Cat lovers will be terrified to know that before a few days ago, more than 1,000 cats were in the clutches of a group of kidnappers who planned to sell the stolen pets to the highest bidder for their meat and fur. These kidnapped cats probably wouldn’t have ever seen their owners again if it weren’t for the heartwarming reverse-Homeward Bound experience that brought the owners back together with their beloved animals.
It is unknown just how many of the cats will be reunited with their owners. Local authorities said that some of them may have even been taken from the street. At this point, at least 300 of the cats have been returned to their proper owners, reported Sky News.
Some of these reunited pet families are the reason that cats ended up surviving the harrowing experience at all. After noticing a spike in cat kidnappings in the area, a group of dedicated cat owners began to notice certain men roaming Dalian City in northeast China at night — appearing to be in search of cats. After following them back to their lair, the concerned citizens contacted the police who arrived to find more than 1,000 cats in captivity. Six suspects are now in custody for being the ringleaders of the cat kidnapping ring.
Although eating cats is generally culturally accepted, and even a delicacy, in some parts of China, the northern regions tend to be more closed-off to the practice. That’s not to say that it’s going out of style. An estimated 4 million cats are still eaten in China every year, according to state news agency Xinhua. Since China is such a large nation, it is difficult to concretely know in what groups cat eating is increasing. Feng Dongmei, a manager of cat and dog welfare at the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), told Xinhua that at least in more metropolitan areas, such as Hong Kong where he is based, younger generations are turning up their nose at cat meat more and more often.
“In Guangzhou, cat meat is popular now mostly in restaurants on the outskirts of the city. Most of the cat eaters are older people and old habits die hard.”
One of the most symbolic traditions of the this generational divide is the annual Yulin festival. Although the festival celebrates dog meat, the backlash to the continued tradition shows how many Chinese are against the practice of eating household pets, especially when they are acquired through kidnapping and other illegal means, according to CNN.
[Image via Flickr]