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China: Police rescue 1,000 cats from being slaughtered and sold as food

Authorities assured that the cats were heading to a slaughterhouse. Their meat was going to be sold labeled as pork or lamb.

Imagen de archivo de varios gatos callejeros en una calle de China.

(Wikimedia Commons: Kentaro Ohno)

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Chinese police rescued 1,000 cats Tuesday that were going to be slaughtered with the aim of selling their meat. The authorities reported that the cats, found in a delivery truck inside cardboard boxes, were headed to a slaughterhouse. They were allegedly going to be illegally sold labeled as pork or lamb. After saving the cats, authorities took them to a shelter.

This rescue, the BBC reveals, in turn uncovered an illegal feline meat trafficking network, generating a new debate in China about food security in the country. According to the report, cat meat can be easily confused with lamb or pork and used to create skewers and sausages. However, it is much cheaper. Cat meat costs 4.5 yuan ($0.61) per animal, which, activists report, is equivalent to approximately 1.3 pounds. The meat from each cat is used to fill between four or five containers.

The initiative to stop this illegal practice has been active for a few months, reports Chinese outlet The Paper. In mid-October, activists in the city of Zhangjiagang found several cats locked "in wooden boxes nailed to a cemetery." Given the unusual nature of this activity, the organization decided to monitor them for six days, until they saw that they were going to be transported. At that moment, they stopped the vehicle and notified the authorities. It is still unknown if these cats were pets or strays.

Social media outrage

When this story was reported, many users took to social media to express their outrage. On Weibo, the most popular social network in China, people were unnerved.

Users condemned this illegal practice and asked for stricter controls to be applied in the country's food industry. "Let these people die a horrible death," and, "When will there be laws to protect animals? Don't the lives of dogs and cats matter?" and, "I will no longer eat roast meat outside," were some of the comments that went viral and demonstrated how Chinese citizens are against eating feline meat.