I believe one of the reason why there were not many cats around is basically because they used to consume them. And every now and then the restaurant kitty catches would pick up an feline they could find and take them back again to the restaurant. I recall seeing felines in glass displays out the front of the restaurants. But somewhere between then and now they banned eating pet cats. So cats are now not on the menu and today there are felines everywhere. Most of them started off in someone's house and got thrown away, as a general rule are extremely friendly. Also they may have this thing about abdominal worms. And in those times China had not been as modern as now so abdomen worms is a problem. Fleas are not a really problem because they have tile surfaces and wooden furniture.
If this frame of mind towards cats goes back generations then one can realize why historians say the African american Death started in China. Where there are rats no cats then the rats dominate and that could have been a precursor for the condition to get close to people. Now after i get back to China you may still find rats playing around but not so many in the property estates. There are plenty of down by the river. Also they have a very efficient rubbish tidy up system that maintains the cities very clean. Where I stay the rubbish is accumulated everyday. That could also keep carefully the rat populace down. And with so many discarded pet cats playing around the rats don't possess much of a chance. I've never seen this but I suspect the government accumulates a lot of felines. There used to be colonies of stray pet cats moving into some places however now I don't see them any more.
Then your nine lives of the humble kitten who only wished to help mankind by eliminating rodents that taken disease took a serious switch for the even worse during the dark ages. Where witch hunts and burning at the stake were typical. A person who didn't like cats somehow connected them to witches plus they were burnt at the stake with there owners. The way they made that connection I'll never know. It began with Pope Gregory IX in the 1232 who deemed the normal house kitten as diabolical. Then to make concerns even worse in1484 along came up the greatest cat killer of all time, Pope Innocent VIII, who decreed something such as all cats came from hell and should came back to the fires of hell by fireplace. Cats were mercilessly prosecuted and were burnt so they would go back to the fires of hell. It is amazing any survived because if you were found with a kitty you were burnt along. I still go to chapel and sometimes I just wonder why. And of course the Black Loss of life was in the background surviving and thriving because there have been no pet cats to get rid of the rats that carried the fleas that caused the condition. Then along came the cat's savior Ruler Louis XIII of France, who in the 1630s repealed regulations and cats once again began to live. However they were still hated and killed for many centuries from then on. I don't know if the Black colored Death subsided but cats once again shielded mankind against the diseases taken by rodents. As well as the famines due to mice plagues.