Stray cats get second chance

Taman Kucing in Taman Tasik Cyberjaya is 1,000sq metres of space for stray cats that have been neutered and given a medical check-up before being put up for adoption.

WHEN it comes to managing the growing stray cat population in urban areas, local authorities in Klang Valley generally tend to take a hands-off approach.

They rarely round them up as most councils do not have proper shelters to accommodate cats, much less a well-planned place where the felines can get care and attention while waiting to be adopted.

So, stray cats are usually turned over to animal shelters such as those run by PAWS Animal Welfare Society or non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

One local council is taking a different approach, by setting up a cat shelter -- the first in Klang Valley under a local authority -- where cats have a second chance at life.

Visitors playing with the cats in the large enclosure to help them decide whether they want to adopt the felines. — Photos: YAP CHEE HONG/The StarVisitors playing with the cats in the large enclosure to help them decide whether they want to adopt the felines. — Photos: YAP CHEE HONG/The Star

Sepang Municipal Council (MPSepang) has started a pioneer project called Taman Kucing, built on a 1,000sq metres space within Taman Tasik Cyberjaya.

The shelter, which has been operating since February, was officially launched on March 18 by Tengku Permaisuri of Selangor Tengku Permaisuri Norashikin.

Tengku Permaisuri Norashikin is the royal patron of the Stray Free Selangor campaign run by the Society For the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and has long advocated for better treatment of stray cats and dogs in Selangor.

Taman Kucing, which is currently home to 42 cats, is MPSepang’s initiative to change people’s mindset on managing stray animals.

MPSepang president Datuk Abd Hamid Hussain said the local council was keen to provide shelter for stray cats in the area.

In line with Cyberjaya being a modern and planned developed district, he said Taman Tasik Cyberjaya was picked for the shelter’s location.

The RM435,000 cost for building the shelter was borne by MP Sepang.

A handsome tabby up for adoption at Taman Kucing. There are currently 43 cats at the shelter.A handsome tabby up for adoption at Taman Kucing. There are currently 43 cats at the shelter.

There is a quarantine area for new arrivals, an office, a veterinary clinic and a large enclosure with cat trees for visitors to play with the cats that are up for adoption.

The grounds have anti-climb fencing for cats to roam freely.

“MPSepang is serious about handling the issue of stray cats,” said Abd Hamid.

“However, this cannot be done alone and we hope for cooperation from all parties.

“We have several strategies outlined for implementation, including appointment of part-time veterinarians to ensure the cats are healthy and neutered.

He said MPSepang would also be collaborating with animal welfare NGOs and groups as well as hold adoption programmes.

“Cats at the shelter can roam freely in the compound.

“There will be enough food and adequate measures are in place to protect them from injury and diseases.

“It will function as a transit home for stray cats until they are adopted,” he added.

The shelter, which is managed by MPSepang’s Landscape Department, has a maximum capacity of 300 cats.

Abd Hamid said the local council’s staff were rostered to manage the shelter, with at least three present every day.

The local council also has plans to instal closed-circuit television cameras to monitor the premises.

Abd Hamid hopes that the Taman Kucing initiative will have a positive impact on the community and highlight the importance of animal care, aside from intensifying efforts to conserve and reduce the number of strays.

“I encourage the involvement of corporate and other sectors to contribute to or assist in Taman Kucing operations,” he said.

He added that a corporate sector donations of RM100,000 was being used to run the shelter, including paying for food and subsidising medical care.

Selangor local government committee chairman Ng Sze Han, when contacted by StarMetro, said the cat shelter was a holistic way to tackle the problem of strays.

He said, however, the public played a big role in making the initiative a success and sustainable in the long run.

“The public should come, visit and support the Taman Kucing initiative.

“The set-up is beautiful. It is a great place to spend time with family.

Visiting veterinarians carry out neutering services and treat the cats when needed.Visiting veterinarians carry out neutering services and treat the cats when needed.

“If the demand or number of visitors increases, there will be more interest and support from the government and corporate sectors to take on projects to help sustain the shelter, under their corporate social responsibility programmes,” he added.

Ng said other local authorities were also planning to set up animal shelters similar to the Taman Kucing initiative.

“For instance, Subang Jaya City Council (MBSJ) has held several meetings to set up a dog shelter to house the increasing number of strays in Subang Jaya.

“We are making progress to ensure that we can reduce the stray population,” he said.

Abd Hamid said Taman Kucing had been well-received by the public, with over 30 visitors every Sunday since it started operations.

However, he warned the public against dumping or surrendering cats or kittens in the compound, adding that there had already been three cases of cat dumping thus far.

He emphasised that the shelter was only for cats brought in by local council staff, specifically from operations by MPSepang’s Health Department.

“Usually the cats are picked up during operations in areas such as markets and food courts, where hygiene and food safety are a priority.

“Leaving cats in such places will encourage breeding and result in more strays, creating a bigger problem for us to manage them,” he elaborated.

‘Lost souls, not pests’

When asked for their views, animal activists and welfare organisations praised the initiative by MPSepang in taking a more humane approach to managing strays and giving them a second chance at life.

SPCA Selangor chairman Christine Chin said the local council’s move showcased a more compassionate way of increasing awareness of homeless cats, as well as importance of the rehabilitation and adoption processes.

“Stray animals are lost souls and not ‘pests’, which they are currently categorised as by some local authorities.

“Let’s work towards a home for every soul, one step at a time,” she told StarMetro.

Furry Friends Farm president Myza Nordin commended the local council for building a cat shelter.

“Instead of putting the animal to sleep, they are given a second chance.

“And since the animals are neutered, the cycle stops there.

“It is a great effort and I hope MPSepang continues to maintain it,” she said.

Animal activist Joanne Low said she hoped the shelter would be a success and an example for other local authorities.

If managed well, she said the shelter could bring more awareness to the public on better management of stray animals.

“This is a one-stop centre for abandoned pets and stray cats to have a second chance at life, which is a positive move,” said Low.

Taman Kucing is open to the public every Sunday 8.30am to 11.30am and 4pm to 6.30pm.

Only 20 people are allowed to enter at any one time.

Visitors are allowed to bring along their own cats to play in the compound.

Visitors with cat allergies, who are feeling unwell or that have had cats with sporotrichosis -- a fungal disease -- will not be allowed to enter the premises.

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