Pipi the stray cat already ate well.
The plump, black-and-white cat lives near a favorite street cat hangout, a night market in Taipei, Taiwan. But now Pipi and his fellow felines are getting fancy. They eat at a “Midnight Cafeteria”—a little dining house designed just for cats.
People launched the Midnight Cafeteria project in September. They scattered 45 small wooden houses across Taipei. The idea behind this extensive “cat-eteria”: Give cats a place to eat and rest . . . without making a mess.
“In Taiwan there are a lot of people who feed strays. But often they leave a mess, and then the public becomes annoyed by it,” says researcher Chen Chen-yi, who started the program.
The Midnight Cafeteria project started in math teacher Hung Pei-ling’s neighborhood. Now Hung and about 20 of her neighbors buy cat food and clean the cafés. Hung also captures cats that are injured or need spaying. She takes them to the vet, and then returns them to their haunts. Neighbors have also delivered small cushions and decorated cardboard boxes to add to the houses.
You may live in a place where people think of pets as part of the family and where every cat or dog must have a defined home, human care, toys, teeth cleaning, and shots. But in other parts of the world, people do not believe these animals belong in the house. Historically, dogs have been a source not of cuddles but of food in South Korea. That’s a far cry from the “Dog Mom” bumper stickers you might spy in other parts of the world! Often, our perspective about a way of doing things—such as how we treat animals—is shaped by what we’ve become used to. Elsewhere, others may have a very different perspective.
Some nations take a more middle-of-the-road stance about animals. In Istanbul, Turkey, people don’t usually own cats. But they willingly take care of strays. They put bowls of food and water on the sidewalk and donate money when a stray needs to visit the vet. Cats are part of the fabric of the city’s culture—like squirrels or pigeons, only cuddlier. Something similar is happening in Taipei.
The cats certainly aren’t complaining. Pipi and two of his friends enjoy attention from Hung and another volunteer on a Sunday afternoon, eat at the cafeteria, then settle in for a lazy morning nap.
And people will come from east and west, and from north and south, and recline at table in the kingdom of God. — Luke 13:29