Some may have seen the article on a spat in a condominium about the eviction of community cats in the carpark. This was an extremely unusual case for many reasons some of which were:
- The cats in the condominium were pet cats left behind by a deceased past-owner of one of the units in the condominium
- The cats were cared for by the gardener, an employee of the condominium for many years with no incident
- There was no evidence of the cats having damaged the property of the feedback provider who had recently moved back into the condominium
- There had been a clear refusal on the part of the feedback provider to work out an amicable solution including refusal to attend the mediation session or even accept a different parking lot.
The Tribunal made certain findings of fact that we do not understand:
- They found that the community cats belonged to the gardener
- They found that the gardener, being an employee and not a resident of the condominium, was not owed the same level of obligations by the management committee as a resident
- As such, the community cats were directed to be evicted
It is clear that there are errors in this decision – there is a clear distinction between a community cat and a pet cat. A community cat lives in the community and is cared for individuals who spend personal time and resources to provide food and medical care for the cat. It does not have a fixed home or address and is subject to the elements, so it will necessarily move around to seek a feeding spot and shelter. A pet cat on the other hand belongs to one or more individuals who have a duty of care toward the cat. This is statutorily provided for in the Animal and Birds Act and the Code of Responsible Pet Ownership.
Conflating the two has led to a wrong decision.
What is even more upsetting about this case is that the meaning of a shared community has been entirely lost on the individual, who is part of a small minority, that refuses to accept that cats are a part of the Singapore landscape and community. Be these individuals the feedback provider in this case, the recalcitrant cat owners or the irresponsible feeders, they are an unfortunate and ugly side of our country. We look forward to a time where the whole of society will mature and accept our community animals.
For completeness – the decision was not appealed and the cats were subsequently rehomed by other residents of the condominium