Animal Welfare Group's New Report Exposes Size of Vietnam’s Cat Meat Trade
The report found that an estimated one million cats are taken each year for the meat trade
A release sharing the results of the investigation said that the cats "are stolen from the streets and even from people’s homes, trafficked across the country and brutally slaughtered."
Though the dog meat trade is legal in Vietnam, the killing and consumption of cats were formerly banned in the country. In January 2020, the law banning such practices was revoked, however, and "cat meat is in more demand than ever," the release claims.
"Locally known as 'Little Tiger', whilst once centered in Northern provinces, the dish is spreading in popularity nationwide despite increasing pet ownership," the Wednesday release continued. "The trade is not only a threat to animal welfare but also to human health with the risk of rabies and zoonotic diseases."
In addition to the rising demand for cat meat, cats have also become popular pets in Vietnam in recent years. In response, those trafficking cats for the meat trade have reportedly started stealing pets in addition to taking strays off the streets.
"At the wholesalers we discovered many cats with collars – a clear sign that they were pets," Dr. Katherine Polak, a veterinarian and head of FOUR PAWS' Stray Animal Care in Southeast Asia, said. "During our research, we also met many pet owners who were desperately looking for their stolen cats. The authorities usually turn a blind eye to this because they are often involved in the cat meat trade, either profiting from bribes or are consumers themselves."
Further, the cat meat trade may pose a risk to public health "due to unsanitary conditions, brutal and unhygienic treatment of animals, multi-species transport, holding and slaughtering facilities, and cross border transportation and handling."
"Through educational work and cooperation with the responsible authorities, local communities and the tourism industry, FOUR PAWS’ is calling upon the governments in Southeast Asia to introduce, strengthen and enforce animal protection laws, which will bring an end to the capture, slaughter, and consumption of dogs and cats," Dr. Karanvir Kukreja, the project manager for FOUR PAWS’ Ending the Dog and Cat Meat Trade campaign, said. "This will not only protect animals – but also people as well from public health risks."