Cats of St John's Island

Cats of St John's Island
Some of the cats found on the island are pedigree cats.

Away from the hustle and bustle of Singapore, St John's Island looks like tranquil place for a quick getaway. Particularly, it is a paradise for cats who laze and lounge in the sun all day.

Just a short boat ride away from the Marina South Pier, the former quarantine area is home to about a hundred stray cats. In fact, the moment you alight at the island's jetty, you'll be greeted by a very special welcome committee.

There are about five to six cat colonies on St John's Island and this is just one of them. Razor is here with about 35 cats at the local mosque on the island, and as you can see, they're very friendly and very used to human contact.

But as cute as they can be, too much of a good thing can become a problem.

A few years ago, the overpopulation problem here was brought to the attention of the SPCA. The food shortage and malnutrition issues which arose from the population boom caused a bigger problem - the cats here were more vulnerable to widespread diseases. So, the SPCA started a mass sterilisation programme in 2011 to keep the population at bay.

Corrine Fong, executive director of SPCA said, "When we first came in 2011, the island was over run by unsterilised cats. The problem of unsterilised cats is that you will see a population boom. Population in itself is not the biggest issue, the biggest issue is the transmission of cat diseases and so forth."

"Then with the population boom, you will have cats who are the stronger ones will survive. The weak ones will have to fight for food scraps. And death may occur due to malnutrition and malnourishment and so forth. What we want to do is to maintain the population so that there is enough food source to go around."

"We came in with the proposition that we will do TNR, which is Trap, Neuter, Release. Day one we will come here and trap all the cats that we can. The will be housed in a makeshift pre-op area, un-fed. Because fed cats will not be able to do well under anaesthesia. Out of the 15 we wanted to trap, we trapped about 10. The only way we recognised the sterilised cats from the unsterilised ones is by the ear tip."

"This morning, second day, the vets came to the island at about 9.30, we started setting up shop at 10 o'clock and surgery's started already."

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