A truck filled with 500 cats thought to be destined for restaurants was intercepted on Wednesday in Xuzhou, eastern China’s Jiangsu Province. Officer Sun Hai said he and a colleague pulled the vehicle over during a routine traffic check. The officer commented, “The driver said it was a full load of rabbit, but after we instructed him to uncover the load we were shocked to find a full load of living cats.
The officers informed volunteers from a local animal protection center who quickly arrived on the scene. The rescuers used keys and knives to carefully cut open the bags some of the cats were stuffed into, to minimize the trauma and save the animals from suffocation. They also bought water and food and began giving water to the cats as they sat caged on the truck.
The owner of the load refused to reveal where the cats had come from and only released the animals to rescuers after several hours of negotiation resulted in him selling the cats too the rescue volunteers for 3500 Yuan ($560 USD). The cats were transferred to an animal rescue center at Tangzhang County, where they are being receiving care.
This rescue story illustrates contrasting aspects of the status of companion animals in China. While there is still a market for cats and dogs at markets, restaurants and food festivals in certain areas, large segments of the population consider them pets and work for animal welfare protection. Abuse incidents often bring an outcry from the public when photos and videos surface online, and the news media sometimes covers the stories. A video of a woman dunking a kitten in a puddle as the Mama cat tried to save her baby went viral in July of 2011 as thousands of Chinese residents expressed sadness, concern and a desire to see the woman brought to justice.
Photos: HAP/Quirky China News //REX/SIPA