'Little tigers' on the menu: Report exposes rampant cat meat trade in Vietnam
The report titled Victims of a Hidden Trade: Vietnam’s Cat Meat Trade, was commissioned in 2019 and is believed to be the first of its kind.
According to its findings, the cat meat trade affects over one million animals in Vietnam each year.
Many cats are stolen from their homes or caught in street traps that are set nightly by cat thieves in Vietnam.
They are usually trafficked on long journeys, sometimes going for several days without food or water.
While cat meat is consumed by less than 5% of the Vietnamese population, the trade is believed to have strong links with superstition, medicine, and as part of dietary tradition.
Four Paws International's Katherine Polak says black cats, in particular, are targeted for their purported medicinal value.
Polak says that the meat of black cats costs more. Traders use the bile from black cats to make rice wines for different medicines.
Their bones are often ground to make balms that are sold online, she adds.
Polak, the head of stray animal care for the organisation's Southeast Asia division, says the slaughter methods used in the cat trade are brutal, and commonly involve drowning and bludgeoning.
She says the illicit trade is rife with public health risks, and without any regulation, cats are subjected to immense suffering.
We're talking about a trade of incredible magnitude involving well over a million cats.Katherine Polak, Head of Stray Animal Care: Southeast Asia - Four Paws International
There is rampant theft of cats to supply the trade and it's devastating pet owners.Katherine Polak, Head of Stray Animal Care: Southeast Asia - Four Paws International
This is an illicit, profit-driven industry. We see traders across the country setting traps for cats that go outside, stealing cats from people's homes... for this brutal industry that involves the trafficking of cats across the country.Katherine Polak, Head of Stray Animal Care: Southeast Asia - Four Paws International
We're seeing restaurants popping up across the country that are advertising this "little tiger" dish, which is code for cat meat.Katherine Polak, Head of Stray Animal Care: Southeast Asia - Four Paws International
We see black cats being targeted particularly because people think they are more pure than other cats.Katherine Polak, Head of Stray Animal Care: Southeast Asia - Four Paws International
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