It's good to know that there are now plans for more cat cafes in Chong Pang and that a pilot project may be run next month to allow cats in HDB flats there.
While is it better late than never, one wonders what exactly has changed to bring this about. Way back in October 2001, CWS had sent an earlier proposal in where another Town Council and CDC were interested in starting a pilot project. HDB's response then? That a pilot project would not be reflective of the long-term effectiveness of the measures on a nationwide scale.
One could make the argument that things are much better now - more cats are sterilised and people are more accepting of cats. However, while it certainly seems that more cats have been sterilised thanks to the hard work of caregivers (and this is reason enough to cheer), I don't believe people have become any more or less accepting of cats because I believe the number of people who were supposedly so intolerant of cats was small to begin with. CWS reports that their recent survey found that 85% of people were agreeable to letting cats remain in an estate if they were sterilised. Dr Lou Ek Hee's paper published in the Singapore Veterinary Authority's Journal in 2000 showed that 96% of people were supportive of the cats being allowed to remain in the community if they were sterilised.
Does this show that people are actually less tolerant now? I don't believe so. As I've often said, we can probably argue that a small minority of people don't like cats. An equally small minority really love them. The important thing though is that most people don't want cats killed - and this hasn't changed. Most people have no objections to cats in the estate if they don't cause any problems. Even if there are issues that arise from the cats, most people don't want the cats to be taken away and killed. So the issue here isn't that peoples' attitudes have changed.
One could argue that perhaps politicians are more enlightened now, or that the HDB officials in charge have become more understanding and compassionate. This seems to gain credence because of the sheer speed with which this policy change has come about once the elections were over. The worry about this argument is this : what if the winds of change blow back in the opposite direction again? Surely there must be some way of ensuring that policies are evaluated on their merits rather than on the opinions of the current office holder. We cannot always be crossing our fingers and hoping (as we do now) that the next official who comes in may support animal friendly policies.
I am very happy to hear that cats (or ONE cat - something I'm not wild about) may be allowed into HDB flats. I just wonder why this long outdated policy hadn't been changed years ago and whether responsible pet owners could have been saved years of anxiety and fear for doing absolutely nothing wrong.