What SPCA is doing about stray cats at East Coast Park

Straits Times Forum 22 Jan 09;

I REFER to letters on the issue of stray cats at East Coast Park and former Big Splash (Jan 16 and 20).

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is aware that there are a number of stray cats in the vicinity of East Coast Seafood Centre and the former Big Splash. It is unfortunate that the cats there are viewed as a threat, as our experience with these animals is that they are quite docile and may even approach humans for a pat or interaction. It is extremely rare for cats to 'charge', unless, for example, a mother cat is protecting her kittens from potential danger.

One has to consider the root cause of the problem of homeless stray animals existing in any location. For decades, cat populations have escalated due to pet abandonment. Unsterilised, the abandoned animals have multiplied. Cats breed prolifically - up to four times per year.

The SPCA has sponsored the cost of sterilisation of many cats in the area from carparks B to D. The left ear of each sterilised animal is tipped. For a number of years now, volunteers have fed and cared for these cats, and have taken responsibility for transporting them for sterilisation.

The SPCA acknowledges that there will be people who may be fearful or intolerant of strays, but we ask for a little empathy - to 'live and let live'.

The choice to have these cats sterilised so they can live out their lives without breeding is, in the SPCA's opinion, the more humane and effective way to ultimately reduce the stray population. Removing them all because they are perceived as a nuisance will not solve the problem because, wherever there is an abundant food source, abandoned pets and strays will converge. Taking away the sterilised cats from East Coast Park will ultimately result in new (unsterilised) cats taking their place. It will also mean the death sentence for the sterilised cats if they are rounded up by the authorities and culled.

The SPCA is liaising closely with the authorities and volunteers on this matter and steps will be taken to ensure that the cats are fed a distance away from the areas mentioned in Ms Serene Tan's letter. At the same time, we urge the public not to feed stray cats while eating at the restaurants as that would in turn encourage strays to frequent the area.

Deirdre Moss (Ms)
Executive Officer
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Managing cats in East Coast Park: Cat Welfare Society responds to letters
Straits Times 23 Jan 09;

I REFER to the letters by Mrs Serene Tan, 'Stray cats a pest at former Big Splash' (Jan 16), and Mr Noel Peck, 'Pests: Beware aggressive felines at seafood centre' (Jan 20).

Most cats may not 'look friendly', but few will attack a human unless provoked. There is therefore little reason to believe people are in any immediate danger of random cat attacks.

If the authorities act on these complaints, the Cat Welfare Society hopes other options will be considered. Culling cats is only a temporary fix which will have what is known as a 'vacuum effect'. This means that before long, new, unsterilised cats will move in from surrounding areas, causing the same annoyance as the previous ones.

A long-term and more humane solution to reducing the community cat population is a programme known as Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage (TNRM). This is a systematic programme of sterilising community cats and managing their colonies responsibly. Sterilised cats can be identified by a tipped left ear.

We wish to highlight the ongoing efforts of a volunteer group that has been involved in TNRM work at East Coast Park since October 2006. With support from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, this group has invested a significant amount of time and money in sterilising and controlling the community cats at the park. With time, the number of cats will decline due to natural attrition.

These volunteers also provide care to the cats. Members of the public should therefore not feel compelled to feed the cats, especially near food outlets. If members of the public want to join these volunteers in their caregiving work, they should get in touch with the society.

Not everyone views community cats with disdain. Many tourists and park users have commented that their visits to the park are made more enjoyable by the presence of 'feline friends'. The views of this group should surely be balanced against complaints about cats.

The ongoing TNRM efforts at East Coast Park are slowly but surely delivering benefits. We hope the active citizenry displayed by these volunteers and the organisations involved will be taken positively and their efforts will not be dampened by the sanctioned killing of cats.

Michelle Lee (Ms)
Cat Welfare Society

Pests: Beware aggressive felines at seafood centre
Straits Times Forum 20 Jan 09;

I REFER to last Friday's letter by Mrs Serene Tan, 'Stray cats a pest at former Big Splash'. Mrs Tan would probably have another big shock if she goes to East Coast Seafood Centre where, directly across the canal, I counted at least 16 stray cats roaming in the open field.

This happened on the very day Mrs Tan's letter appeared. As I approached, some of the cats charged at me.

Noel Peck

Teach kids to have some empathy for stray cats
Straits Times 20 Jan 09;

I REFER to Mrs Serene Tan's letter last Friday, 'Stray cats a pest at former Big Splash'.

While I respect Mrs Tan's sentiments, I was caught by surprise when she said her concerns need to be addressed immediately in view of the numerous children in the area.

In my opinion, this is a good chance for parents to educate their young children on teaching kindness and empathy towards our voiceless furry friends as they live in harsh conditions where they have to forage for food and the likelihood of being caught and put to sleep is high.

I hope Ms Tan's letter won't result in a massive culling of cats at Big Splash to ensure that only 'pleasant' creatures like birds and butterflies are allowed in the 'lush greenery and soothing ambience' at Vista Bistro.

Christina Kwan (Ms)

Stray cats a pest at former Big Splash
Straits Times 16 Jan 09;

Recently, my family and I visited East Coast Park and realised that the former Big Splash has been revamped into a lifestyle beachfront attraction that appealed greatly to my family and children.

However, I would like to raise a grave concern about the stray cat situation there. With so many children in the area, this needs to be addressed immediately.

My children and I were walking down the stairs to the second floor from the mini-golf area when we saw two fierce and hungry-looking cats in the passage. My five-year-old was very frightened as the cats did not look friendly.

My children walked back up to the third floor and eventually took the lift down to the ground floor.

My shock and dismay did not end there. We walked towards the beach, and were alarmed to see three cats loitering around the rubbish dump area, with litter all over the place. One was searching for food, and toppled one of the portable rubbish disposal bins.

As we walked along the perimeter, we chanced on an F&B establishment called Vista Bistro. We were impressed with the lush greenery and soothing ambience.

As we were enjoying our cocktails, we had another unwelcome surprise. We saw two stray cats skirting past our tables, engaged in a high-speed chase.

We were certainly not impressed with the ambience any more. We had expected birds and butterflies in a natural setting like this, and did not appreciate the extra feline activities.

Serene Tan (Mrs)