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The narrator meets a remarkable kitten at the Houtong Cat Village in Taiwan

I grinned from ear to ear as a cat cautiously strolled up to me and sniffed my hand, looking for food bits. I was so delighted to finally arrive at Meow City!

In June 2019, my family took a trip to Taiwan to visit my relatives. One of the highlights of the trip was exploring a special place inhabited by cats of all sizes and colors. The Houtong Cat Village sits on top of a mountain surrounded by lush, ten-foot-tall trees.

When I first entered the place, I saw hundreds of cats. There were grey, orange, and black cats, striped or freckled cats, cleaning themselves with their tongues or just wandering around. It was a colorful sight. Some were rotund, while others were rail thin—you could see their rib cages. The air smelled crisp and clean like fresh laundry. The morning sun smiled down radiantly. I felt like I was in heaven because I love animals.

The one unique thing about this place is that all the cats are strays. However, the villagers take care of them and love them. The people leave out food and water bowls that thirsty cats lap up eagerly. Once a month, a professional vet comes to check on the cats and provide medicine and vaccinations. There are several cat condos erected to give them shelter, some with ramps leading up to the door for the older cats. Two rows of small shops made of old red bricks sell food that tourists can purchase to feed the cats. The cats never feel lonely because tourists pet and talk to them or snap pictures with the adorable felines.

One particular cat stood out in my memory. She caught my eye when I heard a sorrowful whimper near the bushes near the entrance. I slowly crept toward the noise. After that, I tried to lure the kitten out by offering it a yogurt stick that my dad bought at the convenience store. A pair of sparkling orange eyes stared back at me. She was a small tabby cat, covered with orange and white stripes. Her pink tongue started licking the treat eagerly, like a starving child who hasn’t eaten in days. I wanted to scream. I wanted to shout. I even considered fainting. To my surprise, my feet stayed firmly planted on the ground; my mouth didn’t even twitch. I was destined to meet this kitten. My heart burst with joy like a greedy three-year-old opening his present on Christmas Day. She took to me so easily; it was like we had been friends for life.

As a result of this visit, seeing all these villagers helping and caring for all these kittens, I am more inspired to become a vet someday. Hopefully, one day I will return and see my tabby cat all grown up. I thought my visit to Meow City was simply divine.

Elise Cheung
Elise Cheung, 8
Danville, CA