Woman with 20 cats told that they must go by Thursday

Woman with 20 cats told that they must go by Thursday

She is known as the Sembawang Cat Lady and she once kept up to 64 cats in her five-room HDB flat.

Her previously tastefully designed home is now in a state of disrepair after years of neglect.

The wooden cupboards of her kitchen are lined with claw scratches and her living room is almost bare. Her flat is in arrears for 42 months because she has not been working.

She lives alone because her two grown-up children are in Australia.

After moving into the resale flat at Admiralty Drive in 2006, Madam Rashida Begum's health deteriorated over the years from high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney problems.

The 58-year-old used to work in the food and beverage industry as a supervisor. She also had part-time stints as a pet-sitter. Her left foot was amputated last December as a result of a flesh-eating bug.

And now Madam Rashida realises that it is time to let some of her beloved cats go, for everyone's sake. She has about 20 cats living with her now.

She said: "Look at the state of my flat - no one wants to buy or rent it.

"It pains me to give my cats away, but I know they'll be better taken care of by someone who can give them one-on-one attention." Most of her cats are rescued strays, which were once either abandoned or abused.

Madam Rashida would make sure that each rescued cat is sterilised before bringing them home. But as the number of cats in her house grew, the situation became overwhelming for Madam Rashida, who is currently wheelchair-bound.

A group of friends set up Feline Friends of Singapore and stepped in to offer help in October last year.

Twenty of Madam Rashida's cats have been adopted, five are temporarily boarding in a shelter and 10 more adoptions are pending. The other cats require medical attention before they become suitable for adoption.

Madam Rashida hopes to spruce up her flat after the cats are adopted and rent out a room to solve her arrears problem. But time is running out for Madam Rashida and her cats.

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