Owner of defunct Cuddles Cat Café sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment and fined

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Jonathan Tan Wei-De, a 33-year-old Singaporean, was sentenced to two weeks’ imprisonment for giving false information and attempt to cheat, the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) said in a media release on 18 April.

The owner of the now-closed Cuddles Cat Café was also sentenced to one count of failing to comply with licensing conditions and was fined $3500, in default of two weeks’ imprisonment.

Five other counts on giving false information to a public servant were taken into consideration during sentencing, AVA wrote in the statement.

In October 2014, AVA was alerted to allegations of mismanagement of diseased cats at the Cuddles Cat Café. It was also alleged that Tan, owner of the café, had provided falsified cat health records in his application for AVA’s temporary licence to keep animals for public interaction on the premises.

Upon investigation, AVA found that Tan had breached its licensing conditions by not keeping the cats in good health and not ensuring that the cats tested negative for toxoplasmosis (a disease that can infect animals and humans) before keeping them in the café for public interaction. Tan was required to cease operations at once and remove all cats from the café.

The case was subsequently referred to the Singapore Police Force for investigation into the alleged provision of falsified information in the application.

The Cat Welfare Society posted the news on its Facebook, commenting, “A long-awaited outcome has come to pass. Let this be a lesson to anyone who thinks animal businesses are easy money. Support ethical animal businesses that support welfare and adoption.”

AVA stressed that the authority regulates pet cafés that keep cats for public interaction, through licensing and routine unannounced inspections. Pet cafés that fail to comply with AVA’s licensing conditions shall be liable, on conviction, to a fine up to S$5,000.

Safeguarding animal welfare is a shared responsibility, AVA said. The public is urged to provide feedback on animal welfare issues via AVA 24-hour hotline, 1800-476-1600.