HDB life for cats

HDB life for cats
Ms Faziella Isa, who adopted her cat Leo from SPCA, hopes the pilot programme will allow more flat dwellers to keep cats.

A pilot project to assess the feasibility of keeping cats in Housing Board flats has been running smoothly a year after it was launched.

Since October last year, 125 cat owners in 123 HDB blocks in Chong Pang have taken part in the study, called Love Cats.

The two-year pilot project, led by HDB, the Ministry of National Development, Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority, Sembawang Town Council and animal welfare agency Cat Welfare Society, aims to encourage responsible cat ownership.

They say door-to-door visits of these cat owners have shown that most of them fit into what the pilot project deems "responsible owners", a boon to animal welfare advocates who hope to see pet ownership rules tweaked in the near future.

Since 1989, HDB flat dwellers have been banned from having cats as pets. The HDB website says this is because it is difficult to confine cats within the flat and when they get out, their shedding, defecation, urination and caterwauling cause disturbance to neighbours. However, cat owners say the same can be argued about dogs too.

Ms Veron Lau, 42, president of the Cat Welfare Society, says the success of the project will be judged on how many of the neighbourhood's pet cats are sterilised, and how many owners will allow their cats to be microchipped and registered.

The second part is especially challenging, she says.

"Some cat owners still have reservations about being registered in a pilot project without knowing what the outcome will be. We continue to step up our education process and to provide assistance to cat owners," she says.

But she adds that more than 90 per cent of Chong Pang's cat owners have shown themselves to be responsible owners.

Animal welfare groups such as the Cat Welfare Society and the SPCA say the ban is outdated and have fought for its repeal for years.

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