Pictured is Nanjing station, where boxes upon boxes of cats fill the station, and the air is ceaselessly pierced by their wailing. There are some 1,400 in this shipment alone, and three shipments are due the same day for a total of 5,000 cats.
The cats are going to China’s culinary capital (of sorts), Guangzhou, where an unparalleled variety of animals are eaten.
They are destined to become what is prosaically called “活猫水煮” / “Boiled alive cat”, a dish made by hitting the cat on the head to quieten it, and then throwing it in a pot of boiling water whilst it still lives:
Guangzhou is said to consume 10,000 cats a day, so it looks as if the cats pictured above aren’t likely to last their culinary needs long.
A cat catcher can apparently gather 20 of the beasts a night, for 10 yuan a head ($15), potentially a lucrative trade. It is not clear just what proportion of these cats are actually stray…
The Chinese government, aware that such refined culinary practices might attract censure from barbarian nations during the Olympics, joined citizen groups in suppressing the trade in cats and dogs during the Olympics, but once the games ended so did any need for a ban.
There are signs that this is changing; some Chinese net users are outraged at the practice, especially the younger generations, though it does not seem they are making much headway.