How can one be responsible if one cannot be an owner?
One of the things that I think is lacking in Singapore is the sense of ownership. Without a sense of ownership at all, how does one promote responsible pet ownership? As a point to note, people do write in and send in bills/claims or emails asking if they can get community cat rates for their pet cats. When I clarify if the cats belong to them, people will say it is a community cat, or that the cat was picked up, and one person just told me the cat didn't have 'papers'.
I explained that cats didn't have papers here - but the fact is that there is a bylaw disallowing you from owning a cat legally if you live in an HDB flat. So people don't feel like the cat is really theirs. If it is there, they will feed it and be nice to it, but quite a lot of people don't feel like the cats is theirs because they're not allowed to legally own it. Plus if it came down to the fact that your family could be fined or even evicted because you have a cat in your flat, then for the vast majority of people it's not even a choice - and its hard to blame anyone for this, when you AND the cat could end up homeless.
Psychologically I do wonder as well if it makes people build up certain walls against the cat, in case they are told they cannot keep it. I have heard of fosters who don't name the cat because the cat will not stay with them, and naming the cat is something they do only if the cat has become 'their' cat. Obviously fosters know they only have the cat temporarily and hence not all want to get too attached because it can be upsetting to give the cat away. Possibly that's what some people do as well with cats in their flats - they try not to get too attached in case they are told to get rid of their cats, and as a result, the sense of being responsible towards the cat isn't there either.
Of course some people are just plain irresponsible and will be no matter what, but I do firmly believe that there would be more of a sense of responsibility if cats were legally allowed.