many Singaporeans complain about them but just as many find the time and are willing to spend their own resources to take care of the many cats that we have in our neighbourhoods. Many caregivers are private individuals who come together because of their love for cats and feel that more care and attention should be given to these animals who share this Earth with us. Caregivers transcend race and stereotype.

    I am a caregiver myself and hence I may have a particular bias. I readily admit that I spend much time and energy trying to give my community cats as much care as I give to my family and friends.

    When community cats get into ‘trouble’ because they might have ‘transgressed’ in some way or they had unintentionally offended someone, all of us get together to solve the problem. We are as young as 14 to as old as 72. I do not ask the ‘old aunty’ who takes care of the community cats around my house her age. She said she is as old as she feels and she is a fiery one, unafraid of people who had tried to intimidate and scare her into giving up her passion of saving ‘her’ cats.

    What about the cats themselves? Well they come when it’s time for dinner or breakfast and then they leave just as quietly, leaving no trace and disturbing no one. Sometimes, their notion of public property and public space may be different from ours but surely we also need to consider that we are not the only ones with a right to live and should exercise love and care when relating to them.

    They live their lives and they let us live ours and one of these very long days, we hope that the HDB would really look at how small our lives are, how limited our space is and how much we really would benefit from having community cats in our houses as well as living safely in our neighbourhoods.

    An indoor cat is a safe cat and a human being who takes in one community cat saves one life from extermination. One day, some of us would be able to open our doors to our neighbours and smile widely at them with our happy cats by our side. Until that day comes, we will soldier on in our quiet way, smiling with warm affection for cartoons such as Miel’s who gives us hope that our dream will come true… some time in Singapore’s future.

    Jumiah Ahmad (Ms)

    (source for link)