If you're a cat fan, you’re in for a treat: from October to December, the wall at Masjid Jamek LRT station in Kuala Lumpur will be devoted to cat portraits. And not just famous cats, either! You can submit your kitty’s pic for a spot, too.
“We have performance art at the concourse level and visual arts in the tunnel that changes every few months,” says Susie Kukathas, project consultant at Think City, an organisation that aims at making our towns more liveable and people-centric. “We are always interested in new ideas, and this one came from someone on Facebook who told us about a project she saw in London.”
The London project was a Kickstarter campaign called The Citizens Advertising Takeover Service (CATS) that replaced 68 advertisements in Clapham Common tube station in London with cat photos.
It was a huge hit; the usually bored and tired commuters started taking selfies and photos of the 54 escalator panels and 14 large posters dotting the station.
“I’m a pet lover and have always adopted strays,” Susie admits cheerfully. Her present feline companion is Aadu Kutti, a sweet name that means Little Goat in Tamil. “Aadu Kutti turned up on my doorstep one Chinese New Year – and it was the Year of the Goat,” she explains. “I was able to take her in, but there are so many others that are dumped and I can’t take them all.”
The KucingTamu Arts On The Move wall campaign is more than just pretty pictures of beloved pets. When you buy your pet a sponsored place, the money goes into a Trap, Neuter and Return programme aimed at reducing the number of strays living around the Masjid Jamek LRT station.
“We need to rejuvenate and refurbish the city but it’s also home to animals,” Susie points out. “We need to live together harmoniously. That means we have to prevent the population of strays from exploding.”
As Think City’s expert on heritage management and city beautification, Susie turned to her circle of contacts and asked Pet Adoption Network Malaysia to handle the Trap, Neuter, Return part of the programme.
Unsurprisingly, cat lovers are flocking to sign up – and there are some rather plush kitties living with our local celebrities who are also getting their own bit of limelight.
Amir Muhammad, film director and founder of local publishing house Buku Fixi, has signed up the family cat Itin, five.
“We came across Itin and her brother Upin about five years ago when we were visiting relatives in Seremban,” Amir says. “They were tiny kittens, clearly dumped as the neighbours knew nothing about them, so we took them home.”
Sadly, Upin passed away a year ago, but Itin is hale and hearty. “Itin has one part of the house as her territory and Bulat, the other family cat, has the other,” Amir reveals. “The neighbour’s cat is also a constant visitor. We call her Goldie but we’re not sure what her own family call her.
“What I like about cats is their attitude,” Amir says. “It’s like the Internet meme: if you feed a dog, he thinks you are god but if you feed a cat, he concludes he is the god. I find that charming.”
“I’m putting up Kahoe and Swami,” shares Jo Kukathas, actress and director of Instant Cafe Theatre. “Swami was found in a drain, by a friend. He followed her home but she had dogs, so she gave him to me.
“Then Kahoe wandered in through an open window. He was tiny, just a few weeks old and covered in engine oil. I thought he was grey, actually. It was only when I washed him that I saw he’s ginger.
“It took a few weeks for Swami and Kahoe to become friends, but as you can see, they took to each other.”
“I’m celebrating the memory of our family cat, Umbrella, who passed away in 2011,” says Shazmin Shamsuddin, host of LiteFM’s morning show. “Umbrella was an incredible character – he had more than nine lives. He brought us a lot of comfort and laughter, and was generally a great cat. As this is a great project, I want to be part of it; and partly to help the many strays out there.
“We are putting up Soxie, a rescue cat, and Popo, Rambo and Bimba that we bought from pet shops,” says actor and movie director Jehan Miskin. “My family are long-time cat lovers. I’ve been adopting strays since I was a kid, and if I had space, I’d have 10! My wife Julie comes from a family of dog lovers, and she’s a cat lover now too.
“I love how different all cats are. Like Soxie is super-possessive, and behaves more like a dog than a cat. She comes when you call! Rambo is our supermodel, handsome and a bit dumb but so loving! He’s always at the door when we come home. Then there’s our little Popo who is super-timid. She didn’t meow until she’d lived with us for almost three years. Also, as she’s a cancer survivor, we’ve always indulged her. Bimba our big, furry crossbreed likes to sit on my chest, meows to be picked up, and keeps me company when I play computer games.”
How to book a spot for your cat
There are 668 spots to sponsor on the tunnel wall at Masjid Jamek.
Send in a good photograph of your cat to email@example.com. Do be sure it’s a large file size (1MB at least), or it won’t scale up into a print photo.
Costs are as follows:
Or choose a corporate sponsorship mega size at RM5,000.
You may sponsor more than one space.
Please bank in your payment to BSN bank account no. 1418041000041154 (ARC Rhinowrites Productions Sdn Bhd).
For bank transfers, please include your name as the payment reference.
Next, provide the following details:
• The picture size you’re sponsoring plus proof of payment
• A hi-res picture of your cat (1MB at least)
• Name of cat
• Name of owner
• Your contact number
Entry deadline is Aug 31.
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Controlling strays with 'trap, neuter and return'
When cats breed uncontrolled, several things happen. First, there isn’t enough food for them all. This means that kittens often starve to death within a few days of birth. Second, those that do make it, have to fight for their territory. This usually means living with injuries that quickly become infected. Many strays die slow, lingering painful deaths from their wounds.
Neutering projects don’t catch every cat but they tend to catch enough to severely curtail the number of kittens born. This means surviving strays have a better quality of life with more food and better overall health.
Of course, catching feral cats is not easy. But it can be done.
“Cats eat at the same time every day,” explains Sherrina Krishnan-Leyow of Pet Adoption Network Malaysia. “You can set a watch by them. So I start by turning up at the same place every day at the same time. By the third day, the cats are waiting for me.”
Once the cats associate her with food, Sherrina sets the trap. “We have long narrow cages that have a nice smelly treat at the far end,” she explains. “When the cat enters the trap, it’s long enough to take in the whole kitty and the tail. But as soon as the cat picks up the food, the door slams shut.”
As the cats tend to be afraid, she throws a towel over the cage. This gives the cat a sense of privacy. Then she takes them to one of her vets, who is expert in getting the cat out of the trap, under anaesthesia. The cat is then spayed or neutered, given a few days to recover, and is then sent back to their original territory.