When I grow up, I want to be like him.
Cat feeder who shows up in Kallang daily
I see Uncle Ong all the time near my Kallang office area feeding community cats in the evenings.
The first few times I saw him, I thought, “Oh, so nice. Got someone actually come by to feed the cats in this stretch so they don’t starve. No wonder they all hanging out at night like they summoning something.”
Then I realised Uncle Ong is actually a bus driver.
He always pulls up in his bus and brings the cat food to his feline friends who anticipate his punctual arrival as these furry creatures will start congregating before dusk.
One time as his bus pulled up, I saw a pair of cats running towards it with their tails in the air.
The umbrella feeder
And then one super rainy night in early March 2023, when it was raining cats and dogs in Singapore, I saw Uncle Ong do this:
Uncle Ong was squatting with an umbrella and using it to shelter one community cat from the rain during meal time.
I felt like I was intruding by filming him.
But this was too pure.
Even without revealing any details about him, he was automatically recognised by one of his passengers:
Cat feeder for 16 years
A few nights later, when I encountered Uncle Ong again, I decided I was going to find out more.
And so I did.
Walking up to him, I said: “Uncle, you feeding cat, ah?”
He looked up at me as if I asked him if he wanted to fight.
But then I realised he was just hard of hearing.
After a bit of repeating myself in a louder voice, we broke the ice.
I found out that he is Andrew Ong, aged 70.
And he asked me within minutes into our conversation: “Young man, can you help me feed the cats? I am old. You want to help, you can help.”
I replied: “If the cats relied on me to bring them food every day, they will be damn fed up after a while. I don’t even eat at regular hours.”
But that did not deter him. Or me.
Uncle Ong was keen to show me his daily cat-feeding routine in this godforsaken part of Kallang.
And I was keen to find out.
So I hopped on his ride and he showed me the ropes.
Riding in the diesel-powered bus, I can understand why Uncle Ong has hearing problems — the rumbly machine is crazy loud.
But look at the cats when the bus pulls up.
I can understand why he doesn’t want to stop feeding them.
The routine of feeding the cats in one area and cleaning up after them easily takes about 90 minutes.
Washes ground and disposes of leftovers
And Uncle Ong is also one of the cleanest cat feeders I have seen for myself.
He removes all the leftover food and washes down the area after the cats are done eating.
He brings along with him pails of water for the cleaning up.
In total, he feeds 22 cats in the Kallang area alone.
He has been feeding cats for the past 16 years.
And when he is done feeding the cats in Kallang, he goes back home to Hougang and feeds more.
When I asked him why he does what he does, he said: “Just do charity. Just do good.”
Spends more than S$400 a month on cat food
According to Uncle Ong, he has to spend about S$54 on wet and dry cat food each time he goes to the pet shop.
And he goes there twice a week.
In total he spends more than S$100 a week on cat food — or more than S$400 a month.
“Young man, I only earn S$1,000 plus a month driving bus,” he told me.
Without promising much, I told him I will lend him a hand.
Visit to pet shop
To corroborate his claim that he spends more than S$400 a month on cat food, I went to the pet shop at Block 462 Tampines Street 44 that Uncle Ong patronises regularly.
Steven Chan, the owner of S&S Pet’s Shop, confirmed that Uncle Ong is a regular.
When I told him what I found out about Uncle Ong and how much he has been spending on cat food and the number of years he has been a community cat feeder, Chan said he was not surprised to hear that.
There are many others like Uncle Ong, he said.
Asked why Uncle Ong chose to go to his pet shop to buy cat food, Chan said someone had recommended the bus driver to buy from S&S Pet’s Shop.
Chan added that his prices are affordable.
Going online to S&S Pet’s Shop website then revealed that the business has been lending a hand to the animal welfare sector.
The S&S Pet’s Shop has established an online presence and even has a section dedicated to working with animal shelters and helping the rescue and adoption of strays and abandoned animals in Singapore.
The #SaveTheStrays section said: “We support their causes by providing an outlet to amass donations of pet food and supplies and provide delivery to the respective shelters and organisations.”
Help Uncle Ong
Uncle Ong said he gets some help from kind individuals who would donate dry cat kibbles to him.
But other than that, he forks out the rest of the expenses from his own pocket.
I decided to work with Chan to request for S&S Pet’s Shop to put up a link, Cats of Kallang, for donors to directly purchase cat food for Uncle Ong.
These are the cat food Uncle Ong uses and personally picks out every time he goes to the shop.
Uncle Ong had initially suggested for his mobile number to be put up so that people who want to help him can contact him directly, but I talked him out of it as his phone might explode — and it was not safe for him to be answering calls while driving a bus.
According to Chan, donors who are keen to help by contributing smaller sums can contact the shop at [email protected]
Those who wish to help Uncle Ong, can purchase cat food for him via this link.
All media via Mothership unless stated otherwise