Categories: environment

80% of Singaporeans are prevented from owning a domestic cat

80% of Singaporeans cannot keep a cat because they live in public housing. In Singapore, 8 in 10 citizens live in what are called HDB flats. “HDB” stands for Housing & Development Board. This is Singapore’s public housing authority and a statutory board under the Ministry of National Development. They provide Singaporeans with affordable quality homes and a better living environment. That’s their claim.

Singapore HBD flats

However, the terms of either purchase or rental of these properties forbids keeping a cat in the home. I know this because there is a petition on the change.org website which is petitioning the Singapore government to allow residents of HDB flats to keep cats.

Within that petition I have learned that dogs are allowed in these flats. I find it extraordinary that dogs are allowed but cats are not. The petitioner states on the website:

“As majority of us stay in HDB flats, it is definitely sad to know that cats are not allowed to be homed in our HDB Flats. I believe that as long as pet owners are responsible to ensure that their cats remain indoors at all times, house are kept clean, there should not be any issues having these loving cats in our homes.”

She makes the point that couples who do not have children and who have love to give would do very well having a domestic cat to care for. She also makes the point that Muslims aren’t allowed to keep dogs and therefore it’s unfair of the government to prevent them from keeping an alternative companion animal, a cat.

At the time of writing this article, the petitioner has gathered over 53,000 signatures with a target of 75,000. It is a well supported petition. I’d like to know the reason why Singapore government is prejudiced against domestic cat.

Here is the reason:

“They 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, and also make caterwauling sounds, which can inconvenience your neighbours.”

I have also learned that sometimes people do break the rules and keep cats in their HBD flat. They get away with it if the neighbours don’t complain. Clearly enforcement is not 100% strict.

A couple kept five cats in their flat. The neighbours complained. They received a letter from the authorities which you can read below. This is what happens when you break the rental or purchasing agreement and are found out.

Letter from HBD Singapore telling residents to rehome their cats

I can understand the argument by HBD. There is a good argument for not keeping cats in flats. But a lot of people do. It is far from ideal and I’m sure the flats aren’t that large. I’m also sure that Singapore is quite crowded and it would seem unlikely that a cat owner could take their cat out somewhere to enjoy, temporarily, living a more normal life. It is interesting, however, that the authorities are really dictating how domestic cats should be looked after by Singaporeans.

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Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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