Black cats are being killed in Vietnam and turned into concoction claimed to cure coronavirus, a charity has claimed.
The No To Dog Meat group in the country says the animals are being boiled, skinned and cooked into a pasta that people are drinking in the hope it will serve as a treatment for COVID-19.
Gruesome pictures and video obtained by the charity show rows of dead cats drying in the sun after being slaughtered, while others show cats being put into cooking pots.
Other images show the black paste allegedly produced by the process — with one apparently showing a baby being fed the mixture.
The charity says the practice is mainly happening in the city of Hanoi but the pasta is also being sold online, with traders adding ‘black cat’ to their list of supposed remedies for coronavirus.
Julia de Cadenet, founder of the charity which campaigns for an end to the dog and cat meat trade, said: “People all over the world are understandably terrified of COVID-19, but this does not excuse the horrific cruelty that Vietnamese people are inflicting on these poor cats.
“There is no evidence whatsoever that eating cats cures coronavirus, and even if there was, this inhumane treatment is a level of cruelty that is unacceptable even for those who eat meat.
“In China when the virus first broke rumours flew around that pets could spread the disease, this led to many people and the authorities rounding up animals and killing them.
“Our human fears about this pandemic should not be used as an excuse to treat defenceless animals who look to us for protection, with utter contempt.”
She said she has warned both the UK Government and the United Nations repeatedly that unsanitary meat production such as the dog and cat meat trade could cause a global health crisis.
She added: “They recognise that live slaughter of animals in markets is particularly unsanitary and that human consumption of wildlife and endangered species must end.
“China recently banned eating wildlife and formally recognised dogs and cats as pets, not food but more needs to be done throughout Asia.
“In Vietnam and Indonesia, the practice of eating dogs and cats and exotic wildlife is still highly prevalent. Traders have been promoting ‘ exotic’ meats as a cure to coronavirus.”