ST Explains: Why cats are banned from HDB flats, and what lifting the ban would take

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SINGAPORE – The present ban on cats being kept as pets in Housing Board homes could soon be lifted, because the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) conducts a public consultation exercise to enhance the welfare and management of the cat population.

Why ban cats as pets in HDB units?

Put in place from 1960, the cat ban was a part of a blanket ban on all animals, livestock and poultry in flats.

This was when these residents, many from kampungs, were moving into the primary flats.

The ban continues to be in place because cats are generally difficult to contain inside a flat, says the HDB website.

It goes on to claim that cats, “when allowed to roam indiscriminately… are likely to shed fur and defecate or urinate in public areas, and in addition make caterwauling sounds, which might inconvenience” other residents.

HDB said on Saturday that it’s working with AVS to explore the potential for allowing cats to be kept as pets in flats, and can take into accounts feedback given in the course of the consultation phase.

Responding to queries from The Straits Times, an HDB spokesman said that its primary consideration for maintaining the present ban was to preserve a nice and harmonious living environment in HDB estates.

“We try to balance the interests of residents who’re pet lovers and those that could also be affected by disamenities because of this of irresponsible pet ownership,” the spokesman added.

What is going to the general public consultation cover?

The consultation will revolve around a proposed framework, with the general public asked for his or her views on such areas as pet cats within the licensing and microchipping scheme, expanding the trap-neuter-rehome/release-manage (TNRM) programme for free-roaming dogs to incorporate community cats, promoting responsible community cat caregiving, adoption of cats, and responsible cat ownership through engagement and outreach.

The general public consultation phase will run for six months, till March 2023. Feedback, which can go towards refining the really helpful framework, will likely be gathered through a two-month online survey open to the general public, alongside dialogues and focus group discussions with relevant stakeholders resembling animal welfare groups and veterinarians.

What steps will likely be taken before the ban will be lifted?