One cat had tumors all over its face and body. Another’s ears were cut off. Still others suffered from severe infections and injuries.
That was the scene inside a Bangkok “cat cafe” animal activists descended on this past week, finding 38 abused cats, an apparent illegal breeding lab making Frankencats and carcasses of another 20 stuffed in a fridge.
The former political candidate who led the group to the Venice CatCorner – shut down earlier this month – described the gruesome discoveries and conditions found inside, including an illegal breeding operation hidden in a dark room on the top floor.
“We found many cats in tiny cages on the third floor like the cafe was trying to hide them. Many were in poor condition and were infirm. … These cats have probably never seen sunshine since the windows on the third floor are all blocked. Their only job is to make kitties,” Talin Seree Ruamthai, animal activist and former Thai Liberal Party candidate, said in a video posted online Tuesday.
The cafe was located in Bangkok’s Bang Khen district. No one could be reached today at the Bang Khen Police Department, but an officer in neighboring Sai Mai who searched the cafe said no charges had been filed against the business or its owners.
In a video, Talin showed the disturbing conditions the cats were found in. He believes they were the product of unethical cross-breeding by the cat cafe’s unidentified 35-year-old veterinarian owner. She was arrested for fraud on April 3, the same day the cafe was closed down, according to media reports. It was unclear if the charges were related to the cafe.
“It seems like the owner bred mom cats with their own sons, and daughters with their own dads,” Talin said in his video.
While Talin said there were many different types of cats in cages, the cafe’s online promotions highlight its signature “tiny Sphynx” breed, which in Thailand can sell for THB50,000 – 100,000 (US$1,600 – $3,100) each.
Some cafe customers began noticing problems there.
“I actually saw the Sphynx cats because the vet (and cafe owner) was trying to make me buy one, and at first I thought they were really cute. … I even told my friend to come here because I’ve never seen a place in Thailand with this many Sphynx cats before,” an unidentified customer told Channel 3. “… [B]ut the second and third time I visited, I started noticing more and more sick cats. When I returned home from my cafe visit, my cat got an infection.”
The cats are now in the care of Talin and other volunteer rescuers. He said they were being treated by qualified veterinarians and their conditions are improving in a video posted yesterday.
He did not reply to several phone calls and messages seeking comment today.
The number of animal cafes in Bangkok have mushroomed in recent years. They are poorly regulated and some have been shut down due to poor management and animal mistreatment.
Talin pleaded with animal lovers to think twice before buying pets and not simply be swayed by how cute one is as doing so sustains unethical breeders and businesses.
“Hundreds of cats had to die for one to be successfully bred. Do you really want to buy an animal that is a product of torture?” he said in the video.
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