SINGAPORE: The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) is investigating a "cat hoarding case" involving 94 cats that were kept in a three-room flat at Fernvale Link.
The Cat Welfare Society (CWS) told Channel NewsAsia on Tuesday (Jun 27) that it first learnt of the case through neighbour complaints to the Housing and Development Board (HDB) last week.
Along with volunteers from Saving the Siameses, a group consisting of rescuers who came forward to ensure the well-being of the cats, CWS conducted a rescue operation on Monday.
Live video posted on the Saving the Siameses Facebook page on Monday morning showed volunteers, some of them with masks and gloves, entering the home. The cats were all over the floor, furniture and boxes stacked along the perimeter of the flat.
"All of them are in dire straits. They reek of urine and poop. This is expected. Their bodies are stained with urine and caked-up poop stuck to their fur. In addition, there are many of them with wounds of pus, some with missing eyeballs, and a whole lot of them are having cat flu - mucus and all," the volunteer group said after the operation.
In response to Channel NewsAsia queries on Monday, AVA said it was aware of a cat hoarding case at Fernvale Link and "as there are alleged welfare issues, AVA is investigating". CWS also said in a Facebook post on Tuesday that it would provide the authorities "with the necessary reports to assist them".
CWS said that of the rescued cats, 61 are with Saving the Siameses, 18 with CWS and 15 are with vets.
"At first we anticipated 50 over cats but the final count was 94. That is sheer madness," the group said.
Mount Pleasant Vet Centre (Mandai) has extended sponsorship and assistance on veterinary costs to rescuers and CWS will provide free sterilisation for all of the rescued cats, it said.
However, the rescue costs will ultimately be borne by rescuers, it added.
According to CWS, this case is one of seven "extreme" cat hoarding situations this year alone that volunteers are actively handling.
Many of them started out by breeding cats but the situation spiralled out of control due to a lack of knowledge, the group said.
"We want to remind everyone that animals are NOT easy money," it wrote in the Facebook post, adding that it encouraged cat owners to sterilise their pet cats.
CWS executive director Laura Ann Meranda also made a point about mental health support for those who hoard cats, saying that such cases have happened "too many times".
"We seek assistance in that area while we deal with cat issues and even clean up ... Without it the Siamese (cat) hoarder will relapse," she told Channel NewsAsia.
The group has asked HDB and the Residents' Committees to link it up with the relevant authorities on this issue, she added.