Seoulites seek co­ex­is­tence with stray cat pop­u­la­tion

Viet Nam News - - LIFE&STYLE -

spir­i­tual and health­care tourism, with fas­ci­nat­ing des­ti­na­tions such as Thôùi Sôn Islet, Ñoâng Hoøa Hieäp Vil­lage, the float­ing mar­ket and tra­di­tional craft vil­lage in Caùi Beø District, the or­chards on Taân Phong Islet, Ñoàng Thaùp Möôûi eco­log­i­cal con­ser­va­tion area, and Truùc Laâm Chaùnh Gi­aùc monastery. SEOUL — Change is tak­ing place on the streets of Seoul for hu­man­cat co­hab­i­ta­tion.

The Seoul city gov­ern­ment’s stray cat pol­icy cen­ters on pop­u­la­tion con­trol, but there’s more to home­less cats’ lives than re­pro­duc­tive im­ped­i­ment. Where the city gov­ern­ment fails to fill in, peo­ple who are in touch with their fe­line neigh­bours on a daily ba­sis are paving the way for hu­mans and street cats to live to­gether.

Seoul’s lo­cal busi­ness own­ers have be­come ac­tive forces in mak­ing the city a bet­ter place for cats with­out homes. Not only are they tend­ing to the home­less cats, they have turned their busi­nesses into homes for cats res­cued from the street.

Meet Lee Hee- young, who owns cock­tail bar Bar Bam Bar and looks af­ter for­mer and present stray cats. He’s a cat rights ad­vo­cate who shies away from the use of the term “pet,” a word whose un­der­tones of own­er­ship he sees as a pe­jo­ra­tive. He prefers the term “com­pan­ion”.

Bar Bam Bar has earned a mea­sure of fame on In­sta­gram, with thou­sands of posts hash­tagged un­der its name. Since a cock­tail bar with an abun­dance of furry friends is a rare sight, there’s cer­tainly a hip fac­tor to the equa­tion. Lo­cated in a pop­u­lar restau­rant al­ley of Yeongde­ungpo, south­west­ern Seoul, the area around the bar is fre­quented by many stray cats.

Lee says Bar Bam Bar was not al­ways the “cat cock­tail bar” it is now known as. The bar opened its doors to its first cat, Bam, in 2013. Bam was found through an on­line ad­ver­tise­ment look­ing for his new care­taker. After­ward, Lee started tak­ing care of stray cats in the al­ley, even­tu­ally res­cu­ing and adopt­ing a num­ber of them. Most of Lee’s cats are res­cued from the

In 2019, Tieàn Giang Prov­ince tar­gets 2.1 mil­lion tourists, in­clud­ing 850,000 for­eign­ers, and VNÑ1.14 tril­lion ($49.19 mil­lion) in tourism rev­enue. — VNS streets or given up by for­mer own­ers.

Due to the over­whelm­ing pres­ence of un­cared-for cats in the area, many busi­ness own­ers like Lee have taken it in their hands to tend to the cats.

“Many shop own­ers feed the cats, clean up af­ter them, take them to vets for vac­ci­na­tions, treat­ment and neu­tral­iza­tion,” Lee said.

The prime mo­tive be­hind their help­ing hand? The home­less cats are a prod­uct of hu­man in­dis­cre­tion.“There’s a tonne of lodg­ing busi­nesses around here, and you will sur­prised how many cats are brought in dis­creetly for an overnight stay,” he said. The owner is gone the next morn­ing leav­ing the cat be­hind – who will most likely be­come the lat­est ad­di­tion to the district’s stray cat com­mu­nity.

Lee stressed, how­ever, that in­di­vid­ual ef­forts fall short. The cats in the streets are mal­nour­ished, prone to in­fec­tion and hor­ri­ble treat­ment from peo­ple and some­times killed by cars.

“There has to be a ci­ty­wide ef­fort,” he said, con­fess­ing he feels he’s “mak­ing a plea,” with heart­felt des­per­a­tion in his voice as he made his case for a mu­nic­i­pal plan to con­front the city’s fe­line con­flict.

Since peo­ple and cats are wildly dif­fer­ent species, peo­ple need to take more con­sid­er­a­tion to un­der­stand and ex­ist in peace with cats. There has to be more thought into cat adop­tion than a mere “aww, it’s cute.”

“Cats are given up shortly af­ter be­ing adopted be­cause peo­ple re­al­ize too late that they are not just pretty fluffs to look at,” said Cho Ah-yeon, owner of the Planet Earth Cats cafe, home to 30 res­cued cats. — The Ko­rea Her­ald/ ANN


Life’s a beach: Taân Thaønh Sea area in Goø Coâng Ñoâng District, Tieàn Giang Prov­ince, which is home to beau­ti­ful beaches with black sands. — Photo

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