Two caged cats rescued from rental flat, skeletal remains of others found

Rescuers were notified when a neighbour posted in a Facebook group on June 5 seeking help. - Courtesy of Wati

SINGAPORE (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): Two emaciated cats, locked in a cage with the skeletal remains of three others, were rescued from a rental flat in Jalan Minyak, near Havelock Road, on Tuesday (June 6).

The two cats have been taken away by the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), a cluster of the National Parks Board (NParks), and are currently under its care.

Rescuers were notified when a neighbour posted in the Facebook group Sayang Our Singapore’s Community Cats on Monday, seeking help. The neighbour had also alerted the police, the AVS and the Housing Board.

An independent cat rescuer, who wanted to be known only as Wati, told The Straits Times she entered the flat on Tuesday afternoon with the police and officers from HDB after permission was granted by the tenant’s daughter.

“We also ascertained from her that the cats were hers,” said Wati.

“The cats were found in the kitchen, and they were caged. There was no way they could get out to forage for food or water.”

In a video Wati shared with ST, a voice off camera suggests that the cats have been abandoned for at least a month, judging by the state of the bones.

Said Wati: “I have seen many such cases (of neglect), especially in rental flats. The tenants abandon their cats in the flats and move out. Some because they cannot pay the rent, others because they are trying to hide from creditors or from the law.

“Most of these cats starve and by the time we find them, they are skin and bones.”

Responding to queries from ST, AVS group director Jessica Kwok confirmed that it received feedback about the cats “being allegedly left in a unit without proper care at Jalan Minyak”.

She said in an e-mail reply on Wednesday (June 7) that investigations are ongoing.

There have been two known cases of cats abandoned in HDB flats in the last five months.

On March 1, 13 cats and two rabbits were removed from a Sembawang Crescent rental flat by volunteers.

The tenant – to be evicted by March 31 according to a notice on the door of the unit – was believed to have abandoned the flat and the animals in it, for at least a week.

And in May, police forcibly entered a two-room flat in Ang Mo Kio Avenue 3 after neighbours complained about a foul smell emitting from the unit.

They found not only rubbish strewn all over in the filthy flat, but also several cats that had been abandoned.

“Today alone, I had to deal with three cases,” said Wati, who has been involved in cat rescues for more than 10 years.

“The first was in Jurong West, where a family was illegally breeding cats for sale. His cats were pure breed, long-haired ones. The Jalan Minyak case, my second, was the worst. This is the first time I’ve seen skeletal remains.”

Her third was dealing with tenants who had “25 cats... in a small rental flat” in Chinatown.

Wati called for stricter laws against those who neglect or abandon animals.

“This simply cannot continue,” she said. “The law against irresponsible owners who abandon their pets need to be harsh. It is presently too lenient. Leaving animals locked in cages without means of finding food or water is abuse.”

Those who abandon their pets can be charged under the Animals and Birds Act.

First-time offenders can be fined a maximum of $10,000, be jailed for up to 12 months, or both. However, about 95 per cent of cases that are reported to AVS are not substantiated.

AVS investigated 310 cases of pets being abandoned in 2022.

This was up from 225 in 2021, 251 in 2020 and 230 in 2019. The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals receives between 50 and 60 suspected cases of abandoned pets each year but has seen a rising trend in cases of suspected abandonment and the number of pets being abandoned.

Being a pet owner is a lifelong commitment, and owners must be responsible and provide appropriate care for the animals.

“Pet owners are reminded to fulfil the standard of care for their pets, ensuring the pet’s shelter is safe and providing suitable food and water regularly,” said AVS’ Kwok.

She added that the community, including pet owners and businesses, has a shared responsibility to safeguard animal health and welfare.

The public can alert AVS to any suspected cases of pet abandonment through its website at or call its Animal Response Centre on 1800-476-1600.

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Singapore , abandoned , cats , rescue


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