Looking back and looking forward

Michelle, President of CWS:

The first three months of 2008 proved to be a challenging time for the Cat Welfare Society because of a number of organisational changes that took place, most significant of which was the resignation of Dawn Kua, our Director of Operations and only full-time staff. As a result of these changes, we were at times unable to respond as promptly and efficiently to requests from our members as we would have liked. We apologise for that, and thank you for bearing with us. We have, however, managed to convene a new committee and expect to get operations running up to speed in the next month.

Our Annual General Meeting was held on March 27th, 2008. During the meeting, we went over the key highlights of 2007. These included:
Spay Day: We conducted our 2nd annual Spay Day event and outdid our efforts in the previous year with a 23% increase in the number of cats sterilised. A total of 160 cats were sterilised, with the participation of 20 vet clinics that kindly offered us subsidised rates, and with the help of tireless volunteers who saw to the logistics of the entire operation.
Promoting TNRM: We continued to give talks and conduct Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage (TNRM) workshops, provide traps on loan, and work with vets to provide subsidised rates for sterilisation of community cats. More importantly, in recognition of caregivers’ efforts and to provide further incentive to sterilise, we raised our sponsorship of sterilisation to $20 per cat and full reimbursement (up to $60) for the 5th cat sterilised.
We'll be sending out our membership renewals anytime now - in fact, some of you should have gotten them already. Your membership is important to us and lends the Society help and encouragement in its work to provide for the welfare of community cats in Singapore. Your annual subscriptions and donations help pay for the sterilisation and medical treatment of hundreds of cats, and contribute towards the running of education and awareness programmes to promote tolerance and respect for animals. There is much more that still needs to be done for the welfare of the community cats that live among us. We hope that, with this in mind, you will continue to support our efforts with your membership.

So for, 2008 has been a bumpy year for CWS. However, thanks to tireless volunteers who stepped in, we were able to get reinbursements out, to those equally tireless caregivers out there. Here's wishing everyone - and every cat - a great 2008.

One at a Time

Li Tin:

The life and death of community cats in Singapore - that could be our primary concern as the members of Cat Welfare Society, more so if we are committee members.

However, that cannot be the case. We look at the bigger picture and try to fill in the gaps by means of education, mediation and many other things, but sometimes we are not able to plug the leaks as efficiently, or as quickly than we'd like it to be.

On a personal basis, I am a small-time, newbie caregiver in my area. Please pardon my poignant tone, but last night I got news of a death in my area. Not of a cat, but of a stray female dog whom I am looking out for. For months and months, she has been barking downstairs in the wee hours of the night to chase away a notorious pack of dogs. I had been working to get her to a shelter before some harm befalls on her tame, docile soul... and then I heard of her being bitten badly in a field just one street away and is presumed dead.

Had been rather worried that her barking might get her in trouble with the authorities eventually, if just one person were to make a complaint, but in the end, it was the dogs that got to her first. As guilty as I am for not acting fast enough, I knew perhaps, I had made a difference by patting her head while she wagged her tail.

I guess what keeps me sane now, is to tell myself, "We Cannot Save Everyone."

That, by the way, is also the plight of the community cats in Singapore. Apart from complaints, we've got abuse, and we've got ignorance to combat.

So many times I have seen on forums "Help! I found a stray cat! What should I do with it?", and then we see a very helpful reply "Don't worry, Cat Welfare Society will do the job."

People have to understand that we are not doing this as a job, in no way we are able to attend to every single case simply because we have our names tagged to the Society. If we could have such a wide and omni-present reach, there won't be any homeless kitties in the streets anymore. We actually really hope so, but reality is something we have to come to terms with.

The truth is, more cats are being born as we speak. As people who care about the population and of course, the welfare of stray and community cats alike, we are constantly battling against the numbers. We sterilise some, while litters are being born elsewhere. We'd hate to be running around in circles, but we just have to keep going.

One of the kitties got run over by a car, we'd acknowledge that, mourn a little, and we move on to manage another one. There is no room for just so many of them. As pragmatic as I may sound, being part of the committee is important to spread the word about the causality of everything that could involve our community cats.

Even if just one stranger heard our message, understand the cause, and goes away as an informed friend, we have succeeded. We hope to change opinions, garner more support, rope in more like-minded people to push the cause forward, one step at a time.

But for now, let me gain the kitten's trust first, before we snip her and prepare her for a life of hardship out in the streets of fast-moving Singapore.

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