Yesterday 90 cats were saved from the dining table when police intercepted a pickup truck at 2.30am with six cages in Nakhon Phanom's Ban Phaeng district.
Sodsai Umpawa, 26, said a Maha Sarakham investor paid him Bt2,000 to Bt3,000 per trip to deliver the felines to a middleman on the Mekong River, who then shipped them to Vietnam where they could fetch good prices for their meat.
Sodsai was booked for cruelty to animals and transporting livestock without a proper health check or permit.
The cats would be sent temporarily to a quarantine station.
In this first case of cat smuggling for their meat, police suspect that this gang might be backed by the same group of Maha Sarakham investors funding dog-smuggling activities.
While the consumption of cat meat is considered taboo in many places, it can be found on the menu in some parts of Asia, especially China and Vietnam.
The smuggling of canines is illegal in Thailand, but thousands of them continue being trafficked live to nearby countries like Vietnam each year.
The drivers are usually charged with exporting animals without a permit or with transporting unvaccinated animals and often escape with light punishment.