I’ve heard a lot of complaining about cats in Singapore, both first hand and second hand through friends. People seem to think they’re a nuisance and that they should all be gotten rid of.
Well, it’s true that cats can be noisy sometimes at night. They’re territorial and they like to fight. Sometimes they’re horny and they want to get laid. How can you fault them for that? It’s in their nature to do those things. It’s also true that they sometimes utilize cars as cat beds. I know from personal experience that it can be annoying to come out of the house in the morning and find a fresh set of cat tracks on the hood of a car. It doesn’t make me want to get rid of them. It certainly doesn’t make me want to do something cruel and insane like mass poisoning.
Instead of focusing on the things cats do that may annoy you, you should focus on what they do that’s good for Singapore!
First and foremost, cats are good pets. If you see a stray cat, instead of kicking it, take it home. It’s a bit costly up front, but once you get your cat used to being in your home, and fatten him or her up a bit, they’ll become lifelong companions. There’s nothing quite like having a warm cat on your lap while you watch a movie. There’s nothing quite like having all your cats waiting at the door for you because they recognize the way you walk and want to welcome you home. There’s nothing like waking up with a cat warming your head, or sleeping curled up next to you.
Every cat has its own unique personality. I never knew that before I had cats of my own.
Tangible Benefits From Cats in Singapore
Besides being great, or at least interesting, companions there are other reasons to respect cats. If you’re thinking that indoor cats are fine, but it’s the outdoor ones that are a nuisance, ask yourself this: Would you rather see stray cats or see a massive increase in huge rats in your neighborhood? Which do you think carries more disease? Heck, which carries more of the ‘gross’ factor?
Cats are natural mousers. Having cats around keeps down the rodent population. If it weren’t for cats, the rodents might overrun the neighborhoods and that would be bad, because I’ve seen rats in Singapore that were as big as a six month old cat. Also keep in mind that rats aren’t as tame as cats. The chances of your child being bitten by a cat on the playground are slim. The cat would generally run away from a human being. A rat on the other hand might be more prone to attack.
To illustrate I have some photos of a cat doing his work. I was lucky enough to see this guy cleaning up the 24 hour hawker in Pasir Ris the other night. This is in the bushes just in front of the air conditioned area of the hawker center, near where people typically park motorbikes and bicycles at night.
As you can see, cats do a good job of keeping things tidy.
A Better Option
If, however, you simply cannot stand having a lot of cats around, or think there are too many, there’s another option. Volunteer your time and money to safely and humanely treat the problem. Work with the SPCA or the Cat Welfare Society. Or, do something above and beyond. Every month, catch a cat (lure with food into a carrier) and take the cat to a vet to have it neutered or spayed. Then, care for it indoors for a week and put it back out. That will effectively reduce the cat population by potential dozens for every ‘fixed’ cat.
[Update: Just to make it clear, the pictures below are not of the same cats. The ‘bad’ pictures were taken from online news articles in Singapore. Images of similar looking cats were used to emphasize the fact that cats are cute, and shouldn’t be hurt. Thanks!]
Do Not beat up, maim, harrass, torture, or kill cats. That goes for dogs too, though it’s not so much of a problem here. Besides the fact that it’s just sick and wrong, there are stiff penalties in Singapore for that. Are cats really so horrible that you want to risk a 10,000 SGD fine and/or up to 1 year in prison? Use your head! Think of alternatives!
Or this (my cute kitties):