Asia Minute: Cats to Remain in Hong Kong Prison

Jul 25, 2017

Credit Wikimedia Commons

Dozens of stray cats in Hong Kong will be allowed to stay in a place they have adopted as their home. In a reversal of policy, officials will let the cats keep living in a prison. HPR’s Bill Dorman has more in today’s Asia Minute.

If you open your favorite internet search engine and pop in the phrase “cats and prisoners,” you’ll get more than 600,000 results in less than a second. And a lot of pictures you’ll like if you’re a cat person.

Programs linking cats and prisoners exist around the world—from Washington state and Idaho to South Africa and Scotland.

But in Hong Kong, there’s an arrangement with a twist.

These cats come from the area surrounding a prison on southern Lantau Island. A region with woods and scrub vegetation.

Many sort of break into the institution.

Some of the friendlier cats have been adopted—not only by prisoners, but also by prison guards.

This has been going on for some time, the local Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals says it has neutered more than 150 cats there over the past nine years. 

The South China Morning Post reports a senior prison superintendent, new to the job, wanted to change the policy – saying that the cats led to arguments between prisoners.

He basically wanted to kick the cats out of the prison.

The prisoners objected, so did many of the guards, and also other officials in Hong Kong’s Correctional Services Department.

The SPCA held a meeting with senior prison officials on Friday—and struck a deal.

The SPCA will again neuter strays, the prison will have someone oversee the program, and the cats will stay behind bars.