Up To 2 Cats May Be Allowed In HDB Flats & 3 In Private Premises
For as long as most Singaporeans remember, cats have been disallowed in HDB flats.
This rule has prompted criticism from cat lovers and even late Law Society President Adrian Tan — especially since certain kinds of dogs are allowed in flats.
However, after the Government sought public feedback via an online survey in September last year, a new proposal to allow cats in HDB flats is now on the cards.
If and when it takes effect, pet cats will have to be microchipped and licensed, just like dogs.
Proposed cat management framework by AVS
In a news release on Saturday (2 Dec), the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) shared a proposed cat management framework.
Senior Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How also made a similar announcement at the Pets’ Day Out event held at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park that day.
The framework was the culmination of a two-month public survey in late 2022 and focus group discussions this year with groups like:
- Cat owners and non-cat owners
- Community cat caregivers
- Cat fosterers and rescuers
- Representatives of animal welfare groups
- Relevant agencies
Proposal suggests allowing up to 2 cats in HDB flats
Under the framework, AVS proposed to reverse a 34-year-old policy, allowing:
- Up to two cats for each HDB flat — as well as one dog of an approved breed, as per the current limit
- Three cats or dogs, or a combination of both cats and dogs up to a maximum of three animals, for each private premises
Owners and occupiers of such premises who would like to request additional pets would have to seek approval from AVS and HDB.
The limits are there “to strike a balance between accommodating some residents’ desires to own cats, and maintaining a harmonious living environment for all,” AVS said.
All pet cats will have to be microchipped & licensed
Numbers aren’t the only way the authorities will be regulating cat ownership — they will also require owners to microchip and get a licence for their pets.
Those applying for a cat licence for the first time will have to complete a free pet ownership course online beforehand. The course reportedly covers basic pet care skills and responsible pet ownership.
As part of the licensing conditions, owners must keep their cats in a safe environment and take reasonable steps to protect the felines from indoor and outdoor hazards.
They must also use a carrier or harness to prevent their cats from roaming freely.
2-year transition period for owners
As cat owners may need some time to meet the licensing conditions, AVS proposed a two-year transition period.
During this period, those who currently own cats can apply for free licences for them, subject to possible house checks by AVS.
These licences will be valid for life for sterilised cats but have limited validity for unsterilised cats.
After the transition period, owners will have to pay more for cat licence renewal for the latter.
This is to strongly encourage sterilisation as it prevents unintended breeding and has health and behavioural benefits. Sterilised cats are also less likely to roam and caterwaul, AVS said.
To that end, AVS will roll out a Pet Cat Sterilisation Support (PCSS) programme in 2024 to provide free sterilisation and microchipping for pet cats in low-income households.
After the transition period, it will be an offence to keep unlicensed pet cats.
Other plans in the proposal
Besides allowing cats in flats, AVS has proposed to include community cats in the existing Trap-Neuter-Rehome/Release-Manage (TNRM) programme, which currently covers only free-roaming dogs.
This will mean more funding to include the trapping and boarding of community cats.
The sterilised cats will be rehomed or released back into the community where caregivers can care for them.
AVS will also organise programmes like roadshows in the community and schools to educate the public on responsible pet cat ownership and living with community cats.
Online survey gathers public feedback
To gather thoughts on the proposal, AVS is inviting public feedback via another online survey, which will be open till 1 Feb 2024.
After the survey closes, they will review the feedback and tweak the framework if need be.
Thereafter, they may launch the final framework sometime next year.
The previous survey on cat ownership garnered strong support for keeping cats in HDB flats.
According to results that NParks released in May, close to 90% of respondents thought that cats are suitable as pets. Most were also in support of keeping cats as pets in HDB flats.
Meanwhile, more than 80% agreed that microchipping and licensing pet cats could help to improve the felines’ health, welfare and traceability.
Louis Ng happy that cats may be allowed in HDB
Unsurprisingly, Nee Soon MP Louis Ng was one of the first to express his happiness at the good news.
In a Facebook post on Saturday (2 Dec), he said he expressed his relief that we are “moving forward” after he had raised the issue many times in Parliament.
He thanked activists, animal welfare groups and everyone who has spoken up on this issue. He also conveyed his gratitude to the authorities for reviewing the policy.
Those who have advocated for cats to be allowed in HDB flats will agree that this move is a long time coming.
If you would like to share your views, do fill in the survey before the deadline next year.
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