By Hoe Yeen Nie
Posted: 30 October 2011 1830 hrs
SINGAPORE: Authorities are looking into better ways of encouraging responsible cat ownership and are exploring a pilot project that may involve registering the animal.
Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K Shanmugam revealed this at the launch of a cat feeding station at his ward of Chong Pang in Nee Soon GRC.
Having a designated area for strays will help minimise disturbance and mess.
"It creates a mindset and you train the cats also to come to that place. It is a convenient area for feeding, it will be useful, and it's easier to clean up as well. Otherwise, you have people feeding cats at many different locations, and it becomes more troublesome," noted Mr Shanmugam.
The cat feeding station is located at Blk 115A, Yishun Ring Road.
A recent survey by the Cat Welfare Society showed that 85% of respondents were happy to keep sterilised strays in the estate, and that many would support a common feeding area.
But the Cat Welfare Society says managing the cat population needs to involve pet owners too.
It says pet cats are usually to blame for problems faced by residents, such as cat droppings.
Mr Shanmugam said he has had discussions with the National Development Ministry and animal groups on the pilot project in Chong Pang.
Besides registering their cats, owners may also be persuaded to have only one cat.
Channel NewsAsia understands the project could be launched as early as next month.
Mr Shanmugam said: "We do a pilot because it has not been done before, and this will help us understand the issues, how to do it properly. And if it's successful - and I don't see why it shouldn't be - it can be replicated elsewhere. So I was prepared to take the lead and put in the resources."
Responding to Channel NewsAsia, a spokesperson from the National Development Ministry said the pilot scheme is one of several suggestions that surfaced during public consultation on pet ownership and the management of strays, and that discussions are still on-going.
Veron Lau, vice-president of the Cat Welfare Society, said that such a project will "close the loop" on managing the cat population as current efforts are mainly targeted at sterilising and managing strays, and more needs to be done to tackle problems like pet abandonment.
Ms Lau said that responsible pet ownership will involve people keeping their cats indoors, sterilising and registering them. But limiting households to only one cat is not ideal, as animals require companionship.
"It's not the number of animals you have; it's how responsible you are as an owner," Ms Lau said, when asked if allowing more pets might result in greater disturbance.