March 4, 2021
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Flair Towers | September 11, 2020
A longtime dog lover, Rupert Patrick Cayubit never cared much about cats until sometime in 2019. He recalled that whenever he would get home from work, he would notice one hungry-looking cat approaching him at a parking area in Flair Towers, a condominium community of DMCI Homes in Mandaluyong City.
Feeling sorry for the cat, he took it upon himself to feed the lonesome feline by leaving cat food just within his parking slot so as not to disturb the other car owners.
The busy corporate guy’s random act of kindness became a daily after-work routine and eventually inspired him to help the other cats roaming around the property, too. “Parang I felt there should be someone who should stand up for the voiceless. Kasi kawawa ’yong cats, walang tutulong sa kanila,” he said in reflection.
It all started when Loit Batac, a representative of the Flair Towers Responsible Pet Owners Club, asked for volunteers to help feed the cats. Rupert was one of the volunteers which group eventually grew into the Cats of Flair Volunteers Group, which has Rupert as team lead till today.
The group established a daily feeding schedule until COVID-19 began turning into a pandemic in early 2020, and the country was put under community quarantine in mid-March. Movement outside homes was limited, so the members experienced difficulty carrying on with their charity work.
These days, Rupert and three other volunteers, Dr. Luanne Cervatos, Dr. Liezl Cervatos, and Natasha Ang feed the cats found around the basement area, while another one takes care of the sole cat stuck at the roof deck. He admitted the responsibility could be burdensome and time-consuming, so they have decided to assign feeding days among themselves and stick to the plan no matter what.
“We religiously follow the schedule kasi we want to prevent the cats from venturing into the trash bins,” he explained.
Aside from regular supply of food, the group also makes it a point to provide fresh water to the cats, treat them when wounded, and have them undergo deworming to ensure their health and not pass on any diseases to the people living in the property.
Rupert made it clear that the feeding program is just one aspect of the group’s holistic approach to solving the problem of cats roaming around Flair Towers.
Cats of Flair Towers Volunteers Group
Thus, a discussion was held between two opposing sides in dealing with the issue of roaming cats. Rupert, Loit, and other pet-loving residents pushed for more sympathetic means. They have since formed the Cats of Flair Volunteers Group, which is quite apt for the pet-friendly community.
For starters, the group conducted a census to know exactly how many feral and free-roaming cats they were dealing with, and tagged them as community cats. Next, the volunteers instituted the trap, neuter, vaccinate, and return (TNVR) project. TNVR has been recognized and proven to be the most sustainable and humane solution by many countries and various communities.
Rupert pointed out, “The TVNR is better in controlling the population rather than eliminating the cat population in the area. Kasi pag tinanggal mo sila, then nabakante ang area, sooner or later another group of cats will come in and loiter."
“Ang nangyayari, tanggal ka lang nang tanggal ’tapos may papalit lang na bago. Whereas kung may healthy population ka, hindi na dadami. Wala nang outside cats na papasok kasi alam nila na may group of cats na doon.”
With the help of a cat volunteer group from another community, Rupert’s team was able to learn the “humane trap” that doesn’t harm or stress out the cats the way the conventional trap does. They also partnered with the Philippine Pet Birth Control Center (PPBCC) in facilitating the neutering and spaying of the trapped cats.
‘Beewan’ and company
In August 2019, the TNVR project was jointly launched by the Cats of Flair Towers Volunteers Group, Flair Towers Responsible Pet Owners Club, and the Flair Property Management Office (PMO). By September 1, the first trap ensued, and among the yield was a kitten that Rupert adopted and named “Beewan.
“Kaya siya ‘Beewan’ kasi na-trap siya dito sa Basement 1 ng property,” he quipped.
A year later, Beewan and 12 other community cats had been neutered/spayed, treated for fleas and worms, and given anti-rabies vaccine. Only four more to go, as they’ve proven to be elusive. Meanwhile, a total of 15 community cats have been adopted as part of the project.
In funding the project, the group relies on their pooled resources and donations from other unit owners. The extra funds have been used in giving out hygiene kits and alcohol bottles to PPBCC to help maintain sanitation of the clinic. They had also planned on staging pet activities but were put on hold because of the pandemic.
Rupert and his group remain focused on their volunteer work. “Ang goal namin talaga is to control the population and not be a cat sanctuary. Gusto lang namin ma-insure na may healthy community of cats dito sa property that will help ’yong pest control,” he explained.
“Kasi mapapansin talaga dito sa property, walang rats, lalo na hanggang B5 [Basement 5] ang property. Walang mga rats na umiikot do’n sa area,” he enthused.
(Mr. Cayubit would like to thank the people and organizations who had been a great help to the Cats of Flair: Loit Batac, Atty. Ram Ramos, Jessi Rubi, Dr. Liezl Cervatos, Dr. Luanne Cervatos, Adrian Stephen Cabuhat, Natasha Ang, Katrina Miranda, Bhimz Melosantos, Jonathan Haber, Kring Brucel, Tina Mesina, Dr. Jasper Sevilleno and Dra. Mace Licuanan of PPBCC, I am Scott, Emerson Ingco, and the Flair Towers PMO)
*DMCI Homes allows each condo unit to have a total of two pet dogs or cats that weigh less than 25 pounds each or less than 15 inches in height (when full-grown) standing on their feet.
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