Would you eat your pet? A cat-eating festival in Peru has raised criticism as a congressman in Peru called for the ban of eating a barbecued cat as part of the country's annual religious festival. He joins animal rights activists in Peru who said that at least a hundred cats will be eaten as part of the celebrations of this weekend's feast of Santa Efigenia in La Quebrada, a small town in Lima, Peru.
Congressman Juan Urquiza is planning to write to the district mayor and health minister of Peru to ban cats from being consumed. According to animal rights groups, the cat-eating festival violates the domestic animal protection law.
Animal rights activists also said cat-eating is hazardous to health. Health Minister Midori de Habich also agreed with the calls to ban cat-eating in Peru but so far has done nothing to address the issue.
La Quebrada residents in Lima said cat-eating is part of their tradition. They said the cats are meant to be a sacrifice. The eaten cats were of a special breed and only some were actually killed then eaten.
While eating cat flesh is a taboo practice in most countries in the world, health experts said cat meat is not as dangerous as others might think. Health experts said that unless the cats have diseases, there should be no problem in eating them.
In some cultures in South America and Asia, cat-eating is a perfectly acceptable practice. Although animal rights scientists cited health concerns as one of the reasons for not eating cat, there no official reports of people suffering from diseases or illnesses related to cat-eating.
Every September, this town in Lima holds a festival to celebrate and honour Santa Efigenia, a saint who Peruvians believe to have descended from Afican slaves based on an AP report.
La Festival Gastronomico del Gato or The Gastronomic Festival of the Cat celebrates the time when the first settlers of the land had no choice but to eat cat meat to survive. Dozens of cats are specifically bred to be eaten when the festival comes.
Peruvians display their cat meat cooking skills. Featured cat meat dishes include grilled cat with native huacatay herbs and spicy cat stew. Cat meat has been compared with rabbit meat for its similar taste. Some local folks believe that eating cat meat can boost fertility and treat bronchitis.