Hundreds of felines were saved from a near catastrophe after being rescued from a serial catnapper.
On Sunday, Chinese police in the city of Jiujiang arrested a man who had allegedly been collecting cats with the intent to sell them to restaurants, according to The Washington Post.
But while selling cat and dog meat is legal in China, citizens were disgusted by the lengths the man went to earn a quick buck, as he had reportedly apprehended over 500 cats, locked them in small cages and stored some in the back of a truck.
The Washington Post further reports that the cat-catcher used sparrows to lure not only stray cats, but domesticated housecats in Jiujiang.
The man’s actions first came to light after a nearby resident, who identified himself as Mr. Yang, complained to police that his cats kept disappearing, reports The Straits Times.
According to reports, police found most of the cats in cages aboard a truck, many of which were overheated and whimpering. More cats were reportedly found cooped up in a hut by a nearby highway with only a fan to cool them down.
The man reportedly planned to sell the cats for 30 yuan ($6) apiece.
After news of the man’s arrest began making headlines, the NetEase portal — a Chinese online platform — was flooded with tens of thousands of comments, many from outraged citizens, The Washington Post claims.
However, many critics were angry over the illegal methods the man used to procure the cats, rather than the fact that they were being supplied to restaurants, according to The Washington Post.
All of the cats were eventually released, The Straits Times reports.
China had recently enacted plans to ban the sale of dog meat at the country’s annual Yulin Dog Festival, although cat meat reportedly remains on the menu, according to The New York Post.
Earlier this year, nearby Taiwan made strides toward banning the sale and consumption of cat and dog meat. In April, Taiwan passed an amendment that included an $8,100 fine for owning, selling, buying or eating cat and dog meat, as well as a $65,000 fine (plus two years in prison) for acts of animal cruelty.