Wednesday, 17 November 2010


It has been -  for most of the time - a difficult two weeks.

Three days ago, our Peranakan friend Mary  finally received the letter from the HDB (Singapore's Housing and Development Board) informing her that she had to remove all her cats from her flat in 10 days' time.  Before I continue please refrain from any thoughts like "She should have known better especially with the HDB's regulations about pets."  or  "Why so many?"

Mary is not just keeping 39 pets.  She has been running a private sanctuary for cats in her own home in an HDB flat for nearly 10 years.  She picked them up from the market and hawker centres and  bus stands, in the drains and rubbish bins.  Some of the kittens were found next to a mother that had been run over by a car.  Some were abandoned on the void decks crying with hunger.  Several were just left at Mary's front door!  For every cat there is a sad story and dear Mary gave them a safe happy home.

 She  gets no support from anyone or any charity.  Her son Jeff and daughter Lely provided all the financial backing.  Jeff works in Hong Kong and he gives his mother a hefty chunk of his salary each month.  Lely is no high-flyer earner and parts with about one-third of her wages to support Mary and the cats.

 And by the way, when Mary was a young single mother looking after Lely in the 1960s, she  worked washing clothes in several private  houses.  Which explains why she suffers from very painful arthritis in her feet - year after year, they had been soaked in water for hours every day while she worked.  Today they call that an occupational hazard. But that definition had no significance for Mary in those days.  She had to feed, clothe, and shelter herself, her aunt and her daughter all on her own.  Also her little tyke needed to go to school.  Lely can still recall how she could watch TV only through her neighbour's window.

Those cats are much loved and cared for.  Mary's fridge is full of medicine and vitamins for the cats and her vets' bills are quite astronomical for she doesn't  stint on their welfare and health. Because of  Mary's health and the number of cats, Mary has a maid to help her out.  As a result  the flat and the cats are kept absolutely clean. No cat smell permeates  the flat.   In fact, if you pass by her windows you won't be able to tell that there are such quiet, lovely, happy creatures  in this cat sanctuary.  Everytime we go to Singapore we never miss a visit to Mary and her cats.

All this began when  an HDB officer descended on Mary's flat two weeks ago to check on a complaint made by  a  heartless two-legged creature about Mary's Cat Sanctuary. And from then on the heartbreaking decisions had to be made.

There are 4 to 5 of these cats who are critically ill and need constant care.  One suffers from Aids and Mary lovingly keeps it healthy in a separate cage.  For Mary and Lely, the thought of putting them all to sleep is just too cruel.  They searched high and low for cat shelters but most of them were chocka-block full.  Sweet Ruqxana was happy to adopt  two of them although she already had five of her own - all unwanted cats.

Finally a lady who ran a cat shelter in Pasir Ris felt so sorry for Mary and gave her two rooms  for the cats at a rent of SGD750 per month.  Also she very much appreciated Mary's and Lely's  help and support for her animal shelter in the past.

This coming weekend Mary and Lely will carry out the distressing task of moving Mary's beloved cats.

This has been a very painful posting for me to write - about heartache and KORBAN on Hari Raya Aidil Adha. 


Kama At-Tarawis said...

Oooh... this is such distressing news indeed. I used to have 25 cats under my roof once upon a time, all rescued as Mary's were. Da** the heartless creature who reported Mary to the authorities! Tell her not to lose heart; God bless her..

anak si-hamid said...

Thank you very much Putri Kama.

I shall pass on your message to Mary.

And God bless you 25 times and more.

Anonymous said...

Aunty Maznoor,
You have to watch this documentary by BBC 'Mad Cats and Englishwomen' ( about women who took upon themselves to provide homes for unwanted cats in London.

Siti Roffini said...

I strongly believe that people who show kindness to animals will be rewarded by God Almighty and those who are cruel to them will be punished. I see no reason why that person had to complain when Mary had everything neat and clean. Some people are just plain heartless. I pray Mary and the cats will be happier in their new home.

anak si-hamid said...

From Aunty Maznoor to Anonymous,

Thank you for being here and for the link.

I shall certainly look it up. But sometimes these cat "Aunties' are regarded as eccentrics.

I will not mind being an eccentric!

anak si-hamid said...

Dear Siti Roffini,

Thank you. Your kind words and thoughts shall give Mary and Lely some comfort.

It is a cruel world. As we become more 'modern' and well-off we turn into selfish and uncaring people.

Raden Rohaya Lopez said...

I totally agree with Putri Kama about that heartless person who complaint about the cats! How can they not love these adorable creature...sigh!
Thank you to that lady who is willing to rent 2 rooms to Aunty and Lely so that their cats can have a home (home away from home)
Next time I'm in Singapore I will definitely help at the shelter.

anak si-hamid said...

Thank you Roy,

Just to inform you that tonight, Sunday, all of them have been moved to the Animal Shelter.