As diverse as Yunnan was -- one region having almost no similarities to its neighbors -- one thing was common: there were cats everywhere.
In Beijing, most of the cats I cross paths with are strays, living outdoors and hissing whenever we meet. The few indoor cats I've seen belong to foreigners.
My Chinese colleagues explained that since ancient times cats have been revered for their hunting skills -- they keep rodents out of houses and can pretty much take care of themselves -- but also feared since they are believed to sometimes be possessed by evils spirits. They can also detect evil spirits, so I guess that's a plus too.
In Yunnan, rats and mice were few, so these feline guardians must have been doing their jobs.
CAT IN KUNMING: Our hostel in Kunming had three cats, two of which volunteered to help eat my cheeseburger at dinner
CAT PERSON: Our guesthouse in Lijiang also had a cat, which quickly discovered that I was a cat person and promptly plopped down on my lap
CAT NAP: I woke this cat up from a mid-afternoon nap in Jinghong
MOUNTAIN CAT: Our guesthouse in the Tiger Leaping Gorge had two cats and two dogs -- and no rodents
TEMPLE CAT: At one of the Tibet temples in Shangri-la this little grey watched over the temple grounds
BUDDHIST CAT: The Tibettan family we visited didn't have much in terms of furniture, but they had a cat to keep out pests
MONK IN TRAINING? At Songzanlin Temple in Shangri-la we ran into this grey cat, a rather plump fellow. My guess is that if the temple had any mice or rats, that problem had now been solved