BEIJING—Beijing has a cat problem: Somewhere between 500,000 and 5 million feral cats are skulking through its courtyard houses, construction sites, and gated apartment complexes, braving the city’s bitter cold winters and raging traffic. Their lives are nasty, brutish, and short.
And in a densely populated city like Beijing, the rise in the number of feral cat colonies is not especially welcome. The cats’ nighttime howls keep people awake. They smell. They prey on the Asian magpie and the Siberian weasel, sometimes known as the "hutong weasel," a ferret-like creature that looks a little like a cute red panda. The cats tend to prefer a perch on the BMWs of the city’s nouveau riche.