Inspirational People - Ten Years at the Border Two Generations of Cat Lovers

Sha Tau Kok, where about 3,000 people live, is in the closed border area of the northern New Territories, where one must have a “Closed Area Permit” to enter or leave. Decades ago, cats could be found everywhere, a few hundred in a small space, seen as a nuisance by the residents, the cats were also having many health problems. A lack of birth-control measures for the feral and owned but free-roaming cats was to blame. Fortunately, the problem has been gradually resolved over the past decade with two residents joining as volunteers of our Cat Colony Care Programme (“CCCP”).

Cat Colony Care Programme

Wince, born and raised in Sha Tau Kok was still in secondary school more than 10 years ago when she began feeding stray cats. Having seen litter after litter of kittens being born, she realised that desexing was the only means to keep the cat population stable. In 2007, the young Wince called the SPCA about wanting to become a CCCP volunteer. Our staff first arranged for the cats under her care to be desexed and then explained to her how the Programme worked. Soon after that Wince formally started her cat guardian journey in Sha Tau Kok.

At the beginning, she only brought in a few cats every month for desexing. As time went by, she came more frequently. The demand was obvious, so we offered to send our Animal Welfare Vehicle to Sha Tau Kok to carry out a large-scale desexing operation. But, before that could happen, a lot of groundwork needed to be done and Wince helped, sparing no effort. She applied for closed area permits for our staff, recruited more volunteers to help with trapping the cats the night before and found secure places to keep them overnight. “We desexed more than 20 cats that day. I still remember how satisfied the residents were seeing the positive results of the Programme,” Wince recalled.

 

Wince (middle) and other CCCP carers trapping cats in Sha Tau Kok (2013) .

The Animal Welfare Vehicle drove to Sha Tau Kok for a cat trapping exercise called “Cat Nip Mission”.

 

In 2012, Wince was going to get married and leave the area for her new home. She needed to find someone quickly to continue her work. It turned out that it was not that difficult to find her “successor”. One night when Wince went out to feed the cats she bumped into Maggie, who was newly married and had moved recently to Sha Tau Kok. Maggie was not a cat person before she moved into the area, but quickly became one after getting to know the community cats in the small town. Wince “lobbied” for her help, explaining to Maggie the importance of desexing stray cats and finally Maggie agreed to take on the meaningful task. Maggie not only looked after the 30 CCCP cats left by Wince, but has gone the extra mile to enlarge the Programme’s footprint to the entire border area. As of today, the CCCP cat community has grown to more than 100. “On an average day it takes 30 to 45 minutes to go around taking care of all the cats, but I really enjoy it a lot,” Maggie said.

Over the past 10 years, two generations of cat lovers have continued caring for the cats in this border town. To date, the Programme has benefitted more than 480 cats, and now there is close to a 90% desexing rate in Sha Tau Kok. It is our hope that in the years to come the cats there will continue to live a happy life under our and their guardians care and attention!

 

Wince kept records of every cat under her care.

At night, Maggie goes out to feed the cats and keep a watchful eye on them.