Forum: Give conditional approval for keeping cats in HDB flats

My parents were surprised when I mentioned that it is illegal to keep cats in Housing Board flats. And they are not even cat lovers.

Unsurprisingly, the existing policy which disallows the keeping of cats in HDB flats is perplexing.

The topic of keeping pet cats in HDB flats has been brought up before in Parliament.

One of HDB's concerns is that cats 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".

I think this is a legitimate reason for disallowing pet cats in HDB flats - if it weren't a misconception.

Arguably, there are cat owners who let their cats roam free outside their house, resulting in cases where cats become a nuisance in the neighbourhood.

However, with greater awareness on responsible cat ownership, more cat owners are understanding the importance of cat-proofing one's house and confining their cat to the house.

Cats are no different from other pets as long as they are kept responsibly.

The success of the Love Cats programme in Chong Pang proves how responsible ownership of cats (including sterilisation and cat-proofing one's house) can address HDB's concerns on the keeping of cats in flats.

The ban on the keeping of cats in HDB flats has been in place for more than 30 years.

During a Parliament sitting on March 4, MP Louis Ng spoke about how a Singaporean in Bangkok was unable to return to Singapore with his two cats, since he would not be able to keep them in an HDB flat here. He could not afford private housing.

This breaks my heart and I urge the authorities to amend the policy soon as there might be other similar situations.

Times have changed and responsible pet ownership is prevalent because of the efforts of animal welfare groups like Cat Welfare Society.

I am not requesting a complete overhaul, but rather an amendment to reflect this change.

Cats could be allowed on the condition that if they are found to cause disamenities in the community, they will need to be removed.

This will encourage responsible cat ownership.

So, let's not discriminate against our feline friends and the humans that care responsibly for them.

Melissa Poh Jingwen, 20

Year 2 university student

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