The burden of stemming the tide of destruction largely falls to cat caregivers – regular people with a big heart.
Singapore, 10 February 2010 | For Immediate Release
The proliferation of stray animals in our communities is a human-created problem. They are here as a direct result of human-driven activities – a thriving live pet trade, irresponsible breeding and pet abandonment. As we enter the year of the Tiger, animal welfare agencies and organisations have a big concern - the number of animals that are going to be cleaned out with the trash during spring cleaning. This trend is mirrored in more than one turning of the year on a multi-cultural calendar – Hari Raya and New Year’s Day. And we are already seeing it happen with the next Chinese New Year around the corner.
On January 30 2010, 8 cats were abandoned in their filthy, rusty cages. When community cat caregivers received the tip-off, only 2 very frightened cats remained. The rest had gone to hide in the drains. Our experience with home cats that have been abandoned is that they have very little chance of survival. Some stay put in their hiding spot refusing food until they waste completely away.
Cat caregivers are those who sterilise and manage their community cats and work closely with the Town Council to resolve cat-related issues. They are volunteers who give of their own time and resources to care for the welfare of community cats.
The current measures in addressing the problem of stray cat proliferation includes
Pet Cat Ownership
* Improving standards and practices of pet shops by the Agri-food & Veterinary Authority (AVA)
* Education and awareness campaigns on responsible pet ownership by government agencies and animal welfare organisations
* Banning cats from public housing by the Housing & Development Board (HDB) (therefore pet cat abandonment is not a crime)
* Face-to-face mediation with cat owners, sterilisation assistance and rescue efforts by cat caregivers with the support of the Cat Welfare Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA)
Stray or Abandoned Cats
* Sterilisation of community cats by cat caregivers with the support of SPCA and the Cat Welfare Society. Approx. 4200 sterilised through the support of the Cat Welfare Society and SPCA in 2008.
* Boarding at overtaxed animal shelters in Singapore
* Surrendering of animals and destruction at the Society for the Prevention of the Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) – Approx. 4500 surrendered in 2008
* Impounding and destruction by the - AVA Approx. 3500 culled in 2008
And still we had to put down 8000 cats last year. An average of 10,000 cats has been put down every year for the last 10 years.
The current measures put the considerable burden of addressing the problem of irresponsible cat owners squarely on cat caregivers. They also offer irresponsible cat owners an easy way out by abandoning and surrendering without consequences. The number of cats destroyed is gradually coming down, but the burden on cat caregivers continue year after year. The decreasing numbers is also a testimony to their efforts.
Many cat owners are driven to keep cats to save them from the streets, pest control and abuse. The percentage of people with local cats picked from the streets far outweighs the ones with pedigrees. Not regulating ownership not only penalises responsible owners who help keep cats off our streets, it puts irresponsible owners out of reach of the long arm of enforcement. Currently, government action against cat owners is confined in large degree to eviction. The pet cats then often join the community cats on the street.
Addressing the problem of irresponsible supply and demand, breeding and abandoning of pets has to come from a direct and concerted effort by government agencies, animal welfare organisations and the community of concerned citizens and pet owners, through legislation and enforcement, awareness and education and community peer pressure.
It is our aim at the Cat Welfare Society to support this steadfast and devoted community. We are celebrating their labours, the spirit and their compassion at the Tiger Show.
More information about the event at www.catwelfare.org.