A man was arrested in eastern China's Jiangsu province for allegedly capturing pet cats and stray cats to sell to restaurants for 30 yuan (S$6) per feline, Chinese media said.
A raid by the Danyang city police uncovered more than 500 cats, all of which were later released. They were allegedly caught to be sold to restaurants in other Chinese cities, Chinese news site qq.com reported.
The police told the media on Sunday (June 11) that a journalist had tipped them off about a batch of cats meant for sale on a truck.
The cats were squeezed into tiny cages in the heat, and some of them were panting, with glazed eyes and mewling.
A villager who gave his name only as Mr Yang told the reporter that there were more cats in a hut nearby.
Mr Yang had made a police report after his pet cats started to go missing, the South China Morning Post reported on Monday.
At the hut, there were many more metal cages filled with different coloured cats, with a fan turned on to keep them from dying in the heat.
Mr Yang said the man caught the cats by using sparrows as bait.
Just last November, nearly 1,000kg of fresh and frozen cat meat was found in a raid of three buildings in Chengdu, in south-western Sichuan province. They were reportedly sold under the guise of rabbit meat.