A chef friend had warned about this after a less than stellar meal at one of Shanghai’s restaurants. He had ordered lamb, but felt the meat the restaurant served was not only too small to come from a sheep, but it also didn’t taste right. “Maybe it was cat instead,” he offered. “That’s crazy,” I thought. I possibly thought wrong.
Now comes the rumor that unscrupulous street food vendors are selling “lamb shiskabobs” that might have actually been made out of kitties. “They achieve the flavour match, so the story goes, by soaking the cat meat in sheep urine,” says the person behind Black China Blog.
While he’s up in Beijing (and it’s all conjecture for now) it does bring into question the exact type of meat we’re eating here. A search on the matter reveals that in several countries, cat meat posing as lamb meat is a constant problem – Russians even have a joke for it: “buy three shawarma – assemble a kitten.”
And it’s not like Shanghai hasn’t had this problem before. Back in 2006, we wrote about an Eastday report which found out that many chuar places were in fact cutting costs by substituting cat meat for lamb.
The Shanghai Small Animal Association (SSAA) has amassed ample evidence that local restaurants have been lacing their mutton dishes with cat meat to cut down on costs. After subjecting twelve samples of mutton from various street vendors to DNA testing, two were found to contain cat meat. The SSAA believes that many purveyors of cat fur will sell unused cat flesh to local vendors looking to supplement their meat supplies. What happened to the good old days when the dogs in our hot pot were the biggest of Shanghaiist’s culinary troubles?
The news about cats being food comes onto the radar again as cat lovers launched their most recent attack against cat traders. Apparently, there’s no law for taking cats off the street and trading them to other counties, but there is one for eating them. Under the Animal Epidemic Prevention Law, you’re not allowed to eat cat without first putting the meat through relevant check ups.
So what can you do to prevent stuffing feline? Well, besides staying away from street vendors and knowing exactly what a “cat chop” looks like compared to a lamb chop (oh yes, and there’s always the vegetarian option)… not much.