Monday, August 28, 2006

A nice letter to the press

Cats pose no danger to people if they are respected as animals with a right to live

ST Forum Online
Aug 26, 2006

I would like to comment on the report by Leong Su-Lin entitled '15 stitches on toddler's face after attack by cat' (ST, Aug 24).

I sympathise with the three-year-old girl who had to undergo the painful experience.

It should not have happened. Ms Leong writes eloquently about the stitches, the long, agonising journey of a three-year-old, the pain and suffering of the family as well as the fact that Nicole Lee may be left with some scarring.

She also writes "(the cat) was fleeing from Nicole's grandmother, who was trying to scare it out by shouting and stamping her feet." It was a few seconds later that the incident happened with Nicole.

I assumed that the frightened cat was indeed "scared" by the grandmother and Nicole got in the way. This is the natural reaction of any animal which tries to flee from what it sees as danger. Nicole's mother worries that this may happen to other children and she has every right to be worried.

I hope, however, that this incident will not result in a clarion call to exterminate cats in all HDB estates. If that happens, we will be the poorer for it. The Prime Minister in his National Day rally speech had called on all of us to work as a community of sympathetic souls for the betterment of our society.

What happened to Nicole is the result of irresponsible feeding, of neighbours who had left food outside their doorstep for strays.

I am glad Nicole's mother recognises that it is not the fault of the cat. It's the people who feed the cats irresponsibly. There are many caregivers who feed community cats in a responsible way and they have worked very hard to make sure that no community cat is fed at anyone's doorstep, but downstairs.

They clean the place after the cats have been fed, they neuter cats so they have a good community. A stray cat which lives in a good community of responsible feeders and caregivers is not interested in anything other than a small space in the sun to bask in, a place to get food and sleep.

These cats do not make a mess and do not harm anyone unless they are threatened. Cats are not a danger to anyone if they are respected as creatures with a right to exist and if we, as a community, help them.

We have seen how cats have been harmed and threatened by the likes of David Hooi, a convicted cat killer. They are swung from wires, decapitated, kicked, mangled, starved just because they are easy targets.

If our heartware is where the Prime Minister says it is, let us work towards a safer community where children, families, cats and other animals can live in safety and accept each other's existence.

Jumiah Ahmad

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