Up to 600 plump white cats escaped death when the truck carrying them to be slaughtered crashed and they were rescued by animal rights activists in central China.
Volunteers hauled the cats from the overturned lorry in the central city of Changsha. Around one hundred felines, however, died in the accident while others escaped, says Xu Chenxin of the Changsha Small Animal Protection Association.
The cats, most of them plump and white, were heading to restaurants in the southern Guandong province, the China Daily reported.
“It was easy to tell they were meant to be eaten, from looking at the crates you could tell their owners didn’t care if they were alive or dead. When I arrived, the truck was piled high with more than 50 crates. The cats had travelled for days, without water or food, and the smell was dreadful” Xu told AFP on Monday.
The volunteer group which recued the felines negotiated with one of the trucks drivers to buy the animals for 10,000 yuan ($1,600) and they were now awaiting adoption.
“We’ve already had inquiries from families across Changsha,” said Xu.
Activists often come to the rescue of animals in China. In one of the biggest occasions they bought around 500 dogs intended for the dining table from a convoy of trucks on a highway in Beijing in 2011.
China does not have laws to protect non-endangered animals such as cats and dogs. Although cats are not commonly served up as dinner in Chinese restaurants, some establishments, especially in the south, will put cat on the menu.