Taiwan's cat-loving president to adopt retired guide dogs

Taipei (AFP) –


Taiwan's new president, whose two cats grace many of her Facebook posts, said Thursday she would adopt three retired guide dogs, but dismissed media speculation over a "civil war" among presidential pets.

President Tsai Ing-wen, who was inaugurated last week, has two cats called Xiang Xiang -- "Think Think" in English -- and Ah Tsai, and local media have predicted the felines will not take kindly to three new canine arrivals.

Tsai, who won a landslide election victory in January, portrayed herself as an animal lover throughout her presidential campaign.

Think Think appeared in campaign videos, and one of Tsai's aides has said that cat-related posts on the president's Facebook page garnered up to 50 percent more "likes" than posts on political issues.

"No, no and no," Tsai said, when asked by local media whether she was concerned about potential conflicts within her growing menagerie.

"The three dogs are very well trained and they can definitely get along with the cats," she told reporters.

But she said that Think Think, a large grey tabby cat, was "fierce" and might have some problems adapting to the new arrivals.

Tsai did not specify when the retired guide dogs will formally move into the president's residence.

Former Taiwanese presidents have also had celebrity pets. Tsai's predecessor Ma Ying-jeou liked to joke that his dog, Ma Hsiao-jeou -- or "Little Ma" -- ranked higher in the family pecking order than his owner.

Former first lady Wu Shu-chen, the wife of Ma's predecessor Chen Shui-bian, was also famous for doting on her dog Honey, and often appeared in public with the white, wispy-haired Maltese.