SINGAPORE: More than 80 per cent of people who gave their views in a survey by the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) agreed that pet cats should be microchipped and licensed – a practice that is in place for pet dogs.
Most respondents also support allowing cats to be kept as pets in Housing Board (HDB) flats, with about nine in 10 saying they agree cats are suitable to be kept as pets.
A ban on cats as pets in HDB flats has been in place since 1989, although the agency told CNA in September 2022 that it will reconsider the issue, taking into account feedback from AVS’ public consultation.
Findings from the public consultation, which ran from September to November 2022, were released on Saturday (Mar 6).
AVS said the survey garnered more than 30,000 responses from a diverse range of stakeholders.
“It showed that overall, the respondents were strongly supportive of the proposed approach to cat management,” said AVS.
Most of the respondents agreed that microchipping and licensing cats could help to improve the health, welfare, and traceability of the animals.
“If a pet is diagnosed with an infectious disease, especially a zoonotic one, it is important to be able to trace its whereabouts, close contacts, and health status,” said AVS.
“Enhancing traceability would enable AVS to react more expediently in the event of a disease outbreak.”
Most respondents agreed that licensing would result in greater accountability on the part of cat owners.
“This would mitigate issues such as pet abandonment and associated cat-related feedback. In addition, it would allow lost pets to be reunited with their owners more quickly,” AVS said.
Close to 80 per cent of respondents also agreed that first-time dog and cat owners should attend a mandatory course for them to be equipped with basic pet care skills.
On the issue of community cats, eight in 10 people surveyed agreed that a proposed programme to sterilise and microchip these animals would be effective in managing the stray cat population.
Under the proposed Trap-Neuter-Rehome/Release-Manage programme, AVS will continue to work with animal welfare groups.
“Sterilised cats will then be rehomed through rehoming partners where possible, while the remaining cats will be released back into the community, where they can continue to be responsibly cared for by community cat caregivers,” the agency added.
AVS said it will continue to engage various stakeholders through focus group discussions, before refining the proposed approach to cat management for another round of consultation.
It added that it will seek feedback on the measures it intends to implement, to give households and stakeholders sufficient time and support to adapt to any changes that may be introduced.
Members of the public can give their feedback on the survey findings or the proposed approach on AVS' website.