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N. Sivasothi,
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Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research, Department of Biological Sciences, National University of Singapore. Since 1998 with origins from OneList.

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Mon 19 Mar 2007

Cat population decreases in 52 blocks over 7 years with management

Category : animalwelfare

Rebecca Ho argues for the resumption of the AVA's Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme, reflecting on the critical role self-motivated volunteers have played in contributing towards a humane and working strategy of stray cat management.

This is demanding because it requires initiative, stamina, consistency and strategy for long-term goals to crystalise. Gratification comes from unheralded results, not awards. Additionally volunteers like Rebecca have been very patient.

When street cats were disappearing in May 2003 in response to the outbreak of SARS, the cat-rehabilitation scheme appeared to have been suspended overnight. Animal Welfare groups then held an unprecedented press release to address the issue and by February 2004, Tan Chek Wee was asking in The Straits Times, "Impressionable children will grow up thinking that killing is the answer to any threat to our survival. Is this the future we want?"

For more on Stray Cat management in action today, see Dawn Kua's regularly updated blog, Working with the Cat Welfare Society - negotiation, consultation, mediation, management, adoption and sterilisation, amongst other things!

"Teen's cat-rehab effort turned 'pests' into 'pets'." Letter to The Straits Times Forum Page by Rebecca Ho Shu Ling, 19 Mar 2007.

I REFER to the letter, 'Give cat-rehabilitation scheme a chance' (ST, March 15), by Ms Deirdre Moss, and 'Active citizenry? Bring back cat-rehab scheme' (ST, March 9) by Dr Tan Chek Wee. I couldn't agree more with both of them on the fruits of sterilisation. This stops the breeding cycle immediately.

Thanks to the help of the Cat Welfare Society and two retired teachers, I was able to start a sterilisation programme in my estate in the east at the age of 14. With no support or encouragement from my relatives or friends, I followed my burning desire to spread the message of sterilisation. I approached all the cat feeders I met on the street and built up my network.

In 2000, I started out with 28 blocks, zero sterilised cats and a neighbourhood flooded with cats. It started out tough, with weekly trapping of two to three cats. Slowly and steadily, we covered the initial area and expanded to other parts of the neighbourhood.

This year, in 52 blocks (about two-thirds of the neighbourhood), the cat population is decreasing. The expanded network of responsible cat caregivers is required to sterilise newcomers only once every one to two months.

The mortality rate for well-cared community cats is rather high. Those blocks with a high density of cats in the past are left with one or two survivors. Some blocks have even achieved cat-free status.

If I had chosen to be a idol-chasing teenager seven years ago, the residents here would still be putting up with scrawny sickly 'pests'. However, today, many are living with beautiful, healthy 'pets' which are part of the community.

Hence, I strongly urge the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority to resume the Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme, which was terminated in 2003.

It is a pity that such precious resources are put into cold storage. Nevertheless, it is never too late to realise the goodness that can be derived from it.

Rebecca Ho Shu Ling (Miss)

Posted at 3:34PM UTC by N. Sivasothi | permalink | email | Raffles Museum news