Local animal rights group, Cat Welfare Society (CWS), took to Facebook on Wednesday (17 March) to urge the Government to not completely ban cat ownership in Housing & Development Board (HDB) flats, but rather enact laws to penalise only irresponsible owners.
According to HDB’s website, cats are not allowed in flats due to multiple reasons including because they are difficult to contain within the flat, they shed fur and defecate or urinate in public areas when allowed to road indiscriminately, and they make caterwauling sounds which can bring inconvenience to neighbours.
To this, CWS said the main problem with these points is that HDB “groups responsible and irresponsible cat owners together”.
It added that every responsible owners know and ensure that their house is meshed up for the safety of the cat, and that their cat don’t freely roam and is provided sufficient stimulation within the house.
As such, this prevents their cat from defecating or urinating in public areas. Responsible cat owners also ensure that their cat is sterilised so there won’t be any caterwauling sounds, CWS noted.
However, irresponsible owners do not do some of the things mentioned, which causes problems to other people living in the flats.
“Our view is that the law should be more nuanced. Responsible cat owners should be protected by the law for adhering to responsible cat ownership guidelines and irresponsible cat owners who refuse to correct their behaviour must be penalised,” the animal rights group stated.
It added, “This can be achieved by legalising cat ownership in HDBs with certain mandatory guidelines in place and prescribing penalties for the offence of failing to adhere to the said guidelines.”
The animal rights group also stated that it has been mediating cases in HDBs and other housing areas for years, and most of the cases involve irresponsible cat owners.
“Many of these cases are hard to resolve because it is the cats who are the pawn and whose lives are at stake when they belong to a recalcitrant cat owner.
“So please, if you know anyone who has not fully adopted all responsible cat ownership practices, speak to them and help them understand the repercussions of their actions. It is all of our cats who are affected by their actions,” it said.
Member of Parliament (MP) Louis Ng, who is also the founder of Animal Concerns Research and Education Society (ACRES), has repeatedly talked in Parliament about allowing cats to be kept as pets in HDB flats.
Recently, he proposed a change in policy to permit residents in HDB flats to keep cats, adding that he has offered “various solutions” to solve concerns raised by the Ministry for National Development (MND).
“I’ve spent more than a quarter of my life speaking up about a policy of not allowing the keep of cats in HDB flats,” he said during the Committee of Supply (COS) debate on 4 March.
He added, “I hope this year and this COS, we will finally have the good news that we will allow the keeping of cats in HDB flats, with the specific conditions that will address any issues of disamenties.”
The Nee Soon GRC MP has previously raised the same point during the COS debate in 2020. In fact, he had raised the same issue in Parliament at least three times in 2020.
Last year, he expressed that it “does not make sense” for cats to be allowed to be kept as pets in condominiums, but not in public flats.