Cats and Singapore HDBs

In Singapore, most housing is government subsidized and have been nicknamed HDBs by locals.  Since these units are government subsidized housing, there are a lot of rules and regulations regarding them.  Those rules extend to pet ownership beyond the laws that already exist in Singapore regarding what types of pets are legal to own.  I’ll go into that in another post.  For now I just wanted to draw attention to one particular issue.

Cats aren’t allowed to be pets inside HDB housing.  Some of the reasons for this is that cats are supposedly noisy and dirty.  Really that just boggles my mind.  Cats are required to be spayed or neutered in Singapore at around six months of age.  If this is done then house cats rarely make any noise at all.  The majority of the noise a neutered or spayed cat will make is when it’s confronting another cat in its territory.  That’s not likely to happen inside of a home, is it?  Unless you’re just in the habit of letting random cats come in and out at their leisure.  Dogs, which are allowed in HDBs, will often bark very VERY loudly for little to no reason at any given hour of the day or night.  Also, cats are not dirty.  Well, not any dirtier than dogs anyway.

It all comes down to responsible pet ownership.  Bathing your cat and cleaning its litterbox regularly are just something that a person should do, and if it’s being done the house won’t be any dirtier than a house without cats, or a house with a dog.  In fact, cats always use a litterbox.  Dogs on the other will crap and pee all over the floor if not let out and that will sit there all day if no one is home.  To me, a pile of crap on the floor, with a breeze blowing the odor to other homes, is a lot filthier than a covered litterbox.  That’s just me though.

This weird obsession with cat persecution extends to outside of the HDBs as well.  One complaint is that cats rifle through garbage and make a mess.  I don’t see how.  The HDBs use a garbage chute system, where the garbage winds up behind a locked door on the ground floor for collection.  There are a few regular trash cans under the buildings but they rarely have food waste thrown into them to start with, and I’ve never seen a cat in or even near one.  I suppose part of that is that even outdoor cats in Singapore are well cared for by people in the community.

The animals that do make a mess of the ground floor of HDB estates are actually people.  It’s insane how disrespectful and prone to littering people are here lately.  When I first moved to Singapore it was usually spotless, but over the last year and a half or so it’s been getting progressively worse.  I’ve posted a photo of the mess people typically leave behind before.  It’s usually kids and young people doing it, but even still you have to wonder what their parents are teaching them that make them feel it’s ok to make this sort of mess.  There are very poorly paid foreign workers that go through the HDB estates every night, cleaning the areas, but is that an excuse to simply toss your garbage on the ground?  Especially when you’re right next to a trash can?

Anyway, what made me think about all this is that I was downstairs and saw this disaster below where I live:

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It’s like this on a nightly basis, and usually worse.  I’m pretty sure it’s not cats that are doing it.  The difference here is that this goes unremarked, while cats are rounded up and killed at the slightest provocation.

It seems to me that the HDB rules need to be revised to allow cats into the buildings. There’s no logical reason why they shouldn’t be there.  And instead of fixating on rounding up and routinely killing cats, they should focus on rounding up and routinely fining people that are actually ruining the cleanliness of HDB estates.

There are groups here in Singapore, like Cat Welfare Society, that regularly take the time to try to educate people and Town Councils about real cat behavior and that’s great.  I, like other bloggers who like cats, am just doing my part in pointing out an ongoing issue.

Finding Common Ground Through Community Cats in Singapore

It’s amazing how friendships can start over something small.

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There’s a cat that lives under a block that we pass by on our way home from the Pasir Ris MRT station.  My wife had found it one day while jogging and since the cat was very friendly she started bringing a small bit of cat food with her to give it when she passes by.  One day, she saw two girls feeding the cat as well and they struck up a conversation.

That was a few weeks ago.  Over the weekend, we met up with them for coffee and later sat around playing with the cat and feeding it while talking.  It’s amazing how well we get on with these two girls that we just met.  We became ‘friends’ on Facebook and even got invited to a wedding.  All because we all enjoy looking after a cat.

There was a survey result I saw a week or so ago saying that in Singapore, expats have an easy time making friends, but it’s often with other expats.  They don’t typically mingle with the locals.  I’m sure people could infer a lot of negative things from that fact, but I think it’s just a matter of not finding a common ground to start from.

Most of the expats in Singapore are from countries where life is tougher and they may see Singaporeans as pampered and not feel that they would have anything in common with them.  So, they might not initiate a conversation to get to know someone.  On top of that there’s the natural boundary of being from different cultures.  Singapore has a long way to go, but it’s a more watered down mix of cultures than what expat workers may be used to where they’re from.

For me, I guess I just haven’t had much interest in getting to know locals.  Well, I don’t avoid it.  I just don’t go out seeking it.  Besides the two girls we met through the cat, the only other Singaporeans I know well (that are in Singapore) are the family we live with.  They’re a great bunch of people.  I have a feeling I’m missing out on a lot by not getting to know more of the local population.

Dapper’s Little Twin

Yesterday when I was heading to Tampines I noticed this cat hanging out on the sidewalk.  I was shocked, because I thought it was my cat and that she had somehow escaped and gotten ahead of me.  It didn’t make sense, because she’s usually a scaredy cat, but… well, see the photos for yourself.

The cat I saw:

And here’s my cat:


Well, when I got a better look at the cat outside I realized that it could be Dapper’s twin.  It even had a bobbed tail, just like Dapper.  The cat was smaller though.  It looked like it was about 7 months old.

I wonder how Thumper would react if I had brought that cat upstairs, washed it and set it loose?  Would she have been able to tell the difference?

The Cats of Seashell Park

A few months ago my wife and I took a walk through Seashell Park.  It’s a small park that’s located behind a hawker center in Pasir Ris.  It’s not incredibly well maintained, but it’s nice nonetheless.  One of the things I enjoy about Singapore is that despite it being a city, there are still plenty of open areas where you can try to enjoy nature a bit, manicured though it may be.

While walking through the park we were surprised at the number of cats we saw.  It seems to be a home for many of them.  There was one (not pictured below) that had a collar on, so I think that some of them must leave their houses during the day to enjoy the sunshine and then go home at night.

The problem of strays in Singapore is a pretty big one.  People don’t seem to understand the value that cats hold in pest control, but rather think of the cats themselves as pests.  I for one am all for the humane treatment of cats, even when they’re strays.  There’s a better method than culling, which is what many residents and Town Councils seem to think is the answer to everything from cat ‘nuisances’ to there being too many pigeons in the area.

That’s really a story for another blog post though. I just wanted to share a few pictures of the cats we saw up there in the park.

The Cat’s Out of the Bag!

I just wanted to say thanks to all you lovely folks who have dropped by my blog via Singapore Community Cats and Cat Welfare Society to check out my “Cats Are Good For Singapore” post. I appreciate the attention, the compliments on the article, and hope all of you enjoy it!

Also, if you’re a reader of my blog and love animals, please do take a moment to check out the Singapore Community Cats blog and the Cat Welfare Society (links are above).