Tag Archives: HDB

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)


HDB’s cat ban elicits incredulity

Popular local blogger Mr Wang blogged about his brother’s art exhibition in Hong Kong. The interesting thing is its his “brother’s sixth exhibition of cat paintings, all of which are inspired by his real-life pet cat”. If this cat minion were in Hong Kong, this would an exhibition I’d go to. I was particularly piqued with this remark by Mr Wang:

And here’s another. I guess this is about HDB’s prohibition on flat owners having a pet cat:

The interesting thing is one reader’s reaction to the HDB cat ban:

Are you sure this is the case? I think this sort of statement spells disaster for credibility.
I think feeding strays is illegal or frowned upon, but not having legal pets.

I think this sort of reaction is good. People do tend to want to believe the positive where there’s a choice, never mind the reality. But this also shows how incredulous people find the ban to be. I’m interested to know the reactions when more people realise just how ridiculous Singapore’s pet and animal control policies are. I’ve responded (adding AVA’s pet cat brochure which extols the suitability of cats as indoor pets who do not need to roam for good measure), but of course it depends on whether Mr Wang approves my comment. I hope he does.

Forget awareness, I cannot believe in this day and age such things should be shocking news. What people need to do is acknowledge reality, not just about the pet legislations in place but also the whole animal population control situation – and the laughability of it all. TNRM is the way to go, culling is ineffective and an expense taxpayers should not be expected to subsidize. When the Singapore government and the bureaucrats running rings around their fingers see the light depends on more and different Singaporeans speaking up.


Read this on my daily commute and been meaning to post it. I was pleasantly surprised. Best part is this is from a man, so it cracks the stereotype of such suggestions coming from women.

My Paper



THERE have been unfortunate cases of cat abuse, as reported in the press.

Recently, I was visiting a friend in an HDB estate and was told by some residents that a number of them had come together to look out for the welfare of the cats in the neighbourhood and to prevent them from being culled.

Perhaps town councils and residents’ committees can turn this to their advantage by promoting catwelfare groups in estates and to foster community spirit.

Mr Roger Chow

Trapped! The bestest news in a long while

So, btmao got hold of a master trapper, V, and tonight he helped alleviate the situation that’s been developing in Area 2.

Our main aim was BambiBaby, who bit btmao’s hand in our first (failed) attempt to trap him, and Saba, whose recalcitrant family has allowed her to continue to get pregnant.

As we walked out to Area 2, who should we spot but a new young male cat, probably a yearling, lounging in front of the late Charlotte‘s home. A new member to Ian’s gang, btmao had seen the very friendly boy a few times, once sauntering out the family’s front door. We briefly discussed our options as we walked along the school buttressing Area 1.

Who should we see but Stanley swaggering his way in parallel on the other side of the fence! I shadowed him while btmao went to meet V and direct him over.

When V and btmao met up with me, Stanley was in between blocks of Area 1, As V set up the cat trap, an Indian grandpa and his two young granddaughters watched a little distance away. Though language was rather the barrier, I managed to explain to the granddad what we were up to, and he considerately pulled his young charges a little further away.

Stanley showed no interest in stepping inside the trap, so V went to get his net. While V was away, Stanley went into gladiator mode, as another tom, a young (we estimate 2 years old) Tabby Tuxedo male crossed his path. It was pure happenstance, but as concentrated on posturing as Stanley was, V was able nab him without incident. At last, our second enfant terrible was in the carrier!

V quickly brought Stanley back to his van, and then came back to work on the other male. When he showed no interest in food and was thus not going into the trap either, V went ot get another carrier.

Jut as V was walking to his van, who should come walking up but Brenda, another newbie female who resembles Freda. She was first spotted only on 12 Dec 08. A skinny, famished cat with some balding parts on her rump, she was scared and wary at out first meeting, but who last week, allowed btmao to touch her upon their first meeting. She was a bit malnutritioned then, but has since fattened up a bit. V simply picked her up and brought her to the van.

To cut a long story short, the tabby tuxedo boy got away.

So we decided it was time to go over to Area 2 and try for Saba and BambiBaby.

We spread out in different directions.

Saba was nowhere to found.

As for BambiBaby, btmao found him in his usual hiding place behind the eatery. Since our last report, he has learnt that hearing btmao means dinner but that she’s not to be trusted so much. btmao has to put the food down among the bushes, and step back at least 3 metres before he will cautiously approach the dinner “plate”, check out the coast in an elaborate 5 to 10m minute ritual before he starts eating, gingerly.

By the time I joined btmao and V, I could see BambiBaby cautiously sniffing outside the trap and calling as loudly as ever.

An audience was also gathering. There was a gazebo nearby, and some among the usual evening gaggle of men who gathered there tried to sabotage the operation by distracting BambiBaby with catcalls of their own. One of them even stamped his feet loudly just as BambiBaby took his first step into the trap. V tried to explain to the group but the saboteur started posturing. Fortunately, he had open-minded companions who were more receptive and managed to keep things calm.

BambiBaby got spooked nonetheless and ran a little away and almost into the drains that surround the eatery, so btmao went to drop a dollop of canned food at the trap entrance.

At this time, a family walked by and obliviously gathered, less than 0.5 m from the trap. btmao asked them to move back and they did, though they continued to watch.

It was a very tense time, but after 10 minutes, BambiBaby finally did enter the trap. It took him another 10 minutes to venture deep enough to trigger the trap door. Success!

Then V took the trap one side to transfer BambiBaby to a carrier… and he promptly escaped. Looks like getting this growing scaredy cat will take more doing. The head of the spectator family then came up and started sharing clandestine info – that there were a few cats around, 1 “mother” and 3 or 4 kittens and that the mother was often there calling. We suspect he meant Saba and that he may have mistaken other kittens (as yet unsighted by us) for BambiBaby’s litter as Bambi (who is still MIA) had never been seen with any other kitten.

The peacemaker from the men gaggle also offered some insider news: there’s a family of cats whom people are feeding. We suspect he was referring to the calico cat we spotted that day. She definitely has a litter, and he confirms the whole family is being irresponsibly fed.

With the double setbacks of not finding Saba and BambiBaby’s escape, we decided to go and get Indy instead.

Strangely, he was afraid of btmao but would respond to me. As the family was home, we did a bit of stealthing: I carried Indy to the next block where V met us and I put him into the carrier with no effort at all. In fact, he purred all the way.

Frankly, I was wavering over whether to sterilise Indy or to leave him for his family, even though we are quite sure they would probably do no such thing, given their history, but years of accumulating peeve made me want to try for a game of brinksmanship with them. But Iggy came to mind. Frankly, we have more than enough kitty-sized albatrosses around the neck to deal with, so I surrendered as we did not want that to befall another beautiful cat.

We have more than enough cats in Area 2 needing de-mojoing. The calico mothercat‘s brood is 3-4 months old: 1 short-tailed and small-sized black kitten with white mittens, 2 cream-coloured tabbies, 1 torbie calico and 1 short-tailed agouti. All are scaredy and scoots readily into their drain of a home. The good thing is, they are not difficult to find though their schedule is also not fixed. All are ravenous and we hope they will stick around for another month or 2 until we can get them sterilised. Their mother, who has the most lovely large blue yellow eyes, we hope to settle sooner.

Along with the family, BambiBaby, Saba remain on the radar, so V will be back.

We are going to burn a hole in our pocket, taking on responsibility that so-called pet owners, who own their own cars I might add, at least for Indy and Saba, and most likely the escaped tabby tuxedo boy, but the alternative is not something we want to happen.

So 3 cats down… X to go.

Mr Safety’s advocacy for cat trapping is a great public service, but all that advocacy can’t work without MIWs, minions-industriously-working, aka you and me.

Merry Christmas, and here’s to hoping all the kitties without roofs over their heads remain safe.

(Note: No pictures of tonight’s operation as I did not want the camera to get in the way nor to spook our quarry)

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

Sunday Times 20080113: Hey neighbour, don’t be a stranger

Filched off Dawn’s blog:

Sunday Times ( 13-1-08 )

a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/catwelfare/2192238240/”>Sunday Times (13-1-08), originally uploaded by
By cartoonist Miel in the Sunday Times yesterday (sorry my scanner cut off part of the cartoon) – lovely cartoon with a little cat poking it’s head out in the panel on the left.
read the article that this cartoon is companion to, and you’ll see how unsurprising it is that Community Spirit is in serious trouble here. But really, there are ways to save it, not least of which is finding the commonalities that will bond people, for example, pets:

By itself, the cartoon doesn’t seem extraordinary, especially to non-Singaporeans and Singaporeans still in the proverbial well. But

Serangoon resident Png Siew Chin, 43, also noted that children and pets help break down the barriers.

Mrs Png, who has three young children and a dog, said most of her neighbourhood pals are mothers or dog lovers.

‘When I take my dog to the park, we’ll just start talking,’ she said. ‘My children also go to my neighbour’s house and play with the kids.’

So putting 2 and 2 together, the HDB rule that so restricts what type of dogs and totally bans cats is part of the problem. The solution? Staring everybody in the face. It’s been staring so long it’s getting strabby!

But Dawn’s right. It’s not just pets that brings people together. Community animals do too, take Blackie for example. (scroll down to comments on that post to see the follow-up).

For sure, any suggestion will attract detractors. And just as there are pet/animal lovers, there are haters too. Take a look at the comments appended to the news article fro a sampling. Whingers are spoiled by bureaucratic efficiency (oxymoron half-intended) in instances like ready kitty death.

So the reality is this: pets and community animals are just part of the bonding glue, but for the most part, we still must look within ourselves. We are so self-occupied, and we whinge so much, where is the time to care for others? We must let go of our egos and self-centredness to be able to look outside ourselves and perhaps learn abit of tolerance. And stop giving excuses too.

For easy ref, here’s the article in it’s entirety.

Home > Free > Story
Jan 13, 2008
Hey neighbour, don’t be a stranger
A poll of 200 households reveals that up to 20 per cent have never spoken to their neighbours
By Mavis Toh

BUCKING THE TREND, this group of neighbours (from left) Mrs Han Yong Siew, 68, Margaret Ng, 43, Mr Han Yong Siew, 72, Ms Tracy Lee, 48, Mrs Rebecca Kok, 55, and husband Boon Leong, 56, and their sons, Yan Ting, 22, and Yan Rong, 19, have regular potluck sessions together and even entrust one another with their house keys. — ST PHOTO: LIM WUI LIANG

THEY have been neighbours in the Lentor estate for 20 years but housewife Lin Su Li and the folks next door may as well be living on different planets.
Mrs Lin, 60, knows nothing about the people living just a few metres away – not their names, what they do for a living or even how many actually live in the terrace house.

‘Singaporeans are all the same,’ she said. ‘We keep to ourselves and don’t interact with neighbours.’

That is sadly true with a Sunday Times poll of 200 households finding that many Singaporeans are generally not too chummy with the people next door.

Even more disturbing, about 53 per cent said they would ‘do nothing’ even if they felt something amiss, such as not seeing their neighbours for a long period of time.

The poll mirrored a tragic reality last week when the badly decomposed bodies of 82-year-old Mr Wong Tong Seng and his daughter were found in their Lorong Ah Soo flat.

His 80-year-old wife, Madam Ngai Hong Chee, was in the flat as well, but she was alive.

Neighbours had not seen the family for up to seven weeks but the police were called only when the smell from the home became unbearable.

Neighbours said later that they had assumed the family had been travelling.

More recently, on Friday, a 76-year-old cleaner who lived alone in her Jalan Bukit Ho Swee flat was discovered only two days after she died in her bed.

She was discovered only when her nephew turned up at her flat to check on her after she did not turn up for work for two days.

Lentor resident Ivy Chow, 50, said she would have thought the same if she hadn’t seen her neighbours for a long time.

‘If they still don’t appear after a few months, then I might try knocking on their door,’ said the housewife.

Most people feared being labelled a ‘busybody’ if they ‘probed’ into a neighbour’s affairs.

About 20 per cent of those polled had never even spoken to their neighbours while most would only chat when they bumped into each other at the lift lobby in the corridor.

The survey also found 81 per cent did not have their neighbours’ phone numbers and 60 per cent did not even know their neighbours by name. These were consistent across all housing types.

The results also showed some surprising trends.

Residents in one- and two-room flats said the shady characters in their estate had made them more wary, whereas those in landed homes, often regarded as being more private, even have karaoke sessions together.

According to the results, people living in three- to five-room flats are friendly with long-time neighbours while condo dwellers tend to keep to themselves.

Engineer Tan Xin Wei, 28, has been living in her Yio Chu Kang condo for 10 years but knows her immediate neighbour only as ‘uncle’.

‘I don’t say more than a ‘hi’ or ‘bye’, so I don’t see a need to know their names,’ she said. ‘Also, I don’t want them to know too much about my private life.’

Like Ms Tan, 61 per cent of respondents said chats with neighbours do not go beyond casual greetings.

The chairman of Marsiling Zone 1 residents’ committee, Mr Selva Raj, said residents today are more isolated, unlike in the old days when people lived in kampungs. ‘In the kampung, everyone knew one another by name,’ he said.

Madam Halimah Yacob, an MP for Jurong GRC, said people keep to themselves because they are so busy.

She also noted that families with young children are more likely to attend community events and mingle.

Serangoon resident Png Siew Chin, 43, also noted that children and pets help break down the barriers.

Mrs Png, who has three young children and a dog, said most of her neighbourhood pals are mothers or dog lovers.

‘When I take my dog to the park, we’ll just start talking,’ she said. ‘My children also go to my neighbour’s house and play with the kids.’

Mr Raj encouraged neighbours to interact more because they would be each other’s first source of help in an emergency.

Just ask Hougang resident Rebecca Kok, 55. Her neighbour Veronica was a lifesaver.

It was Veronica who noticed how pale Mrs Kok appeared one day and insisted on taking her to the doctor. The doctor quickly referred Mrs Kok to a hospital where she was diagnosed with a mild stroke.

While Mrs Kok’s husband, Boon Leong, 56, rushed to the hospital from work, it was Veronica who stayed by her side. Now, when Mr Kok and his two sons are at work and school, neighbours cook meals for Mrs Kok.

‘I’m really thankful for the neighbours’ help,’ said Mr Kok. ‘If not for them, I’ll worry about my wife when she’s home alone.’

Additional reporting by Chen Meiyue, Samantha Eng, Alex Liam & Eugene Neubronner


HDB pet rules – Unpublished letter from a Muslim

In addition to this letter-writer, another friend had also sent in her thoughts about the pet-rules too. Unfortunately, it seems like the media chooses not to publish her letter. The baffling question is “Why?”

Here it is (emphasis mine):

Dear Editor,
I live in a HDB flat. As a Muslim and an animal-lover, I have read the article, “Pet Project: Let’s Work Together” with great interest. I agree HDB should work with the relevant bodies for truly effective management of pet issues.It is a common knowledge that dogs are haram as pets for Muslims. On the other hand, cats are popular choices among us, not least because of our respect for the cat’s significance to the Prophet Muhammad.

Therefore, the HDB pet rules are not fair to Muslims who want interactive pets that are not confined to cages, like rabbits or hamsters.

I am a responsible cat owner – I sterilize my cats and keep them strictly indoors. Quite the opposite from the HDB excuse for banning cats, my pets are quiet and happy to remain indoors, especially after being sterilized. Instead of causing nuisance, my cats have helped create closer relationship with my neighbours, especially their children, who ask to see and pet my cats.

But I also do trap-neuter-release management for the community cats in my neighbourhood, so I can empathise with HDB residents who have problems with irresponsible pet owners. Sadly, I find in my fellow Muslims who own cats a shocking blasé attitude about the basics of responsible cat ownership, which is tantamount to ill-treatment.

Prophet Muhammad spoke specifically about the importance of kindness to animals on many occasions. In fact, “Fear Allah in your ill-treatment of animals” is one of my favourite sayings from Prophet Muhammad. Furthermore Prophet Muhammad stated that there is heavenly reward for every act of kindness done to a living animal.

However, many Muslims who keep cats refuse to sterilize their pets and allow these virile cats to wander. So nuisance is created when the cats defecate outside other people’s homes or caterwaul during mating or territorial fights, and also add to the cat population in the community.

To tackle the problem, at least with regards to cats, HDB has to acknowledge that many HDB residents, especially Muslims, do have pet cats. HDB also has to recognize that nuisance caused by pet cats is due to irresponsible pet owners who do not sterilize or keep their cats indoors. Banning cats does not stop such irresponsible people from simply abandoning their cats if someone complains to the HDB.

HDB must rethink its pet-rules.