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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