Kuching and The Its Cats
|Malaysia’s Cat City is home to the world’s first cat museum and other feline treasures|
The word ‘Kuching’ in Malay sounds like ‘kucing’, which translates to cat and, while the literal comparison is of novel origin, the city takes the species seriously. I find monuments to cats on every corner of the city center, statues as tall as those commemorating fallen heroes depict the body movements of cats in all situations.
We take a minivan toward the north of the city and find myself climbing a steep hill to reach the spaceship-like Kuching North City Hall. My destination is the Muzium Kucing or Kuching Cat Museum.
The Cat Museum
Perched on top of a hill called Bukit Siol, reaching the museum required cat-like instincts of wanting to get higher and higher. On arrival, I am greeted by a giant, long fur head with its mouth wide open displaying pointy fangs. I smile and walk straight into the tigers’ den with Helgian Pranata.
We (Helgian, Muridhal, Intan, Miranda, Auliya, and Mira) entered through a giant cat’s mouth as we saw what started as a collection and became a full-on obsession. The museum was created in 1993 as the brainchild of Sarawak chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud and his wife Laila Taib.
The over 1,000 square meters of space is filled with over 4,000 artifacts all devoted to cats. They range from cat collectibles, key chains and stuffed animals to clothing inspired by cats and even a mummified cat.
Cats possess different social status and come with a wide range of positive and negative superstitions. A white plump cat waving its paws is a symbol of wealth in Japan, while a black cat is the symbol of witchery and bad luck in the general Western culture, and in the domestic world, one either loves or hates the feline pet. I ponder on what other animals provoke such diverse emotions as I step into the world of cats and I am soon lost among its 2000 exhibits.
The Cat Museum really is a cat’s museum, exhibiting a rich history of all things feline, from cat food varieties to usage of cat images in political posters, with the only missing display being actual live cats.
I come to a corridor lined with photographs of famous people and their cats. I see John Lennon cuddling up with a tabby and Judy Garland reading to a black cat.
A more bizarre section included the grave of a cat. This isn’t a natural history museum, so if you have plans to spend the whole day here you’ll be disappointed. But if you’re looking for a unique and kitschy day in a place you won’t find anywhere else, it’s worth the drive up to the Cat Museum.
A Dose of Cat Heaven
All this time, a curious thought lingers in my mind. There were no cats on the streets. Unlike other cities and towns in Malaysia, where stray cats litter the grounds of every market and every temple/mosque, tolerated and unharmed but nevertheless homeless and unloved, here in Kuching, the city obviously loved cats, yet, the streets were free of stray cats’ activities.
I hope, unlike their wandering stray dog friends, Kuching has no homeless cats, and the lucky buggers are all curled up on a warm lap somewhere.
- The Cat Museum (Muzium Kucing) is free to visit.
- To get to the Cat Museum, take bus Take CityLink Bus no. K15 from Saujana Food Court Bus stand or use the more convenient taxi service.
- A fee of RM3 is charged for camera and RM5 for a video camera.
- Opening hour 9 am to 5 pm daily (closed Public Holiday)
"TIP: Take the taxi if you
do not wishto walk up the 60-meter high hill. Give yourself an hour. A bit more to take in the views from up there."
@zlvn - "If you are into cats this is the place for you. It is a bit difficult to get to from town as it is in the northern part of Kuching. Its a small museum catering for avid cat lovers only"
Thanks for visiting Kuching and The Its Cats article. I hope things will get interesting going forward…