Keeping Pets in Singapore: 5 Extra Costs and Considerations for Your New Home    

Eugenia Liew
Many families keep pets in Singapore. If you’re one of them, this guide will come in handy when planning and budgeting for a new and pet-friendly home.
Family can come in all shapes and sizes, and are often at the forefront of one’s mind when shopping for a new home. Different families will have different needs too; multi-generational families with many members might need a larger housing unit for everyone to live in comfortably, while newlywed couples may be content with a small, cosy space all to themselves.
In a similar vein, it’s increasingly common these days to think of pets as part of the family, such as when we often affectionately refer to pet dogs and cats as our “fur babies”. It’s therefore important to also take our pets’ needs into account in the same way we think about taking care of our family’s daily necessities. Besides expenses like pet food and vet fees, ensuring our animal friends have adequate living space is part and parcel of caring and raising them.
Now, you might be thinking that there isn’t much to it — after all, what’s so difficult about buying a tank for your pet fish, or a cage for your new hamster? While it might be true that small pets are easier to care for than larger ones, there are some inconveniences one can encounter without careful planning. Not to worry though, we’ve got a list of things to help you plan ahead for both you and your pet.
But before we explore those nuances, let’s first consider the living space you and your (future) pet will share together.

Existing Pet Owners: Can You Keep Pets in HDB Flats?

Let’s say you already have a pet living with you. While house hunting, do bear in mind that some pets and housing types do not fit into the same equation. Pet ownership will impact the type of property that you can move in to, though this applies more to large dogs and cats than other small pets. For instance, no matter how friendly and people-loving your golden retriever is, large dog breeds such as these are not allowed in HDBs due to the lack of floor space within the unit.
And it’s not just about size. The famously vertically challenged corgi breed is also not allowed in HDBs despite its lack of stature. This high-energy breed is very active and also sheds fur excessively, which the Ministry of National Development has deemed as traits that go against maintaining a “pleasant living environment and good neighbourly relations”. You can read more about HDB-approved dog breeds here. Do note that even of the approved breeds, you are allowed to keep one dog at a time in a HDB flat.
Cats face a similar dilemma — keeping cats in HDB flats is illegal due to their tendency to roam, caterwaul, and are generally deemed difficult to contain within a flat. If you have large and/or active dogs, or cats as pets, a landed property with room to roam might be your best bet. Condominiums will remain a viable option too, but these are less recommended as some of these apartments can run small. The budgets for a condo or landed property will vastly differ from HDB flats, and you will need to be prepared for the financial commitment.

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Soon-to-Be Pet Owners: What Are Some Considerations When Home Shopping?

Now, let’s consider a different scenario. You’ve settled into your new home and are thinking about adopting a pet. The situation is now reversed — instead of being restricted to certain housing types depending on your pet, the type of pet you adopt is now impacted by the house you live in.
Type of Pet
Key considerations and costs
The risks of high-rise living and the costs of meshing up windows
Fish, terrapin, etc
Costly fish tanks and enclosures, as well as plumbing solutions for ease of cleaning
Various pets
Planning for a suitable bath and wash-up area
Various pets
Replacing destroyed furniture and buying other pet-related furniture (e.g. shelves, aquarium stands, etc)

Keeping Cats in Singapore: The Risks of High-Rise Living & Costs of Meshing Up Windows

If you live in a high-rise apartment and plan to adopt a cat, remember, cats are proficient climbers. They are also curious creatures, and this means that open windows can become hazards, and could risk your cat falling several storeys if precautions are not taken. To prevent unwanted accidents, your windows will need to remain closed permanently, or at the very least be meshed up if you plan on opening them. You will need to mesh your front gate too, as these slinky animals can easily slip through small gaps and escape. The cost of meshing your windows will vary depending on the size of them, so set aside a small budget if you are planning to bring home a feline friend. There are several pet services who will provide you a quote based on the size of your windows, but if you plan on installing the mesh yourself, the mesh will cost between $8 to $37 for a 0.5m by 1m roll.
Rearing an indoor cat instead of an outdoorsy one comes with a few perks. It will be less inclined to want to roam outside, but in doing so, you will have to find other ways to help expend its energy and keep it active. To this end, installing climbing fixtures or shelves can act as obstacle courses for your cat to explore. These installations can be taken care of during the renovation process, and the costs incorporated into your renovation budget. Alternatively, they can be installed at a later time, but you will either have to take care of the drilling and installation yourself, or engage a professional for some help.

Keeping Terrapins, Arowana and Other Fish in Singapore: Costly Fish Tanks and Plumbing Solutions

If you are an avid fish enthusiast, you might have dreams of owning an elaborate aquarium filled with lush aquatic plants and vibrantly coloured fish. Or, if you believe in ‘fengshui’, you might want to rear some larger fish breeds like arowana or flower horn (‘luohan’) fish for luck and prosperity. Or, maybe you and the kids plan on rearing some terrapins, which can grow significantly in size. The size of your tank will affect how convenient or difficult it is to maintain your aquarium, so think this one through before you go ahead!
The commonly available rectangular fish tanks come in various sizes and are typically made of glass. Large tanks can hold 100 litres of water or more, while more modest ones can hold anything between 8 to 50 litres of water. Either way, your fish tank will need to be strategically placed so that you are not too far from a water source or bathroom. Imagine having to lug pails of both clean and dirty tank water while navigating through your home… Any spillage will mean a lot of cleaning up to do.
If you are certain about upkeeping an aquarium, include these plans in your discussions with your interior designer or contractor, who can help you work out any solutions to your water problems, and what these might cost.
It’s hard to estimate the costs as these plumbing solutions will be very unique to the lay out and design of your home, but it is definitely a significant expense you’d want to budget for.

For All Pets: Planning for Convenient Bath and Washing Areas

Speaking of the bathroom, fur babies like cats and dogs are sometimes similar to human babies or young children. You will need to bathe them regularly and have a wash-up area for all their soiled items (like the litter box, toys, etc). Some owners are fine with sharing a bathroom with their pets, but if you’re one of those who prefer not to, you’ll need to find a home with a spare or common bathroom.
Additionally, how small your bathroom is might become the bane of your pet-bathing existence. Particularly for pets that detest water, a small shower stall can be a hazardous place to bathe them if they struggle and resist. Getting sprayed in the face by your shower hose will be the least of your problems if there is a risk of falling and injuring yourself during the struggle.
Having a bathtub, or a large open area to bathe them in might be a better option altogether. Of course, installing a bathtub will cost you extra, so think carefully about this before deciding. Installation will set you back roughly $1,500 to $2,000, and that’s besides all the weight regulations imposed by HDB and condominium managements.
Besides strategic placement and having adequate facilities, what else do you need to consider when preparing your home for a pet? Furniture, of course.

For All Pets: Budget for Pet-friendly Furniture

Pet-friendly furniture works in two ways — furniture for the humans that your pets won’t easily destroy, and furniture for your pets to use.
Any cat or dog owner will tell you that pet fur is something you will have to get used to, and the last thing you want is a sofa that attracts fur. There are different fabrics deemed to be pet-friendly, with some more suitable than others depending on whether you own a cat or dog.
For instance, leather is a great material for your couch as it’s easy for the fur to be cleaned off, but might not be so great if your cat loves to scratch and sharpen its claws. You may need to regularly trim its claws (Note: trimming claws is NOT the same as declawing) so it doesn’t puncture the leather. Other overall great textiles include microfibre and canvas, both of which are relatively inexpensive, and are easy to clean or replace. Whatever you decide, prepare a budget that allows you to regularly change the fabric of your sofa and other furniture.
As for furniture specifically for your pets, these again will depend on your what sort of pets you keep. Your fish or terrapin tanks will require a stand, while hanging cages for pet birds will need hooks installed into the ceiling, or some other hanging feature.
As for more mobile pets, creating a niche space for them is also important in building a pet-friendly home. You may want to consider restricting access to some areas of the house, such as the kitchen or bedrooms. Child gates will come in handy, as dogs are unlikely to try and climb over or vault them.
For your cat, you may want to allow it free passage into your bedroom (or risk suffering the lack of sleep when it tries to enter at night), and install a cat flap on the door. While each of these will not cost nearly as much as home renovations, setting aside some money for these will give you an idea of the expenses required to raise a pet.

A Pet-friendly Home is a Happy Home

Now that you have a rough idea of the things to consider in creating a pet-friendly home, you might have realised by now that owning a pet is not a decision to be made on a whim. When you make the decision to adopt them, they become your responsibility and will rely on you to care for them, so it’s important to have a clear idea of what lies ahead. This checklist will come in handy when you draw up your pet-friendly renovation plans!

Checklist for Planning A Pet-Friendly Home in Singapore

  • The new property I am considering has enough space for my pet to move and be active.
  • It is not illegal for me to keep pets on this property.
  • The property and surrounding environment is safe for my pet.
  • There are precautions I can take to keep my pet safe.
  • There are adequate facilities for me to clean my pet.
  • I have invested in appropriate furniture for my pet.

More FAQs on Pets in Singapore

What Pets Are Legal in Singapore?

You can keep dogs, cats, small rodents like hamsters and chinchillas, and selected fish, birds, reptiles and amphibians.

Where Can I Buy Pets in Singapore?

There are many pet shops in Singapore where you can buy a new fur-mily member. The largest pet shop chain that sells pets and pet supplies is Pet Lovers Centre.

How Can I Get A Pet Dog in Singapore?

You can buy a dog from a pet shop, or better still, adopt a dog from a shelter! Some licensed rescue groups include: Action for Singapore Dogs, Animals Lovers League, Causes for Animals (Singapore), Exclusively Mongrels, Mercylight Animal Rescue and Sanctuary, Noah’s Ark CARES,
Oasis Second Chance Animal Shelter, Purely Adoptions, SOSD, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and Voices for Animals.

Is It Illegal to Have A Cat in Singapore?

No, cats are legal to own in Singapore. It is, however, illegal to keep cats in HDB flats.

What Is The Best Pet-Friendly Flooring?

This depends on your unique needs, but in general, laminate is a popular choice as it is affordable and quite durable against scratches and stains. Learn more about the different flooring types here.

Can A Landlord Legally Say No to Pets?

Yes, some landlords do specify explicitly in the Tenancy Agreement that they do not allow pets. If you’re looking for a pet-friendly home to rent, be sure to check with the landlord and read the agreement carefully before signing.
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