On 8 April 2023, appalling closed-circuit television surveillance (CCTV) footage showed a boy assaulting a cat outside an HDB flat in Bukit Panjang. The footage has since been widely circulated on the internet. The cat's owner, Ismul, posted the video on his Instagram Story on 10 April 2023 to seek justice for his cat. The Facebook group, Cat Lovers Singapore, has since reposted it to implore the public to help source more information regarding the perpetrator. What Happened In the minute-long viral footage, a male youth was captured seemingly humping the cat multiple times. At the start of the video, the boy is spotted loitering outside the house and surveying the area. After seemingly confirming that the coast was clear, he is seen pulling down his pants and begins to hump the unsuspecting cat. Understandably traumatised, the cat is seen scuttling away from the boy after one or two thrusts, only to be lifted by the boy to continue the act again. Ismul, the cat's owner, was only made aware of this harrowing incident after his neighbour forwarded the CCTV footage to him. He has since made a police report on the incident but noted that “nothing could be done" at the moment as there are still very few details on the perpetrator. He also noted signs of trauma on his cat after the incident. Abuse Against Animals in Singapore Unfortunately, abuse cases against cats and animals in Singapore have only increased. Between 2017 and 2020, authorities reported nearly 1,200 alleged animal cruelty and abuse cases yearly. About 30% of the cases were related to animal cruelty, while the rest involved pet owners who failed in their duty of care. A similarly young perpetrator threw a black cat off his HDB block just last year in December 2022, prompting wide backlash from the public. While the male youth in the footage did not kill the cat, his act of assault could still lead him to get charged under the Animals and Birds Act, which indicates that anyone found guilty of cruelty to animals, including the abandonment of any animal, can be imprisoned for up to 18 months, fined up to $15,000, or both. Psychiatric Understanding Needed Regarding Abusive Acts The recent cases of animal abuse by young individuals have prompted a deeper look into the psychology behind such acts. Dr Lim Boon Leng, a psychiatrist at Gleneagles Medical Centre, suggests that younger boys are more likely to engage in animal cruelty, often to externalise negative emotions or seek attention. As children mature, they develop a sense of right and wrong and learn to regulate their emotions, decreasing the likelihood of such behaviours. However, some older children who engage in animal abuse may have witnessed family violence, including violence towards pets, which may contribute to their actions. Studies also suggest a higher prevalence of animal cruelty in children with developmental delays, such as ADHD, due to difficulties with impulse control. However, he noted that positive parenting techniques, such as setting limits and encouraging empathy, effectively reduce anti-social behaviours such as animal abuse. He states that an understanding of underlying motivations for animal abuse is needed to increase the potential for treatment and rehabilitation. Seeking Justice After the circulation of the viral video, the cat's owner and numerous members of the public have come forward to gather information regarding the boy featured in the footage. They have implored the relevant authorities to take action against him. Executive Director of SPCA, Ms Aarthi Sankar, became aware of the video on the evening of 10 April 2023 and reported the matter to the relevant authorities while supporting the cat's owner. He stated that the contents of the video were deeply concerning and raised the issue of animal abuse and welfare cases, which include incidents with minors in recent years. He emphasised that the SPCA has been focusing its efforts on education and advocacy. As such, they urge parents and educators to emphasise the importance of treating all animals as sentient beings to their children. This is in line with Dr Lim’s observations which stated that a more comprehensive approach is needed to address the root causes of animal abuse to prevent future incidents and promote a more compassionate society.