According to the nonprofit, most cats caught in the trade are strays that have neither been spayed nor neutered, consequently reproducing at “alarming” rates.
Additionally, some allegedly snatch pet cats, leaving owners in a hopeless search that occasionally ends in the miserable discovery of their slaughter.
“They are sold to butchers who boil them alive to save their skin to become shoes, gloves, purses, etc. sold at our stores as leather goods,” the Fur-Free Society, also known as the Anti-Fur Society, claimed in a Facebook post.
Cat and dog fur are illegal in the U.S. and EU countries, but “their leather comes in without any specs,” the group added.
The post, which was published on Sunday, has since gone viral with over 83,000 shares, 77,000 reactions and 19,000 comments.
“This has broken my heart into a million pieces. I’m in tears,” a Facebook user commented.
Another questioned, “How can anyone do that?”
While it is legal to eat cats and dogs in China, their consumption is a minority activity distant from mainstream culture.
A local survey in the same year found that 13% of residents in Yulin — the site of China’s infamous annual dog festival — never eat dogs, while a further 59% consume it rarely.
“The truth is that eating dog and cat is not part of China’s mainstream culinary practice even in Yulin, the home of the dog meat festival,” Peter Li, a China policy specialist for Humane Society International, told the Washington Post. “Far from being vital to the Yulin economy or way of life, the dog meat festival is a national disgrace that tarnished the name of the city around the world. Now is the time to end it.”
The Anti-Fur Society is currently seeking donations to sterilize 100 community cats in Nanjing, which would cost at least $5,000. So far, the nonprofit managed to collect $1,137 and partnered with 10 vet clinics that have agreed to reduce costs.