Two people were fined HK$1,000 each on Tuesday for cooking the corpse of a cat, with the magistrate asking them to embrace Hong Kong’s respect for animal rights if they intend to live in the territory.

Shu Xingqiao, 37, and her uncle Tang Xunguang, 53, pleaded in mitigation that they are from mainland China and did not know that it was illegal to use cats for food in Hong Kong. Shu holds a Two-way Permit while Tang moved to Hong Kong about ten years ago.

Shu Xingqiao (left) and Tang Xunguang (right).

Handing down the sentence at the Tuen Mun Magistrates’ Courts, magistrate Kelly Shui said that the duo’s conduct was unacceptable as it contravened the spirit of Hong Kong, which respects and protects animals. She added that dogs and cats are considered friends of humans, and cannot be handled any way one wants even if they are dead.

“This is perhaps the difference between Hong Kong and mainland China. While anything edible may be used as food for humans or dogs in the mainland, animal rights are respected in Hong Kong,” the magistrate said.

Shu and Tang pleaded guilty earlier to using a cat for food, an offence under the Dogs and Cats Ordinance.

In January, two police officers patrolling in Ta Shek Wu Village in Yuen Long found the pair about to cook the carcass of a cat. The officers said much of the animal’s skin had been removed, with a pot of boiling water placed nearby. No other animal carcasses were discovered.

Ta Shek Wu Village. Photo: Google Street View.

The court heard that Tang skinned the cat while Shu used an LPG gas torch on the animal outside her village house. Shu said the cat was originally a stray, but it considered her its owner after she fed it leftover food.

Shu claimed that she did not want to waste the animal after it suddenly died of cold. She told the court that she was going to use the animal to feed her dogs.

It remains uncertain how the cat died.

Under the Dogs and Cats Ordinance, the offence carries a maximum penalty of a HK$5,000 fine and a six-month jail term.

Ellie Ng

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.