Cats rule the internet – and the hearts of many around the world. Don’t take my word for it; just take a look at the following feline-friendly destinations!
Houtong Cat Village, Ruifang District, New Taipei, Taiwan
This lovely neighbourhood was home to one of Taiwan’s largest coal-mining sites and, now, to hundreds of stray cats. The mining industry died off in the ’90s, as did the state of Houtong. The only population that was burgeoning at the time? Yes, cats! Thanks to these kitties, the once-dilapidated village has been revived into a tourist destination. In 2013, city officials even built a 60-metre-long cat bridge that serves as a sheltered platform for cats to cross from one end to the other, as well as for visitors to interact with the cats. The bridge is nicely furbished with cat toys and feeding bowls, which local volunteers would fill up with cat food and water every so often.
Tashirojima, Ishinomaki, Miyagi, Japan
You’ve probably read about this before, because the story of the popular Cat Island is too awesome to be ignored. For one, there are more cats than humans living on this tiny island! One of the thriving industries in Tashirojima is fishing. The local fishermen, who believe cats bring them good luck, are supremely protective of the cats, and would care for and feed the feral felines part of their catch. Unsurprisingly, there are several cat shrines on the island, and locals – and visitors as well – would pray for good luck and fortune.
Largo di Torre Argentina, Rome, Italy
The ruins at Largo di Torre Argentina – a historic site where Julius Caesar was assassinated – are now taken over by more than 200 adorable strays. The open-air cat sanctuary was formed in 1929 – the year the area was excavated. But it was in the ’90s when sufficient funds were raised by the Torre Argentina Roman Cat Sanctuary, that allowed for sterilisations to be carried out to manage the cat population and keep the cats healthy.
Kalkan, Antalya, Turkey
This charming old fishing town on the Turkish Mediterranean coast, once touted as one of the best tourist destinations by British newspaper The Independent, is the dream of animal rights activists from other parts of the world. Residing in Kalkan is a very active street animals protection squad, the Kalkan Association for the Protection of Street Animals (KAPSA). Why the need for such an organisation? Because stray cats (and dogs) are everywhere in Kalkan – on the beach, in the shops, inside the mosque, etc. KAPSA was formed in 2008 with the aim of bettering the welfare of the street animals. Going by the sight of seemingly happy and well-fed kitties photographed by tourists, it’s safe to say KAPSA is one dedicated voluntary organisation that delivers on their promises!
The moment you enter the old town of Kotor, you will be greeted by a mass of furry, fluffy things – not exaggerating! The number of cats in Kotor is so high, they have become a prominent symbol of the town. The cobblestone streets are lined with specialty stores dedicated to selling cat-themed souvenir, and there’s even a cat museum that details the fascinating history of cats in Kotor!