Yesterday night, after enjoying a drink at one of our favorite pubs, we were strolling home along Fuxing Lu in the Luwan district. At one o’ clock the streets were empty except for the odd beggar or 串-seller. It was then we noticed a middle aged man in a white shirt who seemed to be fiddling with something like a cage. As we came closer we saw that it was indeed a cage, about 30cm high and around 50cm long. Inside the cage, two small, live sparrows (or some similar kind of bird) were hung upside down from the wire ceiling.
“What are you doing?” we asked.
The man waved his hands and looked away in a “please don’t bother me” way.
The we realized: The open end of the cage was set against the wrought irons gates of a residential area, and behind the gate – small enough to slip through the bars of it – was a black cat, staring transfixed at the fluttering, bound birds. This guy must have been catching cats for Guandong dinner tables.
What was more, the cat was wearing a collar with a bell attached to it. Obviously it belonged to someone.
“That cat is someone’s pet! You can’t take it!”, we yelled and shooed the cat away from the gate.
“No, ehum, we wouldn’t take a pet”, the man in white shirt mumbled and lifted his cage away.
We continued our walk and then peaked over our shoulders. The man in white shirt was once again setting up his cage by the gate, but a loud: “AY! AY! AY! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” from us made him pick it up and leave. Although, we have no doubt that later that night he set up his cage somewhere else, out of sight of nosy pub crawlers.
We may have saved one cat, but goodness knows how many weren’t lucky enough to have pet-loving laowai around that night. Remember: it is a bad idea to let your cat out in Shanghai, even if it’s wearing a collar with name tag and knows its way home. Cat snatchers aren’t fussy about selling pets as food and you can’t always guarantee that your friendly neighborhood Shanghaiist will be there to save Fuzzy from them.