February 14, 2022
CHENGDU – At a cat rescue and adoption center in Chengdu, Sichuan province, a young woman is going through an adoption process the center sees as a necessary ritual that attests to their bonding. She already has an orange tabby at home, and has decided to find it a companion by adopting a kitten.
After filling in an online questionnaire about adoption, she is at the center to pick up the kitten, which she will take home complete with adoption papers and pictures with which to remember the occasion.
The center’s founder, Xu Zhe, heads a team of nine that takes responsibility for rescuing cats in Chengdu and in nearby Chongqing. Chengdu is located in a basin and is notorious for its muggy and overcast climate, but in the cat rescue center, outside the city’s third ring road, the atmosphere is one of supreme comfort. Several tabby cats stretch out on a chair with their round faces lost in sleep; other cats meow and swipe their tail gently at your feet; some lie meekly in volunteers’ arms, dozing but somehow seeming alert. Here, newborn kittens and their mothers live safely in isolated rooms with ample food and clean water, waiting for adopters.Xu’s internet stray cat adoption and rescue service, Living with Cats, has 10 millions of followers across the country. Beginning in April 2019, Xu filmed instances of rescuing stray cats, edited them into videos and uploaded them to the video website Bilibili. He was awarded one of the site’s top 100 content creators last year. His rescue work predates that, starting in early 2016.
The rescue center does not accept donations, but those who support it send cat food, cat litter and cans of food from all over the country, meaning that cupboards at the center are never empty. Relying on the rewards and subsidies of video platforms, Living with Cats receives a fee every month.
This is a drop in the bucket that barely covers operating costs, and the time and effort that Xu and his team pour into their work do not equate to the figures you find in a healthy bank statement. The ultimate reward for those who work is knowing they are saving cats’ lives. More than 300 cats were rescued in 2019, and more than 200 were put out for adoption, Xu says.
Such success has only served to bolster his ambitions.