Vietnam's taste for cat leaves pets in peril
At an unassuming restaurant next to a carwash in central Hanoi, a cat is prepared for hungry clients: drowned, shaved and burned to remove all fur before being cut up and fried with garlic.
"A lot of people eat cat meat. It's a novelty. They want to try it, " said the establishment's manager To Van Dung, 35.
Vietnam has forbidden the consumption of cats in an effort to encourage their ownership and keep the capital's rat population under control.
But there are still dozens of restaurants serving cat in Hanoi and it is rare to see felines roaming the streets -- most pet-owners keep them indoors or tied up out of fear of cat thieves.
Such is the demand from restaurants that cats are sometimes smuggled across the border from Thailand and Laos.
Dung said that he had never had problems with the law. He buys his cats from local breeders but also so-called cat traders, with few checks on their sourcing.
"Little tiger" is typically enjoyed at the start of each lunar month, unlike dog meat which is eaten at the end.
On a busy day, the restaurant can serve around 100 clients.
"I know in the United States and Britain they don't eat cat. But here we do, " Nguyen Dinh Tue, 44, said as he chewed on a piece of fried cat meat.
“我知道在美国和英国人们不吃猫肉，但在这里我们吃，”44岁的Nguyen Dinh Tue一边吃着炸猫肉一边说。
"I don't kill the cat! But this place sells it so I like to eat it, " he added.
-'We ate everything' –
- ‘我们啥都吃’ -
Vietnam's penchant for eating animals that are considered pets in many other countries came about largely as a result of circumstance, said Hoang Ngoc Bau, one of Hanoi's few trained vets.
越南人吃动物（在很多其他国家被当作宠物）的习惯主要是因为环境造成的，河内为数不多的正规兽医Hoang Ngoc Bau如是说。
"The country was once very poor, and we had a long war. We ate everything we could to stay alive, " he told AFP. "Insects, dogs, cats, even rats... It became a habit."
Bau decided to become a vet after his pet dog saved him from a poisonous snake when he was a child. "From that time, I had a debt to dogs, " the 63-year-old said.
Hoang Ngoc Bau小时候被毒蛇咬，他的宠物狗救了自己一命，于是他决定成为一名宠物医生。“从那时开始，我算是欠狗狗一条命，”63岁的他说。
Dramatic changes to society and cultural attitudes in the once tightly-controlled communist country in recent decades mean that a growing number of Vietnamese now share his love of animals.
But old eating habits die hard and pet owners have a battle on their hands to protect their furry companions from the dinner pot.
"No one is breeding dogs and cats for slaughter. So nearly all the animals in restaurants are trapped and stolen, " Bau said.
"For me and other pet lovers in Vietnam, they're our best friend, " added the vet.
Yet some people manage to reconcile society's dual affection for cats.
Le Ngoc Thien, the chef at one Hanoi cat meat restaurant, keeps a cat as a pet -- but when it is big enough he will cook it and get a new kitten to repeat the cycle.
Le Ngoc Thien是河内某家猫肉餐馆的大厨，他自己养了一只宠物猫，当这只猫年纪足够大时，他就会把它煮掉，然后再养一只新的小猫，就这样不断的循环下去。
"When my cats become old we kill them because according to our tradition when a cat gets old we need to change it and get a younger one, " he said.
"When I first started working here, I was surprised so many people ate cat. But now, fine, they like it, " he said, adding that demand appeared to be increasing each year.
"Eating cat meat is better than eating dog as the meat is more sweet, more tender than a dog, " Thien said.
A cat sells for between $50 and $70 depending on how large it is and how it is prepared.
Many pet owners get fed up of the risks of letting their cats go outside.
Phuong Thanh Thuy owns a Hanoi restaurant and has cats to keep rats in check, but she has had to replace them regularly.
Phuong Thanh Thuy在河内开了一家餐馆，并养了一些猫来防老鼠，但是他的猫经常丢。
"My family is sad because we spend a lot of time and energy raising our cats. When we lose a cat we feel pain, " she said as a newly purchased batch of kittens played at her feet.
vi. 繁殖；饲养；产生vt. 繁殖；饲养；养育，教育；引起n. [生物] 品种；种类，类型
n. 小猫；小动物vi. 产小猫
vt. 屠宰，屠杀；杀戮；使惨败n. 屠宰，屠杀；杀戮；消灭
vi. 漫游，漫步；流浪vt. 在…漫步，漫游；在…流浪n. 漫步，漫游；流浪