SINGAPORE: It has been a taxing time for avid cat lover Mdm Tan Hwee Khiang after two of her animals were relocated by Marine Parade Town Council (MPTC) to Harbourfront without her knowledge, with one of them - Ben Ben - subsequently found dead.
“I fell apart. When I first discovered they were missing, I immediately searched from the first to (the) 16th floor again and again,” Mdm Tan told Channel NewsAsia on Thursday (Mar 28).
Earlier, MPTC apologised after two members of staff carried out the relocation: "We wish to apologise on behalf of our staff who (have) made the misjudgement of relocating the two cats that were found roaming in the block."
MPTC also said it has received more than 45 reports from residents since 2016 about cats in the area causing a nuisance.
"The cats, around 15 of them, were left roaming freely within the block, causing disamenities and hygiene issues such as cats defecating/urinating, fur shedding, caterwauling, etc, at the common corridor, staircases and lift lobbies," said the town council.
"The cat-related nuisances were reported from most levels of the block and the surrounding blocks too."
After Ben Ben was found dead, his body was returned to Mdm Tan.
“When I first received Ben Ben’s corpse, I was in denial and so heartbroken, because he’s been with me for four to five years, and I just wanted to keep him for one more night. It hurts me so much when I had to cremate him,” said an emotional Mdm Tan.
The 58-year-old has been caring for cats since she moved to the Marine Parade area nearly 15 years ago - and she said that she treats them like her children.
“All of my cats are rescued. There are some with three legs only, previous skin infections and also those given to me by moving families,” she said.
“Whether it’s my own, other households’ or cats from the streets, I treat them like my children. The neighbours will usually call me if there are any cat-related problems around. I’ll be the first down to the scene.”
Despite the reports about her cats being a nuisance, Mdm Tan insisted that they mean no harm to other residents: “I’m aware of the complaints. But as for the cleanliness of my cats, I always assure that they are clean. Because there are frequent checks by AVA and HDB, and they are fine with it.”
During the interview, Channel NewsAsia observed that Mdm Tan’s house was clean and tidy, with no cat odour.
As part of her daily routine, Mdm Tan also cares for other people's cats, and doesn’t mind cleaning up after them.
“I take care (of) my own cats and I do put in the effort. On certain floors, I have placed sandboxes along the stairways and I clean them every day, even though other cats use them too. But I don’t mind cleaning it up,” added Mdm Tan.
Mdm Tan hopes that she will be able to find Leng Leng, the other relocated cat which is still thought to be in the Harbourfront area.
“I miss her very much and I’ll continue to go down to Harbourfront to search for my Leng Leng,” said a hopeful Mdm Tan.