The rising middleclass in China has seen an increase in the number of pets – usually dogs or cats. It’s also seen a rise in the number of abandoned animals, like Miao.
Heavily pregnant, Miao started wandering around our office space. She was a scaredy-cat at first, keeping well away from humans. We bought her food, left it out for her to eat.
At first, she kept her distance, hiding in the grass and trees.
Gradually she began to trust us, and came closer.
Miao had her babies, got pregnant again, and started waiting beside our office in the morning, miaowing… that’s how she got her name.
The People’s Republic of China is third in the world for dog ownership, behind only the USA and Brazil. It’s second in the world for cat ownership ( behind the USA) with around 58 million pet cats. Thats with only 2% of the population that are cat owners!
Everyone else in need of feline companionship can just drop down to the Cat Cafe.
It’s a booming business – have you tea or beverage of choice while patting the resident cats.
Unfortunately, abandoned cats and dogs are becoming increasingly common. Many housing compounds come complete with stray animals, wandering around looking for food. It has been estimated that Beijing alone has over 20,000 stray cats.
Miao has become our friend. She no longer flinches when humans walk past, and she lets me get closer to her when I put out her morning food. Maybe one day she will let me pat her. Can humans and felines be truly friends? Can a scaredy cat who is used to human ignorance and maltreatment become close to the hand that feeds them? Can interspecies friendship exist?
I don’t know, I just think that Miao is gradually becoming my friend, and I hope that when I go, other humans will feed her and take care of her. Miao has her own friends, of her own kind. There’s a ginger cat that hangs around, another stray. I’ve seen them mate, and Ginger must be the father of Miao’s babies. She’s pregnant again.
Yesterday I saw something I’ve never seen cats do before. I saw Miao and Ginger kiss. Or at the very least, rub noses. They are constantly together, sleeping in the sun near the office, going for long strolls together. Ginger rarely comes to eat the food we leave out for Miao, though. He knows it’s her food.
In the afternoon of the same day, I saw a grown-up kitten, a motley ginger and white cat, surely one of Miao’s first litter. He was a skinny runt, a scaredy cat, running away from humans. The stray cat population has increased in our neighbourhood, but Miao is becoming more trusting of her human friends each day.