The Straits Times : Finding purrfect cause in a stray

The Straits Times
By Fiona Low
5th March 2011

Tiong Bahru residents rally round to pay their favourite feline's vet bills

Books Actually has set up a donation box for Bob's veterinary bills and the vet has waived $8,000 of his fees. -- PHOTO: TERENCE YEUNG

A STRAY tabby, a familiar sight on the streets of Tiong Bahru in the last two years, has become a rallying point for the community there.

Bob, as the grey feline is known in Eng Hoon Street, has seen three vets and undergone four operations, running up $20,000 in veterinary bills. Residents and shop owners in the area are passing the hat around to pay these bills. Already, Dr Jean-Paul Ly, who performed the last two operations, has waived $8,000 of his surgical fees on hearing the cat is a stray.

With the rest of the medical bill still outstanding, Books Actually, the neighbourhood bookstore in Yong Siak Street, has set up a donation box. The kitty - no pun intended - now has $1,800.

Bob came to the area two years ago and started charming everyone. It began following design-school lecturer Terence Yeung, 40, and his wife home, and spending some nights with them.

Residents say the cat recognises people, and runs up excitedly to those it knows.

Human resources director Jean Fung, who is in her 40s, said: 'He's comfortable around people and friendly - not at all like your typical aloof stray cat. It's hard to explain, but he's very charismatic.'

Bob also likes following other residents around and right into their cars, just for a ride in the neighbourhood.

The feline went missing for a few days earlier this year, and when it showed up again, it had a gaping abdominal wound.

This was what started its medical problems. The vets Mr Yeung took it to at first treated it as a skin wound from a cat fight. But it did not heal. Subsequent visits to vets brought diagnoses ranging from bladder cancer to kidney failure, until Dr Ly found its bladder torn from its urethra.

Emergency surgery has since fixed that, but Bob is still in hospital, recovering.

Even Dr Ly sees the X-factor in the cat. He said: 'Every now and then, you find an animal so incredible. The whole hospital fell in love with him, we could not turn him away.'

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