Hundreds of cats were saved from slaughter this week after a group of animal lovers stumbled upon an illegal slaughterhouse in northeast China, according to local media reports. The people, all members of a local animal welfare group in the city of Tianjin, had been out looking for a lost pet cat when they spotted the premises. “There was a run-down house in the middle of nowhere with cat hair, skin and animal entrails scattered along the road leading to it,” a woman surnamed Shi was quoted as saying by Thecover.cn. Local people knew there was an illegal slaughterhouse operating somewhere in the area but had never been able to find it, the report said. When the group entered the premises they found a total of 375 cats crammed inside 24 tiny cages, Meiri Daily News reported. The rescue effort began on Sunday night and continued into the early hours of Monday morning. Neither of the reports explained how the animal lovers completed the mission or if the local police were involved. They also did not say if any further investigations were under way. All of the cats, except four that did not survive their ordeal, have been put up for adoption by the Capital Animal Welfare Association, whose members handled the rescue, the newspaper report said. Why a dog meat seller switched to serving vegan menu, and Cambodia’s fight to curb slaughter of dogs for food Most of the animals had been neutered and had their nails clipped, which led the group to suspect they had once been pets, it said. Eating cat meat is not illegal in China and it features in a dish known as dragon and tiger soup, which was once popular in Guangdong province but has been banned since 2007. In April, two brothers were arrested for stealing eight pet cats that they intended to sell to a restaurant to make the soup. According to Hong Kong-based advocacy group Animals Asia, about 4 million cats and 10 million dogs are slaughtered every year for food in China.