Uncle Ong, 70, who feeds 22 cats in Kallang daily the last 16 years, says he'll continue until he can't

Don't be lazy as a person, he said.

Belmont Lay | September 12, 2023, 08:47 PM



Uncle Ong, the 70-year-old bus driver who has been feeding cats in Kallang the last 16 years, rain or shine, is still going strong.

In fact, he is entering his 17th year, and doesn't plan to stop anytime soon.

Every day, without fail, he drives his bus to the Kallang area nightly to make the rounds feeding close to two dozen felines before washing the feeding areas down.

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Will continue driving bus for a few more years

However, he estimates he has less than three good years left working as a bus driver, which he has been doing so for three decades.

When he eventually retires and can no longer have access to his own transport, he said he shall take the public bus from his Hougang home to Kallang to continue feeding the cats daily.

"Don't be a lazy person, must exercise," the wiry old man with a bit of a ruffian streak told me in a mix of Hokkien and English as I walked past him the 64th time or so during his usual cat-feeding rounds.

Asked previously why he likes feeding cats, he said people should just "do good".

We have since become acquainted as I cannot stop bumping into him and his hungry furry friends.

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A total of 22 cats in the Kallang industrial area rely on him for food daily.

Donations running out

In March 2023, a tiny plea for public donations was made to help Uncle Ong buy cat food.

This was after I found out at that time that the elderly man was spending more than S$400 out of his S$1,000-plus monthly salary solely buying cat food.

via Uncle Ong

He wasn't getting help from anyone to shoulder this financial burden, other than receiving occasional donations in kind from people who offer him cat food.

S$400 or more was a huge proportion of his already meagre salary to have to go to feeding meow meows, albeit grateful ones, I thought.

S$3,000 or so donated for cat food

Six months ago, I liaised with S&S Pet's Shop, the pet food shop at Block 462 Tampines Street 44 that Uncle Ong frequents.

The owner agreed to put up a donation tab for the public to buy cat food on Uncle Ong's behalf.

via Serene Low

Within a week or so in late March 2023, the public responded: More than S$3,000 was donated.

The downside? S$3,000 was only enough for six months' worth of wet and dry cat food, largely due to the sheer number of cats that Uncle Ong feeds on a daily basis.

Cat food sent to Uncle Ong's Hougang flat in batches

Moreover, with global inflation, prices of pet food are going up by 5 to 10 per cent, according to the pet shop.

Feed cats in Defu, Hougang

As it turns out, I then found out that Uncle Ong has been feeding close to a dozen other cats in Hougang and Defu beside the ones in Kallang.

That is easily 30 cats he feeds in a day.

Even more intrigued by his routine, I went to the other industrial estate in Defu — near Uncle Ong's Hougang residence — to catch a glimpse of his community cat-feeding first-hand.

Similar to the cats of Kallang, the cats in Defu adore him.

They'd wait for him to show up, run towards him with their tails up, and even flop over and expose their bellies.

They hated me though.

Word of thanks from Uncle Ong

With the public stepping up to shoulder the financial burden the last few months, it has been easier on Uncle Ong, by virtue of having more money for himself and his family.

The logistical issue of getting all that cat food to him was also solved, as Steven Chan, the owner of the pet food shop, had the supplies delivered to Uncle Ong's flat.

Despite doing this for years, regular feeding comes with its challenges for the elderly.

Uncle Ong did get injured once rather badly recently while feeding cats as he slipped and fell.

He hurt his back and legs.

Despite the fall, he soldiered on and continued with his routine with his back and knees bandaged.

Asked if he would like to address the donors who have helped him with no strings attached, Uncle Ong said in his usual mix of Hokkien and English:

Thank you to all the people who helped buy cat food for me.

I don't know how you all did it.

I have been doing this for 16 years, going to be 17 years.

I am 70 years old.

I will retire in less than three years.

And I will take the public bus every day with a trolley to Kallang to feed the cats.

As long as I can, I will feed.

Why do I do this?

Just do good lah.

Don't be a lazy person, must exercise.

I still exercise at my age.

Sometimes people see me, they help me.

They also say, "Uncle Ong, you very good."

What I'm doing is nothing great, you know, it's just feeding cats.

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Those who wish to help Uncle Ong, can purchase cat food for him via this link.

Donors who are keen to help by contributing smaller sums can contact S&S Pet's Shop at [email protected].

All media by Mothership