Two cats rescued, skeletal remains of others found
Two emaciated cats, locked in a cage with the skeletal remains of three others, were rescued from a rental flat in Jalan Minyak, near Havelock Road, on Tuesday.
Rescuers were notified when a neighbour posted in the Facebook group Sayang Our Singapore’s Community Cats on Monday, seeking help. She had also alerted the police, the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) and the Housing Board.
An independent cat rescuer, who wanted to be known only as Wati, told The Straits Times she entered the flat on Tuesday afternoon with the police and officers from HDB after permission was granted by the tenant’s daughter.
“We also ascertained from her that the cats were hers,” said Ms Wati.
“The cats were found in the kitchen, and they were caged. There was no way they could get out to forage for food or water.”
The two cats that were alive were taken away by the AVS.
In a video Ms Wati shared with ST, a voice off camera suggests that the cats have been abandoned for at least a month, judging by the state of the bones.
Said Ms Wati: “I have seen many such cases (of neglect), especially in rental flats. The tenants abandon their cats in the flats and move out. Some because they cannot pay the rent, others because they are trying to hide from creditors or from the law.
“Most of these cats starve and by the time we find them, they are skin and bones.”
There are two known cases of cats abandoned in HDB flats in the last five months.
On March 1, 13 cats and two rabbits were removed from a Sembawang Crescent rental flat by volunteers.
The tenant – to be evicted by March 31 according to a notice on the door of the unit – was believed to have abandoned the flat and the animals in it, for at least a week.
And in May, police forcibly entered a unit in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 after neighbours complained about a foul smell emitting from the two-room flat.
They found not only rubbish strewn all over in the filthy flat, but also several cats that had been abandoned.
“Today alone, I had to deal with three cases,” said Ms Wati, who has been involved in cat rescues for over 10 years.
“The first was in Jurong West, where a family was illegally breeding cats for sale. His cats were pure breed, long-haired ones. The Jalan Minyak case, my second, was the worst. This is the first time I’ve seen skeletal remains.”
Her third was dealing with tenants who had “25 cats... in a small rental flat” in Chinatown.
Ms Wati called for stricter laws against those who neglect or abandon animals.
“This simply cannot continue,” she said. “The law against irresponsible owners who abandon their pets need to be harsh. It is presently too lenient. Leaving animals locked in cages without means of finding food or water is abuse.”
Those who abandon their pets can be charged under the Animals and Birds Act.
First-time offenders can be fined a maximum of $10,000, be jailed for up to 12 months, or both. However, about 95 per cent of cases that are reported to AVS are not substantiated.
AVS investigated 310 cases of pets being abandoned last year.
This was up from 225 in 2021, 251 in 2020 and 230 in 2019. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals receives between 50 and 60 suspected cases of abandoned pets each year, and this number has stayed consistent over the years.
The Straits Times has contacted the AVS for comment.