Thousands of products made from the skins of cats and dogs are being offered on China's largest retail website Taobao, sparking outrage among animal lovers, state media reported Tuesday.
Search results and sales records from Taobao showed the most popular items were trousers and hats made from dog fur, which is touted for its ability to ward off the cold, AFP found after searching the website.
One seller with the username "sjz2ys" boasted that all the cat skin products available in his online store were authentic, though he had only sold one item - a waistcoat - in the past month, the Shanghai Daily said.
Animal rights activists said dealers usually targeted stray animals, selling their skins to fur traders in the country's east and the meat to restaurants in the south.
"We have volunteers to protect the animals but their efforts are not enough as the government's supervision is inadequate," Zhai Yining, an official with the China Small Animal Protection Association, was quoted saying.
Animal lovers posted comments on popular social networking site Douban calling for the sales of such products to be banned.
"Would those sleeping on a mattress made at the cost of lives feel really happy and comfortable? Isn't that cruel?" one web user said in a comment on a picture of a mattress made from cat fur.
According to rules published by Taobao, online stores caught selling cat or dog meat, furs and fur products would be punished by having their rating points reduced, which could hurt their popularity.
But an unnamed official with Alibaba, the operator of Taobao.com, said website inspectors charged with deleting irregular information were overwhelmed by the number of sellers publishing product details.