Arts & Events, Lifestyle

“People Have Jumped Over Expressway Barriers To Save Cats!” – Tan Lili

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The Cats Of The World Photo Exhibition and Purrzaar are about two months away – and, as their official media partner, the cat-loving team at Material World can’t be even more excited!

From now until the launch of the exhibition on August 1, we will be running weekly articles for all you feline lovers out there. This week, we spoke to Veron Lau, the president of the Cat Welfare Society – the adopted charity of Cats Of The World Photo Exhibition and Purrzaar – on the situation of cats in Singapore.

Material World: As the adopted charity, how is CWS involved in the exhibition and Purrzaar?
Veron Lau: We are invited to set up a booth for education and fundraising through selling of our merchandise. We also publicise the event to our network of supporters.

MW: What can we expect at your booth?
VL: Cat toys, cat-themed stationery, cat-themed apparels, Cat Welfare Society T-shirts, decals, and lots more!

MW: In what ways would Cats Of the World Photo Exhibition and Purrzarr help enhance the welfare of cats?
VL: The event brings many cat lovers and cat-curious people together. This is always a good thing in nurturing a growing community of people to help cats, save cats and adopt cats. The stories behind the photos in the exhibition are also always inspiring, and can encourage a greater love for cats. Through the work of Sixth Sense Communications & PR Consultancy, the event also gets fantastic coverage in the media, reaching out to a larger audience and hopefully even those that do not care for cats to remind them that there is a sizeable community that does!

MW: On the same note, have you noticed any improvement in the welfare of cats over the years?
VL: Through the efforts of over 1,000 caregivers all over Singapore in sterilisation, fostering and rehoming, our stray cat population has been more than halved. The culling rate has also dropped from 13,000 cats/year 10 years ago to less than 4,000/year now. Of course, there is still much more to do before we reach our goal – where no cat goes uncared for as pets or community cats.

Many estates already experience the joy of living with a well-managed community cat population, but abandonment remains an issue in disrupting this progress. That is why more focus is now placed in ensuring that cat owners play their part in keeping their cats responsibly.

MW: That’s really great news!
VL: It is, and it is really due to the perseverance of volunteers and caregivers who never give up on their sterilisation and caregiving efforts even in the face of resistance and hardships. Some of them started what they were doing even when it seemed so impossible, when the cat population was large and no one believed a humane method would work. 

Even when progress was finally at hand, they faced a huge setback during the SARS period when there was an overreaction towards cats; their efforts were washed away by mass culling efforts around the country. But they never wavered and continued to help, save, sterilise and rehome cats. And now, thanks to them, our society is taking a positive turn towards placing more emphasis on animal welfare.

MW: What can the public do to help further improve the situation?
VL: They can …

  • Adopt pet cats and not buy them
  • Sterilise their pet cats and not let them roam (so as not to add to the stray population)
  • Be tolerant towards community cats and recognise that they are sentient beings
  • Be part of a movement towards humane treatment of animals
The Public Adoption Bulletin Board at catwelfare.org.

The Public Adoption Bulletin Board at catwelfare.org.

MW: What’s the most heartwarming experience you’ve had at CWS?
VL: We have seen people go to great lengths to save a cat – jumping over expressway barriers, crawling under trucks, communities coming together over an abused or injured cat, etc. Cats inspire us with their beauty, their intelligence, their dignity and their vulnerability. However, it is the people that love them and their quiet heroism that inspire us to carry on with our everyday work.

MW: Give us three reasons why cats make the greatest pets, ever.
VL: Cats have a great capacity to love and reciprocate; they are easy to toilet or litter train; and their purrs have been proven to lower blood pressure in humans!

Cats Of The World Photo Exhibition will be held from August 1-29, 2013, at The Arts House. This year, due to the amazing response, there will be three Purrzaar markets held over three Saturdays – August 3, 10 and 17 – from 11am to 6pm. Rental proceeds go to CWS. 

About The Author: A founder of Material World, Tan Lili has previously worked in magazines The Singapore Women’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan Singapore, as well as herworld.com (now herworldplus.com, the online counterpart of Her World). She is now a freelance writer who works on this website full-time. Lili hopes to travel the world, work with wild animals, and discover more awesome Twilight fan-fiction. Follow her on Twitter @TanLiliTweets

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