Cat licensing scheme to kick in on Sept 1, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Cat licensing scheme to kick in on Sept 1

A new framework allowing those living in Housing Board flats to keep cats will come into effect in September, when a two-year transition period for cat owners to meet licensing and microchipping requirements begins.

The Cat Management Framework – under the National Parks Board’s Animal and Veterinary Service (AVS) – will allow up to two cats to be kept in each HDB flat, and up to three cats for each private residence, with owners required to license and microchip all their pet cats.

“Those with more cats than the limits for HDB flats and private premises will be allowed to keep all their existing pet cats if they license them within this transition period,” said the AVS.  

Licensing will be available online via the AVS’ Pet Animal Licensing System portal from Sept 1.

First-time applicants will also need to complete a one-time free online pet ownership course covering basic pet care skills and responsible ownership.

Licensing will be free during the two-year transition period – which will run from Sept 1, 2024, to Aug 31, 2026 – but will subsequently cost $15 for a one-year licence for a sterilised cat and $90 for an unsterilised cat, same as the cost of licensing pet dogs.

Senior Minister of State for National Development Tan Kiat How said licensing would enhance the traceability of pet cats and allow the authorities to better respond to animal disease outbreaks.

“Licensing will also allow us to hold irresponsible cat owners to greater account if they abandon, neglect or abuse their cats,” he said during the Pets’ Day Out event at East Coast Park’s Parkland Green on May 11.

People are also encouraged to sterilise their pet cats to prevent unintended breeding.

Licences issued during the transition period will have lifetime validity for sterilised cats, while for unsterilised cats, these licences will be valid only during the transition period.

Separately, the Pet Cat Sterilisation Support Programme, which will also be launched by AVS on Sept 1, will provide low-income households with free sterilisation and microchipping for their pet cats.

It will be an offence to keep unlicensed pet cats from Sept 1, 2026, with cat owners subject to fines of up to $5,000 for not complying with licensing conditions, similar to the regulations already in place for dog owners.

The licensing framework comes after a two-month public survey of about 4,000 people.

It is the result of two years of public consultation which garnered more than 30,000 responses, and focus group discussions with a range of stakeholders including more than 100 cat owners, non-cat owners and representatives of animal welfare groups.

Conducted between December 2023 and February 2024, the survey found that 65 per cent of respondents said they were supportive of or neutral about allowing up to two cats per HDB household.

The two-cat allowance is aimed at striking a balance between these differing views, said Mr Tan.

But he noted that those with more cats than the limit can seek approval from AVS and HDB with valid reasons, similar to the existing licensing scheme for pet dogs.

“Working with the community, we will monitor the need to review the pet ownership limits subsequently,” he added.  

Under the framework, cat owners will need to ensure their cats are kept in a safe environment and take steps to protect their cats from hazards, such as by installing screens or other barriers to prevent the cats from roaming or falling from height.

Owners will also have to place their cats in a harness or carrier when in public areas to prevent them from roaming.

During the transition period, AVS will review pet cat sterilisation rates and assess if there is a need to introduce measures such as making such sterilisation mandatory after the two-year period.

“This phased approach ensures that those who are unable to sterilise their cats or have strong views against sterilisation will still be able to license and microchip their cats,” AVS said.

national parks boardANIMAL WELFARETAN KIAT HOW