Authorities have been managed to rescue over 1,000 pet cats that were stolen in North China, after some of their owners managed to track down the kidnappers and work with police to get them back.
The animals told police in Liaoning Province were designated to be sold for their fur and meat as eating cats is culturally accepted in some parts of the country and considered a delicacy in others.
Since the gruesome discovery, around 300 of the animals have already been returned to their homes after the major trafficking operation was foiled.
Having noticed a spike in cats going missing in Dalian City, some of the owners joined together to try and solve what was happening.
They discovered a group of men roaming the area at night, appearing to be searching for both wild and pet cats.
One night the followed the men back to their cat den.
They notified police, who stormed the lair and discovered over 1,000 cats in captivity.
Since notice of the trafficking of stolen cats, Sky News reports that six people have been arrested, with the outlet telling the operation started in the beginning of December.
Despite breaking the trafficking ring, it remains unclear as to whether all the cats will be able to be returned to their owners, with authorities saying it will be difficult to track down homes for all of them.
While it is accepted in some areas, it is not common where the trafficking operation was busted, which might explain why the group targeted that spot.
Feng Dongmei, a manager of cat and dog welfare at the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), said that younger generations are becoming against the practice more and more, especially in Hong Kong, where eating cat meat is said to be based.
‘In Guangzhou, cat meat is popular now mostly in restaurants on the outskirts of the city,’ he said.
‘Most of the cat eaters are older people and old habits die hard.’
According to a report via The Inquisitr, an estimated four million cats are eaten in China each year.