Singapore jails man for keeping 43 cats in squalor

Muhammad Danial Sukirman caused ‘unnecessary pain and suffering’ to animals by failing to provide food, water and attention in 2021

Maroosha Muzaffar
Friday 26 April 2024 10:48 BST
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A 31-year-old man was sentenced to 20 days in jail for neglecting 43 cats in a vacant flat, marking Singapore’s largest animal cruelty prosecution to date.

Muhammad Danial Sukirman pleaded guilty to causing “unnecessary pain and suffering” to animals by failing to provide food, water and attention between August and November 2021.

He admitted to infrequently feeding the cats and neglecting their welfare, according to court documents first reported by Today Online. He also admitted that the environment in which the cats were left was filthy, posing health risks to both the cats and nearby residents in an apartment in Ang Mo Kio in Singapore.

Prosecutors noted that “it is a case that has set its own precedent” and argued that a fine would be “far too lenient” for Mr Sukirman. They sought a jail term given his “deliberate” conduct knowing that the cats were breeding uncontrollably and yet he kept the living conditions poor.

According to the court documents, Mr Sukirman regretted his actions but judge Lorraine Ho agreed with prosecutors to send him to jail, stating that his actions posed health hazards to the neighbourhood.

The case first came to light when authorities responded to public feedback about a foul smell emanating from Mr Sukirman’s flat.

They found more than 30 cats and skeletal remains inside the apartment.

Mr Sukirman admitted to owning the cats and surrendered them to the authorities. He claimed that the cat population had grown out of control after the death of his mother-in-law, leading to neglectful conditions.

During inspections by the authorities, it was found that the cats lacked access to clean water and were fed infrequently, leading to fights over food.

Several cats showed signs of injury, infestation, and disease, the court documents revealed.

In July 2021, Mr Sukirman secured a new flat in a new neighbourhood and had six months to leave his old one where the cats were. The family moved to the new flat in Yishun in August, but Mr Sukirman reportedly didn’t arrange to rehome the cats, leaving them behind in the vacant apartment.

“He also did not visit the said flat regularly nor to provide the cats with food and water on a daily basis due to his long working hours and poor management of finances, [being] in heavy debt,” the prosecutors said.

In Singapore, each charge of causing unnecessary pain or suffering to a pet carries a maximum penalty of 18 months’ imprisonment or a fine of up to £8,818, or both.

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