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This ‘midnight cafeteria’ is on a mission to help stray cats stay well fed and healthy

A stray cat in a small wooden house


The life of stray cats isn’t an easy one. Unlike pets with a home, animals who live on the streets have to scavenge for their meals and even fight with the other strays for food.

Whether it’s sunny, snowy, or rainy, homeless felines are forced to endure the harsh weather outside simply because they have no shelter to stay in. This often leaves them dirty, placing them at greater risk of acquiring various illnesses and skin diseases.

In Taipei, Taiwan, volunteers have launched a program that intends to improve the lives of stray cats. The “Midnight Cafeteria” project, which started in September, aims to give street felines a safe place to rest and eat.

The so-called “cafeteria” is actually 45 small wooden houses scattered across the city and painted by Taiwanese artists.

In addition to their full-time jobs, math teacher Hung Pei-ling and her 20 neighbors help the stray cats in their community.

“We want to push forward this philosophy that you don’t have to be part of a very top-level association or something that takes up all of your time,” she said. “You can just be one person doing something a little bit at a time, a little bit, and taken all together, you can achieve a lot.”

A woman feeding a stray cat


Hung was introduced to the project after a friend of hers rescued and raised a stray cat. After that, she began volunteering and has worked with other cat lovers in the neighborhood for five years now. They buy them food, help clean their houses, and coordinate with residents who may complain about the strays or the project itself.

Besides that, Hung also helps capture injured cats and those who need spaying to take to the vet. Once they have received treatment, she returns them to their haunts.

The small wooden houses in Hung’s neighborhood were hand-painted by local artist Stefano Misesti. His artworks feature smiling cats and well-beloved Taiwanese street food such as stinky tofu.

A small wooden house for stray cats


In addition to food bowls, one wooden house holds basic medicine for the cats. Kind neighbors have also brought small cushions and decorated cardboard boxes to put in the houses.

These cat houses were started by Chen Chen-yi, a researcher at the Taiwan Animal Equality Association. These small structures help ensure that stray cats get fed well and that local residents don’t have to deal with the mess that usually comes with cat feeding.

“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 and they become annoyed with strays as well,” he said.

The group also aims to raise awareness about the spaying program and the condition of stray cats.

To finance the project, Chen applied for a grant from the Taipei city government. He also connected with a local ward leader and several volunteers to help turn his vision into a reality.

Learn more about the “Midnight Cafeteria” in the video below.

Like Chen Chen-yi, Hung Pei-ling, and the rest of the volunteers involved in the “midnight cafeteria” project, this guy from New York City named Paul Santell is a dedicated cat rescuer.

Known on Instagram as “Paul the Cat Guy,” this man spends 30 hours each week feeding and rescuing stray cats in his city. He’s been doing all of this on top of a regular, full-time job for over three years now.

Paul attended a free ASPCA class where he learned more about community cats and the trap-neuter-return method. He also created an Instagram account to promote adoptable cats and let people know they can reach him if they come across a stray cat who needs help.

You can read more about Paul’s story and mission here.

These heroes deserve to be recognized for all the work that they do for these animals!

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