China police rescue over 1,000 cats from being slaughtered and sold as mutton, pork

An animal activist says cat meat is sold at 4.50 yuan (60 US cents) a pound, while mutton is 30 yuan (US$4) a pound, incentivising dealers to pass off feline flesh as mutton or pork. - ILLUSTRATION: UNSPLASH

BEIJING (The Straits Times/Asia News Network): In hauling up a truck loaded with abducted animals, police in China not just rescued more than a thousand cats, but also saved diners from being served the feline flesh passed off as pork or mutton by rogue businessmen.

Animal lovers on Oct 12 alerted police to a “cat car” – dealers in trucks who hunt cats and sell the meat as food – in Zhangjiagang, a county in Jiangsu province’s Suzhou city, Chinese daily The Paper reported.

The animal lovers had been tracking the cat car for nearly a week, having discovered dozens of wooden crates containing around 20 yowling cats each in a cemetery in the eastern coastal province.

After spending six days staking out the cat den and the paths that the dealers took, the group of animal activists managed to intercept the cat car on the road and called the local police for assistance.

The cats were en route to a slaughterhouse, where they would be butchered and made into food such as skewered meat and sausages passed off as pork, mutton or even beef, according to the activists.

The allure of the ruse lay in the potential profit for these cat dealers.

“Cat meat is sold at 4.50 yuan (85 Singapore cents) a pound but at the market, mutton can be sold for 30 yuan a pound,” said Mr Gong Jian, one of the animal activists. “Selling a skinned cat weighing around four to five pounds as mutton or pork, (the dealers) get to keep the entire price difference as profit.”

The group of activists had previously discovered a slaughterhouse in south-eastern province Guangdong where skinned frozen cat carcasses were stored to be sold.

“As long as there is something to be gained, a profit, there will be people who do whatever it takes,” Gong said, adding that people buying the meat would be none the wiser.

Another activist Han Jiali, who started tracking cat cars after losing a pet of her own, said that local authorities have told her that cats do not fall under the protection of the law and public resources cannot be allocated for their care after they are recovered from the cat dealers.

“(The dealers) invaded my property, and took my ‘emotions’ to Guangdong to be eaten,” she said, referring to her cat becoming one of thousands entering the market as disguised meat.

For now, most of the rescued cats are relocated to a transitory park, where they are nursed back to health by volunteers.

Details about the cats, such as their breed and fur colour, are placed online to allow their owners to claim them.

The cats would be put up for adoption if they stay unclaimed after a month, with new owners screened and agreeing to receiving follow-up visits to make sure they do not abandon their cats.

A shelter called Cat Island is being set up in Taicang, also in Jiangsu, to accommodate abducted cats that are not claimed or adopted.

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China , cats , rescued , meat , mutton , strays


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