Selangor Journal
Some of the stray cats that are placed at the Cat Park in Taman Tasik Cyberjaya, Sepang, on March 18, 2023. — Picture by FIKRI YUSOF/SELANGORKINI

Sepang stray cats living a charmed life

CYBERJAYA, April 12 — Life must have been tough for them when they lived in the streets and relied on kind humans to give them some food to get by.

The same spirit of benevolence has also transformed the fate of Sepang’s stray and feral cat population, which has found a place to call home—namely, Taman Kucing Cyberjaya or Cyberjaya Cat Park run by the Sepang Municipal Council (MPS). Here, they are fed and cared for while waiting to be adopted by their “fur-ever” families.

The park’s resident felines not only look healthy and cute but have also become chubby and affectionate, a far cry from their street days when they were skinny, covered in mange, and suffered from diarrhoea and haemorrhoids to the point of their intestines protruding through their anus. 

A peek through the wire mesh of the half-wall building housing the cats showed several of them lounging around. Among them were Oyen, who is overly friendly, its sister Nur Ain who loves to show off—she would sprint like a marathoner on a spinning wheel whenever visitors came—and Ais Krim, who enjoys climbing and sitting on trees for hours.

The brainchild of MPS president Datuk Abd Hamid Hussain, the cat park serves a dual purpose of ensuring public areas like food courts and hawker centres in the Sepang district are free of stray cats and caring for these animals.

TNA approach

Opened in March 2023, the 0.32-hectare Cyberjaya Cat Park is strategically nestled within Taman Tasik Cyberjaya here, becoming an attraction for people who come to the lake garden to jog or pursue recreational activities.

The Cyberjaya Cat Park, managed by the MPS Landscaping Department, has rescued about 100 stray cats so far, 75 of which have been adopted by the public.

According to the department’s director, Arefah Rahim, the park practices the TNA—trap, neuter, and adopt—approach, whereby the cats are handed over to people wishing to adopt them as pets after they have gone through the treatment and neutering process.

“This method ensures the cats we rescue don’t return to the streets. We screen the people who come to adopt them, and their data is recorded in the e-Cat system that we developed,” she said when met by Bernama.

Elaborating on the park’s operations, Arefah said the rescues undergo a two-week quarantine to ensure they don’t have diseases that could spread to other cats.

“For those with conditions like mange, we treat them first. Once they are okay and have been vaccinated and neutered, they will be moved to the main building (in the cat park) and put up for adoption.”

The cats are free to roam in the main building, which is equipped with fans to keep the felines cool. They also have kibble to munch all day and water to drink from a mini fountain.

“Once a week, we release the cats in the park area so that they can play… we do this on the advice of our veterinary officer,” she said, adding the animals would usually return to the building by themselves after a while.

“But there are one or two that love to climb trees and refuse to come down. It can be quite a hassle waiting for them to come down,” she added, laughing.     

Expert views

Arefah said MPS sought expert opinions on all aspects of cat care even before establishing the cat park—from the initial planning stage to the burial of cats that succumb to illnesses.

“The park’s design was developed by our park supervisor Munira Amuary after consulting with experts. We also appointed a panel of veterinary clinics to examine the cats twice a week,” she said, adding that veterinarians are on call day and night “because we want these cats to receive immediate treatment in case of emergencies.”

The food provided to the cats is also based on the experts’ recommendations.

Regarding the burial aspect, Arefah said the park uses the “culvert” method, where two culverts are placed vertically in a three-metre-deep hole.

“To prevent any virus or bacteria from spreading, the burial site is lined with chalk and charcoal before being filled with soil. This also helps prevent odour,” she said, adding that so far, only one of the cats rescued by them had died of leukaemia.

She also said the cat park employees are all cat lovers, which makes it easier for them to care for the animals.

She said in the initial stage of establishing the park, MPS staff were asked to apply if they wanted to work at the Cyberjaya Cat Park.

“We screened the applicants to ensure they are true cat lovers,” she said, adding that the park’s staff is headed by cat expert Muhammad Ramdzan Johari, who is assisted by Khairul Anuar Md Rashid.

“I say Ramdzan is an expert because he can identify cats that are pregnant, those that are sick and so on. In fact, his wife runs a cat grooming and hotel business,” said Arefah, who has three pet cats at home.

Park only takes in strays

To ensure MPS’ objectives are met, the Cyberjaya Cat Park only takes in stray cats rescued from public places.

“We don’t entertain people who want to hand over their cats to us. Earlier, some would leave their cats in front of our gate. There were also instances of people dumping their pets here at night.

“This issue forced us to put up warning signs that the area is monitored by closed-circuit cameras and offenders will be fined. Since then, there have been no cases of cats being dumped here,” she said.

The park can accommodate up to 300 cats at a time, but currently, it has only about 30 cats.

Regarding its operating costs, Arefah said the park requires around RM70,000 annually to cover its expenses for caring for the cats, feeding them, and treating them.

She said that MPS currently provides the allocation for the cat park, but contributions from the public are welcome.

“We’ve set up kiosks and also have QR codes to make it easier for the public to contribute, whether in the form of food or money.

“I notice the use of the QR code has been very helpful because the donations are increasing every month. Many of the donors could be people who come here (Taman Tasik Cyberjaya) to jog, but when they see a cat park, they stop to contribute, even if it’s just a few ringgit,” she said.

CSR programme 

Even though MPS currently bears the cat park’s operating costs, which may not be sustainable in the long term, the local authority is determined not to involve a third party in the effort, fearing it may lead to commercialisation.

“We know that as soon as a third party joins us, whether as a sponsor or patron, the commercial aspect will arise, which goes against our non-profit principles.

“Fortunately, each time we hold a programme, there are always organisations willing to contribute (to the cat park). Once, during an event, we received commitments amounting to RM70,000 in donations from corporate companies,” she added.

She also said MPS’ initiative has the full support of Tengku Permaisuri Hajah Norashikin, consort of the Sultan of Selangor, who is widely known as an animal lover.

“Tengku Permaisuri graciously inaugurated this park on March 18, 2023. In fact, someone wanted to adopt the cat Tengku Permaisuri was seen holding and even offered us RM10,000. But we decided not to hand over the cat, named Luna, to the person concerned,” she shared.

Arefah said MPS also participates in corporate social responsibility programmes and open-day events to raise public awareness about the cat park. 

“Over the past year, we participated in two such programmes, and each programme saw us bringing along 10 of our cats with us… we returned home with empty cages as all the cats were successfully placed with new owners,” she said. 

She added that MPS’ initiative has caught the attention of other local authorities, including Kuala Lumpur City Hall and Klang Royal City Council, which are also planning to embark on similar programmes.

So far, MPS has received visits from 11 agencies interested in undertaking similar projects and “I understand that some may involve property development companies”, she added.

Meanwhile, when asked about the cats that left a deep impact on him, Muhammad Ramdzan, 36, shared the story of a cat named Mak Tam who arrived at the cat park with a big permanent scar on the left side of its abdomen.

“The scar has no fur and was probably caused by contact with hot water or oil. Fortunately for this cat, someone saw its beauty and adopted it. Then we have Oyen, Nur Ai and Ci Ci, who were born in this park. Their mother is Daisy who has since been adopted. We also have Ais Krim, named so because it has three colours like some ice creams. This one is naughty and loves to climb trees. Once it managed to sneak out. We searched until night but couldn’t find it. The next morning, when I came to work, I saw Ais Krim waiting near the fence,” he said, laughing.

Muhammad Ramdzan, who has 17 cats at home, admitted to feeling anxious at times when handing over the cats to their new families.

“Once, there was this man who came to adopt a cat. He looked like a gangster, and I felt nervous about giving him one of our cats. But then, I realised I’ve to set aside such feelings, as we need people to adopt our cats so that we can create space for other stray cats out there,” he said.

Munira said that besides the Klang Valley, the cat park has also received adopters from other states, such as Penang and Melaka. They are charged an adoption fee of RM150, which covers the cost of vaccinating, deworming and neutering each cat.

The Cyberjaya Cat Park is open to the public every Wednesday and Sunday, as well as on public holidays. On Wednesdays, it is open from 9am to 11am; and 2pm to 4pm. On Sundays and public holidays, it is open from 9am to 11am; and 4pm to 6pm.

 

— Bernama

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