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Find of the Month: Feline Fetish
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When visitors arrive in Beijing, the itinerary is clear: A visit to the Great Wall, the Forbidden City and roast duck at Quanjude are amongst the more common stops on the tourist circuit. However, when my guests arrived, I was more than a little surprised at their requests. "I don't care where you take us really," my aunt said. "As long as we can go to the Cat Shop."

The cat shop is a rather small, inconspicuous boutique on Gulou Dongdajie, sandwiched between a couple of grungy guitar stores. Most visitors tend to sweep past it as they search earnestly for the north entrance to Nanluogu Xiang, that well-known haven for Western backpackers searching for tasteful trinkets from "the real China." However, after ogling the feline-inspired fancies that I had brought back home for various friends and family, the cat shop seems to be the first place my guests want to go.

The store specializes in ornaments and accessories embellished with all things cat-like. The left-hand side of the petite boutique displays porcelain ornaments of cutesy, rotund cats, but the goods hanging on the opposite wall are even more charming.

Made from silk imported from Japan and Taiwan (but crafted in the Chinese mainland to keep prices low), the bags and purses are simply irresistible. Coin purses start from RMB 25, and pencil cases retail for RMB 30. Not only are they adorable, they're also very well made, making for purr-fect stocking fillers. These prices may appear affordable at first, but be warned: A shopping spree here can become pricey since one item is never enough. The good news though is that the more you spend, the more of a discount you'll receive.

(that's Beijing December 27, 2007)

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