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Taiwan travel : Visit Houtong Village where everything relevant about cat !

Updated on March 20, 2017

In 2008, A local cat admirer posted photos of the village’s efforts to look after stray cats; her pictures attracted visitors, volunteer help and more kitties.

Houtong village offically become residential address for cats In little more than two years. Today, more than 200 cats live in Houtong and a tourist industry has emerged with shops, cafes and restaurants catering to the many visitors who descend on this feline frontier every weekend.

The village is split into two. The half next to the station building contains the old coal processing machinery, restaurants, a visitors’ information centre and a marvellous riverside walkway that leads to the former miners’ dormitory. A black covered “cat bridge” behind the station leads to the other side: the cat village itself. 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.

there are cats of every wondrous kind in Houtong , Black, ginger, tortoise shell, calico, white and grey, fat and fatter. They can be found lounging in flower pots, loafing on shelves, padding up steps, jumping off roofs and spread out, sleeping, over stalls of kitty-themed souvenirs. The best places for feline-spotting tends to be away from the forest of selfie sticks in the centre of the village along the riverside path heading east from the station. They seem to love dozing under the wooden benches here and there’s always one or two snoozing on the ledges inside the cool of the cat bridge.

A small volunteer team with veterinary help looks after Houtong’s cats by administering vaccinations, spaying and neutering, and implanting microchips so as to attempt some kind of a cat census. While most of the cats are strays, and therefore wild, they are used to people. They get so well fed by the villagers and the public that most of them seem to be forever sleeping off dinner.

Houtong’s cats are remarkably good-natured, though they are usually being chased, petted and photographed by visitors. Cat food and biscuits are on sale in several of the village shops, but feeding isn’t encouraged and if you really want to, just two or three tiny biscuits per cat are suggested at most. Parts of the village have signs up asking people not to feed or tease the cats or use flash photography. Some of the cats don’t mind being petted; others will leg it at the sign of an outstretched hand. The kindest thing is to enjoy the cats from a distance and play with them only if they approach you.

You could say the village has gone a bit crazy about cats. Anything that could be cat-related is cat-related. Shops play ‘music’ consisting of cats meowing to electronic beats; shopkeepers sport furry cat ears and almost all products on sale have a feline theme. Here’s our attempt at an incomplete list of kitty kitsch that can be procured in Houtong: cat notepads, ceramic cats, cat mobile phone covers, cat coasters, cat socks, cat temporary tattoos, cat ears, cat hand fans, cat mugs, cat purses, cat brooches, cat fridge magnets, and cat-shaped pineapple cakes! Perhaps the best buy are the cat postcards, which feature some arty shots of the village kitties themselves.

There’s a welcome number of eateries in Houtong. Clustered around the train station entrance is a row of no-nonsense noodle and dumpling places that get very packed.

The cat coffee has a leafy riverside garden, very good coffee and snacks including toast and waffles that still be a good choice for visitors.

When the cat-adoring crowds get too much, Houtong has lots of other worthy attractions. Maps with suggested walks are available from the visitor information centre. Across the river are the remains of a haunted-looking Japanese shinto shrine which is in honour of an earth goddess. There’s even a toy train ride that takes you into a mining tunnel. You can visit all about the miner ‘s life. In the surrounding hills, there are lots of great hikes that pass through tunnels, across bridges and snake around railway tracks

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