After a young man suspected his cat had been stolen by an illegal slaughterhouse in Tianjin, China, he contacted a a group of animal activists in the north east. When the team from China Animal Protection Power arrived to the location, they were shocked to find 24 wire cages containing 375 cats, most starved and sickly. And outside the building were piles of cat hair, the remnants of perhaps thousands of cats that had already been killed.
CAPP had long suspected that there was an illegal cat slaughterhouse in this area of Tianjin’s suburbs, however, it was only after the tip-off from the young man that they were able to pinpoint the location. The man’s cat had disappeared two weeks previously and he was convinced that it had been stolen by pet thieves who snatch animals for the meat trade. While searching for his pet, he stumbled across the illegal slaughter operation.”1
A leading member of CAPP called Huang said, “The first three cages of the cats we saw were heart breaking. They were cages of misery. The hungry and sick cats cried louder when we approached them, as if asking us to help them.”2
Cat and dog theft is rampant in China and in many parts of the country, there is a complete lack of action by the police.
ATTENTION, the following is intense and may be uncomfortable for some people. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
Peter Li, China policy specialist at HSI said in a statement:
“The way cats are killed for China’s meat trade is notoriously brutal. They are grabbed around the throat with large iron tongs and then beaten over the head with a metal or wooden stick whilst their terrified cage mates look on. Some may still be conscious when they are thrown into a pot of boiling water to remove their hair.
After that they are disemboweled, beheaded and de-footed to disguise the species, before being shipped to buyers. This is the fate of an estimated 4 million cats a year in China, a mixture of stolen pets and urban strays. I have rescued cats from these slaughterhouses myself, and they are utterly grotesque places, often with piles of fur and pet collars thrown in the corner.”3
In some places in China, cat meat has been suspected of being sold as mutton, rabbit, or something else, to customers.
There are currently no nationwide laws in China which explicitly prohibit the mistreatment of animals.
“Although there are no animal protection laws, China’s dog and cat meat trade is a wanton violation of many other laws. For example, the theft of companion animals is a criminal act according to China’s Criminal Code, and dog and cat slaughter violates China’s Food Safety Law that prohibits the killing for human consumption of animals from unknown sources, animals with illnesses, and animals that are dying of unknown causes.
Most of the dogs and cats that our partner groups encounter in this trade are infected with disease, have shocking skin problems, and physical injuries. The transport of such large numbers of dogs across provincial borders also poses a recognized risk of rabies. The huge public health hazards implications of this trade and not sufficiently well understood in China.”4
Local police are now investigating and the cats are being looked after by activists who are trying to find homes and shelters to keep them in, because CAPP activists were able to negotiate with the local police department and confiscated all of the 375 cats. While a a legislative ban on the trade is their ultimate goal, until that happens they just hope local police will do their jobs.
In the last three decades, mainland China has seen a huge expansion in the animal protection movement and the thousands of advocacy groups, associations and rescue teams have hope that soon, there will be protections in place so that this part of their history will be nothing more than a thing of the past.
I am utterly disgusted that this type of cruelty takes place. It is more than I have words for. While I am so thankful the team was able to rescue these poor animals, I cannot help but think of the hundreds of others who were so cruelly killed.