A performing cat from a Hong Kong pharmacy has become a viral sensation online after fans shared videos of her amusing antics on Facebook.
The chubby tabby, named Hawaii by fans because of the colourful scrunchies she wears around her neck like flower garlands, is now the star attraction at the Kam Fung Medicine Company on Fleming Road, Wan Chai.
Her owners, Lau Siu-kwong and his wife Lau Fung-ying, both 62, remain baffled by the attention she receives – but are understandably overjoyed with the publicity for their 15-year-old herbal medicine business.
The couple, neither of whom has a Facebook account, bought Hawaii in 2003 and originally named her Kitty. Their sons taught her tricks and she has lived in their shop ever since – preferring its familiar shelves to the family home.
They were unaware of the attention their 13-year-old moggy was receiving online until Wan Chai resident Justina Chong told them about her Facebook appreciation page – named Wanchai Cat – which she set up after falling in love with Hawaii’s antics.
Speaking to the South China Morning Post, Mr Lau said he remains grounded despite his cat’s growing fame.
“I am happy that people from around the world are watching her. It feels comforting,” he said. “It has been good keeping her, for our business and for our relationship with the neighbourhood. She has had lots of fans online and people love her.
“But I don’t have much of a special feeling about it. The cat’s being famous doesn’t help a lot apart from drawing a crowd of visitors whom come to see her. Nothing much has changed.
“[She] means a lot to me because I love animals, especially cats. She is adorable and kind. She does whatever you tell her to.”
He dismissed suggestions of animal cruelty from animal rights campaigners over the stunts he encourages her to perform.
“She does it when she wants to,” he said. “We didn’t force it. She only performs when she feels like doing so. She is a reserved cat and isn’t very easy-going. She doesn’t take everyone’s command, only mine.
“My favourite trick is when she wishes people wealth. Her posture looks very good. Her fans love it, especially around the time of Chinese New Year.”
He added: “She likes to be around me. Whenever I go out or even go to the loo, she follows. Just like a puppy. She is attached to me. When I’m not around the shop, she comes look for me on the street.
“People come everyday to see her. People get disappointed if she sleeps in and they didn’t get to see her. Some of her fans come all the way just to see her and give her treats.”
A video of one of Hawaii’s performances shared by Chong on her Facebook fan page earlier this month has already been viewed more than one million times. Fans also share photographs of her every week on Instagram and post occasional thoughts about her activities on Twitter.
Chong, a 29-year-old marketing professional from Sheung Wan, said she set up the Facebook page so she and her friends could have a “centralised place” to share their love of Hawaii after they noticed a Wanchai Cat hashtag on Instagram.
“We were pleased when friends, and friends of friends, began to like the page and interact with our posts,” she said. “But we never anticipated that it would gain such a huge following! I really have no idea how that happened.”