More attacks by stray dogs on cats during circuit breaker
NParks: More than 30 cases of conflict in June, previous monthly average was 7
Last month, cat feeder Radiyah Mohd Som, 55, saw a community cat named Chewbakar being attacked by six dogs near her Edgefield Plains block in Punggol.
Her family chased the dogs away by knocking bamboo poles on the ground, saving the cat.
But that was not an isolated incident as there were more than 30 cases of community cat and dog conflicts in June, said the National Parks Board (NParks).
This is compared with an average of seven cases each month between January and May this year, said NParks.
While NParks could not explain the spike in attacks, animal experts believe it is linked to the circuit breaker period from April 7 to June 1.
Ms Jasmine Foo, spokesman for The Sand Fund, a charitable group that cares for community cats, said the rise in attacks on cats was likely due to a fall in food sources for dogs when factories closed during the circuit breaker.
Dr Tai Yesun of Nam Sang Veterinary Clinic added: "It is possible that during the circuit breaker, people (whose jobs were affected) did not have enough money to care for their pets and abandoned them.
"Hence, the rise in stray dogs and cats in the community. Many feeders also could not leave home to feed stray cats or dogs as often."
Recounting the incident involving Chewbakar, Madam Radiyah said: "Chewbakar was already semi-conscious, his heart was beating fast and he was just lying there, motionless and gasping for air."
The family rushed him to a 24-hour veterinary clinic with the cat suffering injuries to its groin area, bladder, head and rib cage. Chewbakar is now recovering under her care.
Dr Yesun said the reason for conflict between stray cats and dogs is usually territorial, with community cats defending their territory against dogs from elsewhere.
Unsterilised male dogs may also be more aggressive due to high testosterone levels.
The Cat Welfare Society (CWS) reported a spike in feedback on such attacks from one to two incidents during the whole of last year to 15 incidents from April to July.
Its mediators are liaising with feeders in affected areas to provde timely feedback on dog sightings and changing feeding schedules.
Dr Jaipal Singh Gill, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, advised cat caregivers to temporarily house the animals elsewhere.
He added: "Where possible, we can also try shifting feeding locations for both groups of animals so there is less overlapping of their territories."
To manage the stray dog population, the NParks' Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) launched the Trap-Neuter-Release-Manage programme in November 2018.
This involves humanely catching stray dogs and sterilising them, then rehoming or releasing them at suitable locations.
As of January, 992 stray dogs have undergone the programme, with more than 50 per cent of them rehomed or fostered.
AVS aims to sterilise more than 70 per cent of the stray population in Singapore by 2023.