CWS administers two sterilisation programmes in Singapore – a pet cat sterilisation programme for financially disadvantaged families; and the community cat sterilisation programme.
CWS aims to manage the overall population of cats in Singapore in a humane way, so that there will be more resources for the remaining cats.
THE PET CAT STERILISATION PROGRAMME FOR FINANCIALLY DISADVANTAGED FAMILIES (“PCSP”)
Throughout the years, CWS has been helping families with financial difficulties sterilise their pet cats. These families were usually referred to us by feedback providers and engaged on an ad-hoc basis.
Since 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic wreaking havoc on many more families, CWS observed an upward trend in abandonment. It was immediately apparent to us that families were prioritising daily needs like food and transport over sterilisation costs. As a result, the number of cats within homes was increasing and families that were unable to rehome their cats were resorting to abandoning them.
To combat this head on, CWS launched the PCSP, a sterilisation programme for families facing financial difficulties. CWS assists the families with the full cost of sterilisation so that the population of cats within the home does not increase. The aim of the programme is to intervene early enough in families to allow them to stabilise the population of cats in their home and be responsible cat owners.
The programme aims to curb abandonment, which then shifts the burden of care of the cat to already beleaguered community cat caregivers.
At present, CWS helps sterilise approximately 250 pet cats each month from over 100 different families. The sheer volume and the number of discrete cases shows how important this scheme is for the welfare of pet cats and community cats in Singapore.
THE STRAY CAT STERILISATION PROGRAMME (“SCSP”)
Between 1998 and 2003, Singapore ran a stray cat sterilisation programme which was a humane method of population control under which a cat is neutered and no longer able to reproduce.
In 2003, the programme was scrapped allegedly because it was ineffective. Instead of sterilisation, the preferred mode of controlling the cat population became culling. This refers to a process by which cats are trapped to be put down, i.e. killed. This move was panned and criticised by animal welfare groups including CWS which then undertook to fund sterilisations on its own through donations.
Several years later, in 2007, an attempt to re-introduce the sterilisation programme failed because town councils did not want to take on the task of managing the cat population. In the absence of governmental assistance, the task fell to non-governmental organisations like CWS.
CWS created a team of volunteers to liaise with veterinary clinics and caregivers for sterilisation of community cats and partially funded these sterilisations through donations. Concurrently, CWS advocated for the re-introduction of the formal sterilisation programme and continued to devote resources for sterilisations.
CWS was successful in its efforts.
In 2014, the stray cat sterilisation programme was formally re-introduced and its scope was to sterilise cats in residential areas. This programme was expanded to include all areas of Singapore a few years later.
The present programme covers the sterilisation of community cats in all areas of Singapore, be they residential, industrial or commercial areas. Under the programme, the National Parks Board pays for 50% of the cost of sterilisation of cats, up to a maximum of $30 for male cats and $60 for female cats, and the cost of microchipping, up to $20. CWS pays for the balance through donations.
CWS firmly believes in the sterilisation programme as the only humane means of managing the cat population and will continue to dedicate the bulk of its resources to this programme.
THE TRAP-NEUTER-RETURN-MANAGE PROGRAMME
CWS advocates a four-step sterilisation programme. Internationally known as the Trap-Neuter-Return-Manage (“TNRM”) programme, it is a highly effective, efficient and humane method of population control and management. The procedure is conducted by a certified veterinarian.
You can book an appointment with one of CWS’ partner vets here.
The first step is trapping. This is a process by which a cat is secured within a cat carrier/cage to be transported to the vet for neutering.
A friendly cat may be easily coaxed into a carrier to be transporter for neutering. Skittish and feral cats will require professional trapping equipment and expertise. You may wish to contact one of the following trappers for their services here.
Once the cat is trapped, it should be fasted overnight and brought to the vet on the morning of the appointment. The vet will conduct the surgery in the course of the day. Please note that the usual risks of surgery.
Once the surgery is completed, the cat must be allowed to rest for a few days prior to its release. We recommend that male cats be rested for a minimum of 2 days to allow their wound to heal and female cats should be rested for a minimum of 3 days (more if they were found to have been in heat or with any underlying womb condition such as pyometra) before release.
The sterilised cat should be released back to the exact location it was caught and at the same time as it was trapped. This will reduce the risk of disorientation and allow the cat to adapt back to its environment most quickly.
Community cats should be responsibly managed by caregivers. Read more about responsible caregiving.
If you spot new, unsterilized cats, please contact us for assistance with sterilisation at firstname.lastname@example.org.
All images from Sam @thecameragarage
THE SUCCESS OF THE TNRM PROGRAMME
The TNRM programme has been extremely successful. As can be seen in the graphs below, the continuous sterilisation works have resulted in a reduction in the culling rate in Singapore.