Houtong was one of Taiwan’s biggest coal-mining sites up until the 1970s. Then electric trains took over, oil took the place of coal, and the town suffered a steady decline. It became a train stop along the Yilan line that most travelers bypassed, until a cat lover who goes by the name of “Palin88” set up a series of cat photography events at Houtong in 2008.
Today there are dozens and dozens of cats roaming the town, you can fed them and play with them. It is now drawing thousands of visitors during weekends. And it's all thanks to stray cats.
The town has now become a cult tourist destination. The Facebook group “Houtong Cat Lovers Society” has over 5,700 fans, and a quick search of Houtong on Flickr returns over 24,000 results.
Houtong residents are cashing in on the tourist surge by opening souvenir shops and selling cat-shaped pineapple pastries, local press reports.
But there are downsides to Houtong’s growing fame. Many pet abandoners, assuming that strays will be looked after by Houtong locals, have chosen the town as their dumpsite, according to Taiwanese news reports. Volunteer caretakers are trying to get the cats vaccinated in time to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
Wonderful portrait! LIKE Best wishes, Peter
Welcome you MF! This picture is very good. Greetings: Laci LIKE
I like to visit Houtong village and take a cat's picture there.I have been to Houtong village many times.
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Photo taken in 224, Taiwan, 新北市瑞芳區光復里
Misplaced? Suggest new location