Friday, 3 August 2018

Houtong Cat Village

In Taiwan there is a village which was famous once for monkeys, then coal, and now cats and lots of them. Houtong, which means "monkey cave, is located in Ruifang District New Taipei. Houtong Cat Village was originally called ‘Kau-tong’ due to the existence of a cave inhabited by monkeys in the early days. The area was once a small mining town, famous for a well preserved culture surrounding its railway. The village good old days, the area produced more than 220,000 tons of coal per year. The largest coal output of a single area in Taiwan. In 1920, a purification factory was built, ultimately attracted myriad immigrants to the area. The town was gradually prosperous to 900 households to 6000 people.
Unfortunately the area was tending to decline in 1990’s due to decline in mining industry. The young generation begins to migrate to search for other opportunities. Eventually only few hundred inhabitants remained due to mining industry had died out. In 2008, a local cat lover Peggy Chien organized volunteers to start offering abandoned cats a better life. He was passionate cat lover to make things happen by posting cats images online. His passion turns in an overwhelming response from other cat lovers around the world.
The public fell in love with the adorable cats and the village once again flourishing. As the word spreading out, Houtong Cat Village became center for cat lovers. Since, number of cats living there increased got attention all parts of the world. Thus, reviving a declining village is transforming into a tourist destination. Interestingly some cats are sterilized and will have one of their ears trimmed as confirmation. Hence, this helps to keep check on the local population of cats, and also support in identify new cats which enter into the village. Black, ginger, calico, tortoise shell, white and grey, fat and fatter, friendly and shy, there’re different cats of every wondrous kind in Houtong.
Though most of the cats hang out in the collection of cottages that cling to the hillside, they can be found roaming all over Houtong Village. Now, the Houtong Cat Village is prospering, featuring cafes, shops, relaxing places and restaurants catering to the many visitors who descend on this feline frontier every weekend. Cat lovers can see cats lounging in flower pots, loafing on shelves, padding up steps, jumping off roofs and spread out, sleeping, over stalls of kitty-themed souvenirs.
Houtong Cat Village is located near the origin of the Keelung River. The pristine, green waters of the river are accessible via steps. Drivers entering the town are greeted with a sign that reads 'A lot of stray cats’ here. Drive slowly. Moreover, A black covered “cat bridge” has been constructed above the busy railway, to allow safe passage for the cats. Houtong’s cats are remarkably good-natured, though they are usually being chased, petted and photographed by visitors. Source: CP
Obvious signage instructs visitors how to interact with the cats. The cats should be left alone unless they start contact, and they shouldn't be distraught or chased, the signs instruct. People who choose to feed the cats should clean up afterward, and flash photography is discouraged. The volunteers and doctors do regular neutering and injections to make sure the population is healthy and stable. And some people abandon their own pets there or even steal cats from the village.

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