My Shanghai Project: a story of near-death, Christmas and pussy politics

Shanghai ProjectThe first half of 2013 I lived in Shanghai. I also visited Amsterdam, Singapore and Hong Kong, but I spent 5 months in the world’s largest city.


Maybe Shanghai grew too fast to develop much character, but I prefer cities with more personality, like New York, Amsterdam or Paris. Shanghai may have an awesome skyline, but that uneasy mix of Communism and Business Colonialism doesn’t work for me, nor does the blend of Third World poverty with Nouveau Riche. And then there’s the polluted air…

Life in Shanghai was interesting though. And besides, it’s good to occasionally shake up your life in new surroundings, and maybe even test some of your values. For instance, I come from a family with a motorsports background, but we get soft and helpful when we meet an animal in need. I value this odd combo. And it was about to get tested.

How I became a cat lady

I like pets, doesn’t matter if they’re dogs or cats. But I like big dogs, which won’t work with my inner city lifestyle. So I already had two cool cats, that found a great temporary home when I left for China. Two cats is the perfect number; I don’t want just one that waits all day for me to come back, and more than two is for cat ladies. 

My Shanghai Project

Fapiao was in shock for 2 days and didn’t eat or drink. Until I fed her milk from a pipette, and she fell asleep purring

But then a third cat happened… I was riding my mountain bike through Shanghai’s crazy traffic, when I saw a kitten in the middle of Jiangning Road. She was caught in four lanes of traffic and her life-expectancy was another minute at best.


I doubted if I could get to her in time, but luckily most Chinese drivers respect tall white guys directing traffic. So I ended up with a 2-month-old kitten; in shock, tail broken by a car, one eye closed by infection, plus the usual street cat parasites. 

Obviously, she needed a veterinarian. So I called our Chinese office-assistant, who told me: “There are no animal doctors in China. But if this one is broken, why not get a new one from the park?” So I called my Spanish buddy Marc, who knew a vet and met me there.

Look what Santa brought

Leaving Shanghai

I named her Fapiao, which means “Invoice” and was my first Chinese word. As soon as she was old enough, I got her a rabies shot, to make travel possible.

But then I left Shanghai, and the rabies regulations required her to stay for a few more months. Luckily Marc and his roommate Eric offered her a temporary home, plus they helped to get her processed in the Chinese bureaucracy.

I looked into ways to have her shipped, but ended up with quotes of $ 2,700. So just when I got ready to go pick her up, I got help from Paulus, who took her to Amsterdam as hand luggage, on Christmas Eve. Just in time for a White Christmas, with black spots.

And now?

Fapiao has been in her new home for 6 days now, which she likes. The male and her already play together, but the girls still have a few issues to work out. They got the hissing out of the way, so all that’s left is minor pussy politics. And me? Well, I guess I’m a cat lady now, but that’s okay; it’s good to see how far that scared little kitten has come.

Video of Fapiao, right after she recovered from the shock of getting hit by a car:


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