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More on China's cat-meat controversy

Cats rescued from an awful fate in China We told you yesterday about the animal activists in China who are protesting the use of cat meat in restaurants in the country's Guangdong province. 

The outcry follows Chinese media reports showing cats (like those pictured here -- although these guys, for the record, were rescued by activists) being transported to Guangdong restaurants, or being skinned in restaurant kitchens.

Times staff writer Barbara Demick has a unique perspective on the situation -- she's stationed in China and filed a report from Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong. 

Demick's experience started in a Guangzhou shop:

The gray tabby cat with hazel eyes and a white nose scrunched at the bottom of a stack of metal cages filled with rabbits, quail, pigeons and ducks, across the aisle from the buckets of turtles and scorpions in a narrow shop with as many live animals as a petting zoo.

If it was male or female, young or old, nobody seemed to know or care. All that mattered was its weight, 6 1/2 pounds.

After a few quick calculations, the shopkeeper offered to sell the cat for $1.32 per pound, about $9.

"We'll cut it up right here in back for you," the shopkeeper suggested, gesturing toward a bloodstained room.

Conversations like this happen often in Guangzhou, says Demick. Guangdong province (formerly known as Canton) is well-known for its -- to put it mildly -- exotic cuisine.  From Demick's story:

 

Dog is eaten in many parts of China, but only in Guangdong do people eat cat. It is rare to see a stray wandering the streets. Many cats served for supper here are shipped down from the north.
 
The Small Animal Protection Assn. says one Guangzhou-based business captures up to 10,000 cats per day from different parts of China. The cat snatchers are typically formerly unemployed people who use large fishing nets and are paid $1.50 per cat.

Unleashed readers will be pleased to know that Demick did indeed purchase the tabby cat offered her by a Guangdong butcher (it set her back $9, not counting the cost of the cage).  She released it near a vacant lot where, she was told, mice roam and a cat is needed.

That's one cat saved -- and sadly, a whole lot more to go.

Read Demick's full story here.

--Lindsay Barnett

Photo: EyePress/Associated Press

 
Comments () | Archives (15)

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My problem with stories like this is people in this country automatically assume all the Chinese people eat cats even though 99% of them don't. While cat eating is certainly true in parts of the world, but stories like this tend to create more stereotypes for Asians living in the USA. I don't see people writing a story about eating hamburgers or hot dogs. People here have no problem killing cows, but did you know cows are sacred in Hindu culture? I guess it all depends where you are coming from. It is always easier to judge others with holier than you attitude.

Hey Jack, it's not about racial stereotypes but cruelty to animal.

I TOTALLY agree with Sean; " it's not about racial stereotypes but animal cruelty!

It may be about both. A lot of our attitudes about what is OK to eat and what is not OK is ethnocentric, or based on our own cultural values. As the other poster pointed out, cows are sacred in Hindu culture but heartily eaten here in the US.

A lot of the attitude is based on what I call the cuteness factor. Cats and dogs are cuter than pigs, but the reality is that pigs are as smart, and some say smarter. So why is it OK to eat pigs? Why not eat cats and dogs? South Americans eat guinea pigs---is that OK? Of course, in any event, it is wrong to steal peoples' pets.

All these arguments miss the point, I think. The real issue is, as another poster says, about treating animals humanely. But I take that one step farther and say it needs to apply even to those animals we are supposed to eat. The best guidance for this comes from the rules of kosher, the Jewish dietary laws.

Kosher says that God placed animals on the earth in some part to provide sustanance for humans, and because of that, we have a holy obligation to be good stewards of the animals whose flesh we eat. That means you tend and raise food animals without cruelty, in humane conditions where they can flourish. And it means that you slaughter them without pain and anguish. I suppose that can apply to cats as much as to cows and chickens.

Otherwise, become a vegetarian.

Animal cruelty not including cows, Sean?

There is a saying in Guanzhou: we eat everything with its back facing the sky, except flies. We eat everything with legs except humans. Cat eating is nothing compared to the number of people eating dogs. After the 1975 influx of Southeast Asian refugees, pets roaming Golden Gate Park in San Francisco routinely disappeared. In Long Beach, Cambodians were arrested for butchering dogs in their backyard. Animal shelters had an increase of adoption of black puppies---they are considered better eating. So it is cultural, just like East Indians cannot stomache Americans eating beef, or Muslims watching us eat pigs.

One point is this. The cats killed in China are firstly companion animals and secondly they are killed in a most brutal and unregulated way.

Cows are bred as farm livestock. That is their purpose. Killing of livestock is regulated in the West and done humanely (usually or it should be).

The overriding impression is that the 1% of Chinese who partially kill, boil and skin what were once domestic cats (or should be domestic cats) are being very cruel indeed and this is not about culture or country. It is just plain wrong.

Well Sean, it is in many ways about racial stereotypes. I love animals and I don't want to see any of them get hurt. You might want to read some ignorant comments about Chinese in general with the same story published by newspapers in Kansas City or Minneapolis. People are very ignorant in this country in general and we got the press here preaching more ignorance and stereotypes. Ask any Asian about have they heard about comments about eating dogs or cats during their life here. Most would say yes. It is insulting and guess where those idiots learn their stereotypes from? Do you do front page stories about French people eating horses? Last I checked horses are pets too.

If you care about animals in this country, how about check out some videos how they kill pigs and cows in this great USA of ours? The amount of animal abuse here is sickening. Do we really need to judge other cultures when we can't even take care of our own animals here?

To the other poster, yes pigs are smarter than cats and dogs. We don't have any problem eating pork in this country. The way pigs are raised here is sickening. This is why CA had a proposition to end animal cruelty in the last election. There are some very sick people here that totally mistreat animals here and aboard. If you ever get a chance, watch a HBO undercover special on dog farms in Texas. The stuff will make you sick.

I don't see how this enforces any stereotype.


It seems to me that it's the Chinese who are protesting loudly("outcry") , which would probably go against the stereotype.

Many of you out there HAVE eaten dog meat and never realized it. These days restaurant owners are VERY CLEVER and get "free to good home" dogs-most abundant all over America (people discard mutts as though they were trash)-so they end up on YOUR PLATE

THERE IS A PET OVERPOPULATION EXPLOSION AND RESTAURANT OWNERS ROUTINELY ANSWER FREE TO GOOD HOME ADS AND USE THESE DOGS FOR BEEF DISHES - THEY KILL THE DOG IN THEIR HOME AND CHOP THEM UP AND BRING THE CUT UP MEAT TO THEIR RESTAURANT SO *NOBODY* WILL EVER KNOW!!!

AMERICA OPPOSES ALL SPAY/NEUTER LEGISLATION SO THEY CAN BREED THEIR CATS AND DOGS - SO THEY NATURALLY END UP ON YOUR PLATE BEING TONS OF DOGS AND CATS ENDING UP HOMELESS.

ENJOY EATING!! Oh it may look and taste like chicken and beef, but...I guess most people don't care what they eat as long as there is meat in there.

Are the cats poorly treated? Are they treated any different than the pigs, cows, chicken we eat? Just because it's "cuter" doesn't mean there's anything wrong with eating it! Horse, dog, cat, it's all just meat. What better? A million feral cats running around, most starving to death, or "managing" the population? Sheesh, some countries could benefit by starting to eat dog meat!

ANIMAL CRUELTY IS NOT RIGHT!!! EXSPECALLY TO THE PEOPLE WHO ADROE CATS AND DOGS...... THESE ANIMALS DESERVE TO BE DOMESTIC ANIMALS NOT A PIECE OF MEAT TO BE SERVED ON A PLATE!!!1

STOP EATING CATS AND DOGS ITS NOT RIGHT! HOW WOULD U LIKE TO BE CHOPPED UP AND BEING SERVED ON PLATE I MEAN COME ON SERIOUSLY DO U REALLY WANT TO HURT THESE FURY CUTE ADORABEL LITTLE CREATURES... THINK TWICE BEFORE ORDERING THEM FOR LUNCH. THINK ABOUT THE PAIN AND CRUELTY THAT THEY HAVE TO GO THROUGH WE AS HUMANS ARE EXTIINCTING THEM I MIGHT BE A 15 YEAR OLD GILR FROM CALIFORNIA BUT AT LEAST I DONT HURT DOGS AND CATS LIKE SOME CRULE PEOPLE THAT WILL ONE DAY BURN IN HELL FOR THEIR PUNISHMENT!!

yeah,
everywhere they eat cows and chicken and pork and stuff.
but woah, here..cats and dogs are our loved ones.
and seeing them get killed and stuffed down peoples throats is,
disgusting and horrible.

China routinely sells FOOD including meat to USA. Do you really think they are going to sell USA chicken and beef? It's cat and dog meat.


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