A group of animal lovers became embroiled in a bizarre confrontation as its members rescued more than 800 cats destined for the dinner table over the weekend.
Six volunteers from the Shanghai Animal Protection Association confronted cat dealers in Jiaxing, Zhejiang Province, and spent a day and a night trying to rescue about 1,500 cats.
The animals were being loaded onto a container truck that was due to travel to Guangdong Province.
Liu Xiaoyun, one of the volunteers, told Shanghai Daily Tuesday that the cats were caged in about 70 bamboo boxes, about 20 to a box.
The volunteers managed to unlock about 40 cages, releasing about 800 of the animals.
"But we don't know where the remaining cages are," Liu said. "Most probably, they are on their way to Guangdong."
Liu said the group received a tip last Friday that the cats were at a fruit wholesale market in Jiaxing. When they arrived at the market, cat traders were loading cages onto the truck.
"Shill cries of cats echoed continuously," Liu said. "We asked the mongers not to send the cats, but they wouldn't listen. So I called the police."
The dealers told police that all the cats were bought from a pet market and they would be raised in Guangdong.
However, Liu said the method of caging so many animals in a confined space was obviously cruel.
"The cats' sad and shrill screams made us heartbroken," Liu said. "In spite of the cat dealers' protests, we managed to release quite a few cats.
"The cats would have had no food or drink for several days. We immediately conducted emergency aid by giving water to them."
Liu said about 10 female cats had given birth. Some kittens died immediately after birth.
She said the cats remained helpless under a burning sun. "When we released them, the cats jumped out in all directions at once. They've suffered so much," Liu said.
The dealers showed police animal quarantine certificates and insisted on moving the remainder of the cats. With no animal protection laws to refer to, police were powerless to stop the remaining cats from being driven away.
Shanghai Animal Protection Association President Zhang Yi appealed to society to cultivate better dining habits and to treat all animals more humanely.
(Shanghai Daily September 3, 2008)