A truck hauling over 1,000 cats stuffed into some 40 cages was involved in a traffic accident in Changsha, the capital city of China's Hunan province, giving local animal activists time to free them.

Care for Chinese Animals reports that the cats, which were stuffed 25 a piece into some 40 cages, were being shipped to Guangdong province to be sold to restaurants for slaughter.

While the truck was stranded by the side of the road, a call went out through the social network Weibo for Changsha residents willing to help save the cats.

Some felines unfortunately perished in the accident, but those that survived were taken home by volunteers or handed over to the Changsha Small Animal Protection Association.

Though consuming cats is considered bad luck in many parts of China — and serving food that hasn't been quarantined is illegal throughout — the Animals Asia Foundation says Guangdong, China's most prosperous province, has seen "renewed interest in eating cat" because some well-to-do citizens see it as a previously unaffordable delicacy.

[photos via Care for Chinese Animals, Weibo]