UPDATE, 23 September: The story has been updated with AVS' response.
SINGAPORE — The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) is investigating an incident involving a man who was captured on video forcing a lit cigarette into a cat’s mouth.
In response to media queries by Yahoo News Singapore, SPCA executive director Aarthi Sankar said on Friday (16 September) that the animal welfare group was alerted to the "clear case of abuse" on Tuesday.
"The SPCA is strongly against such acts and highly discourages smoking near your pets. Animals face the risk of blood cancer lymphoma and mouth cancer when they ingest toxic particles from a cigarette," she added.
When exposed to smoke, the soft tissues of animals can become inflamed in their trachea and upper respiratory tract, which causes swelling and blockage in the airway that could lead to suffocation or death, added Aarthi. Trachea refers to the tube that connects the larynx of an animal to its lungs.
Smoke from cigarettes may also trigger asthma flare-ups in cats, causing difficulty in breathing and chronic cough.
The Animal & Veterinary Service (AVS), a unit of the National Parks Board, said on 23 September that it is aware of the video showing the alleged abuse and is looking into the case.
"We have also checked on the community cat and assessed it to be in good condition," said AVS group director Jessica Kwok.
A short clip of the alleged abuse was posted on Sgfollowsall's Instagram page on 11 September. The clip, a repost of an Instagram story by user sudharshanann, shows a man in a red t-shirt with his mask pulled down to his chin approaching a cat resting on a ledge at a void deck.
He put a lit cigarette close to the cat, which responded by sniffing it and moving away. The man held the cat down even as it hissed and tried to force the cigarette into its mouth.
Members of the public with information on the case can contact SPCA at 6287 5355 or at email@example.com, which will be treated in strict confidence.
They can also report suspected cases of animal cruelty to AVS via www.avs.gov.sg/feedback or its Animal Response Centre at 1800-476-1600.
First-time offenders caught abusing an animal may be charged under the Animals and Birds Act, and could be fined up to $15,000, jailed up to 18 months, or both.
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