Cat cafes were all the rage until the deaths of seven kitties at Cuddles Cat Cafe made headlines. Cat Welfare Society's chief executive officer Joanne Ng shares her thoughts on the situation, and how cat lovers can do their part.
Singapore’s first cat cafe opened in late 2013, and within a year, four more had sprung up. The success of these establishments are testament to the therapeutic power of felines. However, in the wake of the cat deaths at Cuddles Cat Cafe, where the kitties allegedly died from mistreatment and negligence, many have voiced their concerns regarding how humane such businesses are.
Is the concept of a space where multiple felines and people co-exist in a social setting flawed?
Kitty at work
All businesses that include animals on the premises should do extensive research beforehand, while making the welfare of its animals their utmost priority . Cat cafes, in particular, should work with experts to determine factors such as the ideal setting and number of cats on the premises. Companies are expected to provide their employees with proper welfare, so likewise, the onus lies on cat cafes to ensure that they provide a comfortable living and “working” environment for the felines under their care.
In the interest of the cats’ wellbeing, cat cafe owners should also consider shorter visiting hours, breaks between operating hours, as well as off-days for the cats. After all, if humans are given these basic entitlements, why not “working” animals?
Just as how whistleblowers helped to bring to light wrongdoing at Cuddles Cat Cafe, patrons and cafe staff can help to “police” such establishments. Even anonymous tip-offs can go a long way in improving the lives of these kitties. By highlighting poor practices or mistreatment to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore, you can help to ensure that cat cafes maintain the high standards necessary for the wellbeing of our feline friends.
Basic requirements when running a cat cafe include providing quality food, grooming, and regular veterinary consultations on the health status of the cats. Needless to say, adequate staff supervision is essential to ensure that patrons adhere to the rules that are put in place to protect the felines. Ultimately, such practices will allow authorities to differentiate the good cafes from the bad ones.
For the full article by Joanne Ng, flip to Pet Talk in our February/ March 2015 issue.