Up to 2 cats allowed per HDB flat, all owners required to license & microchip their cats

It will be an offence to keep unlicensed pet cats from Sep. 1, 2026 onwards.

Tharun Suresh | May 11, 2024, 11:00 AM



Up to two cats will be allowed in each HDB flat under a finalised framework, reversing a 35-year ban where HDB residents could have been fined up to S$4,000 if found to have a pet cat in their flat.

Starting from Sep. 1, 2024, cat owners will have two years to get their cats microchipped and licensed.

During this transition period, which will help pet owners ease into the new changes under the framework and will last till Aug. 31, 2026, licensing your cats will also be free.

Those who have more cats than the stipulated limits will also be allowed to keep all their existing pet cats as long as they are licensed within the transition period, and owners can ensure that their cats' health and welfare are taken care of.

Eligible low-income households will also be able to sterilise and microchip their cats for free from Sep. 1 onwards.

The new guidelines are part of the finalised cat management framework announced on May 11 by Senior Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How.

"The cat management framework is a significant milestone in our efforts to improve animal health and welfare standards in Singapore, and enhance accountability and responsibility towards our pet and community cats," Tan said, speaking at the 24th edition of Pets’ Day Out held at Parkland Green, East Coast Park.

According to the Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) under the National Parks Board (NParks), the framework consists of:

  • A mandatory licensing and microchipping scheme for pet cats,
  • A community cat management scheme,
  • As well as educational and outreach programmes on responsible cat care.

The framework is the fruition of close to two years’ worth of extensive consultations with members of the public, community cat caregivers, cat owners, non-cat owners, animal welfare groups, veterinarians, and more.

All pet cats will need to be licensed and microchipped

HDB flat owners can keep up to two cats and one dog of an approved breed.

Meanwhile, those living in private premises can own up to three cats or dogs, or a combination of both.

Pet cat licensing will be available via AVS’ Pet Animal Licensing System (PALS) from Sept. 1. Until Aug. 31, 2026, the process will also be free.

After the two-year transition period, from Sep. 1, 2026 onwards, it will be an offence to keep unlicensed pet cats. Just like with dogs, owners found keeping unlicensed pet cats are liable on conviction under the Animals and Birds Rules to a fine not exceeding S$5,000.

AVS noted that licensing and microchipping are "key for traceability to safeguard public and animal health".

Things to note before applying for a license

There are three things cat owners are recommended to do before applying for a license.

Firstly, owners must make sure their cat is microchipped. Owners will also require the scanned microchip number to apply for the license. Information on microchipping is available on the NParks website here

Secondly, all first-time cat (or dog) license applicants need to complete a roughly 30-minute one-time online free pet ownership course before being issued a cat (or dog) license.

The course will cover basic pet care skills and responsible pet ownership. 

Thirdly, owners are strongly encouraged to sterilise their pet cats.

One-time licenses with lifetime validity will be issued for sterilised cats, while unsterilised cats will receive licenses only covering the transition period.

Owners with unsterilised cats can also expect higher fees for licenses from Sep. 1, 2026 onwards.

AVS noted that it received “strong calls” from some stakeholders for mandatory sterilisation, but wanted to avoid deterring people with "strong views" against sterilising from licensing and microchipping their cats.

AVS also said that it will review pet cat sterilisation rates moving forward and assess if there is a need to introduce enhanced measures for sterilisation during the two-year transition period.

Free sterilisation and microchipping for eligible low-income households 

To support low-income households with cats, AVS is also launching a Pet Cat Sterilisation Support (PCSS) programme on Sept. 1.

PCSS will provide free sterilisation and microchipping for pet cats in low-income households that might otherwise be unable to afford sterilisation, which could lead to unintended breeding of the cats.

Owners can check their eligibility for the programme and register for it on the AVS website from Sept. 1, 2024 onwards.

Cat-keeping rules and guidelines 

Moving forward, cat owners will need to comply with a few basic cat-keeping rules.

Firstly, owners must ensure that their cats are in a safe environment and reasonably protected from hazards. This means installing meshes, grilles, screens and barriers to prevent cats from roaming or falling from heights.

Secondly, when in public, owners must make sure that their cats are kept under physical control by using a harness or a pet carrier.

Pet cats are not allowed to roam freely outdoors.

Owners found breaching these rules will be liable for an offence.

Individuals found guilty of failure in duty of care to their pets, including pet abandonment, may face a fine of up to S$10,000, a jail term of up to 12 months, or both.

Cat fosterers can license their fostered cats too

From Sept. 1, 2024, cat fosterers will also be able to license their fostered cats through the PALS system as long as they can ensure that the cats’ health and welfare are taken care of.

Guidelines for cat fosterers are currently being co-developed by AVS, the Housing and Development Board (HDB) and animal welfare group partners. More details will be shared moving forward.

New, revised programme to manage community cats 

Under AVS’s new framework, a new Trap-Neuter-Rehome/Release-Manage (TNRM) programme for Singapore's beloved community cats will be rolled out on Sep. 1 as well.

It will provide enhanced funding support for the management and care of community cats island-wide.

The programme replaces and builds on the current Stray Cat Sterilisation Programme, under which AVS has been subsidising the sterilisation and microchipping of community cats since 2011. 

Under TNRM, enhanced funding will be given not just for sterilisation and microchipping, but also for the trapping and boarding of community cats for pre- and post-sterilisation procedures.

Sterilised cats will be rehomed where possible, while the remaining cats will be released back into the community where they can continue to be cared for by community cat caregivers.

Education and outreach programmes 

AVS is also set to organise roadshows and events to raise awareness on cat-related topics, responsible pet cat ownership, the benefits of sterilisation, and living with community cats in our neighbourhoods.

It is also working with animal welfare groups, community cat caregivers, agencies and Town Councils to develop guidelines on responsible community cat caregiving.

The guidelines may cover the feeding of community cats and the placement of cat accessories like cardboard boxes in permissible areas. AVS said that a draft of the guidelines will be released sometime in Sept. 2024.

Top photo from Tharun Suresh.