I was just speaking with a caregiver who has been sterilising all the cats in her estate. She said all the community cats are doing well and have all been sterilised, but that from time to time, people dump cats and these cats add to the population. Even if she sterilises them, these cats will then increase the number of cats there.
She has gone to these households and spoken with them. Jolanda has also gone with her before. I also offered to go down and flyer the block or talk to the residents. The caregiver however said that she thinks this is of not much use - she said these people do not want to sterilise their cats and would rather just dump the kittens as they see no benefits to sterilisation. She said she would try and sterilise these indoor-outdoor cats for them first and ask for help if she could not get through still. She estimates at least ten families are dumping in just one block in her area. She has already sterilised some of these cats for free - and been verbally abused for it. Once Jolanda and her were left banging on a door for half an hour because the woman did not want her cat back after sterilisation. Another woman complained that her cat's ear was now snipped.
She also said that when the pest control come, they always round up the sterilised cats downstairs that she manages, but that the problematic cats are the ones upstairs. She found three different cats defecating upstairs in this block. She asked why the town council did not just speak with these families, but when she asked, she was told to report them to HDB.
This really brings home the fact that we're not going to crack down on the number of cats without really working on the problem of abandonment. If I am an irresponsible owner, I would ALREADY be owning cats and letting my cats run in and out, contrary to what HDB says about irresponsible people owning cats if the rule is relaxed. If HDB comes I can argue the cat isn't mine and I won't get fined. There is no impetus for me to keep the cat indoors at all or to get it sterilised.
If however you make it easy for me to keep a cat - get it sterilised, keep it indoors at all times, and not allow it to make a nuisance, but I can safely keep a cat without repercussions (and without getting fined), I think most people would be MORE responsible and follow the guidelines. It's not that much to do for peace of mind. Just as with the no feeding notices, you find more people feeding worse than if you just teach people how to feed properly but to allow them to do so.
At the same time, people who ARE responsible can own cats without being afraid of being fined because they are doing everything right. People who are also responsible will be more likely to come forward and adopt if the law is changed to make cats legal in HDB flats.