A young woman who killed and dismembered a kitten and posted the bloody pictures on the Internet has infuriated Chinese netizens.
Li Pingping, a former marketing consultant at Chengzi Culture Communication Co in Huizhou, Guangdong province, beheaded a kitten in her bathroom on Friday, less than two weeks after she purchased it.
Li posted the pictures of the dismembered cat that night on Sina Weibo, China's version of Twitter.
As the photos went viral, netizens unleashed a flurry of comments decrying the brutal act, with many calling the woman "insane" and "out of her mind".
Amid the flood of verbal attacks, the woman said she took her anger out on the cat because her family had been destroyed by her father's extramarital affair.
She told people to "back off" and stop judging her, which fueled even more online resentment.
Li later deleted her posts related to her abuse of the kitten.
But as pressure from the public mounted, Li apologised in an open letter on Monday in which she said she abused the cat under the influence of alcohol and domestic misfortune, and that she has been living in fear and guilt over the past few days.
The letter drew more than 60,000 comments by Tuesday.
Weibo user Mengmengdenaier said the woman apologised out of fear of public criticism and not out of remorse for what she did. But other netizens said they would stop criticising her because she apologised.
"I just hope that the wrong way of venting emotions could be avoided in the future," wrote Weibo user tubeGhost.
Stories of animal abuse have made headlines in China in recent years, stirring waves of public fury.
In April, around 100 stray dogs were allegedly buried alive in a pit near a garbage dump in Alxa Left Banner, the Inner Mongolia autonomous region.
In May 2013, dozens of stray cats were slaughtered in a residential district in Beijing, with the fur of the animals almost completely ripped off.
Sun Daqiang, a professor of psychology at Beijing Normal University, said people abuse animals because they are unable to find a proper outlet for their suppressed emotions.
He said they tend to vent their feelings by attacking things that appear to be weaker than humans, such as cats and dogs.
"A good number of people think that as long as they don't attack human beings, everything else is fine, which leads to frequent animal abuse cases," Sun said, adding it is necessary to probe the psychological factors that contribute to such brutality.
Luo Guo'an, a research fellow with the Guangxi Academy of Social Sciences, said the public should enhance their awareness of protecting animals, as their lives are also precious.
Below are photos of the incident and other animal abuse cases. Reader discretion in viewing them is advised as the images might be disturbing.