Community resilience story: How cats revived this ex-coal town’s economy

The well-loved cats of Houtong, Taiwan have given a second life to the former coal town.

Houtong, Taiwan is known as “Cat Village”. Once a major coal mining center, the economy here now centers on cat tourism.

When mining stopped in early 1990s, Houtong’s population plummeted. But the cat-to-human ratio surged, as some relocated without their pets. Others who remained kept feeding the strays.

After a visit to Houtong in 2007, Jian Peiling, aka “Mrs. Kitty,” now a pro cat photographer, organized a volunteer welfare campaign for the felines.

Estimates vary: 100 to 200 cats. Two-legged guests are very welcome. In 2009, Houtong’s train station had over a quarter million arrivals, already a tenfold increase over the previous decade. But last year, visits may have topped one million!

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