SINGAPORE (THE NEW PAPER) - News that a familiar stray cat in Yishun had gone missing on Wednesday (Dec 2) evening threw cat feeders there into a tizzy.
Yet, it was not surprising. After all, someone had gone on a cat-killing spree over the last three months, with 13 stray cats found dead in the housing estate.
The fear for the felines’ safety has driven cat owners to keep their pets indoors, especially at night. Some cat feeders even take strays home and release them only in the morning.
A group of cat feeders now patrol the estate till as late as 4am to make sure that strays are not harmed.
“We know who it is. The man usually emerges after 2am to harm the cats. That’s when feeders finish feeding all the community cats under their care,” a resident and cat feeder, Ms Janet Sum, 53, told The New Paper on Wednesday.
The feeders believe that the deaths are caused by the same man because of the way the cats were killed — blunt force trauma on the spine or lower back, thrown from height or strangled.
The suspect was described as a man in his mid-30s who lives in Block 661.
Another cat feeder, who declined to be named for fear of reprisal from the man “since I do patrolling alone up till 3am”, described him as “a violent type”.
“We saw him approach a cat once with a knife in his hand and we called the police. When the police arrived, he had disposed of the knife and said he was playing with the cat. The police could do nothing,” she said.
WHERE THE DEAD CATS WERE FOUND
Nee Soon Member of Parliament Louis Ng, who is alarmed by the spate of cat deaths, said he wanted the man to be caught and dealt with.
“But catching him involves catching him red-handed and that is a difficult and uphill task,” he told TNP.
“Forensic investigations can only tell us how the animal died but not who did it. Fingerprints cannot be gathered from that.”
Mr Ng, who founded animal welfare group Acres, said there has to be active citizenry to help nab the man while he is carrying out the abuse.
“As the abused cats were found near open-air carparks, lift landings and void decks, we can engage residents who have in-car cameras and CCTV cameras outside their main doors,” he said.
“We want to list out where and when the bodies of the abused cats were found, so that people can remember if they were there and review footage of their CCTV or in-car cameras.”
Mr Ng said he has called for a meeting with the police and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) to find out what their investigations have turned up.
Cat Welfare Society president Thenuga Vijakumar told TNP that the track record for animal abuse investigations “has been very disappointing”.
She said: “While the community plays a part in coming forward with pertinent information, there is a lack of follow-through with investigations and prosecutions. It is time to apply the sophistication and dedication of police investigations to animal cruelty cases.”
The incident of the stray going missing on Wednesday evening happened just before the cat feeders were due to meet TNP to discuss their concerns.
The subsequent search for the feline had a happy ending — it was found unharmed — but animal lovers remain concerned that the cat killer will strike again.
TNP sent queries to AVA on Tuesday (Dec 1) but it did not reply by press time last night.
Appeal for witnesses
Thirteen cats have been killed in Yishun in about three months, with the latest death just three days ago.
The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) have turned to the Internet to appeal for witnesses to step forward with information on the killings.
Both organisations posted the appeal on their Facebook pages on Tuesday, after the 13th cat was found dead at the foot of Block 715, Yishun Street 71.
A community group called Yishun 326 Tabby cat, set up by four volunteers who rescue, rehome, sterilise and feed cats in Yishun, has also posted alerts on Facebook.
Under the Animals and Birds Act, anyone found guilty of cruelty to animals, including abandonment, can be jailed up to 18 months, fined up to $15,000, or both.
Anyone with information on the cat deaths in Yishun can call SPCA’s 24-hour hotline at 6287-5355 ext 9 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
They can also call the AVA hotline at 1800-476-1600 or write to www.ifaq.gov.sg/AVA/apps/feedback.aspx. Information provided will be kept strictly confidential.