Chong Pang cats get feeding spot

HER love for cats often triggers a backlash from fellow residents in Chong Pang.

Housewife Karen Low, 58, has been feeding stray cats in her estate since 2004, but though she cleans up after doing so, she gets scolded by neighbours who accuse her of creating a mess with leftover cat food.

Such misunderstandings can soon be avoided, thanks to a centralised cat-feeding station set up at the void deck of Block 115A in Yishun Ring Road.

"It's a convenient area for feeding...and it's easier to clean up as well. Otherwise, you have people feeding cats at many different locations and it becomes more troublesome," Minister for Foreign Affairs and Law K. Shanmugam said at the station's launch yesterday.

The station is the first in Singapore and was set up jointly by the Sembawang-Nee Soon Town Council, National Environment Agency, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Mutts and Mittens Foundation and Cat Welfare Society (CWS). About 40 such stations will be set up in the estate by the end of next month.

Under the pilot scheme, only caregivers registered with CWS will be allowed to feed stray cats at the station, and any leftover food must be cleared within two hours. If not, the caregiver will be fined for littering.

"This is good news for residents, because the neighbourhood won't be dirty," said Ms Low, who is a registered caregiver. "It's good for the cats, too, because they won't get a stomachache from accidentally eating food that has been left outside for a long time."

Mr Cohen Ng, director of Mutts and Mittens Foundation, said: "The feeders are taught how to correctly feed (the cats), instead of just throwing food around."

Mr Shanmugam praised the animal-welfare groups, and called them a good example of civic society.

CWS vice-president Veron Lau said the scheme will also be introduced under the Stray Cat Sterilisation Programme to estates in Tampines North, MacPherson and Ang Mo Kio.

The society had surveyed 2,523 households in Chong Pang on ways to manage the stray-cat population.

About 80 per cent of the respondents preferred a more humane method - such as sterilisation, rather than culling - of controlling the population.

And about 85 per cent of the respondents were supportive of having stray cats remain in the estate after sterilisation.

The Ministry of National Development (MND) is reviewing its policies on pet ownership and stray-animal management.

Housing Board (HDB) flat owners are currently not allowed to keep cats as pets in their units.

An MND spokesman said the ministry has received a suggestion for a pilot scheme on cat ownership in HDB flats, but added that things are at the ideas stage, with "discussions still ongoing".

shong@sph.com.sg


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