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Over 1,000 pet cats that were stolen have been rescued in North China, after some of their upset owners managed to track down the kidnappers and work with police to get them back.
The animals were to be sold for their fur and meat, police in Liaoning Province said, as eating cats is culturally accepted in some parts of the country, and considered a delicacy in others.
Around 300 of the animals have already been returned to their homes after the major trafficking operation was foiled.
Having noticed a spike in cats going missing in Dalian City, some of the owners joined together to try and solve what was happening.
Disgusting: These images show some of the over 1,000 cats found in captivity in Liaoning Province, North China, after they were stolen from their owners
Trafficking ring: Police say the kidnappers planned to sell the animals off for their fur and meat
Seized: It is culturally acceptable to eat cat meat in certain parts of China
Safe: Over 300 of the cats have already been returned to their owners. The others are being cared for
They discovered a group of men roaming the area at night, appearing to be searching for both wild and pet cats.
One night the followed the men back to their cat den.
They notified police, who stormed the lair and discovered over 1,000 cats in captivity.
Six people have been arrested.
According to Sky News, the operation started at the beginning of the month.
Found: The cats were together after some of their upset owners banded together
Healthy: Because the cats were to be sold, most of them were found in a satisfactory condition
Home: It is not know if all over the 1,000 are going to be able to be returned to their homes
Captivity: Six people have been arrested as part of the ring
It is unclear whether all the cats will be able to be returned to their owners, with authorities saying it will be difficult to track down homes for all of them.
The Inquisitr reported that an estimated four million cats are eaten in China each year.
While it is accepted in some areas, it is not common where the trafficking operation was busted, which might explain why the group targeted that spot.
Feng Dongmei, a manager of cat and dog welfare at the Animals Asia Foundation (AAF), said that younger generations are becoming against the practice more and more, especially in Hong Kong, where eating cat meat is said to be based.
'In Guangzhou, cat meat is popular now mostly in restaurants on the outskirts of the city,' he said.
'Most of the cat eaters are older people and old habits die hard.'