UPDATE: Changi Village’s cat situation worsen. 23 more cats found abandoned at Changi Beach Canoe Center.
Theresa Tan, 58, lives in fear.
At 5 am, she hurriedly feeds her nine cats in their individual cages. From cat to cat, she repeats her movements, pouring cat food into tiny porcelain bowls, gripped in fear.
“I worry that my neighbours might start complaining about the meowing when I feed them. There is nothing I can do. Just one phone call [to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA)], and they might be taken away,” says the food stall owner. She lives in a terrace house in Upavon Road, near Changi Village. The row of seven terraces share an open backyard.
The single mother’s nightmare started end of last year when a neighbour got a trap from AVA and caught one of her cats that were free to roam around her house. As a result, she has no choice but to lock all her cats in cages. She says all her cats are rescued from the streets.
“He [the neighbour] kept complaining about my cats. He said to me once, ‘Your cat pees at my door’,” she says.
“I told him, ‘Give me some time to catch that cat’. Most of my cats do not go outdoors,” Theresa says. She reached out to the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) to settle the dispute with her neighbour.
The neighbour, Gary Ong, a property agent, showed The Independent Singapore the pictures he took of what looked like pee stains on his property last year.
“You can love cats but you cannot cause a nuisance to the community,” the 51-year-old says, referring to the constant pee stains in his backyard and outer dining area.
In November last year, Gary went to the AVA for a trap. The AVA loans animal traps for free. He claims he has caught five cats in the neighbourhood using AVA traps. One of them belonged to Theresa.
Theresa was terrified that AVA might put her cat to sleep. She called the CWS, which helped her get her cat back.
“Theresa’s cat is not the first cat we have rescued from the AVA,” said Randy Wong, 40 a part-time mediator at CWS. “The CWS has helped two other owners,”Randy adds that the CWS gets between 50 and 100 complaints about cats each month, most of them by residents at Changi Village. AVA’s latest statistics also show that one quarter of the cats culled by AVA are from Changi Village.
Last Wednesday, the village also saw two cats with their heads bashed and eyes popped out in Block 5, Changi Village. A month ago, two cats had hot water poured on their heads.
The problem, according to Randy, is that many owners allow their cats to roam freely within the house compound and sometimes these cats stray to the neighbouring houses.
“But the rights of a cat owner are not clear. AVA needs to take a stand on this. I think they do not want to be seen as pro-cat lovers. But being neutral, there is no solution in this matter,” he says.