Keeping cats on regulation

·2-min read

JAN 16 — I am a pet person. I will cross roads, miss buses, skip entire parties to hang out with the nearest dog or cat.

In all honesty, I have sometimes encountered a less than friendly dog and been nipped a couple of times — most recently right on the nose.

In those instances, I know the blame is mine; ultimately these are animals and not toys. But still I love dogs for all the joy they can bring.

So, I was pleasantly surprised by the recent statement from the newly-appointed president of the Law Society of Singapore Adrian Tan.

Calling it “irrational and unfair,” he dissected the Housing & Development Board’s (HDB) stand against cats in flats and pointed out all the reasons the decision was incoherent.

For example, one of the reasons HDB offered was that cats are difficult to contain. To this, Tan pointed out that all pets need to be contained.

His response to HDB’s point that cats make caterwauling sounds, he observes the obvious point — dogs bark too.

He also pointed out the double standards between private and public housing despite the apartments often being of similar size by asking, “Can it be that only those who live in private housing are entitled to have cats? Or are condo cats better behaved and more polite? Are cats only for rich people?”

With 80 per cent of the population living and thriving in HDBs, these double standards make less and less sense. — TODAY pic
With 80 per cent of the population living and thriving in HDBs, these double standards make less and less sense. — TODAY pic

With 80 per cent of the population living and thriving in HDBs, these double standards make less and less sense. To be fair, the state too has been committed to continually improving the standard of living in HDB estates.

Another of the reasons why I disagree with the ban is that I don’t see what is to be gained in having the state interfere on such a macro level on what pets we can or cannot keep in our HDBs.

It seems like unnecessary nannying. Instead, as a society, we would be better served by harsher punishments and relentless enforcement for animal abusers.

The aunty who finds companionship in her pet cat cannot be someone who is breaking the law — that seems an absurd situation.

Frankly, there is some urgency to revisit this because as the past two years have shown us, we live in uncertain times and if someone is keen to be a responsible pet owner so they can enjoy the companionship and comfort a cat offers during lockdowns and restricted visitors, they should have that right.

*This is the personal opinion of the columnist.

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