Pet cafe cats rehomed due to 'compromised welfare’, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Pet cafe cats rehomed due to 'compromised welfare’

The Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) is looking into a cat cafe in Geylang that has been operating without an animal exhibition licence.

This was discovered when most of its cats were rehomed after a video accusing the cafe of animal abuse went viral online, prompting checks by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA).

When contacted on Feb 26, SPCA said it had already received several reports on the neglect of cats at I Love Cat Cafe.

It also observed “concerning signs of compromised welfare” when it visited the premises that day, and said more than half of the seven cats present looked malnourished.

Five cats were allowed to roam the space, while the remaining two shared a single cage. The cage did not have a water source inside and the litter box was soiled.

SPCA said that the resources inside the free-roaming space were inadequate as the five cats shared three litter boxes and only one water bowl. The cat tree was also unstable, while the cat tunnels were dirty and covered with fur.

The organisation added that ventilation was limited to just one fan, with no openings for airflow when the cafe closed each day.

SPCA considers neglect, which is a failure to meet animals’ basic needs, a breach of animal welfare standards.

After speaking with the management of the cafe, SPCA, alongside an independent rescuer, made a joint second visit to the cafe on Feb 27.

Six of the cats were taken in by the rescuer, including two that were identified to be in poorer health and in need of immediate veterinary attention.

SPCA tasked the cafe owner to rehome the remaining cat. The owner, who wanted to be known only as Mr Tan, told The Straits Times on Feb 28 that the cat had already been rehomed.

He also explained that the cafe – which has been open for about six months – was founded with the intention of rehoming the cats. Mr Tan had taken in the cats from people who had previously given them up and encouraged customers to adopt them.

However, he soon realised he did not have the manpower or expertise to run such an operation. He said that he has been planning to expedite the rehoming of the cats and close the shop, for at least three months.

Mr Tan said: “We are thankful for help in rehoming all the cats.

“From this episode, I realised that sometimes we don’t know the extent of responsibility that comes along with taking care of and rehoming cats.”

The alleged neglect was first highlighted in a video posted to TikTok by user @zigzagzooey on Feb 23. The video, which contained several clips of the cats in the cafe, noted that many of the cats seemed thin and depressed.

The cafe space also seemed dirty with insects crawling around. The video has since amassed over 60,300 views.

The video also highlighted multiple Google reviews of the cafe in which customers said they saw the cats being beaten by staff.

Mr Tan said in response to ST’s queries on the issue that his staff have denied this, and the allegations may have been due to misunderstandings.

AVS said it was alerted to a social media post involving I Love Cat Cafe on Feb 27 and later discovered the establishment did not have an animal exhibition licence.

AVS group director Jessica Kwok said regulations require all cat cafes that offer animal interaction to obtain this licence. The licence is issued only after owners meet certain conditions, which include bringing the cats for mandatory vaccinations and health checks, she added.

Cats must test negative for feline leukaemia virus, feline immunodeficiency virus and toxoplasma gondii before they can be displayed for interaction.

Cat cafes must also allow the animals to have sufficient rest between interaction sessions and ensure that they are properly housed.

animalsANIMAL WELFAREanimal abuse