For years, residents of Block 365 Yishun Ring Road have tolerated the stench emanating from the home of a cat hoarder on the fourth floor of the building.
To keep out the smell, some residents have kept their windows shut for at least 10 years, reported Chinese media Lianhe Zaobao (Zaobao).
Smell of cat urine and faeces
One neighbour on the seventh floor claimed that the stench of cat urine and faeces has been a permanent fixture at the block since 2007.
The smell has also driven another resident's daughter, a 42-year-old teacher, to move out of the home by herself.
A fifth floor neighbour, who is afraid of cats, said she was utterly terrified the two times that the cats have broken into her home on the fifth floor.
The neighbours said they have raised a complaint to the town council, but the situation has not improved.
Living room covered in cat pee stains
When the lift doors opened on the fourth floor, the Zaobao reporter who was visiting the block said they were overwhelmed by a horrible smell that made one nauseous.
The reporter followed the smell to the unit in question, where they could hear soft meows coming from behind the front door.
The resident, Hasmawati, told the reporter she keeps more than 50 cats in her four-room flat.
"More than 10 years ago, I brought home a cat that would always follow me on my way home. Not long after, I 'picked up' another cat, they started to breed, and my father-in-law gave me a few more to take care of around that time. I now keep at least 50 cats."
The reporter saw that the cats are kept in cages in the living room. Two or three cats can be found in each cage.
The floor of the living room was also covered in a yellow water stains, which is believed to be cat pee.
Concerted effort to rehome the cats
Louis Ng Kok Kwang, a member of Nee Soon GRC, told Zaobao a resident had informed him about this issue in May.
He said that the Cat Welfare Society (CWS) is assisting the owner in rehoming the cats.
Responding to Zaobao's queries, the Housing Development Board (HDB) and the National Parks Board (NParks) said HDB and the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) are working with CWS on the matter.
They shared that the living conditions of the over 50 cats in the residence were very poor. They added that they will work with other animal groups to neuter and rehome the cats after conducting health checks.
The Singapore Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) told Zaobao it is also working with the relevant authorities and CWS on this.
According to executive director Aarthi Sankar, SPCA's shelter is full and they require help from the community to relocate all the cats.
AsiaOne reported that around 30 cats were removed from the woman's house last week.
On Jul. 13, no cats were seen near the unit, the corridor was clean and there was no stench.
Legalise cat ownership in HDBs: Ng
When interviewed, Ng said that curbing the illegal breeding of cats in flats is only possible by legalising cat ownership in HDBs.
He explained that legalising cat ownership would put in place strict guidelines for responsible cat ownership such as implanting microchips which can prevent residents from carelessly adopting and abandoning cats.
Sankar also said that the ban on cat ownership in HDB flats should be lifted. Without the ban, the government can ensure that residents install meshes for windows and doors by penalising those who do not comply.
Thenuga Vijakumar, president of CWS, pointed out that the ban has not put a stop to cat ownership in HDB flats, and believes that the solution lies in having guidelines for responsible cat ownership instead.
Top images by Zaobao and Unsplash.