Tag Archives: letters

Bonding over a “community cat”



inter-racial harmony

Bonding over a ‘community cat’

Letter from Dr Tan Chek Wee

FIVE YEARS ago, when I moved into my block of Housing and Development Board flats, I noticed a tri-coloured cat at the void deck.

She was easily placed into a carrier and taken to the vet for sterilisation.

She was then returned to the void deck bearing a surgical cut on her left ear, a symbol of her neutered status.

Ginger (picture) — as she was affectionately called — became a mascot of the block and is cared for by several families.

One day last week, a Jewish neighbour told me that Mr Ali, a Malay resident on the third storey, was concerned that he had not seen Ginger for the past few weeks.

I went to his flat and we chatted about Ginger and cat-related things. Most importantly, a friendship was forged.

I then went to the second storey and knocked on the door of a Chinese family whom I knew was very fond of Ginger too.

Sure enough, the cat was safe and sound in the flat.

I walked up to convey the good news to Mr Ali who said he would pay a visit to the Chinese family to see our “block cat?.

I then took a lift to the 11th storey to inform the Jewish lady.

It is time for Town Councils to stop automatically? assigning “cat nuisance? to any feedback about cats.

What Ginger does to bring about inter-racial harmony and neighbourliness is akin to what some community events can achieve.

That is why cats like Ginger are aptly called “Community Cats?.

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Biggest cat killer is intolerance

THE Cat Welfare Society is heartened by Mr Teh Thien Yew’s support of kindness to homeless strays in Saturday’s letter, “Reflection of values”. He said that the way we treat animals is a “reflection of the values of kindness we hold in our hearts”.

His words as general manager of the Singapore Kindness Movement Secretariat gives us hope that our society can put our minds and our hearts together towards the humane management of these community animals.

An average of 10,000 cats are surrendered or trapped and sent to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals every year.

Almost all of them are put down. Many are victims of abandonment, neglect and abuse, but the biggest cat killer by far is intolerance – a social quality that is affirmed every time a trap is loaned to residents with no love for the animal, and rewarded every time a complaint is satisfied with the activation of pest control.

Human kindness towards homeless strays prevails through the sheer dedication of ordinary Singaporeans all over the country and the officers of the authorities that align their practices to their convictions by supporting sterilisation and responsible management.

They lead by example in showing us that kindness towards strays is not at odds with the goals of our society for harmony, for well-being and for progress.

Ang Li Tin (Ms)

Cat Welfare Society

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Reflection of values

Reflection of values

‘The abuse of animals, environment, maids, the elderly and others is certainly of concern to any mature society.’

MR TEH THIEN YEW, general manager, Singapore Kindness Movement Secretariat:

‘I understand where Ms Michelle Elizabeth Yin is coming from in Tuesday’s letter, ‘Have a heart – How can Singaporeans show kindness to one another if they show no mercy to homeless animals?’

I am sure many share the same view, as I do, that the way we treat animals is sometimes a reflection of the values of kindness we hold in our hearts.

The same can be said about the environment and even those disadvantaged in our community.

The abuse of animals, environment, maids, the elderly and others is certainly of concern to any mature society.

And as Singaporeans, we should be concerned.

It was therefore heartening to read on the same day in The New Paper a contrasting account of a man’s selfless love for strays over the past two decades.

There are Singaporeans who are willing to – as Gandhi said – ‘be the change you want to see’.

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Cleaners who use too much bleach



04:00 PM Jun 15, 2009
Letter from Raymund Koh Joo Guan

I visit the Taman Serasi Food Court within the Singapore Botanic Gardens frequently.

Each visit for a meal certainly entails a trip to the toilet but I am quite disturbed by the strong stench of bleach that greets me every time.

The cleaner does not seem to be bothered to use this cleaning agent sparingly. In the small confines of the toilet, such excessive use is highly toxic. It can be dangerous for people with breathing problems to inhale such a high concentration of bleach. Fainting, nausea or even death can occur if such people are exposed to it for a prolonged period.

I urge the relevant authorities to advise the management and staff of public access toilets and toilets in office buildings to spare a thought for users with respiratory problems. They should constantly remind their cleaners to use bleach in moderation.

REMARKS: This can kill cats when irresponsible feeders throw food out of the windows and it drop onto the bleach powder!


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You sneeze, it suffers

Today Online
You sneeze, it suffers

Don’t jump to conclusions – your pet may not be the cause of your allergies
05:55 AM Jun 17, 2009
by Dr Tan Chek Wee

FOR years, he was the centre of attraction, a cute little puppy in a family of two elderly parents and an unmarried son.

Then one day the son got married and soon, a child came along.

The child developed a frequent running nose and she was taken to a general practitioner nearby. The GP asked if there were pets in the flat. When the dog was mentioned, the doctor right away identified the dog as the cause.

Since then, the dog has been barricaded in a small corner of the kitchen. His fur is now matted and his nails are long. There are bits of faeces stuck to the fur. He jumps and barks in excitement whenever there are visitors, but no one picks him up, pats him on the head, bathes him or takes him for walks.

I have offered to adopt the dog but the child’s mother said her husband might not be willing to part with it.

I feel sad and helpless.

I can only appeal to my fellow doctor colleagues: Please refer a child with suspected allergies to a specialist to be tested for allergies. Do not make sweeping statements.

Even if the child is laboratory-tested and is allergic to a pet, it is not necessary to so drastically isolate a pet.

There are humane ways to allow allergic people to coexist with a pet. As a last resort, find the pet a good home.

The pet is not guilty

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Why kill a cat over scratches on car?

Why kill cat over scratches on car?

ONE of the common conflicts between humans and cats in an increasingly dense urban setting arises from our increasing attachment to material things.

The more expensive the item, the stronger the attachment. The stronger the attachment, the more intense is emotional suffering from losing them.

A highly educated woman, who recently acquired a brand new car that cost “40 grand” was so worried about possible scratches from the few cats in the carpark that she complained to the Cat Welfare Society and the town council for the removal of the cats.

As far as the town council is concerned, that means activating the pest controllers for the cats to be killed at the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA).

Rejecting an offer of a free car cover from the Cat Welfare Society, the woman threatened to claim damages against the town council if she could capture the video footage of feline “culprits” with a camera installed in the car.

She said that even cats should not escape being punished.

Paint on a car is manufactured to withstand the tremendous force of the gravel missiles as it speeds along the road, otherwise every car will be pitted all over as it speeds along the highway!

A paint technologist on this website (www.flippyscatpage.com/carpaint.html) wrote: “The worst a cat can do to in normal circumstances is leave cute little muddy cat prints – annoying but not inherently damaging.”

High ground

Cats, by nature, like to rest on “safe” high ground or seek the warmth radiating through the car bonnet.

Being animals, cats don’t know that it is “wrong” to do so.

A friend of mine, who grew up in the US, told me that when her brother drove home a brand new car, her father “christened” it with some scratches.

The father had the wisdom to save his son from “future sufferings” from inevitable scratches and dents.

The car has no feelings, no matter how badly scratched it is, but it is we human beings who feel the pain because we define our happiness in terms of material possessions.

Attachment, and not the cats, is the cause of our anger and therefore our wish to take revenge on the cats by wanting them killed.

The solution is obvious but has eluded many of us.

Reader Dr Tan Chek Wee

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A free AVA that is unfair to taxpayers

TODAY Online only –

A free AVA that is unfair to taxpayers

Letter from Dr Tan Chek Wee

I know an expatriate who lives in a condominium in a prime district. She has several neighbours who think that the presence of cats devalues their properties. These neighbours request the loan free cat traps from the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA). Cats trapped, whether they are strays or free roaming pets, are euthanised free at AVA (www.ava.gov.sg). This does not resolve the problem as new? cats will move in to fill the vacuum? and hence an endless cycle of killing is perpetuated.

This is ironic as there are people like myself who have to borrow traps from the Cat Welfare Society (www.catwelfare.org) to trap cats in our estates, bring them to the vets for neutering and then release them back to the estate, all at our own expense.

However this T(rap)N(euter)R(elase) is an evidence-based method of controlling the cat population, humanely and effectively. Yet we fail repeatedly to get AVA to provide free sterilisation at its premises.

Would the AVA provide free service if the complaint is about rats or cockcroaches? If people who live in private estates feel that cats are pests?, then they should pay for private pest controller services.

I appeal to the AVA to stop this free service that is unfair to taxpayers


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