Saturday, November 15, 2008

Cat cafe

If I recall rightly, the concept of Cat Cafes started in Europe where well meaning tourists fed stray cats with morsels of food. Other customers were irrate with the cats and those who fed the cats. Hence,that was the start of Cat Cafes.

It was in 2004, I was in Singapore living in a university campus. There were a lot of feral animals or stray cats as there were plenty of food left behind by canteen operators, hostel living students who miss their cats at home, and other just well meaning residents on the campus. Cats were however, "either you love them or you hated them". I belong to neither, I just didn't like cruelty to animals.

The university management, following up complaints by those who hated the cats, imposed a policy to euthanise all strays cats. If your cat was a pet, it should have a collar. There was a miscontrued perception that the campus was overrun by feral cats. With the cats rummaging through the rubbish and sleeping in the canteens, there was a potential conflict of the cat population with human hygiene.

J. arranged a meeting with a few cat lovers to consider the feasibility of establishing "Cat Cafes". I was invited because of my openness in verbalising issues and my connection to a website and my PR exercise in many social issues.

From the initial meeting, and subsequent public relations exercises, we enlisted more volunteers donate money to buy cat food and to feed the strays in designated areas: Cat Cafes. We also caught the wild cats to neuter or spay them.

Soon these wild feral cats became tame pussy cats. Sterilised cats were inserted with a mirco-chip in their ears so that when the "cat-nappers" come to catch wild cats, they wouldl know that these cats are clients of our Cat Cafe.

Soon our Cat Cafe business extended from our original 3 cafes to 8. The intended results are as follows: a reduction of the homeless cat population in the long term because of our successful sterilisation program; maintaining the existing cat population in good health so that the cats do not constitute a health menace to other animals and keeping new, unsterilized cats from invading the campus.

One adverse result we found was illegal dumping of cats. As our activities were very high profile, we soon found people dumping their unwaited cats.

While I gave an initial donation and did the early publicity, I did not volunteer to feed the cats. But this anecdote is one which earned me my nickname "cat lover". In the beginning, a family adopted a pair of beautiful grey Persian mix kittens. This family left the campus without telling any one. Months later, (presumeably they were well settled in their new home overseas) they emailed me about their abandonment of the cats. That was how I became a cat feeder, hoping to entice the cats to come to feed at a Cafe Cat near to my house. These kittens unfortunately had become wild cats, they would eat our food, but would still sneak into our neighbors house and steal their food.

Soon there were two groups of residents. "Get rid of the cats, they are a great hassle," and the Cat cafe group," Please give us some time." I was glad I had left to New Zealand then.

***This cat is someone's cat, some one killed it***


Gattina said...

Very interesting and a very good idea. I have never heard of a cat café in any European country I know. We have cat shelters where abandonned cats are waiting for a new home. We have lots of people feeding stray cats and young vet students who spay them. They go around in a bus catch them and let them free as soon as they can. All cats living here in my area are spayed.

Dave said...

You and your friends did a very compasionate thing looking after homeless cats, and specially desexing them to help prevent unwanted cats. Well done Ann. - Dave

cats of wildcat woods said...

Glad to see you all handled that cat situation withe humaness. I believe in trap/neuter and release with feral cats. Educating people about thisis the only way to go!