Cats in Singapore Have Something to Celebrate!

Cats will soon be welcomed in HBD high rises.

Jan 20, 2024


Cats in Singapore Have Something to Celebrate! | Cats will soon be welcomed in HBD high rises.

Cat lovers will attest that felines are the purrfect pet.  But for many people living in Singapore, keeping a cat at home was not allowed. Now, in a big win for cats and the people who love them, Singapore will be allowing felines to live in Housing and Development (HBD) apartments in high rises. 

While the 34-year-old ban was rarely enforced and Singaporeans were very good at hiding their cats, it is a welcome relief for many who could have faced fines or the eviction of their pets, reported Reuters. Since there was no ban on dogs, just a host of regulations about which breeds could be kept, many thought the rule was unfair.

Cats are so much quieter than dogs. If they allow dogs, I don’t understand why not cats,”  30-year-old Sunny told Reuters. She asked the news agency not to use her last name so she wouldn’t risk her fugitive feline named Mooncake from being removed.

Singapore’s cat ban
The cat ban only applies to HBD high-rise apartment buildings where 80 percent of Singaporeans live.  Established in 1960, the HBD project sells government-built apartments with 99-year leases to qualified citizens. This was a very positive move that has led to one of the highest rates of home ownership in the world. But it has also led to a long list of rules and restrictions.

Prior to 1989, cats were allowed until the government amended the housing law. The ban was issued because, the government said on its website, cats are “difficult to contain within the flat ... they tend to shed fur and defecate or urinate in public areas, and also make caterwauling sounds, which can inconvenience your neighbors.”

While it is not clear why the government has decided to lift the ban, a survey taken in 2022 showed that nine out of 10 people who responded said that they believed that cats are suitable pets even in HBD apartments.

The new framework
Under the new rules that will be implemented later in 2024, only two cats will be allowed in each apartment, reported Strait Times. The pets will have to be microchipped and licensed but a transition period of two years will allow the cat owners time to meet the conditions. During this time, the licenses will be free of charge.

Cat owners will also have to install mesh window screens so their cats will not fall or jump out, as well as other regulations. Singapore is known for its stringent rules and regulations where even chewing gum is banned

When the new regulations go into effect, it will be illegal to have unlicensed pets and the fines will be similar to the ones for not licensing dogs which is currently $5,000.

Some cat owners, like Sunny, are  delighted by the change, reported Reuters. She told the news agency, “I think it’s a good thing and it’s a step forward after 30 years.”  

But many people feel that the new regulations are not good enough. Some people want mandatory sterilization and others like Chan Chow Wah, 50, wants stiff penalties for irresponsible owners.

He told Reuters that he had to take care of a cat that fell from a third-story window as well as a cat that was abandoned by its owner after being diagnosed with a heart ailment. Chan paid the vet bills and took care of the cats for the rest of their lives. Still it’s a very big win for cats and for their humans who love them.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.