Environment / Ethics/Rights / People

On one stray cat in Toa Payoh

This morning, as I looked out the window while eating a bowl of warm oats with banana and apple slices, my attention was drawn to a man holding something in his arms, 11 storeys below me. I wasn’t wearing my glasses then, so I thought it was a baby. Anyway, that isn’t the point. This man was acting suspiciously. He was standing by a bush, and peering into it. Then, he kicked it. He walked a little more forward and kicked the bush two more times before a white cat ran out of the bush with its head bowing low, a pose familiar with cats in fear.

It struck me as a cruel, mean and petty act. As the man walked away towards the adjacent block, like a boy who had his candy, I saw that the bundle he was holding was a white dog. How can a pet owner, a person who knows how to love an animal, be so mean to another animal? How can you practice favouritism like that?

And, I knew that stray cat. He is the one that I look forward to seeing each time I pass by the alley from my apartment to the underground station. He is the cat that offers comfort to many residents, including myself, because he is so tame and undemanding. He can just sit there, beside you, and be content. I’ve often seen weather-beaten old grandpas reading their newspapers with this cat sleeping by their side. Some pet and massage his fur, and the cat would just lie there willingly and happily. I knew the cat and I felt bad watching that scene.

Thankfully, I also know that most residents in this neighbourhood, especially this street, take care of its stray cats well. A fan of walking, I have walked around the area and saw how the cats lived. Cats on my street, Lorong 2, are plump with silky fur. Cats living on the other streets, however, are less fortunate. Skinny with bare patches of skin, these cats are pitiful. In comparison, the cats in my neighbourhood are indeed lucky. Most of us, except for this one man, love these cats and we derive pleasure in looking at them lying languidly on the seats or the floors. Cats who do that means that they trust us, they trust us enough to not mistreat them.

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