For The Love of Cats in Singapore
I am in the process of "interviewing" suitable cats for adoption in Singapore. After viewing adoption profiles......ok......many many profiles (how can you stop?) online and visiting several cats, I didn't find that immediate connection that was essential for me. I am still hoping and looking for the right one.
What I did find was the plight of many abandoned and stray cats in Singapore and why they ended up that way. Seeing their despondent faces, confined to cages and looking generally frustrated, it breaks my heart. Despite the best efforts of shelters and animal humane societies like SPCA Singapore, Cat Welfare Society and a passionate group of self-motivated fosterers (God bless their heart), there are still currently 60,000 stray cats in Singapore.
So here are 6 must-haves for a potential adopter like me. Consider these before you get a cat, A pet is a commitment for life, do not do it unless it can be sustainable in the long run.
1. Microchipping Prevents Heartbreak
There are pictures of lost cats everywhere, these photos aren't merely photos but someone's beloved lost pet. Lost cats often end up in a shelter or roam the streets aimlessly, exposed to potential harm from accidents to diseases to ticks/fleas to feral animals to dirt/grime and ill health from street food. This is a position you definitely do not want your cat to be in.
Microchipping is a form of identification that allow pet owners to find their pets quickly. Mass notification of lost pet to the shelters, animal control units and personal search endeavours will be much more effective.
2. Sterilization Is Everyone's Responsibility
An FAQ on humane treatment of cats by Cat Welfare Society (A Singaporean charity with an active cat adoption program) states that "13,000 cats are killed a year -- that works out to 35 healthy cats a day. To keep that number down, the number of cats born has to be reduced drastically. To put it simply, the fewer cats born, the fewer cats have to suffer and die."
On top of keeping the number of stray cats down, sterilization is also recommended for a longer and healthier life. For females, risk of mammary gland tumors, ovarian and/or uterine cancer is reduced or eliminated, especially if done before the first heat cycle which is usually before 6 months. For males, risk of testicular cancer is eliminated and decreases the occurrence of prostate disease.
Is sterilization cruel?
3. Cat Proofing For Safety Sake
It is surprising that many cat owners do not bother to cat proof a home. Cat proofing a home includes screening of windows. A general misconception is that cats are so nimble and agile, they will land on their feet with no problem, High-Rise Syndrome is a real and persistent problem. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) states that "Veterinarians at the ASPCA Animal Hospital see approximately three to five cases a week. Falls can result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs and pelvises—and even death."
You would also need to carefully store potential toxic substances such as roach bait, medication, cleaning solutions, cat unfriendly plants etc. If absolutely necessary, close all lids tightly if it needs to be in the open. Cats are naturally curious and will inspect every inch of the house. You don't want them to stumble on these when you are not around and poison themselves.
Keep in mind that it is a cat's predatory nature to be up high, so provide some type of cat-friendly perch so your cat can be comfortable. Putting a cat tree near an open screened window will provide hours of entertainment for your feline friend.
Rub some catnip on a scratching post to get your cat into the habit of scratching there instead of your furniture. Bring your cat to the pole every time he does it, you will see them getting into the habit of dong so.
Cover furniture that you don't want to see ruined until your cat starts to get used to the scratching post. Keep all toys with strings or any long dangling attachments that can choke them. Keep all trash bins covered and stored away, throw out the trash often instead of leaving it around. Your cat might investigate and hurt themselves on sharp cans, eat non-cat food and suffocate on plastic bags.
4. Cat Care & Diet For Life
Make sure you keep all medical records and bring them for yearly vaccinations. Lack of appetite and listlessness is one of the common signs of being unwell, get medical attention immediately. Keep their environment clean by regular vacuums and using pet friendly cleaners, best would be all natural cleaning solutions that have a low risk of allergic reactions.
Keep their coat clean by regular baths, combing and regularly applying anti- tick/anti-flea protection. Regular baths will prevent fleas and ticks and ingesting dust/dirt when self-grooming. Combing will prevent fur balls from accumulating in their body, causing lost of appetite. Research the different kinds of litter trays, pet carrier and find the best one for your needs.
Buy a wide selection of dry and wet food for a trial run, see which one works best. Put a cat tree near their favourite places to scratch, add a dash of cat nip and soon your fur kid is leaving your furniture alone. For DIY cat tree ideas that make any cat go meow, go HERE.
5. Show Me The Money
Calculate the financial commitment of a cat in the long run. Unless you have adequate savings, do not commit to a pet. You can always choose to foster to on a temporary basis or volunteer at a shelter if you are passionate about animals but can't commit long term to one. The repeated cycle of purchase, abandonment, adoption, abandonment is traumatic to pets. They might become distrustful, anti-social and even aggressive. Ask animal humane societies to offer a breakdown for you, I am sure they will be glad to do so or ask a cat owner friend about it, they will have a good idea. Visit local pet stores to investigate prices at the same time.
6. Love, Love & More Love
A cat will provide you with companionship, affection, love, comfort and much more in return for so little. Each cat is an individual with different temperaments, do not expect your cat to fit into your life without any hiccups. Thankfully these hiccups can be resolved with time and patience.
Shower them with love and affection and they are more than willing to do so by you as well.
Recently, I came across a rescue story on renowned Cat Behaviourist Jackson Galaxy's website where the adopter's cat chose her, hopeful that this might happen to me, the cat search continues. In the mean time I am officially CAT crazy, maybe my tongue-in-cheek prediction that I would become an eccentric bag lady with a house full of cats is coming true!
© 2014 Min