Blog / Culture

Global Felines and the Cats of Taiwan

Cats of Taiwan

Table Island, Penghu County, TaiwanGlobal Felines was launched in July 2015 by Jill Henley-Su, a freelance translator/photographer and cat lover living in Taipei.

“When I started my freelancing career, I spent some time traveling around. At the end of every trip, I usually found there were more photos of cats than of anything else. That’s when I decided to create Global Felines, a site that combines cat photography with stories from the cats’ point of view,” says Henley-Su.

“Recently, I went to a small fishing community called Table Island in Penghu County. It’s a very quiet and unspoiled place. There are more cats than people on the island, so it’s a great getaway for people who love cats.”

“The most interesting photography experience I had was on a wedding anniversary trip to Fulong on the northeast coast. We decided to explore the mountain behind the beach, and after about 90 minutes of hiking we saw about forty TNR cats waiting for us on the road in front of a huge old house. I think that’s the beauty of Taiwan for cat lovers and travelers – you can always run into a ‘cat village’ if you wander around.”

As the name Global Felines suggests, Henley-Su has also taken cat portraits in other countries, among them Canada and Turkey.

Taiwan’s most famous ‘cat village’ is Houtong in New Taipei City. This old mining community is less than 20km from Taipei 101 as the crow flies, but because of the mountains between the two places, getting there involves a 45-minute drive or a slightly longer (but enjoyably scenic) train journey. Houtong’s other main attraction is the Coal Mine Ecological Park.

According to government statistics, the number of pet cats in Taiwan grew a remarkable 91 percent between 2011 and 2015 to almost 580,000. That’s one pet feline per 40 human inhabitants.

The country’s most famous cat lover is Dr. Tsai Ing-wen, who earlier this year was elected Taiwan’s first woman president, as well as the first female national leader in Asia who isn’t the widow, daughter or sister of a previous leader. Dr. Tsai owns two cats, Xiang Xiang and Ah Tsai. Both made their public debut in a video message the new president released just ahead of Chinese Lunar New Year.

A cat on Table Island, Penghu County