Many Singaporeans think that pet cats should not be banned in Housing Board flats if they are well trained.
The Straits Times wrote a post on its Facebook page on Saturday (14 January), asking for netizens’ response over the issue.
“Should HDB flat owners be allowed to keep pet cats? How can the welfare of animals and the needs of residents be balanced?” it asked.
By the time this article was written, there had been more than 375 comments on the post. Most of the commenters who shared that they have cats in their flats said the cats are usually smaller than dogs and less of a trouble than dogs.
According to Housing Development Board (HDB)’s website, its stance on cats in HDB flats are as follow:
Cats are not allowed in flats. They 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.
However, despite the strong stance expressed in the statement, HDB rarely enforce on flat owners if they own cats except for cases where complaints have been received about the cat causing a nuisance to the neighbours.
Why does HDB allow dogs and not cats?
Although HDB allows dogs to be rear in HDB, they are limited by size and breed that is listed on HDB’s website. Flat owners found to breach this regulation can be fined up to a maximum of $4,000. Furthermore, HDB does not get involved when there is a dispute on flat owners with dogs, instead, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority of Singapore (AVA) is called in to address the issue.
However, AVA has not taken up the responsibility of cats that are housed in HDB flats and HDB is unlikely to open a pandora box that would bring the question of responsibility between the two agencies. Therefore, at the moment, flat owners are unofficially allowed to rear cats at their home so long as they are responsible pet owners whose cats do not irritate their neighbours.
Here are some of the comments that have been written:
- Care Chia wrote, “I have a cat that has lived with me in my flat for 7 years. None of my neighbours are even aware. I trained it to be completely an indoor animal. No loud noises, no poop and pee in public areas, no problem for anyone in my block.
The problem of being inconsiderate is not just with cats, but with dogs, children and even adults. I have kids in my neighbourhood making unruly noises in the middle of the night. I also have fully grown adults expelling bodily waste in public. Are we going to ban humans from HDB too?
Strike at the core problem – that people are ignorant and inconsiderate as neighbours.”
- Loh Wai Poon wrote, “Why not? Cats are generally smaller and less aggresive than dogs. They are timid by nature n run away from strangers rather than barking at them like dogs. We keep the animal as pets. The cat is good pet to keep. No issue against the cats.”
- Kim Chi Na wrote, “Cats and dog should be allow because it’s the only living thing that can give comfort to us, especially cat that Malay can only have as a pet. If cats is not allowed then what will happen to all the cat. Will they become stray cat or some mad people use them to vent their angry on or abuse them.”
- Amir hamzah wrote, “Dogs must bring out to let them pee and poop anywhere. Cats just use litter box. If dog owners never clean up their dog poop, can we request HDB to remove the dogs from HDB?”
- Wendy Chua wrote, “My cat is perfectly happy being indoors so long as she gets her food, litter tray and forty winks. And she has been doing so for 6 years. None of my neighbours even know of her existence. So please, cat owners, do the right thing before you deprive others of having a chance to own a cat!”
- Cheryl Peh wrote, “Cats can be totally domesticated if owners keep them responsibly. According to Cat Welfare Society Singapore’s guidelines, window and doors must be meshed or grilled up (at most 2 inches gaps) to prevent the curious little ones from escaping or putting themselves in dangerous situations. Pet Cats also must be mircochipped, vaccinated and spayed. Owner’s supervision must be present in an event if the cat goes out for a walk, and must be also leashed on like any other dogs. Cats are born clean freaks and would not pee or poo anywhere if the cleanliness of their litter box is maintained regularly.
I suggest that instead of seizing pet cats from owners, make it mandatory for the cats’ owners to mesh up all windows or install grilles within a specify timeframe. Fine those owners who allow their cats to roam around without supervision. I seriously think that it will be more effective, efficient and definitely more humanely for hdb to get cats’ issue settled compared to asking owners send their cats away.”
- Jacqualine Chan wrote, ” I dont understand how are dogs allowed in flats but cats are not. Like many people has pointed out, cats can use a litter box and do not necessarily pee/poo outdoors.
My cats are naturally toilet-trained and would go into the toilet to pee/poo. Also, they are so much quieter as compared to dogs.”
- Maggie Tan wrote, “Should be allowed. if there is something that makes us unhappy or uncomfortable and we eliminate it, then how are we to be a cultured society accepting of different kinda people?
One of my neighbours’ cat has a habit of pooing at my door because I have a female cat at home. While I am frustrated, the fact is this male boy is smart enough to track my girl’s scent though she has never stepped out of our house before unless I carry her out to vet or groomer. I need to recognise that this is the animal world.
As for barking dogs. while they too can drive me nuts when they decide to bark prolong, my Malay neighbour has commented before that having dogs around has its benefits. imagine continuous barking from a dog in the middle of the night, unusual from the usual routine. Can save us all from crime and danger. My view has since changed.
So if the cat or dog is causing a legitimate nuisance, let the owner take responsibility and action over its own animals like kids. Give it time. But, if it is out of an individual’s personal dislike or fear of the animal, can I say let’s learn to be a lot more tolerant and be nice.
As a govt board, while you might be concerned with the overall cleanliness and atmosphere in the estate as well as your ability to respond to the complaints of residence. Be careful of your decision. If our residence is not tolerant of even a small animal, we will likewise not be tolerant of humans. And this is not what we want to be advocating, being in a country with people from so many countries working and staying here together.”
- Si Mon wrote, “In my experience cats can be easily toilet trained, once my neighbor’s cat went accidentally to my place overnight and I was woken up by her scratching at my front door, the poor cat held her pee till she could return back to her litter box rather than just pee at my place.”
- Dershie Qu wrote, “I don’t think the way to manage this is to ban animals. Rather have conflict management techniques within the neighbours. If we continue to remove every small offending thing, we might not be left with anything.. Or imagine a child free zone for a HDB flat.”
- Zainal Abdul Kadir wrote, “I have 2 cats for the past 7 years. They remained indoors. In fact, they are scared of going out. Footsteps in the hallway gives them goosebumps. My neighbours are not complaining. This is an isolated case. No need to blow it out of proportion. Time can be best spend on more important stuff.”
- Suhaimi Zainal wrote, “Cats are not just kept by Malays in particular and yes you can voice out your concern to your neighbour when hygiene near your area is compromised or becomes a problem. Likewise for dogs. Maybe they do not ‘mark’ their area. But the non stop barking can be irritating as well. And cats meowing too as I do not want to be read as one sided…“
- Killy Zas wrote, “You want balance, ban all pets not just cats. Then balance liao loh. If zoo is for wild animals then open lah a pet sanctuary for all the dogs, cats, rabbits, birds. I am sure they would be happy too without the existence of petty humans whose only goal in life is to complain and complain. Pfffttt.”
- Zaric Foo wrote, “My neighbour are not aware that I have 3 cats, a dog, 5 skinny pigs, a rabbit, a turtle and 3 big fish tanks with more than 30 fishes house in a HDB flat for many years liao..”
- Theo De Roza wrote, “Yes, it will benefit society as a whole. Especially if and when children are taught from young on how to be compassionate to those who (or that) are weaker than them.
“The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi.”