by Ma Yujie
SINGAPORE, Jan. 10 (Xinhua) -- Walking on the streets of Singapore, you can easily spot people from various ethnic groups -- Chinese, Malay, Indian -- and also another multi-ethnic group: the cats.
Cats from different parts of the world arrived in the city nation at different times and different circumstances.
Some came on ships with Singapore's forefathers from India and China, some traveled from Britain during the colonization period and others set foot on the island during the Japanese occupation.
The foreign cats that commingled with local ones brought forth what is now affectionately called the Lion City Kitty, the Singapore resident cats.
To pay tribute to the colorful history of cats, and also raise public concern over the welfare of cats and animals, the Lion City Kitty Cat Museum, which is believed to be the first of its kind in the world, opened to the public on Friday. The museum is located at Purvis Street, in the heart of Singapore's civic center.
The three-story museum introduces the history of cats around the world. Through visual aids, the museum also features poignant stories about the relationship between cats and human beings and their role in the community.
There is also a "Muses Gallery" which showcases cat stars on global social media and artistic works of international artists about feline beauties.
"Our mission is to change the community's mindset towards cats and other animals and to create an interest in our local kitties who, like us, are the descendants of their 'pawfathers'," said Jessica Seet, founder of the museum.
"We also want to inspire our local artistic community to create artworks around living cats in our premises, and find homes for the orphaned kitties, while working closely with the Cat Welfare Society in Singapore," Seet added.
The museum is opened to the public from Friday to Sunday.
Law and Foreign Affairs Minister K Shanmugam, who attended the museum's launching ceremony, said that conflicts between cat feeders and members of the public have escalated recently.
"It's important to show to the public that cats and humans can co-exist peacefully," he said.
Days earlier, residents near Sembawang filed a complaint, saying that they were concerned about hygiene issues related to discarded cat foods left by feeders. Feeders who take care of stray cats then wrote to the official in charge of the area, asking the cats to be spared from culling. In most cases, stray cats are being caught and sent to the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority.
Although the government said it would take consideration of both suggestions from Cat Welfare Society (CWS) and local residents, it again highlights the conflict between feeders of stray cats and residents.
"A large number of these incidents are avoidable," Shanmugam said, "education, both of pet owners, feeders as well as the general public is important. NGOs, activists like Jessica, institutions like this cat museum play a very important role in this process," Shanmugan said.
One good news is that 12 cats earlier abandoned by their owners have been adopted by the public during sneak peeks at the museum earlier in December. Nine others have now been placed in the museum under the care of volunteers from CWS, and visitors are more than welcomed to adopt an orphan cat if they want. The adoption fee ranges from 50 to 80 Singapore dollars.
Organizers said that their ultimate goal is to find homes for 50 stray cats cared by the museum by August 9 this year, which is Singapore's 50th National Day.