SINGAPORE: The Ministry of National Development (MND) did not evict the owner of Singapore's first cat museum or stop her from keeping and fostering cats, it clarified on Thursday (Sep 7).
Ms Jessica Seet, who runs Lion City Kitty - The Cat Museum, Muses & Mansion, had said in a press release on Tuesday that she and her cats will be evicted after an enforcement order was sent to her from the authorities.
Lion City Kitty operates from three floors of a building at 8 Purvis Street, with the second floor approved for commercial use and the third and fourth floors approved for residential use.
According to the ministry, officers from the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) inspected the premises early this year.
They found that the third-storey residential unit had been illegally converted into a cat shelter and adoption centre, and visitors entering the unit had to first purchase a ticket at The Cat Museum on the second floor.
URA therefore issued an enforcement notice to stop the unauthorised use of the third-storey unit and have it converted back to residential use.
Ms Seet appealed against this decision but was rejected by MND, which gave her up to Sep 3 to comply with the order, according to a letter posted on Lion City Kitty's website.
The notice does not affect The Cat Museum on the second storey or restrict Ms Seet from keeping and fostering her cats in her own residential premises, MND said.
However, the landlord has decided not to renew the lease for the third and fourth floors of the shophouse, which means Ms Seet has to move out by the end of September. She claimed this was linked to the enforcement notice, while MND said in its statement that the two are not related.
MUSEUM LOOKING TO RELOCATE CATS
Lion City Kitty said it has no room for all its cats after MND rejected the museum's appeal to continue to allow visitors of The Cat Museum to meet and adopt "orphaned" cats on the third floor.
"As the museum will continue to operate from only one floor, volunteers are scrambling to get the orphans re-homed or relocated," it said in the release.
Lion City Kitty also said the checking of the tickets on the third floor was to ensure only visitors to the museum, and not all members of the public, were invited to meet and adopt the cats.
Furthermore, the third and fourth floors are the residence of Ms Seet and she did not collect money or adoption fees at her home, it added.
“While MND’s actions are extremely disappointing, this is not the end of The Cat Museum and we need the public to help us continue to save the strays of Singapore and end their suffering on the streets," Ms Seet said in the release.
Lion City Kitty stated that its plans were to find a new permanent home for the museum next year. As of Thursday evening, it has raised more than S$11,000 in a crowdfunding campaign for this purpose.
A CONTRACTUAL MATTER
MND said in the Facebook post on Thursday that the decision not to renew Ms Seet's lease was a contractual matter between the landlord and Ms Seet, and had nothing to do with URA's enforcement notice.
"We appreciate the good work being done by Ms Seet in caring for the stray cats. But this should not be done through illegal usage of residential space," the ministry stated.
It added that if Ms Seet needed help looking for alternative space for a cat shelter and adoption centre, the ministry would do its best to assist.
"We will also check to see if the landlord is prepared to give her more time, but that is a matter for the landlord to decide on," it said.