Most owners don’t know where their pet comes from. This allows the inhumane breeding and trade in China to thrive without being controlled.
When deciding to buy a cat in July, Yuanzi (26 years old, not her real name) didn’t spend much time researching but simply went to the Taobao e-commerce site of his choice.
After some consideration, the female graduate student selected the Persian cat from a leading cat farm in Shanghai, so she trusted it and paid 8,500 yuan ($1,250).
However, when the animal was sent a few days later, Yuanzi quickly realized something was wrong. The cat appeared weak and started vomiting and diarrhea. Within 3 days, she had to hospitalize him for infectious enteritis. Five days later, the cat did not survive.
The sadness of the loss quickly turns to horror as Yuanzi begins to learn the reason behind the cat’s condition. She discovered many videos on social media showing the inhumane conditions inside the animal husbandry industry in China.
In one clip, dozens of cats – almost all of them injured – are herded into a small, dingy room. In another clip, the image of a cat being brutally delivered by cesarean section, its cry haunted her for days.
“My gut instinct told me that my cat came from a ‘cat workshop’ disguised as a ranch,” she shared.
Some female cats spend their entire lives in cages. They used stimulants to increase the reproductive performance of cats – such workshops are the source for 80% of pet shops in China!!!.
According to a 2019 report from research firm Leadleo, pet stores are also the largest selling channel of the Chinese pet industry, accounting for more than 35% of total sales.
In August 2021, the RHR Shanghai group found 33 Chartreux cats abandoned at a non-working public school. All were sick, the adult cats weighed less than 3 kg. Volunteer members also found 15 other cats, protected as dead by car or illness.
A leading cat supplier on the Taobao platform, which sells more than 10,000 cats a month, said there are thousands of cats in stock but refused to show pictures of their captive conditions because of “the sheer quantity”.
According to rescue organizations, breeders will dispose of the animals as soon as they are no longer profitable. The number of big cats being discarded by breeders also creates another problem: the feral cat population has skyrocketed. According to The Paper, the number of feral cats in China is increasing by an average of 40 million a year.
Animal rights groups are also trying to raise public awareness of conditions inside the livestock industry, hoping to convince pet owners not to buy from stores that partner with pet breeders. However, the groups admit the situation is not so optimistic as the livestock industry in China is too large and public awareness of inhuman breeding practices is still low.
Yuanzi was determined not to make the same mistake. A few days ago, she adopted a stray cat she found on the street near her house. She believes this is the only way to ensure she is not abetting inhumane breeding.