Police rescue 1,000 cats from being slaughtered and sold as pork and mutton

Animal activists had spotted the cats in wooden boxes in a cemetery.

Police rescue 1,000 cats from being slaughtered and sold as pork and mutton
This photo taken on November 29, 2020 shows a rescued cat at a home for rescued dogs and other animals in Chongqing, southwestern China. - Twenty years ago, Wen Junhong saved an abandoned dog from the streets of Chongqing in southwestern China. She now shares her home with more than 1,300 of them, and they keep on coming. (Photo by NOEL CELIS / AFP) / TO GO WITH AFP STORY CHINA-ANIMAL-RESCUE,FOCUS BY HELEN ROXBURGH AND QIAN YE (Photo by NOEL CELIS/AFP via Getty Images)
The cats were rescued from slaughter and taken to a shelter (Stock picture: AFP via Getty Images)

More than 1,000 cats set to be slaughtered and sold as pork and mutton have been rescued by police in China.

The cats were in a truck in the eastern city of Zhangjiagang, when officers, who had received a tip-off from animal welfare activists, intercepted the vehicle.

An illegal trade of cat meat was uncovered, sparking fresh fears over food safety in the country, the BBC reports.

The animals were moved to a shelter. It’s not clear whether they were pets or strays.

In China, cat meat can sell for around 4.5 yuan (51p) per catty, which is a unit of measure similar to 600g, according to activists. A single cat can yield around four to five catties.

Activists had spotted wooden boxes containing the cats in a cemetery and monitored them for six days.

After seeing the cat boxes being lifted onto a truck, the activists stopped the vehicle and phoned police.

Cats gather in their enclosure at a Buddhist temple in the suburbs of Shanghai on December 3, 2015. A monk named Zhi Xiang has given shelter to some 100 stray cats and dogs at the Bao'en temple, because 'I can't see them die. I know I cannot offer them a good life here, but at least I can keep them alive', Xiang explains. AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE / AFP / JOHANNES EISELE (Photo credit should read JOHANNES EISELE/AFP via Getty Images)
It’s not clear where the cats came from (Stock picture: AFP via Getty Images)

The story, which was published on Chinese news site The Paper, caused outrage among Chinese people, with thousands leaving angry comments on social media platform Weibo.

Many called for tighter controls over food safety, while others said more should be done to keep protect animals.

One user said: ‘I won’t be eating barbeque meat outside anymore.’

Another said: ‘When will there be laws to protect animals? Don’t the lives of cats and dogs matter?’

For decades animal rights activists have been fighting for the Chinese government to clamp down on the trade of dog and cat meat.

Many of these animals are stolen from their families and are crammed into the back of lorries for days with no food or water before being killed.

In 2020, the city of Shenzhen in China made history by becoming the first authority in the mainland to ban the consumption and production of dog and cat meat.

It was part of a wider ban that included wild animals, following the Coronavirus outbreak.

Worryingly, cats and dogs aren’t the only animals being served up in disguise as something else.

Earlier this year a student at a college in Jiangsu was horrified to find a rat’s head in his meal.

Initially, the school claimed it was duck meat but later admitted it was in fact rat.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at [email protected].

For more stories like this, check our news page.