Paws for Thought

17 February 2017

A few senior residents of Petaling Jaya’s Seksyen 17 are united by their compassion for the stray cats and dogs that roam the neighbourhood.

It’s a wet Friday afternoon, and the once heavy rain has now reduced to a slow but steady drizzle. In an alley off Jalan 17/3, one of the residential streets in Petaling Jaya’s Seksyen 17, Eng is in the middle of her daily feeding rounds in the area, apparently unfazed by the weather.

Eng (who doesn’t disclose her full name) is 71 years old, and she’s been caring for stray cats and dogs around the neighbourhood for over 20 years.  Her daily routine includes leaving food out in the late afternoons for the strays – she even feeds bread to pigeons. Getting from one animal “hotspot” to another by car (even travelling as far as Bandar Utama), she spends around two to three hours a day on her feeding rounds. She only gets home by 8pm to feed her own cats and dogs, of which she has five and six, respectively.

“The dogs can go inside my house, go upstairs and go to my room,” Eng laughs. “I don’t put them [cats and dogs] together,” she says, adding that she’s been keeping pets for “many years” now, as far back as when her children were still kids. Her oldest dog is around 16 years old.

While she usually conducts her rounds alone, Eng does have other friends in the neighbourhood who also help care for strays. When it comes to feeding, they split the duty into shifts – if one feeds in the morning, another would take the afternoon.

One of the residents is 71-year-old Puan Zaliah, who’s become quite known in the area for taking in stay cats. She’s been caring for cats and other strays for 40 years, but it was only two years ago that she started getting help from Eng and some other residents, who take the cats to the vet and supply medicine whenever needed.

“If [the cats] get sick, I’ll call them,” says Puan Zaliah, who currently has around 20 cats under her care.

Efforts are also made to send the stray cats and dogs to the vet to be spayed or neutered, but Eng ruefully notes that not all strays are as cooperative and tend to run away when approached.

When asked why they don’t get help from animal shelters, Eng claims that some of the known ones tend to euthanise the animals that don’t get adopted. Instead, she prefers to take things into her own hands, relying on her small support system of animal-loving friends and a very caring son working in Singapore who funds her efforts. She also has some friends who donate a big pack of food every month.

“One day, I use around ten cans of wet food,” Eng says. For dogs, she sometimes makes the food herself using chicken liver. “They love it so much!” she says with a laugh.

As for how the rest of the residents feel about having pet food scattered around the neighbourhood, both Eng and Puan Zaliah say they’ve so far been fine with it. But as a precaution, if a cat or dog makes a mess near someone’s house, Puan Zaliah says she makes sure to clean it up. There isn’t a hint of a grumble when they talk about having to take these extra measures to avoid complaints from neighbours, nor do they show any signs of being tired or disillusioned with their daily routine.

“What to do? When they give birth, like dogs, there are six, seven or eight puppies,” notes Eng. “They’ve got no home, nothing. So poor thing.”

If you know a neighbourhood that takes care of its stray cats or dogs, write in to us at You can also drop us a message on Facebook and Instagram.

Text by Syarifah Syazana
Photos by Teoh Eng Hooi

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