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What does it take to be the hero of the cat community?

Earlier this year, a cat was spotted at Bukit Merah with a cable tie around its testicles and a broken right leg.

For Laura Ann Meranda, 31, senior outreach manager with the Cat Welfare Society, this was one of the most serious cases of abuse that she had seen.

"It took us two days to find him before we managed to locate Smelly [the cat]. Without my team of mediators and volunteers, I would not have been able to do it…thankfully, he’s safe and well now," Laura said.

Smelly the cat was in such a rough shape
 "SMELLY" THE CAT WAS FOUND IN THIS STATE – WITH A BROKEN LEG AND A CABLE TIE ON HIS TESTICLES.

For Laura, this is one of the many abuse cases that she sees during the course of her job as an outreach manager or (as she prefers to be called) a mediator. She and two other mediators ensure the safety of cats in Singapore, and to help diffuse tense situations between humans and cats that might potentially lead to abuse.

In 2015, the Singapore Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) reported at least 600 cases of animal abuse from April to December, a sixth of which involved cats.

"I thought about the difference in how safe my pets are at home and how community animals always face the fear of being abused," Laura said, recounting the pivotal moment where she decided to become a mediator. 

She left her desk bound job of eight years to pursue her interest in helping the animals in Singapore. She even changed her diet to a plant-based one to further solidify her stance against animal cruelty.

Laura on her mediation runs with the cats
 LAURA GOES DOWN TO THE VARIOUS SITES DURING EMERGENCIES TO
ENSURE THE SAFETY OF THE CATS IN A DESPERATE SITUATION.

Laura's day consists of communicating with the eight town councils she works alongside to ensure the well-being of community cats, and also deals with some cases of hoarding of cats, or complaints about community cats by residents.

"There was once where we had to settle an argument between a lady who was keeping 50 cats in her house and the complaints of her neighbour, who said that her cats were causing a smell and annoying him," Laura said, recounting one incident she managed to resolve as a mediator.

Laura and her team educating youths about mediation
LAURA AT FERNVALE SECONDARY SCHOOL WHERE SHE HELPED TO RAISE AWARENESS
THROUGH ASSEMBLY TALKS ABOUT THE PLIGHT OF COMMUNITY CATS.
PHOTO CREDITS: CAT WELFARE SOCIETY'S FACEBOOK

Her love for cats goes beyond her job as a mediator. Even at a personal level, Laura takes it upon herself to help the cats that she has rescued by fostering them at home whilst they wait for people to take them in.

To cover the cost of taking care of these cats, Laura works a second job over the weekend doing administrative work at a tuition centre. Personal donors also help her to bear the costs of her labour of love in fostering these cats.

"When you find an abandoned cat, you can try to integrate it into the group of community cats… but when that doesn't work, you might need to take them in," Laura said.