A closer distance between stray cats and Hong Kong people?
The Cats’Tea Room, the largest cat’s cafe in Hong Kong, has 31 cats, among which 8 cats were strays. The cats in the cafe look healthy and energetic, with a fat body, smooth fur, even for the strays.
“These cats are all lovely,” said Susan Kelly, from Britain, who had been to The Cats’Tea Room for three or four times, “I came here for caring for the cats, feeding them and playing with them.”
Albert Lee, the owner of The Cat’s Tea Room, noticed that many customers got closer to stray cats after some time playing with the cats in the cafe.
“Customers tend to realize that there is no difference between strays and family cats except that strays are more depended on people,” he said.
Hong Kong people have a warm perception of stray cats during recent years.
According to the survey done by the Census and Statistics Department, the number of stray cats kept as pets increased dramatically over the past ten to fourteen years.
Besides, the number of stray cats being desexed under the Cats Colony Care Programme is dropping.
Fiona Woodhouse, the deputy director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Hong Kong), thinks the decreasing number of stray cats is due to Hong Kong people keep more and more cats. They began to recognize the positive side of the stray cats.
In the past, Hong Kong people had a negative perception of stray cats as they thought stray cats were dirty, tiny and carrying viruses.
Icy Song, 20, had run into stray cats on her way to Lingnan University. Worrying about being infected, she decided to turn her around.
“Although I felt pitiful for these stray cats, I will not get close to them considering the bacteria carried by them,” she said.
But now stray cats leave a better impression on Hong Kong people.
Mrs. Woodhouse analyzed the change in the public’s opinion towards stray cats is because cats have a healthy population and people recognize the major role of stray cats in chasing rats.
After a visit to The Cat’s Tea Room, Mrs. Song overcame her fears of stray cats by playing, feeding and even letting them to lay on her laps.
“The stray cats seem as healthy and cute as pet cats in the cafe, they need us to pay more attention,” she said.
However, the trend of warm perception from the intimate contact with stray cats in the cat’s cafes is controversial.
Mrs. Woodhouse points out that the cat’s cafe is not a good shelter for stray cats.
“Cats are the animals can easily get stressed and a lot of time people do not recognize the stress of cats and expect to play with the cats,” she said.
Besides, she thought that cats tend to socially grow up in maternal groups, which means kittens like to play with their mothers and if people put cats from different families together, it is another source of constant stress for cats.
“Another consideration is the intention. Cats cafe use cats for business. And if gone with business, there may be economical consideration in terms of profits,” she added.
While ordinary people often ignore such concern, they just enjoy playing with cute cats.
Mrs. Song spent her spare time playing with the cat’s café. As soon as she came in, the cats surrounded her, which seems like greeting their old friend. She sat on the floor and picked up a cat fondly, letting it in her arms.
“I seem to love these cats and try my best to give them warmth,” she said.