Loving cats

More Taiwanese have pet cats.

In recent years, more and more Taiwanese are changing from dog people to cat people.

On Facebook, friends are sharing their lives with pet cats, or some friends would sadly share that their cats, which they view as their family members, have rested in peace. More traditional media are creating pet channels or columns and most of the videos and stories shared are focused on cats. On YouTube, more people are following cat channels and videos about cute cats have attracted hundreds of thousands of likes.

Among cat lovers, many of them would watch cat videos or search for cat photos for hours and exclaim, “Oh! How adorable!” And they believe in the saying that “dogs have owners but cats have slaves.”

They would jokingly say: “I am a slave to my cat.” But secretly and deep inside, they are proud of it.

There is even a cat village in Taiwan where most cat lovers visit.

The Houtong village was known for its prosperous coal mine, but after it closed, the village became desolate. It was famous for its abundance of cats ten years ago. It is said that the number of cats in Houtong now is two hundred times more than the human population, and it was named as one of the best cat-watching spots in the world by CNN in 2013, along with Rome’s kitty ruins, Japan’s cat islands, Kalkan in Turkey and Hemingway’s cats in Key West, Florida.

Walking on the streets in Houtong, cats are all over the village. They don’t care about people walking around and most of them would enjoy people petting them. You can not only take photos of cats, pet cats and watch them strutting across the village, but also buy cat souvenirs and enjoy coffee or authentic Taiwanese milk tea with adorable kitties by your side.

Being a cat person, I don’t keep cats myself but as Taiwanese say, it is so soothing and comforting watching cats sleeping soundly as if nothing in the world will bother them. It is also one of the little things in life that will bring us hygge to see cats lying there and simply enjoy their company.

In fact, LIAO YU, which means to soothe and heal, and XIAO QUE XING, which means the little things in life that bring you happiness, are two trendy words in Taiwan because nowadays, many people are tired of the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Thus, LIAO YU and XIAO QUE XING are needed by many Taiwanese, and the lifestyle of cats which always appear to be so calmly and indifferent to the outside world are exactly what people admire but can hardly achieve.

I went to Turkey last June to visit my friend and it was a pleasant surprise to me to see cats everywhere — I even saw a cat walking freely in a mall in Istanbul and nobody bothers to turf it out. Especially in the famous Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque where many celebrity cats seemed to be on duty there to patrol and make sure that everything was alright in the mosque.

Most Filipinos I know told me that there are more dog people here than cat people. But to my surprise, there are quite some stray cats in BGC where the cats walk around as if it’s their property. Some cats even sleep on the tables and chairs outside of coffee shops or restaurants and no one will drive them away. Many people who walk by will stop to take pictures or pet the cats, and some people will bring cat food for them.

While there are not many cat lovers in the Philippines, I do hope more people will find the cuteness in them and enjoy the happiness pets bring us whether they are cats or dogs.


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