As early as 2002, 44 states did not have statutes outlawing the treatment of these two domesticated species as livestock. It appears that the biggest prohibition on eating dogs and cats is social.
The Wall Street Journal looks at the Taboo of eating dogs:
Dogs are wonderful, and in many ways unique. But they are remarkably unremarkable in their intellectual and experiential capacities. Pigs are every bit as intelligent and feeling, by any sensible definition of the words. They can’t hop into the back of a Volvo, but they can fetch, run and play, be mischievous and reciprocate affection. So why don’t they get to curl up by the fire? Why can’t they at least be spared being tossed on the fire? Our taboo against dog eating says something about dogs and a great deal about us.
Eating Dog meat has a long and rich history:
Dog meat has been described as “gamey” “complex,” “buttery” and “floral.” And there is a proud pedigree of eating it. Fourth-century tombs contain depictions of dogs being slaughtered along with other food animals. It was a fundamental enough habit to have informed language itself: the Sino-Korean character for “fair and proper” (yeon) literally translates into “as cooked dog meat is delicious.” Hippocrates praised dog meat as a source of strength. Dakota Indians enjoyed dog liver, and not so long ago Hawaiians ate dog brains and blood. Captain Cook ate dog. Roald Amundsen famously ate his sled dogs. (Granted, he was really hungry.) And dogs are still eaten to overcome bad luck in the Philippines; as medicine in China and Korea; to enhance libido in Nigeria and in numerous places, on every continent, because they taste good. For centuries, the Chinese have raised special breeds of dogs, like the black-tongued chow, for chow, and many European countries still have laws on the books regarding postmortem examination of dogs intended for human consumption.
The United States does not have a history of eating these animals and most citizens view the practice as repugnant. Oddly enough, most states have animal cruelty laws (albeit some states have very weak laws). Could it be considered a shade of grey to eat cat meat? You have to kill the cat to eat it and killing it would certainly not be an act of kindness. New York has explicit laws against killing dogs and cats for the sale of their flesh.
However, it is murky in terms of whether it’s legal to eat the flesh once it’s been butchered. California has much broader laws.
The golden state makes it illegal to not only butcher the animals, but to be found in possession of their flesh. Thus far, it appears that only California outright bars eating dogs and cats. As for the other states, it will all boil down to how their animal cruelty laws are interpreted.
Here’s some food for thought:
The French, who love their dogs, sometimes eat their horses.
The Spanish, who love their horses, sometimes eat their cows.
The Indians, who love their cows, sometimes eat their dogs.
The California law protects “any animal traditionally or commonly kept as a pet or companion,”: Here, Kitty, Kitty, Kitty
Let Them Eat Dog