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Warning: not all community cats liked to be touched, so approach them with caution. Read point No. 4 below. Images: Ng Kai (left) and Celine Poh

Take A Meow-ment To Find Out How To Help Your Community Cats

We see them strolling about, and darting here and there, and even hear their caterwauling from time to time. Community cats are a familiar presence in most of our neighbourhoods, but what can you do to help one?

To celebrate International Cat Day today (8 Aug), here are some ways you can do your part and be the purr-fect fur-friend to these felines.

1. Check if it has been sterilised

Tipping of a cat’s left ear will help you identify whether it has been sterilised or not. If it has not, you can book a slot through the Cat Welfare Society with the any of participating clinics such as Animal World Clinic (North), Monster Pet Vet (South), Ohana Vetcare (East), Vet for Pets (West) or Care Veterinary Clinic (Central). SPCA also offers free sterilisation for all cats. A full list of participating vet clinics can be found here.

The Stray Cat Sterilisation Programme (SCSP) is an initiative to help with stray cat management in a responsible and humane manner. This was co-funded by the Cat Welfare Society and the Agri-food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, with the support of Town Councils. This programme has been expanded to cover all cats in all HDB, industrial, private, and commercial estates.


2. Give it food and water

If you are unsure if the cat is being cared for, no harm asking around your neighbourhood uncles and aunties. If not, you could get some dry food and water and feed the cat daily at the same spot so that the cat will associate the location with food.

Don’t worry, feeding cats is not illegal but leaving litter behind is, and could result in complaints from the residents of that area. Worst-case scenario: complaints will lead to the removal of cats in the area, and they will then be sent to pounds. Always be responsible and clean up after yourself when feeding your community cats.

Click here to find out more about Responsible Cat Feeding.


3. Do not remove healthy community cats

Removing healthy community cats might cause other cats to come and occupy that area instead. It’s called the vacuum effect. Not only that, relocating healthy cats might put them in danger. This is because community cats have already created a bond with their outdoor environment, and they have made it their home.

If you try to removing one from its homes, it might try to find its way back by crossing busy streets or be exposed to predators, putting it in much more danger than if it were just lying around under an HDB block or roaming around familiar territory.

Relocate community cats only as a last resort and only if they are absolutely in imminent danger.


4. Approach cats correctly

Most of the time, community cats are as happy as can be, but there’s no harm in giving them some sayangs and affection from time to time. However, not all cats liked to be touched. So, in order to safely approach a cat, take note of the following:

  • Bend down and stretch out your hand and wait to see if the cat approaches you.
  • If the cat runs away, don’t be discouraged! Maybe the cat just isn’t feeling it today.
  • If it comes towards you, let it smell your fingers first because cats recognise people by scents.
  • Once they decide that they feel safe around you, they will rub their scent against your hand and ask for attention.
  • Just like that, voila! Best of friends! Gently stroke them for nice sayangs on their back, shoulders, neck, and top of the head.

As a precaution, avoid:

  • Touching cats on their paws, tail, or tummy area
  • Looking them straight in the eye
  • Carrying them
  • Playing dress up with them
  • Changing their mealtimes


5. Educate your neighbours

We all need to understand that the world is not dominated by humans alone. Animals deserve a place on this earth too, and we need to learn to live in harmony together. No one should ever have to resort to the inhumane killing of animals. We take a little, and give a little, and learn how to accommodate and live in peace together.

If you find yourself in a disagreement with regards to the feeding of your community cats, the Cat Welfare Society offers mediation services to help with disagreements.

Speak up when you see someone mistreating cats, keep a lookout for our beloved cats at night to ensure that they aren’t disturbed, share Responsible Cat Feeding methods on your social media accounts, and join forces with neighbourhood aunties and uncles who help feed and look after these cats.

After all, teamwork makes the dream work – for humans and cats alike.

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