By Nelson Groom
This heartbreaking footage shows a Vietnamese cat meat market where helpless pets are squeezed into rusty ‘death cages’ to be skinned, butchered and boiled.
A local cat rescuer, who wanted to be named only as Quyen, took the video in Quan Binh Tan, Ho Chi Minh City, last month in a quest to raise awareness about the superstitious trade.
Known as ‘little tiger’, cat meat is considered a source of strength, warding off bad luck and acquiring feline agility in the South-East Asian nation.
Some of the cats in the video are wearing collars, suggesting they could have been snatched from loving homes before awaiting their fate of being killed, cooked and sold.
Australian Michele Brown, the CEO of Fight Dog Meat charity, has now released the shocking video in a bid to raise awareness of the little-known cat meat trade.
The 60-year-old, from the Gold Coast, Queensland, said: “Cats are the forgotten victims of the dog meat trade.
“Recently dog meat has drawn a lot of attention, but cats get almost none.
“This frustrated me, so I decided to capture one of the street markets.
“The tradition is wrapped in superstition. The meat is eaten at the start of every month to ward off bad luck, boost libido, and even to gain the agility of the cat.
“But it’s a dreadful situation. The butchers want tough meat so they terrorize the cats in the belief it will flood them with adrenaline.
“Cats are space sensitive, so they throw them all in the death cages and kill them outside then lay the carcasses on top.
“Some of these cats are house pets taken from the streets by snatchers, you can hear how terrified they are.”
Cat meat is considered a delicacy in Vietnam, and specialty restaurants that serve it are booming, with dishes fetching between £43 and £57 (1.36 to 1.82 million Vietnamese Dong).
Reports suggest Vietnam banned cat restaurants in 1997 during a rat plague, but Michele said despite this the industry has thrived above the law to become the world’s largest per capita.
Michele painted a chilling picture of the industry, which she said has been met with condemnation by animal welfare groups.
She claimed ‘little tiger’ meat is so popular, many of the cats are smuggled in tightly-packed trucks from neighbouring China and Laos to fuel the demand.
But there are health risks involved with consuming the meat, which she said is sometimes sourced from stray cats.
However, Michele said this is not enough to stop opportunistic tourists from trying the meat in search of an exotic traveller’s tale.
Michele said: “People have died from eating this in Vietnam, there are significant health risks as many of the cats are stay and carry infections.
“Despite this, I am still coming across foreigners with a ‘when in Rome attitude’ to trying it out. This is all the more reason to help the animal rescue teams and raise awareness.”
To donate to Fight Dog Meat: go to https://fightdogmeat.com/