Government (ir)rationale for banning cats from 85% of homes

(NOTE: some links still point back to post links on tec’s old address, updates are pending)

Please speak up against this injustice. Please seriously consider adding your voice to the appeal by:

  1. write to these addressees: here, here
  2. think about the arguments to refute their claims: here, here, here Go to: Casefile: Cruel Singapore. Hack-care Singapore. (Special recommendation: Singapore’s Love-Hate Relationship with Trap-Neuter-Release Management )

HDB bans cats, period. Doesn’t matter what you keep in your flat, as long as it’s not prohibited by AVA, is not a large dog nor a cat.

Here’s what the HDB says about pets, on its website: Home > Keeping Of Pets > Overview

HDB has to consider the overall sentiments of the HDB residents when setting policies and rules. Not all residents like pets, or are comfortable with neighbours keeping pets. HDB has allowed one dog of an approved breed to be kept in an HDB flat. The approved breeds of dogs are the smaller dogs which are generally more manageable. Please click here for the list of approved breeds of dogs.

Cats are not allowed to be kept in HDB flats. HDB also allows flat owners to keep other pet animals such as fish, hamsters, rabbits, birds, etc which generally do not cause nuisance to the neighbouring residents. (source)

Chronically, HDB refuses to look the flaws of its’ cat-ban in the face. It continues to insist that

cats are not allowed to be kept in HDB flats as they are nomadic in nature and it is difficult to confine them to flats. Cats can shed fur, dirty public places, make noise and cause disturbance. Despite the prohibition on cats, HDB has been receiving from residents numerous complaints relating to cats.

As our priority is to promote a pleasant living environment and good relationships for all residents in our housing estates, HDB will maintain its existing policy on not allowing cats to be kept in the flats.

Contrast the leeway allowed to keep other fur-shedding animals, and even nuisance causing yapping small dogs. How does HDB dodge the issue? Let us count the ways:

Letters in The New Paper (Jan 2006 to Present)
The following are letters from the public, and a column published in the New Paper since January 2006 and HDB’s sole response on the anti-cat rule. Very noteworthy is the fact that the HDB has only responded to the letter “
Why is HDB against cats in flats?“.

(Discussion threads: HDB’s chronic misconception of cats – contains letter communications between members of public and HDB on this ridiculous ban. Highlight: HDB’s shameless application of the template reply, evne after the claims have been refuted!)

The Cat Welfare Society Appeals (2001 – 2002)


14 Oct 02 – With the ongoing effort of Catwelfare Society to appeal to the Ministry of National Development to relax the rulings against keeping cats as pets in HDB flats, its easy to get lost in the letters and responses. Dr. Lynn Yeo has kindly compiled the incidents into an easy to read chronological summary of the ongoing exchange for your convenience. Included is also a summary of the details of the proposal. by Dr Lynn Yeo


  • 6 September 2001 CWS writes to the Minister for National Development, appealing for a review of the HDB rule against the keeping of cats. CWS submits a Proposal for MND’s consideration.
  • 16 October 2001 CWS meets with officials from MND and HDB to discuss the matter.
  • 26 February 2002 MND turns down CWS appeal, citing concerns about irresponsible ownership and difficulties of implementation as the main reasons for the rejection.
  • 5 July 2002 CWS submits an amended Proposal addressing MND’s concerns and providing workable solutions. CWS reiterates that the fundamental basis for the Proposal is responsible pet ownership – only those who abide by the strict guidelines will be allowed to keep cats.
  • 8 July 2002 HDB ruling on cats is brought up in Parliament.
  • 2 August 2002 MND turns down our appeal again, citing the same reasons as before.
  • LATEST UPDATE: 2nd September 2002 CWS writes to MND expressing disappointment with the negative response. The latest official response did not appear to have taken our suggestions and amended proposal on board. CWS has requested another meeting with the MND and HDB to further discuss the matter and clarify our position. We are awaiting their reply.
  • CWS PROPOSAL AT A GLANCE: The Proposal was submitted to support our appeal to the MND and HDB to consider changing the rules which presently disallow the keeping of cats as pets in HDB flats. The following were cited in support of a change in the rules:
    1. A large number of HDB dwellers would like to keep cats as pets. In a survey conducted over a period of 2 weeks, an overwhelming 2,500 respondents expressed the desire to keep cats in HDB flats and supported a change in the rules.
    2. 32 veterinary surgeons supported our Proposal and testified that cats are ideal apartment pets.
    3. Contrary to belief, cats once sterilised: * do NOT roam and will happily stay indoors * do NOT caterwaul because there is no longer an urge to mate or fight for territory
    4. Cats are easily toilet-trained and when kept indoors do NOT pose problems for either the owner or neighbours. Cats are clean, quiet, spend 80% of their time sleeping, and do not need to be walked.
    5. Cats make excellent pets for the urban dweller and provide companionship for people of all ages. Disallowing cats in flats would deprive the majority of us from these benefits.
    6. The existing rule discriminates against cat lovers. Cats are the only domestic animals not allowed to be kept as pets.
  • CWS RECOMMENDATIONS: CWS has recommended the following which address all the concerns raised by MND and HDB:
  1. All cats in HDB flats must be: Sterilised; Vaccinated; Electronically tagged (mircochipped). This will ensure that pet cats will not breed, are healthy, and the owners can easily be identified. The tag will also allow appropriate action to be taken against irresponsible owners who abandon their cats. Microchipping is a simple, safe and painless procedure. A small chip about the size of a rice grain is inserted under the cat’s skin by way of a quick injection. The chip contains information about the cat and its owner.
  2. The cat(s) must be kept indoors at all times, and the owner must make sure that windows and doors are appropriately fenced up and secured so that the cat(s) cannot run out of the flat.
  3. There should not be more than 3 cats per household to ensure sufficient space and attention for the cats.
  4. A compassionate transitional stage where owners of more than three cats will be allowed to keep their cats until their natural death. With natural attrition, the number of cats will eventually be adjusted to the stipulated 3 per flat.
  5. Only residents who comply with all the above terms and conditions will be allowed to keep cats in HDB flats. They must be registered with the local RC or Town Council as the legal and responsible owner of the cat(s).
  6. CWS will assist MND and HDB with the registration process and help ensure that all the stipulated conditions are complied with. This will help ease the strain on their existing manpower resources.


An Appeal/Study In Support of Allowing Cats In Flats, and Sterilisation of Strays In Place of Culling

Overhaul of HDB Cat Ownership Policy

Dr Sing Kong Yuen, a veterinarian at Toa Payoh Vets, analyses and displays his letters to the authorities in regards to issue of overhauling the HDB Cat Ownership Policy. Link (Alt Link)

Other Letters Mentioning Cats

The justification for this rule continues to remain questionable

Again, please speak up against this injustice. Please seriously consider adding your voice to the appeal by:

  1. write to these addressees: here, here
  2. think about the arguments to refute their claims: here, here, here Go to: Casefile: Cruel Singapore. Hack-care Singapore. (Special recommendation: Singapore’s Love-Hate Relationship with Trap-Neuter-Release Management )

The Debate Rages in January 2007

Straits Times letters

TODAY letters

Radio debate

(Updated: 20070129)


14 responses to “Government (ir)rationale for banning cats from 85% of homes

  1. Cats make loud noises? And toy dog dont? Cat sheds hair? And what about dogs?
    Those are the most ridiculous and unfair reasons i have heard.

    I used to live below the flat of a toy dog owner. and his scruffling around my ceiling and his annoyingly loud barks were the top nuisance of my everyday life.

    A cat that has been neutered will not even make sounds half as loud as a dog. And a pet cat’s faeces is no way more smelly than a dog’s.
    And why do people complain about cats around HDB areas – perhaps because they have not been neutered and they are getting into fights. So isnt allowing kind loving responsible owners to adopt them the way to go? So that the cats can be neutered, taken care of, and being separated means stopping catfights around the neighbourhood? And contrary to what HDB claims, a cat is easy to adapt to domestication. Having a single cat in the house one will not even notice there’s a pet – whereas one single dog is very noticeabe. And mind you I have a friend with a small dog in a flat and the house smells!

    I think perhaps the people deciding the regulations are people who do not know much about having cats as pets, or people who have dogs. And like most ignorant people they like dogs and are misinformed about cats.. the injustice to the most pitiful and lovable creature of god’s creation continues….

  2. Hello Van,

    I agree with you that the HDB rationale for banning cats does not hold water. Cats, like any other pets, would shed as much fur and actually makes a lot less noises than dogs. So the rationale that HDB has for banning cats does not make sense to anyone with the brain to think through the logic.

    However, not all dog lovers are cat haters. Pls do not assume that the policy makes in HDB are dog owners who hates cats and hence came up with the policy. You are not being very fair to dog-owners.

  3. Van,
    Please do consider writing to HDB or the press, preferably both, your objections to the ban.

    However, I agree with AutumnPiglet. Cats and dogs may be portrayed as polar opposites and sometimes mortal enemies and rivals by popular media or lore. However, it doesn’t mean that the ones who made this anti-cat policy are automatically dog lovers. We have to be reasonable, rational, and objective in problems like this. Otherwise, we’re as bad as the ones who made such ridiculous policies.

    As to the common perception of cat-dog rivalry, it’s bollocks. I know personally 2 families that have dogs AND cats under the same roof.

  4. Yes. Perceptions that cats and dogs do not get along are all made-up by humans. Generally speaking, dogs like to chase animals (not just cats, that’s why they make great herders in herding cattle and sheep). Hence when they chase a cat, it’s not to harm a cat, but really for the fun of it.

    Cats who do not know the dog, will think that the dog is trying to harm it. I guess cats generally don’t like being chased around. Cats are natural predators, I don’t think any predator likes to be a prey.

    I have both dogs and a cat at home. They get along find, and do chase each other around the house, but it’s more for play than any real intention to harm the other.

  5. Yes i do agree with and understand what you said.. excuse me for making such statements. I too know people who have both cats and dogs. And in fact i know even of dog owners who admitted to me that in fact cats are cleaner than dogs.

  6. Van,
    Sometimes when we feel passionately about something, we lash out at certain things.

    Thank you and AutumnPiglet for discussing and sharing your thoughts calmly and rationally. Much appreciated, especially in the face of increasingly-common rude behaviour that seems prevalent both on and offline.

  7. Thank you Van.

    And yes, as a dog and cat owner, I do agree that cats are cleaner than dogs. But either way, I love them all to pieces. :o)

  8. Pingback: TODAY 20070129: Do cats belong in our HDB estates? « Tipped Ear Clan

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  11. Hello. I’m Waka. I recently had a kitten that came into my house . I took care care of it, much to the displeasure of my neighbor. They hate cats. I have then kept it in the house and apologized. But, one day, the neighbor opened my house window and took the cat out , wanting to get rid of it. I beg, you to be my supporters in this serious matter. I think the neighbor is horrible. Unauthorized trespassing of people’s property. Pls add me to your Facebook. My name is Wakayama hicks.

  12. If the government cannot resolve dog issues and conflicts caused by dog owners after all these years, how do they plan to resolve further issues caused by cats? NEA is not effective against dog owners who unleash their dogs in public and even abuse / threaten victims when they are approached for their unsocial behavior.

    Cats are different from dogs. They are more difficult to control as you can’t leash them and they run all over the place, including neighbors home. There are people who have animal phobia of one kind or another. How will these be managed? What happen if the cats start jumping all around the place or worse, attack people at times (sorry, I don’t like scratches by cats’ paws)? Can the victims (mentally and / or physically “tortured) by the cats as a result file a claim against the government should the government allow such policies without proper and strict rules (enforceable rules, unlike those rules like no smoking in lift which are not enforceable).

    Perhaps the next thing the government will allow people to keep cockroaches / ants / lizards and whatever as pets as long as there is a minor support group who starts making enough noise and as long as we have a cat and animal loving / compassionate minister.

    If the cats result in tension between neighbors and quarrels follow etc, who is responsible for resolving? Should the cat owners be relocated or should the victim move out if they can’t co-exist? Should the government absorb all costs for relocation when such a situation arise?

    If there are no answers to all potential issues, I would suggest the cats be left alone caused we can’t allow people / cats relationship to affect people / people relationship which is more crucial in our society logically.

  13. Please help those poor kitties. I myself had adopted 3 kitties (all sterlise) from local rescuer and they are way better than what bad rumours had spread among community. They are quiet most of the time, soft meow when want food. Play silently, automatic go kitty litter to do their business. On my part i feed them, play with them, and every alternate day i vacuum and mop the floor so not only me but my cats can enjoy the clean environment like how they love cleaning themselves. I don’t see why responsible owners for their pets cannot have cats in their homes. I microchipped all my kitty, regular vet visit and also mesh up house windows and main door to keep them indoor. I personally feel that hdb should look into such issue and allow responsible cat owner to keep their cats and not ban their existence and make everyone chase their beloved cats out the house so they can be culling away 😦
    And hdb reason to ban cats is silly as it applies to most pets. Noise: barking? Chirpping? Shedding? Dog no shedding? Why cats have to suffer the mistake all other animals making and they get to have a home while poor cats have to exile to street life?

  14. Pingback: Rat + Rojak = Rattatouille of grave oversight – Hazrul A. Jamari

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