Sunday, June 01, 2008

Why do I become a cat caregiver?

The comments made by the 2 Class 95 DJs on 7 May have resulted in many reactions and comments on blogs and ST forum and online forum. After reading them, we can have a good gauge of the different attitudes/perceptions/feelings regarding stray cats, the feeders, the caregivers, etc.

Everyone will have different opinions depending on:
  • their experience/interaction with the cats or animals in general
  • what they see in their estates - responsible cat caregivers or irresponsible/ghost feeders
  • awareness vs ignorance - cat poo vs dog poo, cat feeders vs cat caregivers
Perhaps the good thing about this discussion is that it may educate people about the presence of responsible cat caregivers and Cat Welfare Society.

Cat feeders vs cat caregivers

Why do I bother to sterilise the stray cats in my area and also inform the town council officer to contact me if there are any complaints about the cats? Why do I implement Trap-Neuter-Return-Management (TNRM) programme?

I don't want to be an irresponsible cat feeder who just feeds the stray cats without sterilising and without clearing over the leftover food. For some feeders, they believe that it's good karma to feed food or by giving bones/scraps of leftover from dinner, they aren't wasting food or they think if people complain about increasing population of cats or litter from cat food and the cats get culled, it's fate and there is nothing they can do. Then why bother to feed the cats in the first place? It's not helping them at all as the irresponsible behaviour often is the cause of the complaints.

My motivation

A few years ago, I read from Dawn's blog that TNRM works and there are caregivers in other areas who work with TC and residents to solve complaints about cats humanely. I tried to help an FIV cat and started noticing stray cats in my areas. They are friendly and affectionate and even for the less approachable ones, I have won their trust by feeding them and started to sterilise those without left tipped ears.

From someone who has been keeping hamsters as pets for years, I have grown to love cats outside my home. They are definitely not like hamsters but after interacting with them, giving them names, I want to make sure that they can live in a safe environment for the rest of their lives. I want to ensure their well-being.

Nuisance - cats or irresponsible pet owners?

With sterilisation, the population of the cats is controlled but we can't control irresponsible cat owners who abandon their cats or let them roam. The stray cats are in our estate not by their choice - they are offsprings of abandoned pet cats. Sterilised cats usually do not cause nuisance to anyone and if they do, that's where the Town Council can contact me and I will volunteer to talk to the complainant instead of paying money to engage a pest controller.

Vacuum effect

Sterilised cats are territorial and can help to keep out new cats. When sterilised cats are removed, new unsterilised cats will come in to take over the place of the removed cats. This is called the vacuum effect. Removing the sterilised cats will just mean more and more cats and without solving the root problem, residents will keep complaining and the Town Council has to continue wasting money culling the cats.

TNRM

When these sterilised community cats are managed properly, they are not a nuisance to the residents. The cats don't need to cauterwaul or get into cat fights to find a mate. Cat caregivers are also there to help resolve reasonable feedback/complaints from other residents.

Real problems

Asking cat lovers/caregivers to bring the cats home doesn't not resolve the real problems. The real problems could be:
  • irresponsible feeding of cats
  • people feeding but not sterilising - so there will also be more and more cats
  • cats removed but new unsterilised cats will roam in or irresponsible owners dumping their pet cats/unwanted kittens
  • irresponsible cat owner letting their cats roam and the cats may poo at the corridors
  • residents putting food outside their units and attracting cats to go upstair to eat and poo at the corridors
  • dog owners not picking up the poo of their dogs
  • residents littering the estate
Hope

Caregivers like me are actually helping to deal with the effects of irresponsible pet ownership (eg abandonment and roaming). Seeing how some people can be cruel to abandon their pets and how adults allow their kids to derive pleasure from scaring the cats or throwing things at them - it saddens me to see how the community cats which are not harming the people are being treated. There are also kids and parents who would approach me and my mom and take an interest in the cats and stroke them. It gives me hope when I see this group of people who have compassion for animals.

We can view community cats as a society's problem or living beings who have the right to live in our community/estate. When there are responsible caregivers who are putting in time, effort and money to make sure that the cats are taken care properly and everyone can live harmoniously together, why can't we give the community cats a chance to live?

I hope my community cats and all the others in Singapore can continue to live in peace.

3 comments:

Jas said...

Hi my dear, i am very proud of what u hv bn doing! U hv made me much more aware of n understand community cats much more. If there r more pple like u, the world will definitely be a much nicer place to live in for the community cats. Keep up the good job!!!!

Dawn said...

Lovely post!

b b said...

i think you shld submit this to the newspapers/forums. this will help to make more people aware of such issues..