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Taiwan’s Penghu looks to strays in bid to drive ‘cat tourism’

County working to improve health, living conditions for cats on Hujing Island

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Cats on Penghu's Hujing Island

Cats on Penghu's Hujing Island (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The outlying island county of Penghu is investing in efforts to promote its Hujing Island (虎井島) as a tourist attraction for cat lovers.

The seventh-largest island in Penghu (the Pescadores), Hujing Island is known for its volcanic rock formations and a large population of felines. With an area of just 2 square kilometers, Hujing is home to over 200 cats, according to CNA.

According to the county government, widespread neutering will be implemented to help bring the number of cats under control. Vaccination against rabies and other diseases will follow to ensure the animals’ well-being.

While the sight of cats roaming the wharf for a bite of discarded fresh fish adds to the island's relaxing atmosphere, the health of the stray felines has also become a cause of concern. Tourists who falsely believed animal abuse was involved even initiated a travel boycott of Penghu, according to the county government.

In light of this, the government has moved to create a better environment for the island's furry inhabitants, putting in place infrastructure called for by local schools and organizations that help strays. The initiative aims to support animal protection while serving to capitalize on "cat tourism."