Wed, Mar 07, 2018 - Page 4 News List

Black cat lover working on book of special feline tales

Staff writer, with CNA

Illustrator Tanboo holds his cats Ibu, right, and Small Black in Pingtung County in an undated photograph.

Photo: CNA, courtesy of Lillian Lai

A lover of black cats is on a mission to capture the unique relationships between black cats and their owners across the nation and highlight the wonders of the cats, which are stigmatized by the belief that they are bearers of bad luck.

A self-described black cat storyteller, Lillian Lai (賴碧麗) said she has launched a campaign to share with the world the charm of black cats through pictures and interviews.

She hopes the project, which ultimately aims to turn 101 black cat stories into a book, would also encourage people to adopt black cats from animal shelters because they are often the least sought after compared with other cats.

Lai has three black cats and a Facebook page called “Black Cat Action” that is followed by about 5,400 people, but her love affair with the felines only started two years ago when she adopted a black cat, after having raised other types of cat for 30 years.

Though black cats in Taiwan might not be seen as the harbingers of bad luck they are viewed as in some Western nations, they still have a more “negative” connotation.

In local folklore, for example, black cats with white feet are considered especially bad luck to the older generation because they remind them of people wearing black clothes and white socks during funeral services.

That is just one of the notions Lai hopes to dispel.

Her project grew out of a hobby she started in June last year when she began taking photographs of black cats she encountered in her daily life and sharing them online.

Over time, the project expanded and Lai asked her followers if they would be willing to be interviewed along with their cats.

Her request elicited a positive response online and the first interview she did was with illustrator Tanboo (碳布) and his two black cats in Pingtung County.

Tanboo, who has pictures of his cats, Ibu and Small Black, tattooed on his chest, said he and his cats are inseparable.

“If cats really have nine lives as they say, my cats have each already given me eight of them,” said Tanboo, who battled with anxiety disorder about a year ago.

During the recovery process, he adopted the two black cats, one via Black Cat Action.

“I have always wanted to keep black cats because somehow I feel I am just as misunderstood as they are,” Tanboo said, adding that his condition has improved considerably since the cats came into his life.

Tanboo said he would be providing illustrations and the design for Lai’s book, which she expects to finish in June.

To date, Lai has completed 30 interviews with owners of black cats.

“Every black cat and its owner has a special story and I want to tell those stories to the world,” she said.

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