Residents in eastern China’s Jiangsu province were appalled to learn of the Danyang City Police’s recent discovery of 500 caged cats that were destined for sale to restaurants in nearby Chinese cities. The police arrested the man, only known by the name Sun, who planned to sell each of the cats for around 30 yuan ($4.40).

The cats, which consisted of strays and pet cats, were crammed into small cages with many panting and suffering from the heat. Danyang Police found the cats after being tipped off by a journalist and then tipped off once again by a man named Mr.Yang, who filed a report with the police department about his own cats going missing, including a mother cat with five nursing kittens. Mr. Yang also reported that there were, even more cats being held in a nearby hut.

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When police raided the hut they found more cats in cages that were being kept from heat exhaustion using a ceiling fan. Mr. Yang, stated that the man was able to catch the cats by using sparrow’s and other birds to lure the cats into the cages. More than four million cats are captured and killed in China each year for human consumption and though the practice has been on the decline, many people are still unknowingly taking part.

At the annual Yulin Dog Meat Festival, an annual festival in southern China, stray dogs and cats are captured, in addition to domestic dogs and cats who are stolen from their homes and brutally killed for their meat. The festival marks the summer solstice starting on June 21st and lasts for 10 days.

The consumption of dog and cat meat in China is not illegal, however, it is extremely unpopular and the majority of citizens do not take part in the thousands year old tradition. According to Peter Lin, China’s policy specialist for Humane Society International, stated, “The truth is that eating dog and cat is not part of China’s mainstream culinary practice even in Yulin, the home of the dog meat festival…Far from being vital to the Yulin economy or way of life, the dog meat festival is a national disgrace that tarnishes the name of the city around the world. Now is the time to end it.”

Learn how you can help in saving the dogs and cats of Yulin by clicking here.

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Image Source: Sue McDonald/Shutterstock