As living standards have risen, sections of the Chinese populace have become more picky about what should be determined as food. And of the animals hovering in the pet/food debate, it seems cats have struck a particular chord – enough, apparently, to warrant a documentary!
“San Hua” by amateur filmmaker Guo Ke, is the first of its kind – a documentary on the country’s cat meat industry. It follows the entire trade, from cat snatchers in Shanghai and Beijing (which we’ve come across ourselves) to the restaurants of Guangzhou. It premiered in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou at the end of July, with an aim to “let more people know the truth – to spread the news as far as possible.”
And the truth is… Well, that people in Guangzhou eat cats because it’s “delicious” and they never kept them as pets when they were kids. And frankly, the only “food safety” grounds people have brought up are the tenuous connection between Civet cats and SARS – which not only wasn’t completely proven, but also is just scientifically misguided to begin with. Civets are from an entirely different family classification from domestic cats – it’d be like comparing cows to camels.
Okay, so that’s probably not the truth that Guo Ke wanted to reveal to the world in his documentary. Granted, some of the practices are disturbingly cruel (“The worse you treat them the better they taste,” one cook says in the documentary, “It makes sure the blood gets into the meat”), but is it any worse than how we slaughter pigs, cows or really anything else?
The one argument I can make against cat meat is that these cats are being taken off the street, and therefore may be some poor unsuspecting person’s pet. Also – since they aren’t from a controlled environment, the possibility of parasites and other nasties making their way into the meat is much higher.
But what’s the alternative: factory farming? The documentary doesn’t say.
You can watch the full documentary below (though it’s in Chinese and only has Chinese subtitles):