A young Taipei photographer is putting on a cat-themed exhibition, with all 30 of the pictures on display available for sale, and the proceeds going to a support program helping felines living on the streets.
Shouldering the expense of putting on the exhibition and the auction by himself, Chou She (周舍) said that he loves cats, and wants to do his part to assist the feline welfare program known as “TNR” — trap, neuter and return.
Running through this week only, Chou’s exhibition is entitled: Cat — Street. Friend (貓 — 街。友), and features a selection of large posters of his best images, which are available to the public for purchase through auction, with prices starting at NT$800.
“My love affair with cats started eight years ago. My neighbor on a floor above my apartment was keeping a cat found on the street, named C.C.,” he said.
Chou said he started to feed the cat, but was not able to gain its trust.
“My relationship with C.C. was not built on food. It was a real friendship between a man and an animal,” he said. “At times I would accompany C.C. on walks outside and watch him play in the streets. Then I started to record his interaction with other cats.”
He said that despite C.C. being kept by the neighbor as a house cat, the feline would often escape outside, choosing to return to life on the streets.
“Even though wandering outside as a street cat means living in difficult conditions, it was a free choice C.C. made,” he said.
“I have developed an affection for street cats because they have their own thoughts. These cats have a free soul, which we humans cannot control,” Chou said.
He has sorted through his photographs of street felines taken over the years, selecting the best 30 from a total of about 7,000 images.
“Some photos captured spontaneous images of the cats. If I missed a particular scene, often it does not occur again,” he said.
Chou pointed to a picture of a cat curled up on the hood of a car on a cold day and said that the image is a recording of the authentic life of street cats.
Under the TNR program, street cats are captured and neutered, as well as being administered medicines to get rid of fleas. They then have electronic chips for identification implanted and are vaccinated before being returned to their original place of capture.
Throughout the process the cats are cared for by volunteers and the program aims to control the number of cats living on the streets.
Chou said that to carry out the TNR program requires considerable investment of time and energy by the volunteers. Therefore he wanted to use his photography to organize an auction to help promote the program.
The Cat — Street. Friend exhibition runs until today at: BOSS Building, 9F, Room 3, No. 111, Songjiang Rd, Taipei.