Denise Flaim,Animal House
March 27, 2006

In this acronym-happy world, TNR has become the mantra of every cat advocate.

Feeding feral cats may be kindhearted, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle: Trap, neuter and release, or TNR, is the only hope for controlling and eventually eliminating wild cat colonies, which spring up anywhere there is a food source, from deli Dumpsters to industrial parks. Unneutered and well-fed cat populations reproduce like, er, rabbits, only exacerbating the problem.

“If someone takes the responsibility to spay and neuter the cats, they can be assessed, and any cat that is tame or a kitten can be adopted out, which right away reduces the number in the colony,” says veterinarian Gay Senk of County Line Veterinary Clinic in Farmingdale, who limits her practice to feral cats.

Cats that are too feral to be in home situations are returned to their outdoor stomping grounds, where they can live out their lives in a static population that will eventually disappear by attrition.

The humans in the neighborhood also benefit, Senk adds, because spaying and neutering eliminate most of the annoyances associated with breeding cats – males fighting over territory, yowly females in heat, smelly urine from spraying, and a proliferation of kittens that are sick and malnourished.

While TNR is wonderful in theory, it’s often difficult to execute in practice. “Some people have big hearts and want to help, but they don’t know where to go,” Senk says. To that end, she has helped form the Long Island Cat Project, a resource and information network that currently has eight contact points, or “hubs,” across the Island.

“If someone calls, they’re directed to a hub in their area, which will educate them about feral cats,” Senk says. The hubs loan out traps, and some have volunteer trappers who can assist elderly residents. The hubs also direct rescuers to local veterinarians who will do spay or neuter surgeries for as little as $50. The hubs work with colony caretakers, not with those wanting cats permanently removed or euthanized.

Starting next month, the Long Island Cat Project will also take its show on the road, using a spay-neuter van lent to them by the Suffolk County SPCA. On April 1, the surgical suite-on-wheels will be parked at an auto-body shop in Island Park, where pre-trapped cats will be brought in to be snipped. Thirteen more of these mass spay-neuter events are planned through October and are coordinated through the individual hubs (listed at the end of this column). As far as success stories go, Senk points to a Pathmark in Centereach, where individual rescuers were feeding a cat colony but leaving the area disheveled and trash-ridden. Senks says volunteers from her group put signs up asking feeders to contact them and met with the supportive supermarket manager to explain the basics of TNR. Not only are all the cats now spayed and neutered, and friendly ones adopted, “but all the people who were feeding them have met each other, and they have a schedule,” Senk says. “So now each person goes to feed every week instead of every day.”

In an effort to reach the humans involved in these complicated feline societies, one of the Cat Project’s hubs, Long Island Cat/Kitten Solution – which has a catchy acronym of its own, LICKS – is sponsoring a lecture about feral-cat management on April 29 at the Long Beach Public Library. (For more information: 516-431-8794.) Senk encourages those who don’t like the colonies in their communities to attend, too, since the focus is one they will welcome – working to lower the number of stray cats.

Senk has been donating her time to helping feral cats on Long Island since 1992 as a way to “give back” to her profession. She wishes some of her colleagues would follow suit. “If every vet did two free spays or neuters a month, how many would that be in a year?” she asks.

More, certainly, than if they did none.

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Its good to know that we’re not the only country where volunteers work tiredlessly to save the cats. Although these stories may not be current, still, it warms my heart to know that good work has been done. I am sure there are alot more of such stories. I found these 3 in between my workload.

USA
A group of volunteers, work long hours to trap wild feral & stray cats. Some of them work from dawn to dusk, travel thousands of miles (from Washington to New Orleans) a year in a quest to help the cats. In 2004, approximately 40,000 homeless cats were put to sleep in Washington. Like our volunteers, they are running to save the homeless cats from becoming statistics. Read more here.

Czechoslovakia
The Czechs are dog lovers but not cat lovers. It is estimated that there were as many as 40,000 – 300,000 stray cats in Prague alone. The Prague Society for the Protection of Animals runs shelters across the city. They would rescue the cats, vaccinate & sterilise them & then try to find new homes for them. Here’s the story.

Gambia
Val Thompson and her husband holidayed in Gambia in 1997 and the hotel that they stayed in had many stray cats. There was no neutering programme then & the locals got rid of the strays either by poisoning the cats or dumping them in the bush. This prompted the couple to start a neutering programme.

In 1998, GambiCats was formed with a team of 4 which included a vet surgeon. Today the Gambian government – Dept of Livestock Services are involved in the humane neutering programme and they fully endorsed GambianCat’s methods – catch, neuter & release.

The first Cat Cafe was established at Kombo Beach hotel which provides a central feeding point. The Cat Cafe is well patronised, not only by the cats, but by guests who enjoy seeing the cats and feeding them.


6am Wake the crazy cat lady up with soft gentle meowing. If she doesn’t wake up after 5 meows, sit on her belly & lightly scratch it. If she turns, be brutal. Sit on her face. That always does the trick. Heehee…

6.30am Demand for food, food food!!! The only way to get food quick & fast is to meow incessantly, weave in & out of her legs. If she still takes her time, scratch her legs. She’ll scream, but she’ll feed us. Sucker … The rest of you, watch & learn.

7am Follow the crazy cat lady into the bathroom. Walk round the toilet bowl. This is a ritual that must never be broken otherwise …. Actually I don’t know … Anyway, watch her shower. That never fail to spook her.

7.30am Ok, she’s out the door. Now for some cat fun. Dim Sum & Junior lets play high speed chase. Beauty, I know you’re too ‘atas’ for such childish play, but STOP BEING SUCH A WET BLANKET!!! All your growling is not gonna stop us from having fun, so stuff that attitude. Carma, join if you like, but no fighting please. I’m a lover not a fighter. Dim Sum run carefully now my dear, don’t want to hurt those sexy legs now, do we? *wink*

8am Nap with light snacking in between.

12pm Flirt, act sweet & cute with sexy Aunty Abby. She’s a hot momma. And watch Abby clean my castle. What more can a man ask for? Life is great. *shake legs* (If I can whistle, I would, at this point).

3pm More naps & more snacking in between.

6pm Soccer time. Junior you’re the defender. Beauty, you obviously goalkeeper lah! Dim Sum, will you be my ‘delicious’ cheerleader? *wink wink* Me, attack. Carma, sorry, you’re the only one on the opposing team (nobody said this is a fair game). Now play ball! Watch the pictures, aaargghh!!! & I dodge & I kick & …

7pm Did the I hear the crazy cat lady’s footsteps? She’s outside! Ok everyone, get in your positions at the door. Look cute. Maybe she won’t notice the broken picture frames (cross my eyes & hope ….)

7.01pm Ok ok, she may be crazy but she’s not stupid. Or blind. Hey, I’m a cat! Whatdaya expect? I need fun, I need exercise, I need to impress cute babes (yummilicious Dim Sum! Dim Sum!)

7.05pm Enough nagging, now feed me. Quick! Everyone, on the count of 3 – meow, weave, scratch. C’mon cats, how many times must I tell you, we’ve got to synchronise. SYN-CHRO-NISE! Haven’t you learn anything after watching me this morning? Do I have to do all the work around here? Good grief!

7.10pm Food. See, I told you so. She will cave in. She always does. So Dim Sum, how are gonna thank me? Uh, do I get to smell your butt? or maybe, get a nose rub after dinner? Surprise me.

7.30pm Gotta to do the poo-poo now. Hey crazy cat lady, a little privacy here please?!? Can you clean the litter after I’m done & not before?? Humans!!!

8pm Quality time with the crazy cat lady. Sit on her lap, kiss her & let her brush. Aaahhh … shiok-a-doo … Now now Dim Sum, curb your jealousy.

8.30pm Ok, there’s only so much the good cat can take. I need my space now. May be I’ll snooze, a little while.

10pm Hey Junior, wanna play catch the tail? Ouch! Stop it. What I meant was .. Ouch! Quit it you little twit! Catch Beauty’s tail, not mine. Hey! Stop biting my tail! Not funny anymore…

10.15pm That’s it. I’m sulking.

11pm Bedtime. Love this. Best part of the day. Sandwiched between the crazy cat lady & Dim Sum *hugs*

11.05 Lights out *snore*

Dim Sum: another sexual innuendo from that hairball, I’m biting his ear off ….

& God Created Cats …

March 30, 2006

On the first day of creation, God created the cat.

On the second day, God created man to serve the cat.

On the third day, God created all the animals of the earth to serve as potential food for the cat.

On the fourth day, God created honest toil so that man could labor for the good of the cat.

On the fifth day, God created the sparkle ball so that the cat might or might not play with it.

On the sixth day, God created veterinary science to keep the cat healthy and the man broke.

On the seventh day, God tried to rest, but he had to scoop the litterbox.

– Bob Hanson

Cats in History

March 28, 2006

The first true cats were found 12 million years ago, at the start of the Pliocene Period.

The first tamed cats were used for pest control, probably around 3,000 BC in ancient Egypt.

The oldest known fossilized record that has a similarity to today’s cats has been aged as 12 million years old.

The ancestor of all domestic cats is the African Wild Cat, which still exists today.

In ancient Egypt, entire families would shave their eyebrows as a sign of mourning when the family cat died.

The Ancient Egyptian word for cat was mau, which means “to see.”

In ancient Egypt, cats were mummified; and embalmed mice were placed with them in their tombs.

Morris, the 9-Lives cat, was discovered at an animal shelter in New England.

Nostradamus the French Astrologer, 1503-1566, had a cat named Grimalkin.

Hardware or Heartware

March 27, 2006

I was reading Hillary Rodham Clinton’s biography “Living History” during lunch today. And I came across this passage which was part of an article written by Lee Atwater.

Atwater, from what I understand from her book, was the principal architect of the Republican ascedancy in 1980s for both President Reagan & Bush’s campaigns. Shortly before he died of cancer in 1991, he wrote about a ‘spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society.’

That article inspired Hillary Clinton & when I read it today, well, I was inspired too.

Here’s the abstract:

“Long before I was struck with cancer, I felt something stirring in American society. It was a sense among the people of the country – Republicans and Democrats alike – that something was missing from their lives – something crucial … I wasn’t exactly sure what ‘it’ was. My illness helped me see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood.

“The 80s were about acquiring – acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn’t I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn’t I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime …”

Although this was written more than 10 years ago, I found it to be still true in today’s context, at least to me.

Many of us get so caught up in our daily pursuit for wealth, power & prestige that we lose our perspective of life. Wealth, power & prestige does not have to be the biggy stuff but still, it is apparent in our daily lives – at work & at home – comparing ourselves to our colleagues, neighbours, relatives – who has what, who has more etc.

I’m not saying that it is wrong. After all, we are brought up with this mantra drummed into most of our heads – “study hard, get good grades, get into a good university, get a good job, earn lots of money, find a compatible partner, get married, have a couple of kids, get a dog (pedigree no less), aim to buy landed property or a condo, then retire to enjoy life.”

But what happens to “love & respect all living things on earth, live life with compassion & integrity?” Chucked out the window?

Now, the recent happenings digust me. Especially, that Hooi fella who gets away with a 3-month jail term for torturing a helpless cat. Despite numerous protests in the media, his sentence doesn’t change.

What Hooi did was not just morally wrong. This man is a menace to society. Three months after his sentence, he is going to walk out of jail & continue to do what he does best – torture & kill defenceless animals. What’s next when the thrill of torturing animals ceases? I hate to be in his neighbours’ shoes because I will be living in constant fear of this monster, that one day, he may not just prey on the cats, but on my children, my mother & I.

Or the case of the neglected Alaskan malamute. The poor dog died and all the owner got for punishment was a fine of a mere $3,000.

And then there was a recent article about the 2 kittens posted on the MSN Singapore. Probably abandoned, got ran over by cars in a heavy traffic. Innocent lives lost in one of the most horrific way, just like that. That article shocked me beyond words. These kittens would probably have been alive if people are more socially responsible & aware of other lives apart from their own.

Interestingly though, I read somewhere that if one is caught touting fake goods, the jail term is 10 months, 7 months more for taking a defenceless animal’s life. Where is the logic? You ask. There isn’t, in my opinion.

But it is sad when legislation places priority on commercial crimes. It is sad when a country is so hang up on improving the hardware that heartware has to take a backseat. Sure, the improved hardware puts better food on the table and fancier clothes on our backs. But seriously, is that all we want?

You know, the kampung life ain’t that bad.

Junior’s First Bath

March 26, 2006

This morning Junior had his first (long overdued) bath since he joined the Chaos.

I was prepared for the worst. So I had on an old long-sleeved T-shirt, trimmed his nails, before I carried him into the bathroom.

Turns out my fears were unfounded. Junior takes to bath like a duck to water. Unusual. When I poured the first scoop of warm water on him, I half expected him to whine or jump or both but he purred instead.

It was as if he knows what was expected of him in a bath. He stepped into his little green tub, let me soap him & rinse him, all within 5 minutes, without any fuss at all. The only time he got upset was when bathtime is over & had to be towelled dry.

I never had an easy bathtime with the Chaos until now. In fact, I gave up trying to bathe them. Now I look forward to our next bathtime. Meanwhile, he’s all fluffy & smells nice.


Cats are either left pawed or right pawed.

When in a hurry, cats can run over 30 mph.

Cats don’t sweat.

Cats eyes comes in three shapes: round, almond, and slanted.

Cats lick themselves to calm down.

Cats that lack a certain gene will ignore catnip.

Cats were brought to North America by the Pilgrims.

All cats are born with blue eyes.

The first cat litter, a dry granulated clay, was “invented” by Ed Lowe in 1947.

Most cats do not have eyelashes.

A kinder is a group of kittens. A clowder is a group of adult cats.

Most blue-eyed white cats are deaf; cats with one blue eye are deaf in the ear closest to the blue eye.

Aspirin and chocolate are toxic to cats.

Cats’ jaws cannot move sideways.

Each kitten in a litter can have a different father.

The first cat to live in The White House was Tabby, who was one of Abraham Lincoln’s cats

Cats have a third eyelid (haw) which is rarely visible (usually when the cat is ill).

Cats should not be fed tuna on a regular basis as it lacks taurine, an essential nutrient.

Scientific studies show that petting a cat will lower a person’s blood pressure.

Sir Isaac Newton invented the swinging kitty door.

All cats are members of the Family Felidea.

A polydactyl cat is one with 6 toes (one more than the normal 5).

Cats’ whiskers are called vibrissae. They grow on the face and the back of her forlegs and…

The top two rows of a cat’s whiskers can move independently of the lower two rows and…

The whiskers act as a sensor, helping the cat to judge whether he can fit into a space.

Cats can’t see directly under their nose (making it seem they sometimes have trouble finding treats on the floor).

95% of all those who have cats talk to them.

Cats ears can pivot 180 degrees.

People who are allergic to cats are usually allergic to cat saliva or cat dander.

Cats can jump up to seven times their height.

Julius Caesar and Napoleon were among those who suffered from ailurophobia, the fear of cats.

Cat urine glows under a black light.

Orange peels and lemon rinds are offensive to cats.

Besides using their noses, cats can smell with the Jacobson’s organ (located in the upper surface of the mouth).

Who are These People???

March 22, 2006

A colleague paid a visit to my place on Monday evening after work.

Her first remark when she stepped in was, “Wah, your house is so clean, no smell at all!”

Puzzled, I asked “What do you mean?”

She said, “Well you have 5 cats. I was expecting cat hairs & shit all over. You know, we always read & hear in the news about how dirty & smelly a house can become when there are multiple pets & owners always get into trouble with the AVA.”

I was offended but I held my tongue, not wanting to be rude to my guest. Multiple pets don’t neccessarily equate to a dirty & smelly household. Its the owner’s responsibility to keep the household clean. It basically boils down to individual’s hygiene habit. What has it got to with the animals? Some apartments housing just humans are simply filthy. Duh!

Anyway I introduced her to Chaos. She was quite taken with them, especially with Alex & Junior. I wasn’t surprised. Alex & Junior are good-looking boys.

I was telling her about the issues I have at the moment, with Junior & Carma not getting along & me trying every imaginable method to encourage cat harmony at home. She ‘kindly’ offered to take Junior (I have no intention of giving up Junior in the first place!). Then she saw how boisterous he can be. Dashing about, biting & scratching any animated objects & humans.

And when she saw the battle scars I got from Junior in just over 2 weeks, she gave me a lecture on discipline.

“How you can put up with such nonsense. I will never allow anyone, not to mention an animal, to do this to me. If I were you, I will slap Junior. He needs disciplining. He needs to know who’s the boss. If you don’t teach them now, he will climb over your head!”

THAT WAS IT.

With alot of self control, I calmly replied “Well thank goodness, you’re not me then. Otherwise, poor Junior. And what makes you think I’m giving Junior to you?”

I gave an excuse that I got to clean the house & she’d be in my way. That got rid of her. Good riddance!

By the way, she is a mother of 3 kids. Her kids have my sympathy. One would have thought that as a mother, she would be more tolerant. Looks like I am wrong.

On a separate & happier note, Dim Sum & Junior have since become buddies. They have this exclusive hide-&-seek game which nobody can play except them. Not even Alex.

My Prince Charming

March 20, 2006

With this handsome fella, who needs a bloke? Well …..