Getting into this box is what's best for both of us. During your time in the box, you will learn so much, and yet experience so little. It's a wild ride, my friend, one well worth the time spent...and let's face it, you don't have much to do these days anyway.

Saturday 22 June 2013

Stop feeding the cats, damn it.

There is an orphanage-cum-nursing home within walking distance of my home. This does not count for much, considering how cramped most of Singapore is, but the location harbours an alley of the sort that's formed by two high walls, one of the orphanage proper and the other of a condominium complex.

When I go get my morning tea, there's this middle-aged woman who lugs around a huge sack of dry cat food and paper plates, and sets out food for the local strays. Shielded from view by the high walls, the cats emerge from wherever it is cats go, and congregate to feed.

I have no idea why this woman feeds the cats. Maybe she's just a crazy cat lady. Maybe she believes that feeding the cats will earn her merit. Maybe she thinks the cats are just starved, the poor things. Maybe she's just plain crazy. Whatever the reason, it doesn't change the end result: the cats come to be fed, and she feeds them. In considerable numbers, too: to and from watching the old folks hang up their songbirds in the morning, I've counted anywhere from between twenty to thirty different cats lounging about in the alley each time.

Not all of the cats are strays. Some bear collars, and others have fur too clean and professionally groomed to be the handiwork of a mere feline tongue. Their close contact with humans seems to have done them little good in the way of civilising behaviour, though; their higher standard of living and care has translated into stronger, healthier bodies, which they use to push their weaker brethren away from the glorious manna from heaven. Yet the woman makes no move to shoo the pampered cats from gorging themselves, for there is some left over, and even if there are those who abuse her kindness, why should she stop it for fear that the needy cats get to eat nothing?

The cats have clearly lost all fear of humans; people avoid the pathway in the early morning, save some who park their motorcycles between the safety of the walls. I remember coming across a squashed feline corpse a couple of months ago, probably the victim of one of the motorcycles.

The other cats, I recall, were studiously failing to notice the roadkill as they stuffed their faces upon the daily offerings.

Fights are common amongst the cats, despite there being more food than all of them can eat, or that all the food comes from the same bag. I have no idea why they fight; maybe they like a particular plate, or it's a version of cat AMOGging, or maybe it's just what cats do, much like scratching the furniture. At last count, three of the cats are pregnant - either that, or morbidly obese; I'm not a practiced eye at judging the state of cats. One of them is collared and clearly someone's pet. Are there veterinarians who give cats abortions, or is it easier to simply dump or drown the kittens once born? There is no shortage of open storm drains in Singapore, after all.

More than once, I've considered asking this woman to stop feeding the goddamn cats, and to make my case doing so. Feeding strays is certainly heavily frowned upon by the National Environmental Agency, although whether it's actually illegal is another matter (although it wouldn't surprise me if it were). And yet somehow, I get the feeling that short of physical restraint, which I have neither the time or inclination to do, nothing is going to stop this crazy old biddy from feeding the cats; no doubt she believes she is doing the cats a favour. If all the plainly obvious inconvenience she's causing to both cats and people isn't going to stop her, what are the chances reason will? Reason and logic have always been the weakest weapons one has, because manboons will be manboons. That is why rhetoric exists.

And so nothing is done, and the cats continue to be fed, the leftover cat food rotting away until the street sweepers come along to clean it up. One can only wonder about the day when the cats turn up to be fed, and nothing is there.

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