Houtong Cat Village
Houtong Cat Village
|Location||Ruifang, New Taipei, Taiwan|
Houtong was once a rich small mining town in Ruifang, renowned for a well-preserved culture surrounding its railway, which was built during the Japanese rule of Taiwan. During its prosperous years, the area produced around 220,000 tons of coal per year, the largest coal output of a single area in Taiwan. This attracted many immigrants to the area, which further spurred the town's growth to as many as 900 households with a population of more than 6,000 people. The last facility built in the area was a coal purification factory, built in 1920.
As the coal mining industry began to decline in the 1990s, the area also declined. Young residents started to emigrate to look for other opportunities, and eventually only few hundred residents remained once the mining industry had died out.
However, things started taking a turn for the better from 2008, when a local cat lover organized volunteers to start offering abandoned cats a better life. They posted the cats' pictures online, resulting in an overwhelming response from other cat lovers around the nation. Soon, Houtong became a center for cat lovers as word spread, and the number of cats living there increased – thus reviving a declining village, and transforming it into a tourist destination. Some cats are sterilized, and will have one of their ears trimmed as confirmation – this helps to keep check on the local population of cats, and also helps identify new cats which enter into the village.
The village features shops, cafes and relaxing places for tourists. It is also 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.' A special bridge has been constructed above the busy railway, to allow safe passage for the cats.
The village is accessible from Houtong Station of Taiwan Railways Administration. From Jiufen, it is approximately 10 minutes and NT 350 by taxi, which makes it a good secondary destination after Jiufen if planning a day trip. Houtong is also the origin of two trails which can be hiked to reach Jiufen.
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- "Taiwan's 'cat village' on CNN list of attractions". The China Post. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
- Preston Phro (24 June 2014). "Visiting Taiwan's cat village, where the cats are ready for cuddles!【Photos】 - RocketNews24". RocketNews24.
- "Houtong, Taiwan, a Town Where Cats Call the Shots". WSJ. 2013-07-02. Retrieved 2016-07-14.
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