Skip to main content

Advertisement

Advertisement

Why does HDB still ban cats as pets in flats?

The Housing and Development Board’s ban on flat owners keeping cats has been in place for 30 years and it is time to do away with this ridiculous rule.

Animal welfare groups such as the Cat Welfare Society have been reaching out to cat owners to emphasise the need to be responsible to avoid annoyance to neighbours, says the author.

Animal welfare groups such as the Cat Welfare Society have been reaching out to cat owners to emphasise the need to be responsible to avoid annoyance to neighbours, says the author.

Tan Chek Wee

The Housing and Development Board’s ban on flat owners keeping cats has been in place for 30 years and it is time to do away with this ridiculous rule.

My first cat was a kitten abandoned at the block of flats where I lived in 2003. It was so frightened that it was rooted to a spot near the lift. Since then, I have taken in three more rescue cats, including two which are still alive and with me.

All my cats are neutered and kept indoors with my grills cat-proofed. They do not make noise, they shed some hair as we humans do, and they are fastidious in their toilet habits (litter bins).

They won't venture out even when I hold the door open. The will scurry in, the moment a strange noise is heard outside.

Despite this, I am in effect contravening HDB rules, alongside tens of thousands of other HDB households which keep cats as pets.

Many cat owners and animal welfare groups familiar with cat behaviour have tried for years to convince HDB to change its rule, to no avail.

This is even though compared to 1989, there is now greater awareness among cat owners of their responsibility to sterilise cats and keep them indoors. In fact there is a flourishing business offering cat-proofing services.

Animal welfare groups such as the Cat Welfare Society and the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals have been reaching out to cat owners to emphasise the need to be responsible to avoid annoyance to neighbours and this is evident in the successful pilot cat ownership project in Chong Pang.

Some years ago, I wrote a letter on repealing the ban in a mainstream newspaper, adding that I lived in an HDB flat and owned cats.

I was horrified to receive an email from the editor that the HDB had written to him to ask for my address. The editor asked for my permission to release the information requested.

I was on alert for some weeks after that and even planned to move my cats to a boarding facility in case the HDB officer came knocking.

The common belief among cat owners to this day is that "our cats are safe as long as our neighbours do not complain". 

Why should responsible cat owners be at the mercy of "luck" in having neighbours who are not ailurophobic or who do not use the presence of cats as a vindictive measure over non-cat-related issues?

Perhaps my courage to write this letter comes from the fact that my cats will be moving with me soon to New Zealand and will be vacating our HDB flat.

It is truly long overdue for the Government to respect the rights of responsible HBD cat owners by removing HDB’s ban on cats as pets.

Have views on this issue or a news topic you care about? Send your letter to voices [at] mediacorp.com.sg with your full name, address and phone number.

Related topics

cat pet HDB public housing

Read more of the latest in

Advertisement

Popular

Advertisement

Stay in the know. Anytime. Anywhere.

Subscribe to get daily news updates, insights and must reads delivered straight to your inbox.

By clicking subscribe, I agree for my personal data to be used to send me TODAY newsletters, promotional offers and for research and analysis.