Volunteer Yuju Huang feeds a street cat called Flower at a “Cat Cafeteria” in Taipei, Taiwan. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

Volunteer Yuju Huang feeds a street cat called Flower at a “Cat Cafeteria” in Taipei, Taiwan. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

Street cats Pipi, left, and “the eldest brother” squat on the roof of a cat café. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

Street cats Pipi, left, and “the eldest brother” squat on the roof of a cat café. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

Volunteers like Yuju Huang buy food to feed the cats and set up the cat cafés. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

Volunteers like Yuju Huang buy food to feed the cats and set up the cat cafés. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

There are 45 cafeterias. Neighbors and artists decorate the bright wooden houses. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

There are 45 cafeterias. Neighbors and artists decorate the bright wooden houses. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

Flower basks in the sunlight as Yuju Huang feeds Pipi. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

Flower basks in the sunlight as Yuju Huang feeds Pipi. (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

Cafés for Cats

Posted: March 1, 2021

Pipi already ate well.

The plump, black-and-white street cat lives near a night market in Taipei, Taiwan. That’s a favorite stray cat hangout. But life just got a little fancier for Pipi and his fellow felines. Now they eat at a “Midnight Cafeteria”—a little dining house just for cats.

People launched the Midnight Cafeteria project in September. Forty-five small wooden houses scattered across Taipei make up the “cafeteria.” The idea: Give cats a place to eat and rest . . . without making a mess.

“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,” says researcher Chen Chen-yi. He started the program.

The program launched in math teacher Hung Pei-ling’s neighborhood.

For five years, Ms. Hung has worked with other cat lovers living nearby. Now Ms. Hung and about 20 of her neighbors buy the cats food. They help clean the cat cafés. Ms. Hung also captures injured cats and cats that need spaying. She takes them to the vet. Then she returns them to their haunts.

A local artist painted the wooden cat shelters in Ms. Hung’s neighborhood. The art features smiling cats and beloved Taiwanese street foods such as stinky tofu. One house holds basic medicine for the cats. Neighbors have also delivered small cushions. Some decorated cardboard boxes to add to the houses.

The cats certainly aren’t complaining. Pipi and two of his friends enjoy getting attention from Ms. Hung and another volunteer on a Sunday afternoon. After eating at the cafeteria, they settle in for a lazy morning nap.