AVS seeking views on feline welfare framework, including pet cat ownership in HDB flats
The public consultation includes an online survey that will be available until Nov 2.
SINGAPORE: The Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) is seeking public feedback on its proposed framework to improve the management and welfare of cats, including possibly allowing pet cats in Housing and Development Board (HDB) flats.
In a press release on Saturday (Sep 3), AVS said that the framework aims to safeguard public health, and better protect the health and welfare of Singapore’s pet and community cats.
The public consultation will run for six months, from September 2022 to March 2023.
This includes a two-month online survey for the public, which is currently available on AVS’ website until Nov 2.
AVS said it will reach out to key stakeholders, including animal welfare groups, veterinarians, community cat caregivers, cat-owning and non-cat-owning residents, and representatives of pet businesses.
The agency aims to share the findings of the public consultation exercise and its revised recommendations in 2023.
PET CATS IN HDB FLATS
Members of the public can share their views on the three strategies within the framework.
The first proposal is to expand the existing pet dog licensing and microchipping scheme to include pet cats.
In addition to improving the traceability of the felines, AVS said microchipping would also allow cat owners to be held accountable for the responsible keeping of their pets. This would mitigate potential issues such as abandonment and associated cat-related feedback.
Microchipping would also allow AVS to trace a pet diagnosed with an infectious disease, helping the agency to react better in the event of a disease outbreak.
With the proposed licensing scheme, the public will be consulted on whether cats are suitable to be kept as pets in public housing, with AVS and HDB also exploring the possibility of allowing pet cats in Housing Board flats.
"We have heard many calls from cat lovers to allow this," said Senior Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How on Saturday at a Pets’ Day Out event, through which AVS engages with the pet community.
He added that the authorities recognise that HDB flat residents would like to have cats as pets, while others may have concerns about issues caused by irresponsible cat ownership.
"As we carefully review our pet ownership policies, we will consult the public widely, and continue to balance the needs of the different segments of our community."
MANAGING CATS IN THE COMMUNITY
The second strategy looks to extend the Trap-Neuter-Rehome/Release-Manage (TNRM) programme for free-roaming dogs to community cats as well. Such cats will be sterilised after capture, and then rehomed where possible or released back into the community.
The proposed TNRM programme for cats would build on the current Stray Cat Sterilisation Programme (SCSP), where AVS works with animal welfare groups to manage the community cat population by subsidising the costs of sterilisation and microchipping.
AVS is currently conducting research to better understand the population size and ecology of community cats, as well as the social aspects of cat management.
The findings will be used to refine the proposed cat management framework, including the proposal to extend the programme to community cats, said AVS.
RESPONSIBLE CAT OWNERSHIP
The third strategy would explore ways to further promote responsible cat ownership, the adoption of cats, and responsible community cat caregiving.
"An example is sharing with new pet owners on caring for their pets. Such efforts will help to protect the health and welfare of our pets," said AVS.
Mr Tan reassured the public that the authorities will be mindful of existing cat owners’ circumstances, with all new measures carefully studied and gradually implemented.
"All of us have a part to play in encouraging responsible pet ownership and community animal caregiving," he said.
The consultation is part of the larger Forward Singapore movement that aims to refresh the country's social compact and "build a more endearing home", said AVS.