Help for 50 felines left at Tanjong Pagar train station

By Rachel Chan

Few know this, but some 50 occupants still live inside the Tanjong Pagar Railway Station and other former Keretapi Tanah Melayu (KTM) premises nearby.

They are cats previously owned by railway workers and tenants, who left them behind when the Singapore Land Authority (SLA) sealed the station's entrance at midnight on June 30.

Most of them skulk in the nooks and crannies of the huge compound, deprived of human contact.

Thankfully, they have not been forgotten. A small band of cat feeders took notice of them and wrote to the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) last month.

The latter then asked the SLA for permission to re-enter the premises to look after the cats. Since then, two volunteers drive to the premises three times a week, armed with 3kg of cat food and several litres of bottled water each time.

It is no easy task. It takes 20 minutes to walk from the main gate to the feeding points within the station grounds, which is estimated to be 11/2 times the size of the Padang.

But the cat lovers want to do more for the felines' long-term welfare. CWS plans to sterilise 80 per cent of the cats, and re-home the kittens and the more sociable adult felines.

Volunteer Sandy Lim with a cat that will be neutered, and feeding a stray on the empty premises of Tanjong Pagar Railway Station.

On Tuesday night, CWS vice-president Veron Lau, accompanied by cat trapper Rebecca Ho and feeder Sandy Lim, captured 12 cats for sterilisation in the first mass-trapping exercise.

Ms Lim said: "I hope that the KTM cats can be given rehabilitation space to live out their lives in a no-culling zone, within the vast railway territory."

Yesterday, the SLA and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said in a joint statement that the two government agencies are working closely with CWS on "a permanent solution to re-house the cats".

They said that AVA "serves in an advisory role, in the discussion on the plan for the cats", and it "loans traps to CWS for it to trap cats for sterilisation".

They added: "We understand that CWS is helping to sterilise the cats and will be putting them up for adoption by cat lovers, and (is helping) to re-house the cats in proper shelters. We thank CWS for being proactive and helpful."

But not all the cats are suitable to be adopted or rehomed, said Ms Lau.

"People are often under the mistaken notion that strays would be better off in shelters. However, we have seen animals waste away in a matter of months, from depression and stress. Temperament must be taken into consideration - these are, after all, community cats and have been so for years," she said.

As for the sterilised cats, 11 of them will be rehabilitated in a holding area, which is an apartment in the former workers' quarters in Spooner Road - away from the track-removal works at the station. Rehabilitation is necessary to assess the cats' temperament and suitability for adoption, said Ms Lau.

Those interested in adopting a KTM cat can contact CWS via its website (www.catwelfare.org) or Facebook page. CWS will also be putting up some 10 kittens and adult cats for adoption at Pet Safari in VivoCity on Sept 4.


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