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Thursday, November 28, 2013

So, What Exactly Is TNR, You Say?

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People have been asking us repeatedly, "We always see you guys on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook talking about TNR, along with kitties in cages to accompany these posts. So, what exactly is TNR?" Granted, when I first started volunteering with Love Kuching Project, I was also clueless about this term too, until I asked around and did more reading up about this endeavour.

What is this TNR programme that we, at Love Kuching Project, regularly carry out at overpopulated cat colonies where there are no active or financial able caregivers? TNR, is the abbreviation for "Trap-Neuter-Return," a humane and effective approach for managing stray cats in a community estate. Trap-Neuter-Return improves the lives of stray cats, improves their relationships with the people who live near them, and decreases the size of colonies gradually over time. These studies have been conducted in many countries around the world, and have been published in a variety of peer-reviewed scientific journals, for example, here’s a case study done in Italy’s capital, Rome. Management of Feral Domestic Cats in the Urban Environment of Rome (Italy)

The TNR programme works; all three cats in my neighbourhood have now been accepted as coexisting fellow residents of my estate and tolerated, or avoided, if there are people who don’t like cats. A neighbour who also loves cats had a meeting with our MCST (condominium "town council") about the issue of the vacuum effect and subjected the cats to the TNR programme at her own expense.

By eliminating mating behaviours, Trap-Neuter-Return makes cats better neighbours. Neutered cats are behaviourally more tolerable and make less noise, for example, and fight less. Gone will be the quiet still nights that are suddenly broken by caterwauling and feline territorial squabbles. One study found that calls to animal control about cats decreased after a TNR program was implemented - even though the human population increased. International Society of Feline Medicine Guidelines on Population Management and Welfare of Unowned Domestic Cats (Felis catus)
Community cats that have been subjected to the TNR programme live healthy, long lives, and also make good neighbours. As human beings, we have to understand and accept the fact that we are not the only specie that inhabits this planet. We coexist with other living things, and that includes cats in our residential estates. If we can live with human neighbours, living with cats that are most likely are too afraid to even enter a lift; much less your apartments; which spend most of their time roaming the gardens within your condominium, should never be an issue that aggravates. And look at it this way, the cats are there for a reason, they help us catch vermin too! Body Condition of Feral Cats and the Effect of Neutering

How You Can Get Involved in TNR

1. Notice that a cat does not have a tipped ear? Tipped left ears of cats indicate that the cat has been neutered. If your neighbourhood has cats that need to be neutered, you can contact out cat transport person (Damy, +65 9339 0481) who can also help you trap the cat, board the cat after sterilisation, and get the cat neutered at a stray cat rate. You will need to be present, and the date and time has to be pre-arranged. This is at your own expense, which you can thereafter submit to Cat Welfare Society for partial reimbursement. Click here: Cat Welfare Society Sterilisation Hotline and Reimbursement
2. Saw a colony of cats that need to be neutered? Usually this happens because the cat feeders do not bother to sterilise, or are financially unable to, or because the cats have been newly abandoned onto the site. The colony then grows and the area becomes overpopulated, causing resident complaints and kittens being born into stray cat life. We can help. Contact us at sterilisation@lovekuchingproject.org with location information, number of stray cats not neutered, name, and contact number of cat feeders (if any).

In a few weeks, we will be talking about how TNR effectively eliminates the Vacuum Effect commonly seen in stray cat populations in Singapore, especially private condominium estates.

Monday, November 18, 2013

An audacious wishlist for the holiday season

It will be that holiday time of the year again soon, so, if you are looking to give something special to the Love Kuching foster kitties for the holidays, here are some ideas! Some of these things are very pricey (to us) and so we have tried our best to do without them thus far. It will make the lives of the foster cats better, but also for the volunteers who help look after them, or help better our outreach be it in education or fund-raising. The brands listed here are merely suggestions; our style of purchasing items using Love Kuching funds is cheapest-but-best, so if you can find a cheaper alternative that fulfills the need, please choose that instead! If you do want to buy the exact same one, click on the caption under available photos below for an external link to a product page.

How you can gift us the wishlist items:
If purchasing online, email us for our address to input for the delivery options. Likewise, get our address from us the same way if you wish to visit us to drop them off. Let us know when too, so we can plan for humans to be around and free at the scheduled time.

  • Electric water diffuser for essential oils - we currently use a candle burner, and it works, but an electric one is more effective. This is because we use high-grade essential oils to treat feline conditions, and heat makes the oils less effective. Despite our not so effective method using heat, we already see how many feline illnesses and emotional problems are alleviated by diffusing essential oils. Candle burners also make cleaning harder for us as it splatters, and may also become a safety hazard. Example of a water diffuser:

Novita aroma diffuser

  • Pet gate / baby gate - for the foster space. This is primarily for a few purposes: When the Foster Care Volunteers are cleaning, the cats that are in the suites are let out for a walkabout too. However, because they need special supervision, sometimes they end up disappearing into the lounge and it gets difficult to contain them to walkabout in the foster space. Same for kittens that are let out for play but are too small and need to be introduced to the rest of the foster home slowly, within a penned space. The gate will also keep Scotty the dog out, because while he is the Socialisation IC, he can get in the way of the volunteers when they are cleaning. The penned cats also need to be introduced to the free-roaming cats and dog slowly: a gate that allows visual introduction with a simple barrier will help a lot, instead of merely keeping the foster space door closed. 
B2K door gate

  • Ceiling light - our current ceiling lamp is not meant for working in, it is very dim. We need an upgrade to help our volunteers see better when cleaning, grooming and medicating the cats. The upgrade has to be far brighter, or there needs to be two lamps installed, one in the centre, the other at the side where the examination table is. 
LED ceiling lamp
  • Robot vacuum - while we clean the foster space regularly, the Foster Care Volunteers know that it isn't an easy task, especially when sometimes there aren't any play/clean volunteers that day. We step on stray litter, strands of fur, everywhere, almost all the time. The day after a play/clean session it gets all messy again. While the humans who live with the cats don't mind cleaning and living with this amount of stuff on the floor, it does cause allergies, discomfort, and sometimes, when there simply isn't time or energy to clean, it gets frustrating. So this wishlist item really is for the humans encountering and cleaning the cat-generated mess regularly, not so much for the cats.
EXPS Robotic Vacuum

  • Oxygen therapy set - usually when a cat is in respiratory distress we administer artificial respiration i.e. mouth to mouth. But this is no match for oxygen therapy. If a cat needs this in the middle of the night, we will need to spend on high emergency veterinary charges. Having an oxygen therapy set on hand might be a life-saver too, because it can be administered immediately, even en route to the vet if necessary. It can also be used routinely for cats that would otherwise need a rented tank or frequent visits to the vet for oxygen therapy. 
TP 415L Oxygen Therapy Set

  • Stethoscope with heart rate monitor and recording function - we are not vets, so we can only guess at what is normal when we listen to a cat's chest, and what needs immediate veterinary visits. Unfortunately, cat heart rates are so high, calculating them manually is usually very difficult. The sort we use as humans like watches, are not ergonomically designed for cat's bodies. We like the electronic stethoscope also because it can record the sound, and then we can send the sound clip to the vet so there can be remote assessment without labour-intensive and costly visits to the vet if there is no need for it.

3M Littmann electronic stethoscope

  • Camera - our camera was good to use for photographing cats that move about even in low light. But the LCD display died (it cracked and has gone black), so now we use phone cameras. This poses a problem when we try to take photos of cats during TNR sessions which are at night, and we cannot use flash. It is also quite impossible to take photos of moving kittens on a phone camera. For the kind of needs we have, the ISO has to be able to go up to at least 1600 and there must be the ability to increase exposure up to +0.7. Of course, we are no camera professionals, so if you have a better idea what would suit our needs, feel free to gift us with anything that will work. Below is a camera similar to our old one.

Olympus SP820UZ

If none of the items take your fancy or fit your budget, please don't feel you can't be able to give. We can do with other things, some even more essential than these items listed. These things include food and litter (see this link on how to give those or go to The Water Dish and search 'love kuching') and boarding supplies we go through very fast: paper towels, Sofix/Kiwi floor cleaner for wooden floors, Arm and Hammer baking soda large size, UIC/Ligent dishwashing liquid refills, cotton balls, gauze, 10 or 20ml saline vials. Anything else you would like to give but not sure if we use, just email us to ask.

Make a financial gift via a deposit to our POSB savings account 188-52652-7. Find out more.  
Become a monthly giver to help ensure our rescues continue getting their needs met.  
Feed and provide litter to the cats we foster via our corporate sponsor The Water Dish.   
Follow on us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

An Event With MOVE Community | 30 Nov, Saturday, 3pm, Love Kuching Foster Space

We are a diverse group of humans working for cats, and we love partnering with other non-profits, so hosting an event with MOVE Community, an LGBT+ support group, is right up our alley.

Let’s spend a lovely afternoon together to learn about rescue of cats in need, sterilisation of stray cats, adoption of pet cats and cat care.

30 Nov, Saturday, 3pm, Ubi area
Exact address will be provided after sign-up.

Come join us in this event and extend our love and kindness towards animals. Sign up via Facebook event page
https://www.facebook.com/events/516984325065141 or email to myevent.move@gmail.com. For enquiries, please contact Andrew at 9011 3220. SMS & whatsapp friendly.

This event is organised by MOVE Community, warmly supported by Love Kuching Project and The Garden Slug

See you there!

Make a financial gift via a deposit to our POSB savings account 188-52652-7. Find out more.  
Become a monthly giver to help ensure our rescues continue getting their needs met.  
Feed and provide litter to the cats we foster via our corporate sponsor The Water Dish.   
Follow on us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Lucky's story

A handsome senior stray cat from Eunos area

Lucky is a really cute cat who unfortunately was found to have a lump in his neck. Alice his rescuer got him to the vet, where the tumour was excised.

Where a tumour once was

Shortly after, he was found to have another tumour under his lower lip. Because of the location of this second tumour, it could only be biopsied, not removed. Removing a tumour from his lower lip would mean his jaw needs to be resized as well, a huge surgical endeavour with a lot of post-surgical stress.

The growth in Lucky's lower lip

Lucky was no longer suitable for living on the streets, because he would need monitoring and care that only an indoor environment could give him. Alice heard from our pet transport vendor about our foster space that provides intensive care for sick and injured strays, and it was timely that we had a slot for Lucky. He came over, eased in well, and now is so happy living here! Some cats really don't enjoy being confined but Lucky shows no indicators of stress, and doesn't even want to do anything except nap and sometimes roll around in his cat suite.

We waited about 3 weeks or so for the biopsy results, and in the meantime treated the pain he was experiencing. Because we did not want to traumatise him with oral medication that might hurt each time we feed it, we opted for painkiller injections. We also give him steroidal injections whenever his lip starts bleeding, because he will not let us touch it to medicate topically. In his food we give him homeopathic painkillers every day. He doesn't like the taste of some supplements such as curcumin which is an anti-inflammatory, but he is okay with other anti-inflammatories like colloidal silver.

He wasn't keen on eating at first, but with pain management he got to greediness. We also discovered he cannot say no to chicken soup. It isn't soup as we humans know it, his is just plain old chicken stock without seasonings, but if he doesn't get his soup he actually complains with meows and an occasion of bowl-flipping in impatience (soup was late that day). Both Elaine and Foster Care Volunteer Rashid take turns to boil up batches of chicken stock for him.

Lucky greedily eating chicken soup

After a long wait, his biopsy results came back, and the tumour was found to be non-cancerous! Which was good news of course. We then discussed pain management options with our vet, and we are continuing with injections of steroids and painkillers whenever necessary. Vet says we should administer natural painkillers and anti-inflammatories as well. So, that's everything that Lucky was already on from the time he came to us.

We would have reported Lucky's story earlier, but we wanted to share his biopsy results and what we would be doing for his comfort. Every story of illness or injury, should have a happy ending.

It is not entirely impossible that the existing tumour will turn cancerous. If it does, we will still take care of him, making sure he is comfortable, stemming the growth of the tumour, relieving his pain. Euthanasia will only be considered when his basic living functions of eating, drinking, moving about, and using the toilet are no longer present and not likely to return.

But that is going to be a while away. We love having Lucky with us right now. He is a portly old gentleman cat who really seems to like living here. Thank you, Lucky!

Lucky chilling out in his cat suite

Make a financial gift via a deposit to our POSB savings account 188-52652-7. Find out more.  
Become a monthly giver to help ensure our rescues continue getting their needs met.  
Feed and provide litter to the cats we foster via our corporate sponsor The Water Dish.   
Follow on us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The full story: Dumpling, another glue trap kitten from Novena Square 2

On Monday, Nova's rescuers called us to tell us they found - another - kitten that was covered in glue, trapped in the ceiling inside Square 2 at Novena. This kitten like Nova probably tore self off the glue trap and ended up covered in the glue and traumatised. Dumpling was rushed over to our foster home.

When Dumpling first arrived

She is likely Nova's sister, but a bit more feral. She also has one eye missing, instead of an eye it is an empty eye socket. The vet agrees that the eye was either born missing or it was lost (maybe eaten by the very rats Square 2 is breeding) at a very early age. Likely cross-Siamese, she has lilac/chocolate markings on her ears and at the tip of her tail.

Still stressed

After many olive oil and shampoo baths, she is more or less clean now, and will need a lot of socialisation to become adoptable, chances of which are already stacked against her because of her missing eye. After which, she will see the vet again for vaccinations and be made available for adoption. She is now about 9 weeks old.

Almost completely free of sticky glue now

We wrote to Far East Organisation, asking them to remove all glue traps on the premises, as well as provide us a written reply. Regardless of what your ethics about killing animals of any kind, the humane option is to opt for the least painful option of pest control, as well as targeted pest control measures for the specific pest problem. Glue traps cause slow and painful deaths, and are indiscriminate as they do not always trap rats in the first place.

They have not responded, but the story has gone onto STOMP already. Feel free to write to any other appropriate channels in order to pressure Square 2's building management to respond swiftly. We will continue to post updates on Dumpling online as she gets better. Likely yet another bath today, and if no longer sticky, she can join Nova and his roommates.

Update 14 Nov 2013:
Have spoken with Square 2 folks and they were truly unaware about the horrors of glue traps as their external NEA approved pest control vendor was the one that proposed them. Have advised them to look at more comprehensive methods of rodent control, that is, looking at food sources and entry points, and looking at cage based traps that do not inflict slow and painful deaths nor leave carcasses in places away from the traps which will cause even more hygiene issues. Also advised them to consult with SPCA for complete list of alternatives as they have been campaigning against glue traps since 2009 and have more info. Security personnel have already been instructed to be vigilant if they hear or see any animals in distress and glue traps have been retracted. We also spoke to them about helping with TNR should they have a sizeable stray cat problem.

Make a financial gift via a deposit to our POSB savings account 188-52652-7. Find out more.  
Become a monthly giver to help ensure our rescues continue getting their needs met.  
Feed and provide litter to the cats we foster via our corporate sponsor The Water Dish.   
Follow on us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

Saturday, November 2, 2013

The full story: Nova, glue trap kitty from Novena

Last week, we got a call from cat angel Catherine regarding a kitten that got stuck under a generator, and after a harrowing rescue, was found to be covered in glue. This kind of glue is usually the result of kittens being caught on inhumane glue traps for rodents. Nova was sent over to our foster space that same day.

En route to our foster home
Debris stuck to his fur. Thankfully no visible torn skin

Catherine found a suitable adopter for Nova already, but this kitty needed a lot of rehab, and also house training, first. He was a gentle kitty who loves other cats older and younger, even Scotty the puppy. But he was unable to eat on own despite being 6 weeks old. He was also quite traumatised at first, obviously.

Scared at first. Diffused geranium essential oil for him

Penned alone at first, but he sought out his neighbour

Glue needs to be removed with olive oil baths, but his temperature was not stable, so he couldn't be bathed for too long, and needed shorter baths daily at first. We also clipped away fur that was very clumped together, so he has some bedhead fur now.

Bathed with olive oil, shampoo, powder daily
Eventually his fur got much cleaner, and after needing handfeeding at first, he got together with Celine the current foster mom available and suckled on her. He also made friends with Tuna and Timon and even helped groom them like the older brother he found himself to be. (NB: Timon, the runt, later passed away from Fading Kitten Syndrome, something we always feared would happen with him as he was sickly from the get go).

Nova after being nursed by his foster mom

Good friends with Tuna who is younger
Learning to eat solid food already

Fur no longer requires daily baths
Nova will go to his new home once we ascertain he can be independent from his foster mom.

Many kittens that get trapped on these glue traps, which SPCA is routinely advocating hardware stores to stop selling, end up getting skinned, or starve to death on the traps. Also, these traps very rarely actually catch any rodents. Usually kittens and lizards are the ones found on such traps. The glue is also toxic to humans.

How can you help prevent more of such accidents in future? If you live near any hardware stores, advocate for the sale of more effective and humane rodent control traps. Even the older spring operated traps are more humane and successful at pest control. At your workplace or private residential estate, speak to the building manager about stopping the use of glue traps. One of our cat angels Vivienne has shared a sample letter to hardware stores to help you in your advocacy work. Yes, you, an animal welfare advocate! Because we all can do our part.

Make a financial gift via a deposit to our POSB savings account 188-52652-7. Find out more.
Become a monthly giver to help ensure our rescues continue getting their needs met.  
Feed and provide litter to the cats we foster via our corporate sponsor The Water Dish.   
Follow on us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.

The full story: Edgar from Eunos Crescent

We usually try not to post gory pictures of injured or abused cats, because it may only break all of our hearts seeing them, when action to help the cats is more important instead.

However, last week this boy Edgar came to our doorstep via an emergency rescue by Edmond who was passing through Eunos Crescent. Edgar looks like he has been burned by something, possibly chemical, we will not know for sure, so we cannot be certain he was abused.

The other side of his face is the same
We brought him to the vet to get a skin scrape to see whether there is any secondary infection of any kind. Turns out he has a bacterial infection, likely staphylococcus. The wound needs debriding and daily medication with Bactroban, an antibacterial cream. Edgar is also on oral antibiotics.

Softening scabs with saline to aid healing
His wounds have turned less septic, which is a good sign, and he is still undergoing treatment here. He bears with the wound care very well, purring every time we clean and medicate his wound, and experiencing lesser pain as the days go by. He has been eating well from the first day, which is always a good sign.

Handsome, chillout Edgar
Edgar came to us at about 7 weeks old estimated, and he is due for another vet check and his vaccination when he recovers from the injury. We are also reporting his progress to Dr Chong in the meantime, to make sure his infection is on track to recovery. He will then be made available for adoption.

He is a very sweet boy, easy going, and enjoys cuddling. We hope to get to know him more, as he eventually gets to interact with the others in the foster home.

Edgar cuddling with his Auntie Elaine when at vet

Make a financial gift via a deposit to our POSB savings account 188-52652-7. Find out more.
Become a monthly giver to help ensure our rescues continue getting their needs met.  
Feed and provide litter to the cats we foster via our corporate sponsor The Water Dish.   
Follow on us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest.