UPDATE: The Cat Welfare Society has commented on its efforts to neuter the community cats at Singapore Turf Club.
SINGAPORE - The Singapore Turf Club (STC) is set to close by October 2024, before its return to the government in March 2027.
Beyond the employees and the race horses, there's another group which faces an uncertain future — the over hundred cats that live on the grounds in Kranji
Jerlyn Seow, the STC's only female apprentice jockey, shared with Yahoo Southeast Asia that the felines live and roam freely in the 124-hectare space.
"The cats are very well loved by everyone here. We treat them like our own cats. There are 20 over cats in some stables, with other stables having one or two, and some with five to six cats."
"We always feed the cats when we go to work at around 5 or 6am and after work at around 4pm in the afternoon," she shared.
Seow suggested there could be between twenty to up to a hundred staff members who feed and interact with the cats on a daily basis.
They consist of trainers, B-trainers (otherwise known as assistant trainers), riders, stable groomers and stable superiors.
She also shared that the cats usually roam around the stables, and not in close proximity with the horses, due to differences in size and to avoid getting injured.
They are mostly fed kibble and canned food, she said, though out of a prey instinct, some of them would catch pigeons and rats. Some of the community felines have names such as 'Jackie' and 'Tiger', while others remain nameless.
The Cat Welfare Society (CWS) is aware of the community cats within the stables that are cared for by various individuals at STC. They have been providing assistance with sterilisation of the cats around the vicinity for several years now, although efforts were hampered due to accessibility issues and during the COVID-19 period.
Future hopes for the community cats
With plans to redevelop the racecourse into public housing, Seow suggested that legalising cat ownership in HDB flats might help to encourage public adoption of the community cats.
The 29-year-old expressed a desire to bring some of the cats home herself, but is unable to do so as she is already the proud owner of six cats.
"I just really hope they find their forever home. If people adopt some of these cats who can be a bit shy, I hope they mesh up their windows. The cats may have a tendency to run outdoors since they have been living outdoors throughout their life and might not have seen a window before."
She also expressed concerns over the need to clip the cats' claws should they be adopted, and whether the cats might be comfortable undergoing nail trimming.
When asked about the general consensus and emotional state of workers after news of STC closing down broke, Seow said that most employees are still grappling with coming to terms with the news.
"We are left in shock and disbelief. Most of the workers here are Malaysian and locals from the Bukit Timah era more than a decade ago. They have worked here for over thirty years and that's all they know - working together with the horses."
CWS said that they will be happy to work with the STC management, National Parks Board and other stakeholders to plan and execute a comprehensive "trap-neuter-return-manage" plan within the premises.
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