Marcel Heijnen

Hong Kong Shop Cats


Blue Lotus Gallery is delighted to launch Marcel Heijnen’s new exciting book and exhibition project: Hong Kong Shop Cats.

Hong Kong’s shop cats are the little emperors of their retail kingdoms. When photographer Marcel Heijnen moved to the city he was immediately drawn to these photogenic mouse-hunters, and this project is the charming result. While the cats are undoubtedly the furry celebrities of his photographs, each shot delivers an insightful context of Hong Kong’s traditional trades. From dried fish and rice to paper offerings, the backdrop of each shot presents a portrait of Hong Kong’s local culture.

Hong Kong Shop Cats is a quirky project bundled in a book consisting of a series of photographs by Marcel Heijnen introduction, cat stories by Catharine Nicol, haikus by Ian Row and calligraphy by old master Taiyuan Sensan. Hong Kong Shop Cats doesn’t only narrate the stories of the main protagonist; the shop cat, it also give us a unique insight in the traditional shops they inhabit. Prints are also available in limited editions.

A pop-exhibition with book launch is coming up 9-12 December 2016. For more info click here.

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The cats are believed to be lucky by their owners. They are each an essential part of the life, business and family of the shops in which they live and hunt. While some were sought out by the shop owners for their hunting skills, other cats made the decision to adopt a shop themselves, just turning up and making it their home. 

In certain areas, like Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun, where many of the cats in this book live, you’ll find almost every local shop has a cat. Owners believe the mere smell of cat heralds danger to mice, so even if the, ahem, less fit among them have lost their hunting instincts, just being in residence is enough. 

The shop owners, without fail, have grown to love their feline companions. Not only for the company they offer day in, day out, but also for their business skills. The cats, especially the playful ones, bring customers into the shop by enlivening the atmosphere and providing a friendly welcome. They create an extra bond with the customers and can even exert some of their mysterious influence in boosting sales. It seems the cats’ lucky reputation is more than just a legend.

As per the artist: “In most modern cities there will be all kinds of rules and regulations against cats in shops. Not in Hong Kong, and I’m grateful for that. Here we can still witness this wonderful symbiotic relationship between human and feline, and the very reason for it harks back to why we domesticated cats in the first place, centuries ago: mice-catching and companionship.

And yes, it’s about the cats. But it kind of isn’t at the same time. It’s just as much about the context; these chaotic-yet-organically-organised traditional Chinese shops that form beautiful photogenic subjects in their own right. Places in which time seems to have stood still, devoid of branding and all the other modern-day retail trickery we’ve grown accustomed to."

M. Heijnen, HK Shop Cats #25.jpg

More Images:


Suffice it to say
she does her best work from inside the box




2016-12 | Feature Shoot 'These shopcats will make you smile'

2016-11 | Notey 'Series documents the cats chilling out in Hong Kong’s old shops'

2016-11 | Better Me Magazine '城市小風景:攝影師MARCEL HEIJNEN鏡頭下的貓與老店'

2016-11 | Artnaz 'Cats in Hong Kong Stores'

2016-11 | Petnyaku 'Sosok mungil nan manis sebagai penjaga toko di Hongkong'

2016-11 | Celebrity Magazine 'Brilliant photo series captures cats working hard in the shops of Hong Kong'

2016-11 | Hong Kong Economic Times

2016-11 | Next Shark 'Photographer Captures the Magical World of Cats in Hong Kong’s Shops'

2016-11 | Lonely Planet 'See beautiful photographs of cats that call the shops of Hong Kong home'

2016-10 | Memolition 'Photographer Documents The Secret Lives Of Cats Living in Hong Kong’s Stores'

2016-10 | Creative Boom (UK) 'Shop Cats: Photographer captures charming felines living in Hong Kong's shops'

2016-10 | Digiphotostarter (NL) 'Het geheime leven van katten in Hong Kong'

2016-10 | Le Comptoir de Titan 'La vie des chats des boutiques de Hong-Kong'

2016-10 | Coconuts (HK) 'Picture Purr-fect: This photo series of Hong Kong's 'shop cats' is so hot right meow'

2016-10 | Zagge (Russia) 'Славные коты, проживающие в магазинах Гонконга'

2016-10 | Okay (Korea) '왜?! 홍콩 소매점에는 고양이가 많을까?'

 2016-10 | U-Funk (France) 'Shop Cats – Documenter les chats vivant dans les boutiques de Hong Kong' 

2016-10 | Bored Panda (USA) 'Photographer Documents The Secret Lives Of Cats Living in Hong Kong’s Stores'

2016-10 | Refinery29 (USA) 'Let These Hong Kong Shop Cats Take Your Mind Off The Election'

2016-10 | Imperio Crucial (Spain) 'Marcel Heijnen fotografía a los gatos de Hong Kong en su hábitat natural'

2016-10 | Metro (UK) 'Brilliant photo series captures cats working hard in the shops of Hong Kong'

2016-10 | Fiidi (Finland) ''Hongkongissa työskentelee lukuisia kissoja - katso ihanat kuvat'

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