On Wednesday morning in Pallavaram, a Narikuravar tribal settlement was in the midst of construction work when they were approached by a man who offered to help them.
Arvind, an animal rights activist, noticed a cage with 16 cats huddled together and with their tongues sticking out due to dehydration.
Speaking to The News Minute, Sagar Sheth, an activist who was part of the rescue said, "At the corner, there was a man chopping meat. He told us that it was cat meat and that it was to be sold. Rs.200 for 2 kgs he said, it was that cheap. A man even ate a raw piece of meat and recommended that we try black cat's blood."
On Thursday morning, four activists Arvind Kannan, Koushik Raghavan, Meenatchi sundaram and Sagar Sheth rescued the cats and sent them away in an ambulance arranged by a People for Animals (PFA) activist Shiranee Perreira.
Venkatesan, the inspector of Pallavaram's S5 police station told TNM that this is not a new occurrence. "They keep cats like this naturally, it has always been like that. We didn't really know about this incident and got to know only through activists," he says. A complaint has been filed.
"We have to check if itâ€™s mixed. It may not be sold directly as cat meat. We have to test it in labs to check if the composition is a combination of cat meat and other meat," said Sagar.
Pallavaram was in the news in 2014 as well, when 13 cats that were encaged by a tribal community and were being regularly killed for their meat were rescued, as reported by The Hindu.
According to a 2010 New Indian Express article, cat biryani and cat soup are pretty common at weddings within the Narikuravar community.