Tag Archives: active citizenry

Area1: Snippety Happy

We thought we had a new kitty in the hood… what do we know.

The kitty we confirmed about 2 weeks was an agouti female – she was sitting right outside our door, on the ninth floor, on a night when btmao returned home late, thus confirming herself to us. Like Isam when he first appeared, and Brenda, she seemed to trying to find her home, going up and down in tireless frenzy the blocks in the ‘hood.

Around the same time, we spotted a new silver spotted tabby male, young but with fullly ripe “grapes”.

Available adult female, add virile adult male. Bad combo. But as ever, they were scaredy-attention seeking (typical of newly abandoned pets), elusive and refused to give us their daily agenga. Talk about guerilla warfare.

This morning, we spotted the female downing some cooked rice strewn on the muddy roots of a tree. She ran off as I approached. So this evening we decided we would try to nail someone, anyone, to some sort of kitty schedule.

We got more than we ask for… different than what we hoped but definitely more.

We met a new kitty. A striped female with a stumpy tail and surprise of surprises – a tipped ear. She’s a carpark denizen and completely friendly.

Then while btmao fed her, I went round the neighbourhood. The silver spotted tabby boy was out and about, up to his usual frenetic search up and down the blocks looking for a home. But at least he was calm enough and friendly. We decided to call V to come collect him, not least because his loudmouth tendency wasn’t doing himself any fabours.

Thankfully V was available to swing by, ETA 9-ish. The silver spotted tabby boy wouldn’t know what hit him. He’s friendly, bright-eyed but definitely putting on the coy. His call even sounded like he’s wanting to show some lucky gal what a lover he was. And his advertisement was being answered. We were standing at the foot of a block. I heard someone responding to him, but it took btmao’s 6/6 vision (she went home for supplies), to spot the furry Rappunzel up on the third floor, upper body clear over the ledge and at the ready to fly down.

I went up to take a look. It was the rice-gulping agouti-female. But she was right on the ledge and let out a very scared howl. So I left her, and btmao to juggle her watch. btmao had to chaparone the loverlorn twosome as I had to go home to finish up some work. I also told her she just missed Brenda trotting by a while.

btmao just got home and gave me the surprise of week. When I went looking for the spotted tabby boy, he had climbed to the second floor of another block (he’s got the Isam’s initial run-up-and-down-every-block bug), where I had spotted 3 young cats in front of a flat (which occpuants refused to open and talk), 1 friendly ginger and 3 SCAREDY dilute gingers. The friendly I could see was a boy. That was in March. Since then I’ve not caught sight of them except for a chance encounter with one of the dilutes at the foot of our block in the compromised position of pooping. So tonight I requested Vincent to see if he can nab any of the threesome as well. Vincent took care of the spoted tabby boy. btmao met a Malay man who said he feeds nightly using styrofoam plates which he clears (he felt sorry for the many cats around and was angry at irresponsible people who dumped them, ostensibly just “downstairs”) and had just left food for some cats at the ginger’s block. He told her the flat where  where I found the ginger and dilutes loitering belonged to a macik who claimed she doesn’t own them, just fed them as they kept appearing at her door. (The macik, had annoyingly, been trying to lure the spotted tabby boy away while btmao was chaperoning him for V’s arrival) Even Brenda is a regular visitor to her kitty soup kitchen.

So btmao went to see and saw…

… the ginger, one dilute/white cat, and 2 more cats!

V grabbed the friendly ginger and was nearly lynched by the Malay man and his wife/relative on the way back to his van. V kept saying “Sterilise, sterilise” and btmao was luckily there to help defuse the situation too. Ultimately, V got 3 boys from there. The dilute/white was a girl who the Malay man said is already sterilised despite the lack of a tipped ear as he had seen the surgery scar on her. Someone besides us were sterilising kitties in the vicinity it seems (and the Malay man agrees), but who we have no idea, and why was the girl’s ear not tipped? Mysteries.

Sadly, the rice-gulper was not to be found. A minion’s work is truly never done. But now that we know a feeder, who seems responsible, we can try to harness the power for good. Entrapment is the key now.

So in total 4 boys are going to lose their mojo tomorrow. The spotted tabby boy, the ginger, a new tabby white, and a new big-headed agouti tabby tux. The Malay man and his family seemed determined to be there to receive the tom kitties when they return from the event of their lives. I too am looking forward to meeting the new kitties, the responsible feeder encik and make arrangements for the area1 kitties, females or otherwise, still at large. Photos to come too.

But for now we have the task of a lifetime – a ton of names to come up with. Anyone with suggestions for names beginning with C and I? We need about 3 for girls, and 5 for boys. F is also another alphabet we’re using for area1.

Here’s the list of names already owned by our area1 kitties:

Area 1 (135)

Say it!

The situation for Singapore’s community cats and cat caregivers is anything but rosy. But we’re not unique in our situation. For example, in the state of California, the perceived American forerunner of of animal welfare, Alley Cat Allies successfully called on residents to help repeal a bill that would have been detrimental to the work that caregivers were doing and to the cats themselves.

Philly_20090920_001xWhat does this say? That bad things can happen anywhere. And also that they can be pushed back. Here in Singapore, we may have a tougher time of it… due to inertia in the Singapore leadership and bureaucracy, but the people on the street, the ones who roll up their sleeves and DO SOMETHING, have a part to play too. Nothing is going to happen if we don’t do something, as in take measures that is required of the situation, for example speak up.

Efforts to get HDB to review its unreasonable ban against cats are still leaving advocates gnashing teeth and nursing headaches. But ACRES‘s role in the successful effort to up the penalties for wildlife smuggling shows it may not all be lost causes we champion.

So what can we do? Dawn says it all:

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Speak up – and in a timely fashion

There was some confusion about which rail operative was involved, and it seems that it was not SMRT identified, as the letter writer originally stated, but SBS Transit. Full disclosure : I have a relative who works for SBS Transit – but my opinion on the subject remains the same.

It’s good to hear from this letter that SBS transit acknowledged that they made a mistake in the handling of this case, and that they will be meeting with the SPCA to work out a proper way of handling this situation. Apparently they mentioned having rescued some dogs from the station in the past. Even if there was already a protocol in place as the letter stated, it is certainly good to have a refresher, and to remind the staff (who clearly didn’t know about it). It’s also heartening to hear that they haven’t found a dead cat on the tracks. I spoke to someone who told me that there are apparently a lot of ventilation holes in the tunnels – hopefully the cat was able to escape out of one of them.

On another thought, this brought into mind the story that I first read via calsifer’s blog the other day.

I’m so sorry to hear about this case, and about the cat that wasn’t saved but it does also bring to mind several issues. The writer in the MRT case wrote in and demanded accountability – and she did get it.

On the other hand, the aunties in the case mentioned above, didn’t, for whatever reason. I can understand they might be frightened or scared but that doesn’t help them or the cats. Neither does bringing the case up long after it happened.

The point is this – if a situation like this happens, someone has to ask for accountability, and it has to be the person whom it happened to. Imagine if the writer at the MRT station had told a friend about it, and asked that friend to write in, months or years after the fact. All of us responded especially to the situation because it had happened to the writer herself – and she was able to give specific details of what happened, and when. It also added an urgency to the case because obviously it mattered so much to her, that she wrote in right away, when the details were still fresh in her mind. It also adds credibility because she came forward herself and identified herself.

On the other hand, this case in AVA, sad as it is, made me wonder – why didn’t the people involve come forward? Also, why didn’t they do so sooner?

If the women were frightened for their own (and their cats’) sakes, then their cat was already killed – honestly, what could be worse? The worst thing had already happened.

If the issue was that they felt that it didn’t matter anymore – and it obviously does still matter to these aunties because they are still scarred by the event – then it could very well matter to the next cats which are caught. If the AVA staffer is still there, then it could well happen to the next person whose cats are caught. At the very least, what seems to be from the (admittedly second or third hand) account, a seemingly arbitrary decision could have been queried.

Right now, it’s hard to see what can be done. It’s like the many times we hear of people complain of animal abuse – but that they can’t ‘do anything’ and so they tell their friends who then try to go to the police. Obviously this can’t be done because the police need an actual eyewitness – and it’s clear to see why. Any news passed down second or third hand will get distorted – ever played ‘broken telephone’?

If someone’s home is broken into, I doubt most people would not file a report, or go to the police. Then why the difference with cats? I can understand that this might be the case with the general public – but I’m sure to most of us, a cat’s life is more important than any property. We have to put aside this fear or reluctance to speak up. We have already seen that there are many caregivers and people concerned about cats who are willing to back witnesses up and give them support in terms of letters and phone calls. There is a community that will support caregivers – and we’ve seen that time and again.

At the end of the day, if we don’t speak up for the cats, then who will?

Posted by Dawn at 10:09 AM comments

We really really do need to learn to speak up. It may not work all the time, but if we keep at it, sooner or later, something has to click. For us minions, our perennial frustrations is in convincing caregivers in the town to band together and work with each other and present a united front to the power-that-be. If you are in a cooperative group, treasure it.

TODAY 20051104: Why animal welfare groups in Singapore can’t reach out to the authorities

Hot News // Friday, November 4, 2005

The art of getting heard

Why animal welfare groups in Singapore can’t reach out to the authorities

Goh Boon Choo

IN Singapore, animal cruelty reports precipitate letters in the media calling for harsher punishment, tougher laws and stringent enforcement.

The authorities then issue sympathetic responses, explaining their stand and that they “will not hesitate to take strong action” against perpetrators — but stop short of committing to firmer penalties.

In a reply published in Today in June, the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said: “While we may not be able to adopt all the suggestions by the (letter) writers, we will definitely take these suggestions into consideration when we review our rules.”

So it was too, when news of Max, the Alaskan Malamute, broke in August.

For fatally neglecting him, Max’s owner, Lim Bee Leong, was fined $3,000. Singaporeans wrote letters and signed an online petition for stiffer punishment.

The persistent calls for tougher enforcement are a symptom of the gap between public disapproval of animal cruelty and official policies.

People understand that animal cruelty concerns society at large. Nine in 10 respondents believe “we have a moral duty to minimise suffering”, according to the results of an Asian survey commissioned by the International Fund for Animal Welfare, presented in March.

In July last year, a local newspaper reported that culling costs for 2003 rose 20 per cent. That year, AVA cancelled its five-year-old Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme (SCRS), following the Sars scare.

Eighty per cent of readers surveyed objected to AVA’s annual $600,000 culling bill, and more than half felt funds should go to animal welfare groups to re-home or sterilise strays.

Animal welfare groups play an important role in raising awareness and rallying like-minded citizens. But they seem unable to engage the authorities to the extent their counterparts elsewhere do.

The Humane Society of the United States collaborated with a senator to successfully lobby for an end to horse-slaughter for food exports. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, it secured senators’ sponsorship of its proposal to change evacuation policies to include refugees’ pets.

The disparity may be due to cultural mindset and maturity of the political system — but in comparison, Singapore’s welfare groups are often left reacting to policy changes. For instance, the Cat Welfare Society championed in vain for the continuation, then reinstatement, of the SCRS.

In fact, AVA’s own case study of the SCRS in Bukit Merah View (since been removed from the AVA website) proved the scheme’s effectiveness over culling.

Tellingly, part of that study’s conclusion was that “sterilisation and responsible management has the support of up to 96 per cent of the public. The majority want cats controlled but do not want them culled”.

Another example is the Action for Singapore Dogs’ (ASD) proposal to the HDB. It suggested easing HDB’s rule on dog breeds, to widen the adoption pool for larger dogs, as temperament rather than size determines a breed’s suitability for flat-living. Despite volunteering to monitor trial adoptions, ASD’s proposal fell through.

Since collaboration is not welcomed, groups have to try to involve themselves indirectly. For example, a US group, pet-abuse.com, produced a training film on investigating animal cruelty and successful deterrent sentencing. Targeted at police and prosecutors, the film’s distribution has widened beyond America.

Welfare groups also need to be politically savvy: Identify and initiate contact with foresighted officials, as it seems change is possible only from within officialdom.

In recent months, readers have written in urging for a rethink on current laws, legislative support for pet ownership (for example compulsory microchipping) and cooperation between AVA and welfare groups to design humane and effective solutions to issues conventional policies cannot address, such as stray culling and unregulated pet breeding. So far, the authorities have issued the standard responses.

The equation between public opinion and official stance is a skewed one. Still, if only extreme cruelty cases compel Singapore to react, it would reflect poorly on our collective compassion.

There will always be another Max, but instead of decrying lax enforcement or incongruent penalties after the fact, Singapore should minimise the number of Maxes by deterring the potential Lim Bee Leongs.

This necessitates paradigm shifts, but to effectively address prevalent problems, the authorities must include Singaporeans and the welfare groups more thoroughly in its policy formulation process.

The writer is an analyst concerned with animal and environmental issues.

Area2: Bradley turning putty tat

I sms’d D and A, asking how’s Bradley and Saba doing.

Saba is now apparently hiding inside the flat, mostly. Doesn’t surprise me, I just hope it lasts.

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Bradley, though, Bradley is shedding his complex. In D’s words: “Ahbee (Bradley’s nickname) is doing very well. He seems like a diff cat now. He loves human company. Keep asking people to pat him. He allows all of us to pat him, including B (D’s hubby, at whose sight Bradley turns tail without fail, as recently as on Sunday) and Auntie (Benji’s dedicated feeder who he has never allowed to get near). He kept following us when we wanted to go home last night.”

And we thought it was going to take him months to get over the trauma…. who says mojo-stealing has no value? Us minions, our hearts are broken though. But maybe now Bradley will give us time of time when we see him.

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

Area2: Bradley and Saba joins the tipped ear moggies

Bradley and Saba came back from their initiation, delivered by V of course. They looked well, and were released back into their home tuft at about 7 this evening.

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Bradley was released first, and he scooted off without a thought for the food we laid out before his carrier door. We did get some shots of him before he shot off. It’s not apparent from these shots, but he has grown quite a bit. But his paws still seem a bit oversized for him, which means he has still some room to bloom in, maybe reaching his suspected sire, Stanley’s stature.

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Then we moved on to Saba’s “home”. She was a loudmouth, and because she was on heat when she was sent in for her surgery, there was a surcharge on her operation.

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To avoid attracting attention, I quickly took a few rather un-well-framed shots before she was released.

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Like Bradley, she took off without a glance at the food in front of her.

Since the food was untouched and there wasn’t any cat around, we brought the food back for Ivan. He wasn’t around either. But at this time, D called to say she located Bradley, and didn’t have food. So back we went.

Here are some more pics of Bradley, taken the last time we saw him in the daytime about 1.5 months back.
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Drain cat instinct
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Typical drain cat dining
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He had just found and joined Brina’s family then. At this time, btmao and I have tried to get him once too many times and he wouldn’t let us near him.
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But his newly adopted family’s acceptance helped him calm down and settle in.

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Plus A, D, and J went out of their way to earn his trust, which is why we could finally nap him for his sterilisation. How much more organic can you get with active citizenry, community building? Kudos to community spirit! One for the meowies.

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With Bradley and Saba’s induction into the tipped ear clan, all the known kitties we know and are still around in Areas 1, 2, 3 are sterilised. Let’s hope the status quo keeps for a while.

MyAnimalFamily’s experience in the CCK cat killing fields

The woman of myanimalfamily shares her experience raising awareness in the CCK killing fields

Thursday, March 12, 2009

cat abuse at choa chu kang

The ‘worst case of cat mutilation’ was discovered at Blk 550 Choa Chu Kang on Street 52 on 21 Feb 2009.

Last Sunday, a group of us went door to door in the vicinity to see what information we could find about the case as well as to ask the residents to participate in a petition for more security measures to be put in place in the area.

Most of the residents were not aware of what had happened in their neighbourhood, although a few had seen the SPCA reward posters on the notice boards or read the TNP article. But after being told what happened to the cat, many were noticeably shaken and eager to ask for something to be done.

This was not a case of a misguided hot-headed or frightened individual protecting themselves or their territory from an errant cat. Appalling as those cases are, many might shake their heads but ultimately, find no real bearing on their own safety. This crime on their doorstep is a grotesquely meticulous, pre-meditated act with a highly lethal weapon, very much the work of a troubled individual seeking release in the worst possible way. Enough studies have shown the correlation of such violence against animals to violence against humans and that message has made more than a few residents sit up and take notice.

And this was not an isolated case in Choa Chu Kang. Equally gruesome was the pregnant tri-colour cat found on 29 Nov 2008 at Blk 130 Choa Chu Kang Ave 1 with her stomach slit open and guts hanging out. That makes two cases in Choa Chu Kang where mutilation with a knife or sharp object is evident. Over the years in that estate, the caregiver has found and cared for countless more injured or dead cats, bashed in, run over by bicycles, thrown from high floors.


Statistics on animal abuse in Singapore number in the hundreds every year – 800 on average. Most of these are pet-related, outcomes of irresponsibility, negligence and plain old stupidity. These perpetrators are usually ordinary people with some vital deficiency and we know there are too many of them littering the earth. If education, threat of fines and public humiliation cannot get through to them, well, let’s hope there are enough busybodies in this world to call them out on their shortcomings.

Just as importantly, we need to take a magnifying glass to the actual number of violent crimes committed against animals every year and the mode of abuse. We’d like to think the individuals who would take these actions are few but they are also gallingly hard to apprehend. Better profiling and records can make all the difference. Perhaps SPCA or the police are monitoring these cases but as a lay person, the woman was not able to get much more information than the yearly reported statistics.

Hand in hand with that, we would like to remind people to report all abuse cases to SPCA or to the police, if only so that a comprehensive database of abuse can be built that might force authorities to take closer notice of this insidious underlying threat to society. It might one day even help build a case against a perpetrator.

As the woman was assigned the block directly next to Blk 550, she and another volunteer encountered quite a few households who heard distressed cat cries several nights in a row around the time the body of the kitten was found. Their hearts sank when they heard this. One young girl who told them about the cries was also visibly cut up. Let’s hope she never hears those cries again in her neighbourhood.