Cat meat

For meat eaten by cats, see cat food.
Cats for sale as food in an East Asian market area. They will either be sold live for use in restaurants or slaughtered on site, dressed, and sold as meat.

Cat meat is meat prepared from domestic cats for human consumption. Some countries eat cat meat regularly, whereas others have only consumed cat meat in desperation during wartime or poverty.


In some cultures of Cameroon, there is a special ceremony featuring cat-eating that is thought to bring good luck.[1]



In Guangdong and Guangxi provinces in south-eastern China, some—especially older—people consider cat flesh a good warming food during winter months. However, in northern China eating cat is considered unacceptable. It is estimated that around 4 million cats are eaten in China each year, and that the number is rising.[2] However, overseas visitors are unlikely to come across downtown restaurants serving cat, which is only common out of town and in the city outskirts.[2]

The cat's stomach and intestines may be eaten, as well as meat from the thighs, which are turned into meatballs served with soup, with the head and the rest of the animal then thrown away. In Guangdong, cat meat is a main ingredient in the traditional dish "dragon, tiger, phoenix" (snake, cat, chicken), which is said to fortify the body.[2]

Organized cat-collectors supply the southern restaurants with animals that often originate in Anhui and Jiangsu provinces.[2][3][4] On 26 January 2010 China launched its first draft proposal to protect the country's animals from maltreatment including a measure to jail people, for periods up to 15 days, for eating cat or dog meat.[5][6]

With the increase of cats as pets in China, opposition towards the traditional use of cats for food has grown. In June 2006, approximately 40 activists stormed the Fangji Cat Meatball Restaurant in Shenzhen, forcing it to shut down.[7] Expanded to more than 40 member societies, the Chinese Animal Protection Network in January 2006 began organizing well-publicized protests against dog and cat consumption, starting in Guangzhou, following up in more than ten other cities "with very optimal response from public."[8]


In Japan, cat meat was consumed until the end of Tokugawa period in the 19th century.[9] Okinawans once ate a cat soup called Mayaa no Ushiru (マヤーのウシル).


In Korea, cat meat was historically brewed into a tonic as a folk remedy for neuralgia and arthritis. Modern consumption is more likely to be as cat soup.[10][11][12][13][14][15]


Cat meat is eaten in Vietnam, even though it is technically illegal.[16][17][18][19][20][21][22][23] It is generally seen on menus with the euphemism "tiểu hổ", literally "baby tiger" rather than the literal "thịt mèo".


Cat meat is eaten in some parts of India, even though it is technically illegal. It is generally cooked with flavoured rice and is part of the main course during wedding feasts in the Narikurvar community; cat soup is also served on the occasion of the birth of a male child.[24]


In Switzerland the private consumption and slaughter of dog and cat meat is permitted though its commercial trade is prohibited by law. A 1993 petition to ban consumption failed with the government declaring the matter a "personal ethical choice."

In June 2008, three students at the Danish School of Media and Journalism published pictures of a cat being slaughtered in Citat, a magazine for journalism students. Their goal was to create a debate about animal welfare. The cat was shot by its owner, a farmer, and it would have been put down in any case. The farmer slaughtered the cat all within the limits of Danish law. This led to criticism from Danish animal welfare group Dyrenes Beskyttelse,[25][26] and death threats received by the students.[27]

In February 2010, on a television cooking show, the Italian food writer Beppe Bigazzi mentioned that during the famine in World War II cat stew was a "succulent" and well known dish in his home area of Valdarno, Tuscany. Later he claimed he had been joking, but added that cats used to be eaten in the area during famine periods, historically; he was widely criticised in the media for his comments and ultimately dropped from the television network.[28]

Cats were sometimes eaten as a famine food during harsh winters, poor harvests, and wartime. Cat gained notoriety as "roof rabbit" in Central Europe's hard times during and between World War I and World War II.[29][30]

In 18th-century Britain, there are a few records of cats eaten as a form of entertainment.[31]

North America

In the United States, it is legal in forty-four states for an individual to kill cats for food.[32]


Indigenous Australians in the area of Alice Springs roast feral cats on an open fire. They have also developed recipes for cat stew. Some other inhabitants of the area have also taken up this custom, justified on the grounds that felines are "a serious threat to Australia's native fauna". Scientists warned that eating wild cats could expose humans to harmful bacteria and toxins.[33]

South America

Cat is not a regular menu item in Peru, but is used in such dishes as fricassee and stews most abundant in two specific sites in the country: the southern town of Chincha Alta (Ica Region, Afro-Peruvian mostly) and the north-central Andean town of Huari (Ancash Region). Primarily used by Afro-Peruvians. Cat cooking techniques are demonstrated every September during the festival of Saint Efigenia in a town of La Quebrada.[34]

In October 2013, a judge banned the annual La Festival Gastronomico del Gato (the Gastronomic Festival of the Cat), which was held every September in La Quebrada to commemorate the arrival of settlers who were forced to eat cats to survive, citing it as cruel to the 100+ cats specifically bred for the event, which involves being kept in cages for a year prior the Festival. The judge also cited concerns over the safety of the meat, which drew criticism from residents who contend that cat meat is far richer than rabbit or duck, and that it has been long consumed globally without any deleterious effects.[35]

That same month, magistrate Maria Luyo banned the festival of Curruñao in the small town of San Luis. Locals say that the festival, which sees cats being drowned, skinned and tied to fireworks and blown up, dates back to the practice of eating cat on the part of African slaves who worked on sugar-cane plantations in colonial times, and is part of the religious celebrations of Santa Efigenia, an African-Peruvian folk saint. Luyo stated in her ruling that the festival "fomented violence based on cruel acts against animals which caused grave social damage and damaged public health", and that minors could be "psychologically damaged" by watching the events.[36]

In a 1996, report some citizens in a shanty town in Rosario, Santa Fe, Argentina, stated that, during an economic crisis, they had to feed the neighborhood children with cat's meat, and commenting, "It's not denigrating to eat cat, it keeps a child's stomach full". The validity of this report has been questioned, however.[37]

Jewish and Islamic tradition

The Jewish laws of kashrut and Islamic dietary laws both forbid the consumption of cat meat.[38] Kashrut disallows the consumption of any terrestrial predators. To be considered kosher in the case of mammals, it must not be a predator and it must both chew cud and have cloven hooves.

In fiction

In the American science fiction sitcom ALF, cat is considered a delicacy on the protagonist's home planet, Melmac, and was sometimes garnished with plum sauce.[39]

In the opening scene of the 2010 American post-apocalyptic action film The Book of Eli, the main character is seen hunting a hairless cat in the woods.[40]

See also


  1. Ngwa-Niba, Francis (2003-03-17). "The cat eaters of Cameroon". BBC News.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Some call it an indelicate trade, others, a delicacy,, 13 Jan 2012 (from China Daily)
  3. Wang, Yu (2008-12-19). "Nanjing sends meat that meows to Guangzhou". Beijing: Beijing Today.
  4. Moore, Malcolm (2009-01-01). "Cat-nappers feed Cantonese taste for pet delicacy". London: Telegraph.
  5. "China to jail people for up to 15 days who eat dog". Chinadaily. Retrieved 2010-01-26.
  6. "Trung Quốc sắp sửa cấm ăn thịt chó, mèo". (Vietnamese)
  7. "Animal rights protest shuts restaurant". Reuters. Retrieved 2006-10-22.
  8. "Guangzhou bans eating snakes--ban helps cats". Reuters via Retrieved 2008-02-16.
  9. Hanley, Susan (1997). Everyday Things in Premodern Japan. p. 66.
  10. "Boiled Alive Cat Meat Soup, South Korea". SAY NO TO DOG MEAT.NET. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  11. "DOG AND CAT MEAT CONSUMPTION - - In Defense of Animals- In Defense of Animals". - In Defense of Animals. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  12. "Ban South Korean dog and cat meat trade". Our Compass. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  13. http://www.examiner[]. com/article/south-korea-dog-cat-meat-industry-to-face-protests
  14. "Important Update On South Korean Dog And Cat Meat Trade". Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  16. Việt Báo Thịt mèo
  17. Thành phố thịt mèo
  18. "9 Countries That Eat Cats and Dogs (Slideshow)". The Daily Meal. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  19. "9 Countries That Eat Cats and Dogs". The Daily Meal. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  20. "Cat Meat". Vietnam Coracle. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  21. "The Truth About Cats & Dogs In Vietnam - The Dropout Diaries". The Dropout Diaries. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  22. "Where cat sits happily on the menu". Stuff. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  23. The Christian Science Monitor. "Why do Vietnamese keep cats on a leash? (Hint: What's for dinner?)". The Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 22 November 2015.
  24. "For biryani in Chennai, cats are being boiled alive, sold for Rs 100 per kg". HuffingtonPost. November 1, 2016. Retrieved November 3, 2016.
  25. Walsh, Kevin (2008-06-05). "Journalistelever spiser kat" [Journalism students eat cat]. BT (in Danish). Berlingske Media. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  26. Andreassen, Andreas Marckmann (2008-06-06). "Journaliststuderende spiser kat på nettet" [Journalism students eat cat online]. (in Danish). Journalisten. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  27. Helmer, Jesper (2008-06-07). "Århus-studerende spiste kat - nu trues de på livet" [Students from Århus ate cat - are now threatened on their life]. (in Danish). ApS. Retrieved 2013-10-28.
  28. Owen, Richard (February 16, 2010). "Celebrity chef Beppe Bigazzi upsets viewers with his cat casserole". London: The Times.
  29. "Cats - Friend Or Food". Retrieved 2010-06-14.
  30. "Cecil Sommers. Temporary Crusaders. 1919". 1917-11-24. Retrieved 2010-06-14.
  31. "The Cat Eaters". Retrieved 2009-10-12.
  32. Killing dogs and cats for meat is still legal in 44 U.S. states
  33. Mercer, Phil (2007-09-02). "Australians cook up wild cat stew". BBC News.
  34. "'Cat-eaters' take note - feline feast at Peru festival". Retrieved 2008-02-16.
  35. Golgowksi, Nina (October 15, 2013). "Judge bans Peruvian town's annual cat-eating festival". Daily News (New York).
  36. Collyns, Dan (October 18, 2013). "Claws out as Peruvian judge suspends annual cat race and feast". The Guardian.
  37. "Nunca se comieron gatos en Rosario" (in Spanish).
  38. Sahih Muslim, 21:4752
  39. "ALF - Fun Facts and Information". 1986-09-22. Retrieved 2012-10-16.
  40. "The Book of Eli (2010) - IMDb". 2010-01-19. Retrieved 2013-12-05.
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