Members of the public are invited to share their views about cat welfare and management in an online survey starting today (Sep. 3).
This is part of a six-month public consultation effort by the Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS), a cluster of the National Parks Board (NParks).
In its proposed pet and community cat management framework, AVS is consulting the public about three main strategies.
Licensing and microchipping of pet cats
AVS is considering expanding the current pet dog licensing and microchipping scheme to include pet cats.
Such traceability would allow AVS to hold cat owners accountable for the responsible keeping of their cats.
It can mitigate potential issues such as pet abandonment and associated cat-related feedback, said AVS.
With this scheme for cats, lost cats can be reported more easily and reunited with their owners more quickly.
"This would improve the traceability of pet cats, so we can respond to animal disease outbreaks more effectively and better safeguard public health," added Senior Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How at the launch of the public consultation.
With the proposed licensing scheme, AVS and HDB will also explore the possibility of allowing pet cats in HDB flats.
"We recognise that some residents would like to keep cats in their flats, while other residents may have concerns about the disamenities caused by irresponsible cat ownership," said Tan.
The public will be consulted on whether cats are suitable to be kept as pets in HDB homes, said AVS.
TNRM for community cats
AVS is also considering expanding the Trap-Neuter-Rehome/Release-Manage (TNRM) programme to community cats.
The programme has been in place for free-roaming dogs since 2018.
Under the proposed TNRM for cats, community cats will be sterilised after capture.
Where possible, the cats will then be rehomed. Otherwise, they will be released back into the community.
This effort builds on the 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.
Over the last five years, SCSP has sterilised and microchipped around 4,200 community cats annually.
New community engagement and outreach programmes
AVS is also exploring new ways to promote responsible cat ownership, the adoption of cats, and responsible community cat caregiving.
This will be done in continued partnership with the community and animal welfare groups to improve standards of pet care.
"For example, we are considering introducing an online course to teach new pet owners best practices for pet care," said Tan.
Six-month public consultation
Tan said that all new measures will be carefully studied and gradually implemented.
"For instance, if we proceed with the licensing of pet cats, we will explore ways to give households sufficient time to adjust to any licensing requirements, especially if they have multiple cats," he noted.
The public consultation will run from September 2022 to March 2023.
It consists of a two-month online survey, community dialogue sessions and focus group discussions with key stakeholders including animal welfare groups, veterinarians, community cat caregivers, cat-owning and non-cat-owning residents, and representatives of pet businesses.
The online survey, which closes on Nov. 2, can be found at go.gov.sg/catsg.
AVS plans to share the findings of the public consultation exercise and its revised recommendations in 2023.
Top images via HDB/FB and Cat Welfare Society.