Guest post by Mariel Argonza.
Recently, a friend who was visiting Singapore remarked how stray cats here looked well-fed and surprisingly clean by ‘stray cat standards’. Colloquially known as “community cats”, I asserted that they are indeed well-fed and taken care of thanks to selfless cat guardians throughout the city-state, each having their own informal groups, routes and neighbourhood territories.
What’s more remarkable is that both locals and expats help make this organic and grassroots-level system work. Singapore cat guardians spend at least one hour a day feeding anywhere from 5 – 15 cats, all while juggling their own work and family commitments. While some often reach into their own pocket to buy cat food to feed the cats, others help by generously donating money or food every month.
Greenie chilling with his toy rat
I’m fortunate to have befriended a Finnish couple, who has devoted five years feeding, rehoming, spaying, and taking care of injured cats around our neighbourhood during their time in Singapore. They lovingly nursed a cat named Greenie back to full health, eventually adopting him and having him join them in Finland.
That said, the lives of most community cats are not without trouble. There’ve been reports of a cat serial killer and the occasional neighbour who’s not so happy about people feeding community cats. Worse still, some cat feeders have suffered verbal or physical abuse from some of these non-cat friendly neighbours.
Myuku (aka Kimmie), a community cat living in Mount Sophia. Fun fact: “Myuku” means “meow” in Finnish.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi,
“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”
Cat guardians in Singapore devote their time and resources – part of their life really – to these community cats, that have no means to repay them for their expenses on food and vet bills. The occasional rubs, ‘meow’s of acknowledgment, or that weird slinking-around-your-feet-thing that they do while you walk and not to step on them is probably their best and only way of expressing gratitude.
The author runs The Ailurophile Gazette, a blog for cat owners and their cats about cat care tips, news and resources.