Nov 5, 2008

Cat mess: Solve the problem, reverse the ban in HDB flats

MR WEE Eng Leong (“What is the point of having a rule banning cats in HDB flats when enforcement is ineffective?” on Saturday) is right to feel upset over the cat mess caused by irresponsible pet owners. However, his solution – to get the Government to more strictly enforce a ban on cats in HDB flats – isn’t going to get the job done for a host of reasons.

I suspect that sometimes the ban is not so strictly enforced because local authorities who have a heart recognise something that the Government doesn’t: that many of our citizens love cats and the companionship they bring. And how do you ban cats when there is real love involved?

As an animal lover, I often find myself in conversations with all sorts of people about their pets. Even a burly taxi driver can get misty-eyed talking about the cat who greets him when he comes off his late shift.

There is a more practical reason for reversing the ban that you don’t have to be a cat lover to see: “legalise” cat ownership and you allow licensing and microchipping. Licensing means that cat owners can be held responsible for the actions of their pets and fined. Microchipping means that cats can be quickly identified and traced, not just when they leave a mess behind, but also when they are abandoned. And of course, sterilisation of pets has to be required – not just cats but dogs as well.

Let’s try to make this a win-win situation for everyone. And I can offer a quick-fix to Mr Wee in the meantime: simply purchase a bag of mothballs, which is less than a dollar at NTUC FairPrice supermarkets, and sprinkle them in the area around his parents’ flat. Cats hate the smell and will avoid the area. It works. But the ban on cats doesn’t.

Joanna Colodin Hughes (Ms)

The Straits Times
Nov 1, 2008

My Point

Unresolved for 2 years

‘What is the point of having a rule banning cats in HDB flats when enforcement is ineffective?’

MR WEE ENG LEONG: ‘My aged parents living in a Housing Board estate in St George’s Lane are at their wits’ end over the nuisance posed by cat poo along the corridor of their unit. Their complaints to the Housing Board branch office have come to naught. The HDB tells them to be patient and that action is being taken. But how patient are they supposed to be? The problem has remained unresolved for two years now. How long are my parents to live with the foul smell, day in day out, because of inconsiderate neighbours who let loose their cats? What is the point of having a rule banning cats in HDB flats when enforcement is ineffective? It makes a mockery of the rule.’