Do Asians eat cats?

Business is brisk. Cats in bamboo cages are dumped on the market alley alongside chicken and duck pens. A few meters away, a street food vendor’s barbeque sells like hot cakes. The restaurant in the corner famed for its meat balls and stew is filled with patrons. Location: Southern China. On Sale: Live cats, cat meat and cat delicacies. Yes, the furry feline that is a well loved pet in other countries is a popular delicacy in some Asian countries. In other Asian countries, cats are believed to have souls. Slaughtering and eating the meat of cats is considered to be a sacrilegious act. However, in some parts of Asia, cats are considered as food sources that are believed to have healing properties. Eating cat meat is also thought to bring good luck.

Have you tried eating Dragon Tiger Phoenix Soup? This exotic dish is from Canton, China. This dish has cobra (for the dragon), cat (for tiger) and chicken (for phoenix) as the main ingredients. China is one of the Asian countries that consume cat meat. Cats are eaten as well in Vietnam, Taiwan and in Korea. In Vietnam, cat meat is eaten in far flung provinces. In China, cat is a staple food especially in the southern province of Guangdong. It was reported that about 10,000 cats are eaten daily in this province. These cats that were used for foods were transported by traders to Guangdong province from different parts of China. As there are no farms in China that raise cats for slaughter, it is generally believed that traders would collect the cats from the streets. Although some of the cats were bought from households, most of the cats transported to the southern province of China are strays. It is also highly possible that some of the cats were stolen pets.

Cat eating is believed to bring good luck. Cats are also believed to have healing properties. Market stalls selling cat meats would have a brisk trade during the winter months as cat meat, like dog meat is considered a warming food. Cats are stewed, barbecued and cooked into different spicy and exotic dishes. The meaty thighs are made into meat balls and cooked as soup. The stomach and the intestines are eaten as well. Steamed buns that are supposed to have a pork or chicken filling are cooked with cat meat instead. An enterprising restaurant owner would be heard saying that why should he buy expensive pork or chicken meat if there are cats free for the taking at the back alley of the restaurant?

Cat meat eating though is the culture of these Asians. Some of these Asian countries have suffered periodic famines thus anything that can be eaten will be eaten! In cultures that consider cats as companions and pets, the idea of eating cat meat will be abhorrent. Hindus will freak out if made to eat beef given the fact that cows are sacred animals in Hinduism in the same manner that Muslims would not eat pork.

Animal welfare groups though are also concerned with the way the cats are slaughtered. Freshness of the meat is of paramount importance to cat eaters. It has been the practice of cat meat sellers to strangle or to stun the cat and then to skin the animal alive. Cats are cute and lovable pets. People would freak out at the thought that cute a pet is slaughtered and eaten. However, cat eaters would argue that these cultures that consider cats as pets are also killing cats (although humanely) by putting the animals to sleep. In both scenarios, the poor cat would end up dead.

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