An eatery and slaughterhouse in Vietnam serving ‘thịt mèo’ (cat meat) has shuttered its operations after owner Pham Quoc Doanh said he felt regretful over drowning over 300 cats a month to serve cat broth and meat dishes at its restaurant–especially knowing that many were stolen pets.
“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,” Doahn said in a statement organized by charity Humane Society International (HSI).
The nonprofit has agreed to make a deal with Doanh, giving him a grant to open a grocery store to replace the cat restaurant and slaughterhouse that had been in operation for five years. They have also taken the remaining 20 cats at Doanh’s restaurant to be put up for adoption.
“For a while now I have felt a genuine desire to leave the cruel cat meat business… I think of all the thousands of cats I’ve slaughtered and served up here over the years, it’s upsetting,” Doanh added, saying that he now wants to see dog and cat trade ended in the country.
The program, part of HSI’s Models for Change program, was launched in Vietnam a year ago, where an estimated 1 million cats are killed annually for consumption, after a successful operation in South Korea starting in 2015. Just this year, South Korea proposed a ban on the dog meat industry beginning in 2027.
“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,” Quang Nguyen, HSI’s Vietnam companion animals and engagement manager said in a statement. “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.”
According to an October 2023 Nielsen poll commissioned by HSI, 71 percent of Vietnam’s population is in favour of a ban on both cat meat trade and consumption.
In 1998, Vietnam’s prime minister attempted to enact a ban on the hunting, killing, and eating of cats, in an effort to push cat ownership as a means to combat rat control. However, according to HSI, not much action was taken and the directive was eventually repealed in 2020.