Cat Owner's Guide

Places to get a cat in Singapore

In Singapore, there are a variety of places where you can find your ideal pet cat. Below are some avenues where you can look for your new cat. Each of the places listed below has its own policies regarding getting a cat. While policies differ from place to place, what you as a potential cat owner should ensure is that the cats on sale or for adoption are treated and displayed in a humane and hygienic manner with proper vaccination documents (if required).

Animal shelters

Animal shelters where cats are available for adoptions are:

Please note that adoption fees charged by shelters typically cover the cost of initial care and veterinary procedures. An example would be the SPCA whereby the adoption fee covers mandatory sterilisation, vaccinations, microchipping and de-worming. Nevertheless, adopting a cat from a shelter is definitely cheaper than buying from a pet shop. What's more, by adopting, you are giving a second chance at life to an abandoned animal. At times, purebreds are available at shelters for adoptions but generally most are of no specific breeds.

Registered specialty breeders

These are knowledgeable home breeders of specific breeds of cats. They are usually registered with either one or both of the cat clubs here:

Registered breeders with either of the cat clubs are supposed to be ethical in their breeding practices, maintaining high standards of breed conformity and have entered their cats in championship cat shows. Each breeder usually specialises in one or two specific breeds only. These breeders usually will find out your needs in obtaining a cat, talk to you to assess your knowledge of cat care and to find out if your living environment is suitable. It is also advisable for you to visit their home where the queen (the mother cat) and the stud (the father cat) resides. Sometimes, the queen and the stud may belong to different breeders. They will usually quote you a price for a cat (usually a kitten). They will also normally follow up with you after you have the cat to see if everything is alright. If your cat breeder cannot prove to you that his or her cat has competed in championship cat shows, or that he or she seems like just a run-of-the-mill amateur home breeder, or someone who is just waiting for you to part with your wallet, then do not proceed further.

The best place to find reputable registered cat breeders is at a championship cat show. Most cat shows these days have "ambassadors" stationed at a counter to help the uninitiated better understand about cat breeds and cat showing. Talk to these ambassadors to find out more. Cat breeders who advertise in the newspapers may not be genuine ethical registered breeders. Reputable registered cat breeders also do not normally breed cats for sale at pet shops.

Ads from pet owners

Cat owners who have mated their cats produce litters of kittens which they try to sell away. Oftentimes, they would advertise in online or print classifieds, or they would post notices on online forums or noticeboards at supermarkets or condomium clubhouses, etc. Sometimes, these pet owners may advertise using the word "adoption" but upon further negotiation, it turns out more to be an outright sale. These pet owners apparently have not sterilised their cats and have even allowed them to mate. Do not encourage such irresponsible behaviour by buying kittens from them. The only exception whereby you can consider buying a kitten is when the pet owners have sterilised the parent cats after the litter was born in order to prevent future accidental mating. You may request to view the certificate of sterilisation in such cases.

Some other cat owners, due to their personal circumstances are selling their adult cats, while some others are selling or giving away cats that they have found. It is advisable to meet up with the cat owner at the place where the cat resides to see and interact with the cat before making any decision.

The Cat Welfare Society runs a public adoption board on their website where you can browse lots of cats that are genuinely available for adoptions.

Pet farms

Pet farms are usually large establishments in one of the rural (or rather, sub-urban) areas such as Pasir Ris Farmway, Lim Chu Kang or Kranji. Generally, they consist of 2 portions: a storefront and a larger unseen section where breeding animals are kept, although a few do not breed in-house but import the animals.

Storefonts are usually very presentable with display kennels of different breeds of cats and dogs for sale, as well as sales staff to assist if you need help. Prices are generally not cheap (they exist for profit-making just like any business) and the breed quality depends very much on how the breeding parents are chosen and how well they are cared for behind the scenes.

It has been reported by certain animal welfare organisations that at certain pet farms, unscrupulous breeding occurs behind the scenes and the cats (or dogs) that are used for breeding may be kept in appalling conditions, while they churn out litter after litter not unlike a production line. If you really have to buy from a pet farm, please request to view the kennels of the parent cats used for breeding if you feel the need to. If you are not allowed to view them, no matter what reason is given, it is wise to think twice (or thrice) before buying from them. If the animal is claimed to be imported, do ask to see the import documents and overseas breed certification, and make sure they are genuine. Check with the Singapore Kennel Club and search online for characteristics and pictures of the breed you are intending to buy before actually buying them from pet farms so that you are better able to ascertain the breed quality. Some of these pet farms may even supply pets to middlemen and/or to your friendly neighbourhood pet store, which makes it even harder for you to know whether the pet you are buying is from an ethical source or not.

After all that have been said, there may exists good pet farms around operating on ethical principles, but they are not common. Over the years, a perception has somehow arisen that being ethical and operating a pet farm just doesn't mix.

Pet shops

Not all pet shops sell pets. Only some display pets for sale, while some others feel it is not ethical to sell pets. Just like pet farms, pet shops sell pets to make a profit like any other business. Therefore, prices are not cheap, breed quality and pet health also needs to be carefully checked. Some pet shops have good hygiene and healthy pets for sale, while some other pet shops may not have hygienic display kennels. Let your common sense help you make the judgement. Most pets in pet shops are obtained from either local unregistered breeders (a.k.a. pet farms) or overseas breeders. Pet shops usually would not reveal the pet farm or unregistered breeder that the pet came from. Some animal welfare advocates advise against buying pets from a pet shop or a pet farm as it perpetuates the cycle of commercial and unethical breeding of pets, while many other pets are abandoned or put down.

If you do shop for pets in a pet stop, check all the pet kennels on display. If a skin problem can be spotted on a single dog/cat, or even if one kennel is unclean, it is not wise to buy from the pet shop as there is a chance that communicable diseases can be transmitted within animals in the same pet shop. However, there are many other diseases that can be contracted by your new pet before the sale, while appearing without any sign or symptom during the purchase. If you do buy from a pet shop and your new pet falls ill, seek veterinary advice immediately to ensure the disease is contracted before the sale, and then try to claim veterinary fees from the pet shop. Do not ever be persuaded into an exchange for another pet.

There are definitely pet shops out there selling pets ethically and honestly, in a clean envirvonment. However, the difficulty is in finding them as they are not common.