HDB's ban on cat ownership has been a contentious topic since its inception in 1989. At the time of writing this article, the ban is still in place. Cats are not allowed to be kept as pets in HDB flats. Anyone caught housing a cat may be required by HDB to rehome it. Failing to do so, can incur a fine of up to $4,000.
Having said this, all hope is not lost. This is a topic that has garnered much support. Various prominent figures including Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng have raised the issue in Parliament, and the latest support comes from the newly appointed Law Society president Adrian Tan. He calls HDB's ban on cats as pets 'irrational & unfair'. Read the full story on mothership.sg.
According to HDB, dogs, fish, hamsters, rabbits, birds, gerbils, guinea pigs and other small animals are allowed to be kept in the flats.
For dogs, not all breeds are approved to be kept in HDB flats. To check the list of HDB-approved dog breeds, please go to the HDB website or click here. You are only allowed 1 dog from the list of approved breeds in your flat. Flat owners found to breach this regulation can be fined up to a maximum of $4,000.
For cats, there are no restrictions on keeping cats on private property, but cats are not allowed in HDB flats. The explanation given by HDB is that cats are generally difficult to contain within the flat. When allowed to roam indiscriminately, they tend to shed fur and defecate or urinate in public areas, and also make caterwauling sounds, which can inconvenience your neighbours.
Be Responsible Cat Owners to Support the Lift of the Ban
Let’s continue to be responsible owners and keep our pet cats indoors. Cat-proof your home to create a safe environment and prevent indoor cats from escaping. HDB officers do not actively go around hunting for cats in HDB flats unless there's a complaint made against the cat owner.
Many people assume that cats do not need as much attention as dogs. That’s simply not true. Cats need consistent interactive play just as much as dogs. Cats are naturally curious creatures. They need some form of activity to keep them entertained. Play time is both a stress relief and a break from boredom for kitties. It is our responsibility to keep our cats happy and entertained. Stressed cats are more likely to develop behavioural problems, such as aggression and urine spraying.
Cats will generally need about 15 minutes of playtime, twice daily. Prepare a variety of toys – toys that they can play on their own when you are not around, and toys that you can play together with them to enhance bonding. Here are 2 interactive toys that will keep your cats busy:
Having a cat tower is another excellent way to keep your kitties occupied. Multiple levels for scratching & people-watching.
If kitty is shy and is not playing with the toys, use the catnip spray to encourage her to play. The Kong Naturals Catnip Spray is made from steam-distilled catnip oil, harvested from the finest North American catnip. All ingredients used in the making of this catnip spray are from natural, renewable resources.
We cannot always control the impulses of a cat, but we can create a positive environment at home and reduce boredom. A bored cat is more likely to try to escape as their needs are not met. They may end disturbing the peace of the neighbours, a behaviour that is definitely not supporting the request to lift the ban.
Sterilisation and Microchipped
Sterilised cats are less likely to make caterwauling sounds or run away due to mating urges. Make time to send your cat for regular check-ups and sterilised. For extra insurance, have your cat microchipped and keep your contact information with the microchip registry up to date.
Consider a cat collar. Cat collars can hold identification tags. This is critical in case your cat runs away and is picked up by a concerned individual. Some collars come with a safety bell like this FuzzYard Blitz Cat Collar to scare away potential prey.
Be Responsible Caregiver
There are nearly 50,000 community cats in Singapore. According to this article - More pet owners, community feeders struggle with upkeep of animals amid Covid-19 pandemic – the rate of cat abandonment is on an increase as pet owners struggled with the upkeep of these animals.
Many cat lovers have come forth to volunteer as caregivers, providing food, water and medical attention to these strays. This goodwill can be tarnished even if a small handful of community feeders fail to abide by the guidelines of responsible caregiving. For example, look to the case of Redhill Garden Estate – Cats roaming and feeding issueswhere leftover cat food was uncleared and in turn attracted flies, rodents, and cockroaches.
The Cat Welfare Society (CWS) has a set of clear guidelines on responsible caregiving. Please visit the CWS’ website for more information.
As a responsible caregiver, feed the cats proper cat food. Kit Cat Chicken Mousse & Tuna Topper Wet Cat Food is wet food, supplemented with taurine. As a soft food, it’s suitable for syringe feeding too. Foods should be placed in containers or disposable plates and not directly on the ground. Any unfinished food must be cleared within 2 hours. Water to be changed daily and the water container wiped down to prevent mosquito infestation.
We do not know the main reason behind the ban. Perhaps HDB is concerned with irresponsible cat ownership. No doubt that there will always be cat owners who let their cats roam free outside their house, resulting in cases where cats become a nuisance to the neighbours, but the situation has improved tremendously because of the efforts of animal welfare groups like Cat Welfare Society. More cat owners are now aware of the role of a responsible cat owner. They understand the importance of keeping their cat indoors.
Others believed that perhaps it’s a move by HDB to prevent cat hoarding.
Whatever the reason or challenges may be, the ban created much contention. Perhaps it is time for HDB to review the current regulation and set a new rule on responsible cat ownership instead of an outright ban on cats in HDB flats.
As parliament continues to debate on this topic, let’s continue to be responsible cat owners. We do not know how much longer the debate will continue but we can all play our part and play it well. Irresponsible ownership, allowing our cats to roam indiscriminately, defecate, urinate in public areas will cause unhappiness in the community, making it even more challenging for HDB to lift the ban. If we play our part well, the authorities will have no reason, not to review and update this outdated law.
Katherine is a Pet Nutrition Specialist and GDP’s Pet Wellness Advisor. She is committed to helping pet owners make informed dietary and lifestyle choices in nurturing healthy pets. Katherine is also a practicing Nutritional Therapist (human nutrition) and have been helping hundreds of clients to heal naturally with nutrients.