Vietnam’s Cat Meat Trade
Vietnam has a history of cat meat consumption, though available data suggests the practice has begun to take off in the past decade. The result is thousands of cats, both wild and companions, disappear every day to be eaten. Although Vietnam has laws in place that explicitly forbid the hunting, slaughter, and consumption of cats, their enforcement is weak and insufficient. Moreover, as the demand for cat meat increases, there are strong incentives to break the law without a legitimate fear of reprisal. The suffering of captured cats is immense, their living conditions are grim, and slaughter often involves inhumane methods.
This article covers a year-plus investigation conducted by Four Paws and the Change for Animals Foundation. Their most notable findings include: that millions of cats are killed every year for human consumption; that the sourcing of these cats is often unquestioned by the buyers (that is, restaurants or butchers often do not discern between wild animals and human companions); and that in Hanoi, seeing cats unattended on the street is now a rarity as a result of the kidnappings and the public’s fear of losing their companions.
According to the report, in addition to the suffering of cats, human deaths have also been reported as a direct result of cat meat, due to rabies transmission during the preparation process. What’s more, the living conditions of cats in the meat trade are cramped and often unsanitary, which the authors suggest is a public health risk as it may lead to virus outbreaks and transmissions.
Four Paws and Change for Animals Foundation conclude with a set of recommendations to curtail the cat meat trade, namely: raising awareness of the degree to which the trade is a widespread issue; enforcing and bolstering existing laws prohibiting the hunting, slaughter, and consumption of cats; and improving veterinary infrastructure and capacities within countries to protect stray animals. While animal advocates in the West may be quick to jump at this issue, the best and most lasting advocacy will come from within Vietnam and surrounding countries themselves, spearheaded by local animal advocates. As such, Western advocates can make a difference by deferring to our colleagues on the ground in Vietnam and offering them our support where they need it on this critical issue.