A truck crash in the central Chinese city of Changsha in Hunan province last week led to the discovery of live cargo, 1,000 cats in cages, says China Daily. The cats were packed into wooden crates piled high and, according to Xu Chenxin of the Changsha Small Animal Protection Association, were destined to be eaten in restaurants in Guangdong in southern China.
As Xu said to AFP, “…from looking at the crates you could tell their owners didn’t care if they were alive or dead… The cats has travelled for days, without food or water, and the smell was dreadful.”
After the crash, a number of cats escaped. Left out in the cold (and at the same time as a cold snap) for more than 24 hours, many died.
A call went out on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like site, after the accident which led to some 50 local volunteers appearing to rescue a number of cats. Xu’s volunteer group negotiated with one of the drivers of the truck and bought the animals for 10,000 yuan (about $1,600). Xu said that his organization had already had a number of inquiries to adopt the cats.
Cats are not regularly eaten in China but are served in some restaurants, especially those in the south. One dish, “Tiger and Dragon Locked in Battle,” contains snake and cat meat. Cats intended to be eaten are raised in the countryside, where residents see them as an “easy way to make money,” says Medical Daily. The cats are sold to restaurants for $1-2. Demand for cat meat seems to be on the rise for “a previously unaffordable delicacy” as people have more money.
The organization Animals in Asia says that some four million cats are eaten yearly in China. Indeed, in Guangdong province, “it is common for restaurants in the province to have cages of live cats at the entrance, waiting to be chosen by the diner.”
Back in November, Chinese authorities intercepted a truck carrying 500 cats in Xuzhou in the northern province of Jiangsu. Those cats had been packed into metal cages and sacks; the driver claimed that he was carrying a load of rabbit. Another local animal rights organization negotiated with the driver and bought all the cats for 3,500 yuan (about $350). China does not have laws to protect non-endangered animals — these recent discoveries of hundreds of cats kept in inhumane conditions and fated for slaughter are more than reason such laws are needed.
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