Chairmen Meow: Stray Cats Of Beijing’s Forbidden City

Though much has changed in China, stray and semi-feral cats continue to live comfortably within the restricted confines of Beijing’s Forbidden City.

Impurrial Guards

(image via: Shanghaiist, Isabel Quan)

The legendary Forbidden Palace in Beijing, China is gradually being restored with an ever-greater number of its 32 departments being opened to tourists and the general public. One side-effect of this very un-historic openness is the elevated prominence of the Forbidden City’s resident population of stray and semi-feral cats.

(images via: a href=”″>DemoHour and China Daily)

Stray cats are commonly found in 20 of the Forbidden City’s departments and since they tend to follow people due to the latter’s propensity for littering and unauthorized feeding, it’s likely the district’s felines will expand their range even fur-ther. Some might wonder why cats, of all animals, are most associated with the Forbidden City given they aren’t honored with a place on the traditional Chinese Zodiac.

(images via: YCWB News, KeepWalking and Shanghaiist)

Legend has it that long, long ago, a representative of the cats was invited to a banquet being given by the Jade Emperor. The rat, however, tricked the cat into missing the banquet and as a result it was excluded from the zodiac. This incident, coincidentally, is said to be the start of the well-known enmity between cats and rats. More prosaically, some historians have conjectured that the Chinese Zodiac was formulated in VERY ancient times, before cats emerged as a popular pet in what is now China.


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