Vietnamese restaurant that killed 300 cats a month closes down

A Vietnamese restaurant that slaughtered up to 300 cats a month for a stomach-churning soup recipe has closed its doors this month after the owner voiced his moral concerns with the practice, the New York Postreports.

Pham Quoc Doanh, 37, dramatically tore down the sign that advertised cat meat — known as ”thịt mèo” — outside his Gia Bảo restaurant in the Thịnh Đán ward of Thái Nguyên in early December, the Humane Society International (HSI) announced.

As a result, 20 cats and kittens set to be drowned in order to meet the eatery’s demand were freed and placed for local adoption, the organisation said.

Doanh never wanted to sell cat meat — which is a relatively popular dish in Vietnam — but was pushed into the market in order to feed his family, he told Metro.

“Before selling cat meat at this restaurant I served other normal food and drinks. However, the income was not enough to cover the living cost of my family,” the father of two explained.

“It was then I tried selling cat meat since there was no other available restaurant serving this in the area,” he said.

About 1 million cats — mostly stolen pets and strays — are killed for meat per year in Vietnam, the HSI noted.

Polls show that 87 per cent of people in Vietnam have had a pet mysteriously stolen, or know someone whose pet was taken, it added.

Doanh drowned the doomed cats by holding them down with a stick in a bucket of water, he told Metro.

“I felt sorry for them when I saw them suffering during slaughtering. It was all about money since I had to make money for my whole family,” he lamented.

Frustrated by his apparent lack of options, Doanh reached out to the HSI and, as part of the organisation’s Models for Change program, received a one-time grant to shutter his restaurant and set up a grocery store instead.

Models for Change has operated in South Korea since 2015, and launched in Vietnam last year, the HSI noted.

“For a while now I have felt a genuine desire to leave the cruel cat meat business and switch to something else as soon as possible. When I think of all the thousands of cats I’ve slaughtered and served up here over the years, it’s upsetting,” Doanh said in the HSI’s official statement.

“Cat theft is so common in Vietnam that I know many of the cats sold here were someone’s loved family companion, and I feel very sorry about that. It makes me happy to know that thanks to HSI, my wife and I can now put the cat meat trade behind us and start afresh, still serving my local community but no longer as part of this brutal and crime-fuelled trade,” he continued.

“I want to see a ban on the dog and cat meat trade in Vietnam.”

The cats freed from Doanh’s slaughterhouse were taken to a custom-designed shelter at Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry to be vaccinated against rabies before being adopted, the HSI added.

“We are thrilled to be closing down our first cat meat trade business in Vietnam, and hope it will be the first of many as more people like Mr. Doanh turn away from this cruel trade,” said Quang Nguyen, the Humane Society International’s Vietnam companion animals and engagement program manager.

“Although most Vietnamese people don’t eat cat meat, the belief still persists that consumption can cure bad luck, and the scale of the suffering is astonishing. These 20 lucky cats and kittens have escaped a terrible fate and will be found loving homes, but our work continues to see a nationwide ban on the cat meat trade that brings such pain and distress to so many,” it concluded.

The cat meat industry is difficult to track, because the animals are not considered livestock and thus farmers do not have to register data about them, Metro explained.

“Now that I’ve closed my cat slaughter business, I feel more peaceful in my mind and feel confident and happy about my future without killing any more animals,” Doanh told the outlet.

“I will supply a lot of products like drinks, tobacco, sweets, dry food like instant noodles, and make a living for my family that way instead,” he said.

This article originally appeared in the New York Post and has been reproduced with permission.

Leave a Comment