TNRM in Singapore eye

There was an interesting article in yesterday’s Sunday Times about the NTU Cat Cafe Society (SG). NTU is the only tertiary educational institute, if not the only academic institute, in Singapore to have an on-campus TNRM programme. Now if only more schools incorporate this into the curriculum – what a win-win combo of education and kitty control!

The Sunday Times
30 March 2008
Paws for thought: NTU students who feed stray cats on campus can get ECA points

By Samantha Eng

‘With the heavy workload, it feels really good to take some time off to spend with the cats’
NTU student Liu Xiao with Goh Pei Shan and the group’s president Lang Shuang

YOU can now get extra-curricular activity points for feeding stray cats – if you are a student at Nanyang Technological University. Just last month, the NTU Cats Management Network, which takes charge of feeding the 50 stray cats on campus, was officially recognised as a student club by the university.

This means that students now receive ECA points for their participation in the club. The points can be used to apply for rooms in the university’s halls of residence and will also be reflected on the student’s ECA certificate.

The Cats Management Network was started in 2004 by Mrs Judith Lindley, a National Institute of Education lecturer, and Mrs Marcella Do, wife of NTU engineering lecturer Do Manh Anh.

The idea came about when the two women realised that the stray cat population there was increasing. At the time, there were about 130 of them.

Mrs Do, 58, says: ‘Each time you remove some cats from campus, new ones will come along.

‘We decided it would be a better idea if we sterilised the cats, fed them and kept them healthy, so that they do not bother the students.’

When the students saw the staff feeding the cats at the feeding stations or Cat Cafes, many were interested and asked if they could join the club.

It started with five members, three Cat Cafes and 130 cats. Four years on, there are 211 members, seven Cat Cafes and about 50 cats.

Typically, a member of the club will have to commit an hour each week and report for duty at one of the Cat Cafes.

The NTU office, which oversees facilities planning and management, subsidises half the cost of the cat food and the other half comes from the club’s fund-raising efforts and donations from other staff and students.

One member of the group, Liu Xiao, 21, a final-year engineering student who is an American Chinese, says: ‘With the heavy workload, it feels really good to take some time off to spend with the cats.’

The group’s president, Lang Shuang, 22, says the concept is working very well. The second-year engineering student says: ‘With our Cat Cafes put in place, the cats do not hang around food places, pester students or dig into garbage bins anymore. The number of cats has also fallen because of the sterilisation.’

The group decided to apply to become an official student club so that it could get more support from the university and have the autonomy to organise more events. An additional benefit is that students will receive ECA points for their participation.

The club is still in talks with the Students Affairs Office to decide how many ECA points to award members.

Currently, the club is trying to recruit more members. And since students can get ECA points, Liu thinks more will want to join.

Ironically, he doesn’t get to enjoy the points as he is graduating this year. But he doesn’t mind one bit.

He says: ‘In the end, it all boils down to doing something I really like. Being in the centre of the cats and having them all surround me is a wonderful experience.’

CLAWS ‘N’ EFFECT: Students feed the felines at the seven Cat Cafes and get them sterilised. This has reduced the number of strays rummaging for food all over the place.

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