SINGAPORE - Sixteen cats were found left in cages in Punggol on Friday (March 1), apparently abandoned by their owner or breeder.
The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Saturday that it is investigating the incident after receiving feedback about 16 cats left in cages at Block 222A Sumang Lane in Punggol.
An AVA spokesman said: "The cats are healthy and are now under the care of AVA. We will work on rehoming the cats."
Images of the cats cramped in cages were uploaded onto a private Facebook group on Friday, before being quickly shared in public Facebook group Sayang Our Singapore's Community Cats, where it sparked an outcry.
Online netizens were angered by the cruelty of the owner for abandoning the cats, and many hoped that the cats would be rescued and rehomed.
Cat rescue group Carpurrdiem also posted on its Facebook page on Friday evening about the incident, highlighting the issue of backyard breeding.
"Backyard breeding occurs when people buy cats, and humans take the opportunity by making cats mate so they can sell them for profit," said Mr Nick Lim, 31, one of a group of friends who set up Carpurrdiem.
The public servant told The Straits Times that there were two likely reasons that the cats were abandoned.
The cats could have been unwanted and hence abandoned by their owners, meaning they used to have homes, or they could have been thrown away by breeders, said Mr Lim.
Mr Lim said he and Carpurrdiem are quite active in helping out with cat fostering and adoption in Punggol, especially after stray dogs attacked community cats in the area recently.
He had been notified about the 16 cats by others, but was unable to head to the site as he was at work.
"Someone called the authorities and they were very fast (in coming to take the cats away), probably because 16 is quite a big number," said Mr Lim.
The cats will be kept with AVA unless someone pays bail to have the cats taken out, added Mr Lim.
"The irony of life is that we are paying to save lives, but the people who threw the cats away get away with it," said the cat rescuer.
The group, as well as other cat rescuers not with Carpurrdiem, are looking for people who are able to foster them, he added.
He said that on Friday evening, he was told that another four cats had been found in two cages, also in Punggol. They are likely to belong to a backyard breeder, he said.
A post on Facebook group Sayang Our Singapore's Community Cats on Saturday night said that another five or more cats had escaped from cages at Block 326C Sumang Walk in Punggol and were still missing.
Mr Lim said that he regularly comes across incidents of cat abandonment or cat cruelty.
Two years ago, he and his wife, as well as several friends, set up Carpurrdiem, in order to create a network of like-minded people who would be able to help with cat rescuing.
He hopes that more action can be taken against backyard breeding.
"These kittens are separated from their mothers at a young age, and these mothers are 'prostituted' again for monetary gain. This is happening because we are not reinforcing enough to nab these breeders, and we, as common humans, want to buy our cats more than adopting," he said in a Facebook post.
Members of the public who have information can contact the AVA. Information provided would be kept in strict confidence.