Arts & Events, Lifestyle

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

material-world-cats-of-the-world-cws-banner

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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Health & Fitness, Wellbeing, Workouts

Run For A Cause – Tan Lili

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Race pack – collected. Training runs – ongoing. Matching running attire (because some runners are dedicated that way) – bought. While you’re eagerly gearing up for next week’s Sundown Marathon 2013, it’s easy to overlook one aspect of the running event: the charity component.

Called Sundown with Love, this charity programme lets you donate and/or raise funds for a charity organisation of your choice. The steps are simple; you just have to choose a charity you’d like to support, personalise your fundraiser, then share the page with your family members and friends. There’s a host of local charity organisations you can choose from – from Action For Aids Singapore and Breast Cancer Foundation Singapore to the Cat Welfare Society and Alzheimer’s Diseases Association Singapore.

We spoke to two Sundown with Love 2013 ambassadors – author Neil Humphreys, who will be running for the Children’s Cancer Foundation as a tribute to his wife’s best friend who died of cancer; and TV presenter/model Liv Lo, who will be running for Sanctuary House, the only charity organisation in Singapore that offers a stable shelter for babies and infants up to three years old.

How did your interest in running come about?
Neil: I used to be in a cross-country running club when I was a teenager. I wasn’t particularly good; in fact, I was distinctly average, but my uncle was one of their local stars (he’s represented Britain in the triathlon) so I went along. To be honest, I loved running through the countryside and forests of Essex – the cool weather helped. But when I came to Singapore, heat, humidity, career, books and TV intervened and I was no longer quite so interested. But now, I’m trying to actively sustain a basic level of fitness for the sake of my family. When you have a daughter, your perception changes. An unfit, lazy parent is a bit of a selfish parent.
Liv: I run for the cardio exercise. As your heart IS a muscle, it is just as important to get your heart rate up and work it out as you would for the rest of your body.

Neil Humphreys (with his daughter) will be running for the Children's Cancer Foundation.

Neil Humphreys (with his daughter) will be running for the Children’s Cancer Foundation.

Do you feel a whole lot of difference running at night?
Neil: Didn’t you read what I wrote about the humidity? I ONLY run at night. I see the cool dudes – or so they think they are 🙂 – running bare-chested around Marina Bay or the East Coast in the middle of the day, toned torsos gleaming through the glistening sweat, and I just think they are completely insane. No doctor in the world would advise anyone to run long distances in the Singapore midday sunshine on a cloudless day.
Liv: It will be my first time running at night, actually! I usually run around noon or in the afternoon.
[Writer’s note: Obviously, this interview with Neil and Liv was not conducted at the same time.]

What goes through your head when you run?
Neil: Anything that can really focus my attention away from the laboured breathing, the sweating and the dodgy knee. Music helps, though I tend to really drift away if I think about work – a book or column idea, for instance – or a personal issue that needs solving.
Liv: My goal is always in mind. If I have a project deadline coming up then I imagine that I am running towards it and completing it. I find that having these visuals in my mind helps inspire me to finish the task at hand.

What’s on your running playlist?
Neil: It depends on my mood. If I hope to drift off because I know the fitness isn’t there and I’m keen on any distraction, I’ll pick melancholic songs by Blur, The Beatles or Oasis. But if I’m fit and eager to run faster, it’s hardcore stuff from Arctic Monkeys, The Jam or, interestingly, the earliest, simplest rock ’n’ roll of Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. But if it’s no-holds-barred, relentless adrenalin I’m looking for, it’s the complete Rocky soundtrack. I know Rocky is predictable and cheesy, but nothing works quite like the classic Rocky tune “Gonna Fly Now”. The trouble is, I always run too fast during that song and practically kill myself for the rest of the run.
Liv: Actually, I don’t like to listen to my own playlist. Instead, I listen to a fitness radio application called Fit Radio. I choose the “Electronic Dance Music” mixes as the DJs keep an average BPM (beats per minute) of 128, which helps keep my heart rate at a steady pace.

Liv Lo will be running for Sanctuary House.

Liv Lo will be running for Sanctuary House.

How do you motivate yourself to complete a difficult run?
Neil: Personal pride or charity. I never want to make a fool of myself – no one does. For that reason alone, I pushed myself to do the Urbanathlon last year. But this run is different. It’s for the Children’s Cancer Foundation. I’m running for that charity; no other motivation is required. I just think about the charity during the training and it keeps me going. What have I got to whinge about? And if you read this and feel the same way, donate to my cause!
Liv: Always keep the goal in mind. As I am running for Sanctuary House, I will keep those that donated and all the children that depend on me in my mind. I will tell myself that I have accomplished harder things in life; the pain and soreness I’d feel from the run is only temporary.

Do you exercise to … A) be physically fit and healthy; B) be mentally healthy; or C) look good naked?
Neil: The first one, only the first one. That’s the only one I’ve got a chance of achieving. I’m an obsessive writer and a 1.94m-tall stick insect, so the last two are always going to be out of the question.
Liv: To be mentally healthy. You could be fit, healthy, and look good naked and not be happy with yourself. Your body and mind are in sync. If your body is in good condition, so will your mind.

Any last words?
Neil: I’m a 38-year-old, desk-bound writer with a seriously bad left knee and a left shoulder. It’s the easiest, safest thing for me in the world to sit on the sofa with a bag of potato chips and watch football. But I’m inspired by the guys doing the Sundown Marathon to get off my arse. At a recent training run, I met guys in the 60s who are going to run 42km through the night. If they can run that kind of distance at their age, I can run 10km to raise a few bucks for the Children’s Cancer Foundation. And if I can do that, you can donate a couple of bucks to the Children’s Cancer Foundation!
Liv: For all the beginners out there, this is my first time running a marathon at night, so I am looking forward to the challenge and joining you all out there. Let’s make it a wonderful, inspiring race! Good luck, everyone!

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.

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