Police in eastern China rescued over a thousand cats being transported to a slaughterhouse to then be killed and illegally sold as “pork,” “lamb skewers” or “sausages,” according to local media.
Suspicions arise: Animal activists in Zhangjiagang, Jiangsu province, first noticed suspicious activities near a cemetery earlier this month. There, they spotted large, nailed-up wooden boxes containing cats and began to monitor surrounding movement for six days, The Paper reported.
Big bust: After receiving tips from the activists, local police intercepted a truck that carried the felines south to an unknown location on Oct. 12. The cats were successfully rescued and transported to a shelter, where they now receive care.
Illicit trade: Authorities suspect the cats were to be slaughtered and illegally sold as fake pork, lamb skewers or sausages. In China, cat meat can fetch 4.5 yuan ($0.61) per “catty,” a unit of measurement approximately equal to 600 grams, as per the BBC.
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“As long as there is profit, there will be those who do whatever it takes,” activist Gong Jian, who is building a sanctuary for the cats, told The Paper. “Not to mention this is a gray area with no legal jurisdiction.”
Public outrage: The news sparked outrage on Chinese social media, with users calling for laws on animal rights and food safety. “Criminals who abuse animals should be hunted and prosecuted,” one Weibo user wrote.
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Another shared, “I’ve heard that when people die, they will personally experience the feelings they have brought to other living beings. So those who are kind to others in life will feel relaxed and happy, while those who have committed wrongdoings will feel utmost pain — including those who abandon pets or abuse animals.”
“Do not abandon cats and dogs, as many strays may end up being captured for food, turning zero-cost ingredients into profits. Stray dogs are also more likely to harm people,” another warned.
Meanwhile, one vowed never to eat on the streets again. “I won’t be eating barbeque meat outside anymore,” the user noted.
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