Wed, Nov 22, 2017 - Page 4 News List

New Taipei City temple provides refuge for cats

Staff Writer, with CNA

New Taipei City’s Yi Tian Temple (義天宮), built in 1965 in honor of the sea goddess Matsu, has over the years become not just a place of worship for the residents of Sanchong District (三重), but also a shelter for neighborhood cats.

Unlike most temples, where it is unacceptable for animals to be wandering around, Yi Tian Temple provides a cozy refuge for cats.

“It is not like we are picking up cats around the clock, it is just that it is impossible to sit and watch them die,” said Wang Hsiu-ying (王秀英), leader of the temple’s Buddhist chanting group.

Wang said she first started rescuing stray cats about 10 years ago, when she found a female cat and five newborn kittens near the temple.

Over time, she learned how to take care of cats and began buying large quantities of food for them with her own money, she said.

After a while, volunteers and staff at the temple joined the effort, Wang said.

Now there are usually eight or nine cats at the temple, lying on the altars, curled up inside the statues, or drinking water from the cups offered as tributes to the deities.

“Cats, like humans, are living beings,” Wang said. “The deities won’t be bothered by them.”

The temple’s officer of general affairs, surnamed Tu, said it is interesting that the number of cats at the temple seem to remain about the same.

“As you can see, cats come and go, they die, and it is like their lives are being extended this way,” said Tu, who has taken on the task of dealing with the litter boxes.

Whatever the reason for their constant numbers at the temple, the cats have become an attraction for visitors from home and abroad.

Inside the temple are pictures of “Yuan Yuan” the tabby, “Bao Bao” the tuxedo, “Tai Tai” the gray cat and many others taken by visitors, temple staff and volunteers.

Among them is the famous “New New,” a black-and-white cat that died in 2009 and was renamed “Holy Cat” on a section of the temple’s Web site dedicated to the cats.

No one at the temple can recall what exactly was special about New New, except that she was clever and one of the older strays at the temple.

If worshipers did not put banknotes into the donation boxes properly, New New would push in the money with her paw, former temple management committee chairman Chao Ching-fu (趙慶福) said.

There is also a story on the temple’s Web site about how New New survived a car accident while she was wearing a Matsu amulet.

This story has been viewed 2188 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top