YOUth should know: 5 things about stray cats in Singapore
Let’s learn to co-exist with them.
You see them under void decks, inside carparks and around the markets – stray cats are as much a part of the estates as its residents.
Their presence draws various types of attention. Cat-lovers might consider adopting these strays into their homes, while residents who feel less comfortable would find ways to harmlessly deter them.
Your encounters with these strays might have even provoked some questions: “Are you allowed to feed them? Can you even adopt one? How do I help the cat?”
Despite the communal love, there have been cases where these cats were abused or mistreated. Even well-intentioned actions might subject the cats to further harm instead.
Fortunately, there exist certain rules that protect these community cats from being harmed, owned and even fed inappropriately.
Here are five things you should know about stray cats in Singapore:
1. How do you define stray cats? What should you do when you see one?
When talking about stray animals, the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) refers to the dogs and cats living in “communal areas around us”.
With cats, the Cat Welfare Society advises that you do not have to remove them unless it is in danger.
While some of us may have good intentions behind removing a cat, doing so will only cause more cats to move into the area and take the place of the removed cats.
If you do want to help the cat, consider getting it sterilised by engaging the help of certain professional services.
Sterilising the cat will prevent unnecessary breeding and reduce the number of unwanted animals, according to AVS.
It will also reduce the risk of certain cancers, and sterilised animals are also less prone to certain diseases.
How can you tell if a cat has been sterilised? Take a look at its left ear – if it is tipped, it means that the cat is sterilised.
2. Can you feed stray cats? What do you feed them?
According to the Cat Welfare Society, it is perfectly fine to feed stray cats. What is against the law is littering, so those feeding stray cats will need to clean up once the cats are done feeding.
This also includes using newspaper or paper plates/bowls and feeding cats away from places with human traffic.
Feeders should also feed cats on the ground level and never along staircase landings and corridors, as it may inconvenience your neighbours.
If you want to feed a cat, the Cat Welfare Society stresses that community cats should only be fed cat food.
You should also provide fresh water daily. Remember to pour out the previous day’s water and wipe the container down to get rid of any mosquito larvae.
3. Can you adopt a stray cat?
You can adopt cats through rehoming organisations, each with their own adoption processes.
Before you adopt a cat, try to answer these questions by the Cat Welfare Society: Is it simply because the cat is cute? Is it a gift? Are you able to commit to the cat’s lifetime?
Cats can live up to 20 years, and come with a number of financial costs including sterilisation, vaccinations, blood tests, specialised diets and organ issues as they age.
Should you successfully adopt a stray cat, consider installing grilles, attaching plastic meshing to existing grilles or other forms of meshing. This is to ensure the cat is kept safely indoors.
The grilles should be no more than 1.5 inches wide for kittens and 2 inches wide for adult cats.
4. What can you do if you do not feel comfortable living among stray cats?
Some of us may feel bothered living alongside stray cats, but there are harmless ways to deter them from wandering onto your premises.
You can install wire or plastic meshes at gates and entrances to prevent strays from entering your household.
Alternatively, AVS recommends you use natural repellents such as white vinegar and citrus peels. Spray or sprinkle them at spots to deter cats from defecating in these areas.
The use of rubber spiked mats is also recommended to discourage cats from climbing on ledges or digging up gardens and in flower pots.
5. What should you do when you spot animal cruelty?
Should you witness an act of animal cruelty, it is strongly advised by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to call the police (999) and SPCA’s 24-hour hotline (6287 5355 ext 9).
If it is safe to do so, you should take a picture or video of the suspect and note any distinguishing features of the person.
You should not move the body of a dead animal. Instead, take note of the exact location and use anything that can aid you. Look for street names, or bus stop and lamp post numbers.
Should you be able to, take a picture of the animal and the surrounding area. You can send the images and videos you took to firstname.lastname@example.org.
You are also advised to call the hotline should you spot any animal that appears to be in urgent need of attention.