Friday, June 24, 2011

When kindness can be a weakness

How many of us are actually guilty of endlessly chasing after materialistic wants in the modern society, just because our basic needs are so easily fulfilled nowadays that we take it for granted? Cannot decide on which new handbag to buy online or busy looking through the itineraries of different travel agencies for a planned holiday to USA? Though Singapore is a fast developing country there will be always a group of disadvantaged and needy citizens somewhere struggling to make ends meet everyday.

A stray feeder friend, E, called one afternoon a few days back and asked for help to sterilize some cats in a HDB flat. A HDB complaint had already been made and apparently, there has been a population explosion and the flat owners are unable to cope with it. I hurriedly scribbled down some details and arranged a home visit with E and another volunteer to check out the situation.

Upon reaching the door of the flat there were no shoes at the doorstep. We initially thought they wanted to create the impression that no one is at home, so that the HDB officers will go away when no one answered the door. E knocked and called for some time before the flat owners finally opened the door. We were taken aback as a pungent stench of feces and urine hit us right in the face. Upon walking in, a mother cat with two kittens from separate litters lifted her head up and stared blankly at me. Her younger kitten was just a few days old with eyes unopened lying down on some old and soiled newspapers.

The two elderly brothers who greeted us seemed worried and somewhat wary. E told them we are here to help with the cats and they heaved a sigh of relief. They are nearing their seventies and live together in this flat bought many years ago. Though the flat has been fully paid for and they at least have a roof over their heads, their financial status and living conditions were worrying. Only one of the brothers was mobile and the other had difficulty walking. The healthier brother made a living by collecting and selling cardboard boxes, but earnings were meager.

The dimly lit house had windows which were old and rusty and the stained and soiled walls badly need a fresh coat of paint. The floor laminate had come off in some areas, believed to be caused by the constant soaking of cat urine. The house was unkempt, unhygienic and dirty.

On an old metal trolley and a rusty bread tray there were empty cat kibble packets and wet food cans on them. We later asked the brothers about their expenses for the cats. They spend close to $50 weekly which means $200 monthly. With only one sole breadwinner and with so many mouths to meet, how did they land themselves in such a dire situation?

This was their story. It all started with only three stray cats they took pity on. Unfortunately, the cats were not sterilized and the population started to grow. The brothers got increasingly helpless and did not know who to approach for help. They were unable to upkeep the cats and also could not manage basic cleanliness of the flat given their health conditions. The complaint from the neighbours came along with a HDB warning and they finally decided to bring the cats to SPCA for rehoming but upon learning that the cats might be put to sleep, they could not bear to do so. As luck will have it, the brothers bumped into E’s friend at SPCA and this was how E got to learn about them.

Many would question: Why take in pets when you can’t even feed yourselves? Are you doing the cats more harm than good? Some might even ask, why do such hoarders deserve our help even?

We as volunteers have also raised such questions among ourselves, but we could evidently see how selflessly the brothers provided for these cats and loved them. Even though the brothers could barely make ends meet, they refused to just simply abandon the kittens when others might have taken this easier route. The brothers ended up buying more and more food to feed the cats and this only weighed them further down financially. Some of us have picked up newborn kittens ourselves before – do the people who leave them in cardboard boxes at void decks think that the kittens with eyes still unopened can survive by themselves? Won’t sterilization be a more humane and kinder way out?

There were cats in every room, accompanied by dried up patches of cat pee and excrement strewn all over the place. We did a brief count and the total number of cats came up to about 25 – 30, including 13 kittens. Thankfully, some of the cats did not look extremely emaciated or sickly, but there were a few of the other cats needing medical attention. One extremely wary mother cat seemed to be have a bad fungal skin infection and had worsened her own condition by constantly scratching herself.

We then asked the brothers where they slept and they pointed to an old and worn out mattress. Sadly, we saw some cat poo on the mattress too. They will just dust and sweep everything off before they rest for the night.

This is going to be a much bigger project than was initially expected, but nevertheless, Noah’s Ark will not leave the needy brothers in the lurch. We have separated out the tasks to be done with the key issues being sterilization of the cats, cleaning of the flat and liaising with HDB.

We are appealing to all our friends and supporters to help out in whatever way you can, to turn the lives of these two brothers around so that they can live out their twilight years in comfort. As we were talking to the brothers, we saw one of them sweating and realized that the only fan in the flat was spoilt. A volunteer has kindly bought a fan for them but there’s definitely much more to be done.

Would you like to chip in to help these cats with their sterilization and vet bills? Are you a skilled contractor/worker to help revamp the flat like do painting and/or cleaning? Do you have some old but still usable furniture to donate? Or will you like to at least buy them a new mattress?

What we can do for the brothers lies largely on the amount of funds we can raise. To contribute in any way big or small, please write in to For furniture or bulky item/s donation, we will like to seek your kind understanding that we might need a bit of time to arrange transport for picking up of the necessary item/s. Do drop us a note to link up with us. We thank you in advance for transforming the lives of the brothers and the cats.

And remember, sometimes, the animals become victims of our love for them. Sterilization is key and only take in pets when you can provide for them for life.

Friday, June 17, 2011

RIP Roberto the Rabbit

We have heard and seen so much about stray cats and dogs, yet on the flip side, pet owners have no qualms about throwing out their small pet animals into the wilderness.

About 3 months ago, our volunteer received a call for help with a rabbit that was roaming Little Guilin park. It was approaching dusk so J, the lady who reported the case to us was concerned over the safety of this little one. In fact, she assured our volunteer that she will stay and watch over the rabbit till we arrive. Once the volunteers arrived, they got on their fours to get close to the rabbit. The rabbit was frightened by the crowd initially but calmed down after a while, like he knows that help is here. With the help of 2 other passers-by, the volunteer managed to pluck the rabbit to safety. A few residents who exercise at the park regularly commented that the rabbit was seen hopping around for the past few days and they all feared for him as there are monkeys residing in the area and the rabbit seemed like obvious prey for them. He was later named Roberto as he looked calm and quite a gentleman with his white coat and pleasant disposition.

Roberto was brought back to the volunteer's home, and very quickly, a warm comfortable area was set up for him to spend the night. He seemed inquisitive but upon closer inspection, he had an eye infection and there was pus in one of them. That was probably why Roberto was "thrown out" of the house but in fact, a simple vet visit with medication could have treated the infection. Roberto nibbled on some hay and comfortably settled in for the night.

The next morning, Roberto was found to have serious diarrhea and he was very weak. A rabbit suffering from serious diarrhea is equivalent to having non-stop bleeding for a dog/cat, and it is life threatening to the animal. The volunteer immediately called House Rabbit Society Singapore (HRSS) for help to secure an appointment with a vet to attend to Roberto. However, the little one did not make it to the vet visit - Roberto passed on during the mid morning of 25 March 2011.

The government has been advocating "Responsible Pet Ownership" amongst the public year after year, yet such irresponsible behavior continue to prevail in our society. Is abandonment a simple solution to our pet problems? If Roberto and many other abandoned animals could speak, they would have endless tales to tell you about their plight. His owner solved the pet problem but gave Roberto a whole new world of problems which includes starvation and predators.

Spare a thought for your pet - he/she may just be a pet to you, but to him/her, you are the world! By abandoning your animal companion, you are clearly throwing away the trust a helpless and voiceless one has for you, and maybe even sending your loyal pet out to his/her death. A little life was lost to tell this story.

Please help us spread the word about "Responsible Pet Ownership". If your pet is not well, seek medical advice from a vet. If he/she has behavioural problems, look for professionals who can help uncover the root of the problem. In short, never give up on your pet.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Damsel in Distress

How does one define a stray? Simply explained, they are animals that do not have homes and/or that are not owned. The streets should not be their home, but still, not every animal is that lucky to have a permanent and cozy place to reside in. Some people find them a pest, though most of the time, the animals do not disturb them at all. We are unable to even understand why, but nonetheless, we take heart that there are still kind-hearted people caring for the strays out there.

Princess, as named by her rescuer, was spotted by J a few months back, loitering in her estate. She did not know where Princess came from, whether was she previously owned or abandoned or did Princess "relocate" herself from another estate. Slightly different from the local cats one normally sees – Princess is much furrier and looks a tad like a Persian cross. Regardless, J took it upon herself to caring for Princess and feeding her daily.

One week or so later, J noticed Princess' left eye becoming red and slightly swollen, and she hurriedly brought Princess to the vet. The vet prescribed some basic eye drops and medication, but Princess’ condition did not improve. It took a turn for the worse and by the end of the week, there was blood clotting and pus forming in the eye. J re-visited the vet with Princess again who subsequently referred her to Mount Pleasant to see an eye specialist.

Princess was admitted early this week with blood tests done on her and she was found to be running a temperature. But other than this, her kidney and liver are doing fine, she is FIV and FeLV free, just that her white blood count is rather high which is a cause for concern. An x-ray was done and Princess was also suspected to be having infection of the uterus which might be another reason for her fever. However, she is quite weak at present and surgery can only be scheduled when she gets a bit stronger, given that she is not eating much now and from what J told us, she has been losing weight.

Princess’ left eyeball has been badly ruptured and there is unfortunately no way to salvage it except for surgical removal. Her entire eyeball will be taken out as well as the eye flushed, plus she will be sterilized at the same time and her uterus removed.

There can be many reasons for her injury of which some of the more common ones are a cat fight or an accidental poke/scratch. We certainly hope this is not a case of abuse though, but we can’t tell for sure. Strays are sadly subjected to abuse at the whims and fancies of such attackers, and this is one regrettable aspect our society still has to improve in.

J’s family initially did consider putting Princess down as they did not want her to survive with just one eye and also the veterinary fees might be too costly. Dr Teo, who was the vet on duty, advised however that Princess was in really good condition for a stray, and there was little reason why she shouldn’t be given a second chance. That was when J hurriedly contacted Noah's Ark for help and advice.

J has kindly paid for the deposit when Princess was admitted, but with the various tests done plus the surgeries and aftercare, we are kindly seeking donations for Princess as well as a fosterer and/or an adopter. Princess will be up for adoption as soon as she has recovered. From there, only simple cleaning of the eye is needed for two weeks after the eye surgery.

Should you be able to help in any way, please email us at Thank you for your support!

Saturday, June 4, 2011


(click on respective image to enlarge)

Update as of 14th June 2011: We are pleased to inform that Roxy is now home safely. =)

But unfortunately, Pui Pui is still lost. Please help to keep a lookout for him.

Beneficiary of Animal Merchandise :)

Noah's Ark CARES Supporters