Friday, March 09, 2007

Active citizenry? Bring back cat-rehab scheme

Once in a while, we get to see a sensible letter on stray cat issues in the print edition of ST.

March 9, 2007

Active citizenry? Bring back cat-rehab scheme

MY WORK as a doctor in a home-care medical team takes me to many parts of the island.

In every estate, I chance up community cats with part of the left ear cut off surgically. This is called a tipped ear and symbolises not only that the cats have been sterilised but, more significantly, also that it is a result of the active citizenry the Government has been trying very hard to inculcate.

It is my impression that the number of tipped-ear community cats is increasing. This is a sign that there are those among us who, instead of complaining, believe so strongly in a cause that they are willing to spend time and their own money trapping community cats to take to the vets for sterilisation.

They strongly believe that killing 13,000 cats every year for more than 20 years - with no decrease in the cat population - is not in keeping with a society that strives also to be spiritually rich in compassion.

I hope the Government will keep this spirit of active citizenry going by reinstating the Stray Cat Rehabilitation Scheme that was terminated abruptly in 2003.

Dr Lou Ek Hee, head of the Animal Welfare Section at the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA), wrote in his article, 'Stray cat sterilisation project at Bukit Merah View' (published on the Singapore Veterinary Association website at

'Sterilisation and responsible management has the support of up to 96 per cent of the public. The majority of people want cats controlled but do not want them culled. They are happy to know that AVA's present approach to the stray-cat situation emphasises humane management and is targeted towards achieving long-term results.

'Sterilisation and responsible management is humane and helps to promote a kinder and more caring and gracious society.

'It promotes volunteerism and encourages both animal lovers and the people bothered by cats to be active in a constructive and self-help manner, working with the authorities to deal with the stray-cat situation.'

Instead of ceaselessly killing cats at the AVA, why not sterilise them? It will be more cost-effective in the long run.

Dr Tan Chek Wee

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