[UPDATE: 17 Dec] Jonathan Tan, owner of Cuddles Cat Cafe has put the business up for sale. He apologised for the passing of seven cats and that he believes it would be better for a new owner to take over the cafe so the cats can be kept together.
Feline deaths occur three months after cafe’s opening
In mid September, we shared the announcement of Cuddles Cat Café’s opening at Scape, much to feline fans’ eagerness. However, this excitement was short lived as ex-employees alleged that 8 cats died under their care. The Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is looking into this matter and the lack of proper training for its staff, amidst other issues.
Cat lovers are devastated by the news:
The owner of the café, Mr Jonathan Tan, has confirmed the death of cats, but refused to reveal the exact number. He claimed they died after being sterilised or had feline infectious peritonitis. However, Dr Jeremy Lee, a veterinary surgeon, said cat deaths due to sterilisations are rare, although there might be complications. Feline infectious peritonitis, as a result of various strains of the virus feline coronavirus, is a viral disease of cats.
Poor staff training
The staff were not properly trained on how to handle cats. Instead, an ex-employee, KJ, said the “training” only consisted of Youtube videos, which showed how to shower cats.
Indifference about handling of cats
A blogger by the name of Ezza Jay wrote an open letter to Cuddles Cat Café on her blog, highlighting lack of care for the cats.
She pointed out that the cats were overfed.
Going back on my experience during my visit, if giving snacks twice within an hour was bad enough, these cats have no limit to their food intake.
The café has shelves stocked with cat toys, can foods, merchandise that can be purchased. I personally witnessed a customer buying a canned food to use as bait to attract her assumingly favorite cat of the lot to come near her.
Humans and animals have natural instinct to follow where the smell of delicious food comes from. Only exception, humans know when they are full. Animals do not. As long as there is food, they will eat it.
Seeing this shocks me because cats are supposed to be fed 3 times daily – breakfast, lunch, dinner or be fed adult “maintenance” food twice daily; depending on the advice your vet gives you. Anything more than that may cause obesity, which predispose them to risk of diabetes, arthritis or hepatatic lipidosis – fatty liver disease. (my vet will always emphasize on this during each visit.)
The café serves food too. I just happened to witness these two girls feeding the cat their Fish & Chips. I have no issues on them having food after all it is a café. If you have been to other cat cafes, you will notice that their space are all smaller as compared to Cuddles Cat Café. Which means the cats are being carefully watched so no one can fool around or feed them as they like. Cuddles Cat Café is the biggest cat café in Singapore. There are rooms for these cats to roam, customers to chill. But they can also feed these cats junks when no one is looking.
They were also allowed to be carried by customers, which should not be the case.
Evonne (Ezza’s friend) had an access to the staff room during her training day and she can’t help but to notice that there was a sick orange cat in a cage. She found out that the cat had spinal injury after a customer who had no knowledge of carrying a cat; dropped it accidentally.
Given the fact that an accident had left a cat injured and disabled, the thought of the café still allowing customers to manhandle their cats makes me sick.
Customers contracted with ringworm
Ringworm is contagious and spreads when one has skin-to-skin contact with an infected person or animal. A few customers reported cases of ringworm after paying a visit to the café.
“Our main priority was to find cats that would be friendly to humans as well as other cats,” said Mr Tan. “We hope that through our cat cafe, we’ll be able to build a larger cat-loving community and to create awareness against animal cruelty in Singapore.”
However, contrary to what Mr Tan said, it seems like the welfare of the cats were not taken into consideration.
It was also claimed that the owner of the cat café, Jonathan Tan, only hired girls with outstanding looks. No matter how impressive your resume is or how much experience you have with cats, if you’re below average, sorry you’re red carded.
Ezza Jay’s recalled that her friend Evonne got the job but she herself never heard back from the cafe:
I wont deny that my bb is beautiful inside and out, which came as no surprise when she got called first. During her training day, she interacted with the other friendly staffs and became curious to why I was not hired despite being able to fit all the requirements. They told her that the owner does not bother to look at your resume when you submit yours. The only thing he bothers – your looks.
Which means, my long-ass resume with my sharing of my personal experience of having cats in my house since I was young, my love for animals and how I fit the bill – were redundant. Which also means, the owner does not prioritize the wellbeing of the cats enough to hire staffs WITH experience. Apparently good looks = attract more customers = more money $$. Guess that wasn’t too hard to decode eh?
A photo of the Cuddles Crew:
Any true animal lovers would have set the cats as their main priority over the hiring of attractive girls to lure customers. Monetary profits appear to be Cuddles’ main motivation, rather than spreading awareness against animal cruelty.