Cat Island in Japan is famous for its feline residents as well as being a popular destination for tourists from all over, but while many flock there for the cats it is far from the ideal place most have imagined it would be. Hannah Shaw, aka Kitten lady, took a trip there a few years back and she shows us that it sadly falls short of what true cat lovers would expect.
Houtong, Taiwan has taken a different approach to capitalizing on their cats and it is one that ensures the well-being of their four-legged residents is a priority.
The former mining town, which is now referred to as the Cat Village, was taken over by cats that were left behind when all but a few people moved on. A local women and cat lover was the first to notice the cats and she organized other volunteers to help care for the now estimated 200 plus, ensuring that all are vaccinated, micro-chipped and spayed or neutered. The few remaining residents declared themselves a cat friendly sanctuary complete with cat cafes, shops and restaurants making Houtong the perfect mecca for cat lovers.
While the volunteers and residents have made great efforts with the cats, unfortunately there have been reports of people dumping or stealing cats as well as disease which was introduced by abandoned cats – the only apparent downside to the feline paradise. It is acknowledged that there is great potential to teach visitors the value of cats, but officials admit there may be much more work to do in that area.
A place with many cats means temptation, the type the every cat lover can easily fall prey to so with that in mind and knowing that people want to ‘touch’ the cats, those who are tasked for caring for them have made sure that there are plenty of signs and rules asking people to respect and not harass the animals. Getting people to obey all the rules may be another story.
If you find yourself in Taiwan, or will be planning a visit just so you can see Houtong’s Cat Village directions on how to get there can be found here.