Remember the chaos when HDB announced that it was against the law for pet owners to keep cats in an HDB flat?
The announcement left countless cat owners outraged, and cat lovers were left scrambling to secure homes for their beloved pet friends.
Over the years, some cat owners even embarked on advocacy campaigns to challenge the ban, while others resorted to hiding their cats as if they were fugitives on the run.
For those residing in HDB flats with a deep love for cats, there’s finally a reason to celebrate.
Starting next year, the government is proposing a significant change in policy, allowing HDB flat owners to legally welcome up to two cats into their homes.
This marks a remarkable reversal of a 34-year-long ban on cat ownership in public flats.
According to Senior Minister of State for National Development, Tan Kiat How, the proposal aims to strike a balance between accommodating the desire of HDB residents to own cats and placing reasonable limits on the number of cats per household.
He addressed this to the audience at the Pets’ Day Out event in Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park, organised by the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) on Saturday (2 December 2023).
He further explained that the proposal would be open for public input for two months. The intention is to implement the new framework in the later part of 2024.
Mr Tan also introduced a proposed cat management framework: pet cats must undergo microchipping and licensing.
This measure is intended to help authorities respond more effectively to health outbreaks and hold “irresponsible” cat owners accountable.
Once the framework is officially launched, Mr Tan mentioned that a two-year transition period will be introduced to give pet owners ample time to meet the licensing requirements.
During this transition period, all pet cat licenses will be issued free of charge.
Proposal to Allow Two Cats for HDB Premises
On Saturday, AVS issued a statement outlining their proposal.
A maximum of two cats (in addition to one approved breed of dog, as per the current limit) can be kept for each HDB premises. In the case of private premises, they are proposing a limit of three cats or dogs or a combination of both.
But what if you’re already a proud owner of more than two cats?
Well, here’s the deal: if you have more than the number of cats allowed, you’ll need to obtain a license to keep your extra furry friends.
Mr Tan explained that if the proposed framework is implemented, individuals with more than two cats can apply for a license to keep all their existing pet cats.
However, AVS will carefully evaluate these applications to ensure the welfare of the cats is not compromised and that they are not causing any unpleasantness to their neighbours.
AVS may also conduct periodic checks to ensure that the pet cats are well taken care of and in good condition.
Conditions Under Framework
Under the proposed framework, pet owners seeking licensing must ensure their cats are well-controlled in public spaces.
They need to take proactive measures to safeguard their cats from potential indoor and outdoor hazards. This includes installing safety features such as window grilles, meshes, or other barriers to prevent cats from roaming freely or falling from heights.
There’s an additional requirement for those applying for a cat or dog license for the first time.
They must complete a one-time, free online pet ownership course before obtaining their license. This online course will cover essential pet care skills and emphasize responsible pet ownership.
Importantly, it will be available in the four vernacular languages to ensure accessibility.
In order to prevent unintended cat breeding, Mr Tan strongly encourages cat owners to have their feline companions sterilised. Sterilisation not only has health and behavioural benefits but also reduces the tendency for cats to roam and engage in disruptive caterwauling.
According to The Straits Times, The Cat Welfare Society sterilises over 4,000 cats annually at no cost.
Therefore, AVS intends to grant them lifetime licenses without any charges for sterilised cats that obtain licenses within the two-year transition period. However, fees may be applicable for new cat licenses issued after the transition period for unsterilised cats.
Beyond addressing pet cats, the proposed framework aims to expand the Trap-Neuter-Rehome/Release-Manage program.
Initially designed for free-roaming dogs, this program will now encompass community cats as well.
Why Are Cats Banned from HDB Flats?
Currently, HDB residents have been barred from keeping pet cats since 1989.
Residents violating the Housing and Development (Animals) Rules by harbouring a cat in their flat may face fines of up to S$4,000.
HDB’s reasoning behind this prohibition stems from the perceived challenges of accommodating cats in the confines of a flat.
Cats tend to pose difficulties when it comes to confinement and maintenance. Left to roam freely, they often shed fur, leave behind excrement or urine in public areas, and emit caterwauling sounds, which can bother neighbours.
If you’re curious about the specifics of why HDB maintains this policy, you can check out this video from Goody Feed.
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