World

Outcry over cat meat in China

Hundreds of cats found in small cages to be sold for human consumption

A "feline house" in Tianjin, in northeastern China, has netizens in China all worked up.

They are outraged that hundreds of cats are kept there in small cages (below) to be sold for human consumption, BBC reported.

Eating cat meat is widely regarded as taboo in China, but it is still eaten in some rural regions.

Netizens have raised major concerns over hygiene and some have posted pictures of their own pets to raise awareness.

On Wednesday, popular regional daily The Beijing News reported that local police in the eastern city of Tianjin had found a "common courtyard house with more than 200 cats crowded into very small cages".

The report said that, "several villagers said that the 'feline house' had been leased to someone from outside the area for two to three years".

PHOTO: WEIBO

"We have often seen in the past, cats being transported by vehicle, but we did not know what these people were doing," one villager was quoted as saying.

The news about the cat house went viral after it was posted on popular microblog Sina Weibo by Chinese newspapers Yangtse Evening Post and Huaxi Metropolis Daily.

Both said rescue teams had confirmed that the cats were to be shipped to Yunnan, Guangdong and Shandong provinces to be used as food.

The Huaxi Metropolis Daily's post was shared more than 3,000 times and received thousands of comments from appalled social media users.

Within two days, the hashtag #CatMeatUsedForHamAndKebabs had become a Sina Weibo trend.

HYGIENE ISSUES

Users appeared to be most concerned about food hygiene standards.

"I will never eat food from roadside vendors again," said Xiaocong Ban-Jiang, whose comment received more than 1,000 likes.

Xiao Ruyi Jin Baozi lamented in another popular post: "What is happening to our country, why are there always problems with food and drink?"

As an act of protest, Weibo users uploaded pictures of their pets.

"You can't not love them; please do not hurt them. I hope you don't go to street vendors or unlicensed restaurants," Xu Xiao Piao wrote.

"I do not understand how some people cannot tell the difference between an animal companion and food," Xiaoyuan Zide Dream protested.

State media reports say two men have been detained and that "the matter is under investigation".

This is not the first animal food scandal in China.

In February 2014, The Beijing News reported that police had found cages containing stray cats in Beijing suburbs, and "traders claimed that they caught cats to be sold on as food".

The news prompted outrage among many social media users at the time.

China was also the subject of international criticism last June for going ahead with its annual Yulin Dog Festival in southern Guangxi province.

In that event, about 10,000 dogs were slaughtered for meat.

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