Cat Woman: Taiwan’s first female president huge fan of felines
After the world’s attention turned to Taiwan and its presidential election over the weekend, cat lovers may be happy to learn that Tsai Ing-wen, who won a landslide victory to become the island’s first woman president, is one of their own.
The 59-year-old’s love for cats is no secret among her supporters, many of whom, especially the young, are fans of her two house tabbies Xiang Xiang – or “Think Think” in English – and Ah Tsai.
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The softly-spoken, independent and highly determined former law professor who lives alone arguably fits the stereotype of a “cat person”.
Tsai keeps an extremely low profile regarding her private life, except when it comes to her pets.
Her Lunar New Year video message in 2015 starred a grey tabby cat, which was trying to break free from Tsai’s arms.
“I’m Tsai Ing-wen. This is Tsai Xiang Xiang. We wish everyone a happy and prosperous new year!” Tsai said with a big smile despite the pet’s reluctance to appear in front of the camera.
Tsai adopted Xiang Xiang in 2012, after a legislator from Tsai’s Democratic Progressive Party found the stray feline in an eastern coastal town that had just been hit by a typhoon.
Knowing Tsai’s liking for cats, the legislator rang Tsai, who happily took in the animal, Taiwan media reported.
The other tabby, Ah Tsai, was adopted last June.
Both cats made frequent appearances during her presidential campaign.
Photographs of them, sometimes with Tsai, were posted on her Facebook page, generating a large amount of “likes”.
One of Tsai’s assistant revealed in October that posts on cat-related topics had received 20 per cent to 50 per cent more “likes” than those discussing political issues, the Central News Agency reported.
Tsai has also voiced her determination to step up the protection of animals if elected.
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Tsai said on World Animal Day last year that she would allocate more resources to the issue if her party was returned to power.
“Since adopting Xiang Xiang and Ah Tsai, it seems like I have two more family members. Everyday when I finished a tough day and return home, the two little ones always welcome me at the door,” she wrote in a Facebook post.“It always cures me of the whole day’s fatigue,” she said.