AVA looking into allegations that 18 cats were removed from St John's Island

A cat, said to be one of the 18 community cats removed from St John's Island, found abandoned near Sembawang beach on Sept 3, 2018.
A cat, said to be one of the 18 community cats removed from St John's Island, found abandoned near Sembawang beach on Sept 3, 2018.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/ST JOHN ISLAND'S CATS

SINGAPORE - The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is looking into allegations that 18 community cats have been removed from St John's Island.

The authority also urged members of the public with information on the cats to come forward.

The cats' apparent disappearance is understood to have happened about a week ago on Aug 26, said Ms Angela Ling, who set up the Facebook page St John's Island's Cats and is a regular caretaker of the cats.

Ms Ling, 41, who has been taking care of the stray cats on the island since 2014, told The Straits Times that a follower of the cats' Facebook page who had been fishing on the island told her that she saw a group of people armed with 18 carriers take the cats away.

They told the Facebook group follower that they were bringing the cats to the mainland for treatment.

But four of these cats were found on Monday (Sept 3), abandoned near Sembawang beach.

Ms Ling, who works in the service industry, was informed about three of the abandoned cats through a private message and recognised them when shown pictures of the cats.

She found one more cat after she rushed to the scene. Aside from the four cats, the remaining 14 cats lost are unaccounted for.

Ms Ling said the four cats she found showed some signs of dehydration. One appeared to be suffering from a gum issue and "clearly wasn't well-taken care of in the week it went missing", she said.

"I really don't know what their intent is," Ms Ling said of the people who took the cats away.

"These cats are very old strays so even if the people who took them have good intentions and want to rehome the cats, it's very difficult to find people willing to adopt the cats."

She reported the missing cats to AVA and plans to make a police report as well.

Ms Ling said St John's island used to have some 100 cats. Many domestic cats born on the island were left behind when former residents of the island moved out. As many of the cats were not sterilised then, the population of the cats increased.

Most of the cats, which Ms Ling said are old cats aged between eight and nine, have now been sterilised due to efforts by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.

She visits the island about once every two weeks. She helps to appeal for cat food for the felines and has engaged workers on the island to help with feeding them. She also brings the cats to veterinarians when they need medical treatment.

On the disappearance of the cats she has cared for over the past four years, she said: "Of course I'm very worried about the missing cats. I'm choosing to believe that whoever took them had good intentions. I just want to know that the cats are okay."