In Parliament on Monday (2 March), Non-Constituency MP Daniel Goh highlighted his earlier suggestion that it might be timely for the Housing and Development Board (HDB) to remove the ban on pet cats in HDB flats and to regulate pet cat keeping to minimise disamenities to neighbours.
The Workers’ Party NCMP repeated the Minister of National Development’s response to the suggestion where he said no, citing reasons of irresponsible pet ownership causing inconvenience to neighbours and unhappiness.
Mr Goh said, “I find this line of reasoning inconsistent as this is applicable to all pets and all pet owners. But the ban is only specifically on cats.”
The NCMP explained that domestic cats are unlikely to cause the problems cited by the minister, noting that studies have shown that cats spend 25% of their waking hours cleaning themselves and that their natural instinct is to cover up their waste which can be done in a litter box.
Mr Goh further explained that cats are unlikely to make noise and when they do, it would be to alert their owners to outside activities or when they’re in pain or stressed. These, he said, are similar reasons dogs bark too.
Describing the ban as ‘outdated’, Mr Goh highlighted that regulating pet cat ownership in HDB flats will be more beneficial as the bans will give many stray cats a loving home and allow cat-lovers to care for their pet cats at home with peace of mind.
The NCMP suggested, “Regulation can include ensuring domestic cats remain indoors, micro-chipped and sterilised, and a framework to encourage community acceptance and having mediation channels for disputes.”
He noted the recent increase of dog size limit for HDB to allow more local mixed breed dogs to be rehomed in HDB flats under Project Adore. Mr Goh said, “I hope cats, no less adorable to many Singaporeans, may be included.”
Pet cats as collateral damage in neighbourly disputes
Under the HDB’s regulation, cats are not allowed to be reared in HDB flats. However, that has not kept flat occupants from rearing cats in their flats.
In the same Parliament session, Nee Soon GRC MP Louis Ng asked Senior Parliamentary Secretary of National Development Sue Xueling how and when HDB enforces its rule that cats are not allowed as pets in HDB flats.
Mr Ng noted that he’s seen cases where neighbourly disputes use cats as a point of contention which then makes the pet ‘collateral damage’ as HDB is forced to remove it from the property.
Ms Sun replied, “The HDB really will investigate if the disamenity is really a pet-related disamenities. So not that the cat is a collateral in bad relations between neighbours.”
She added that if HDB finds that the feedback is a pet-related disamenity and irresponsible cat ownership, HDB will “advice the owner accordingly with the assistance of relevant agencies when necessary”.