Singapore cat ownership could soon skyrocket

The ownership numbers could rise as the Singapore Housing and Development board aims for removal of the decade-long ban on owning cats in public housing.

Tim Wall | WATT Global Media
Tim Wall | WATT Global Media

More Singaporeans are expected to welcome pet cats into their homes if their government lifts a decades-long ban on cats in public housing.

Cats have been banned since 1989 or for over three decades now in all Singapore condominiums and apartments built by the Singapore Housing and Development Board (HDB). Residents found to have a pet cat in their units can be fined at least S$4,000. 

Recently, however, the board and Singapore's Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS) have opened a public consultation to assess how pet cats could possibly be allowed in HDB flats without displeasing residents who don't like cats. Based on public feedback, the agencies hope to find ways to balance the interests of residents who love pets and those who could be affected by the consequences of irresponsible pet ownership. Allowing pet cats in HDB estates would largely depend on maintaining good neighborly relations between these two groups. 

If Singapore finally affords its cats HDB resident status, the direct effect on pet cat population, cat food consumption and cat care demand would be tremendous. There are 1.2 million HDB dwelling units in the country that house 80% of the population. Most of these units could potentially house a new or additional pet cat if the rule changes in their favor.

Research firm Euromonitor believes that by 2025, there will be more cats (1.3 million) than dogs (465,000) in the island country. By then, Singapore's pet food market will be worth $111.9 million, with cat food growing steadily at 4% CAGR between 2021 and 2025. 

Wet cat food accounted for 52.1% of the cat food sales in 2020, Euromonitor said. Cat treats and mixers recorded a CAGR of 20.5% in the last six years and are expected to grow at a CAGR of 7% from 2021 to 2025.

A sector trend analysis report by Agriculture and Agri-food Canada, pegged Singapore's demand for dry cat food at 29% of the cat food sales in 2020 with a CAGR of 5.4% from 2016 to 2020. It expects this segment to record a CAGR of 3.3% from 2021 to 2025.

Meanwhile, the fate of Singapore's cats will be decided on March 2023, the end of the consultation period with key stakeholders that include animal welfare groups, veterinarians, community cat caregivers, cat-owning and non-cat-owning residents, and pet businesses. The government review of Singapore cats' welfare and their place in society is part of Forward Singapore movement that aims to “build a more endearing home.”

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