In an extraordinary display of bravery and quick action, police in Zhangjiagang, China, have successfully rescued over a thousand cats from a dire fate, thwarting an illegal meat trade operation.
The cats, destined to be sold as counterfeit pork and lamb skewers across southern China, are now safe, thanks to the diligent efforts of both law enforcement and local animal welfare activists.
Acting on valuable information provided by dedicated activists, the police were able to intercept a truck laden with the felines, all of which were crammed into cramped and inhumane conditions, BBC News reports.
These cats, now safely relocated to a shelter, were part of a sinister trade where cat meat fetches up to 4.5 yuan per catty, equivalent to around 600g.
The economic incentive behind this trade is substantial, and this rescue operation has shone a light on the dark underbelly of the illegal meat market.
The incident has not only exposed the cruel treatment of animals but also raised grave concerns regarding food safety standards in China. Social media platforms have been abuzz, with thousands expressing their outrage and demanding change.
Weibo, China's popular microblogging site, saw a flood of comments condemning the perpetrators and calling for stricter food industry inspections.
While the immediate danger to these cats has been averted, this incident highlights a broader issue of animal welfare and food safety in China.
Public sentiment strongly indicates a demand for change, with many calling for stricter laws and regulations to protect animals and ensure the integrity of the food supply chain.