Then your nine lives of the humble feline who only wished to help mankind by getting rid of rodents that taken disease took a serious turn for the worse during the middle ages. Where witch hunts and getting rid of at the stake were the norm. Someone who didn't like cats somehow connected these to witches and they were burnt at the stake with there owners. That they made that connection I'll never know. It began with Pope Gregory IX in the 1232 who deemed the normal house kitty as diabolical. Then to make issues worse in1484 along came the greatest cat killer ever, Pope Innocent VIII, who decreed something along the lines of all cats came from hell and should returned to the fires of hell by flame. Cats were mercilessly prosecuted and were burnt so they would return to the fires of hell. It really is amazing any survived because if you were found with a feline you were burnt collectively. I still go to church and sometimes I just wonder why. And of course the Black Fatality was in the backdrop surviving and flourishing because there were no cats to kill the rats that carried the fleas that brought on the disease. Then along emerged the cat's savior King Louis XIII of France, who in the 1630s repealed regulations and cats once more started to live. But they were still hated and killed for many hundreds of years from then on. I don't know if the Black Death subsided but cats once again covered mankind up against the diseases taken by rodents. As well as the famines brought on by mice plagues.
I think one of the reason why there were not many cats around is basically because they used to eat them. And once in a while the restaurant cat catches would grab an cat they may find and take them back again to the restaurant. I remember seeing felines in glass exhibits out the front of the restaurants. But somewhere between then and now they prohibited eating pet cats. So cats are actually not on the menu and now there are cats everywhere. Many of them began in someone's house and got thrown away, as most are extremely friendly. Also they may have this thing about stomach worms. And in those times China had not been as modern as now so abdomen worms would have been a problem. Fleas aren't really a problem because they have tile floor surfaces and wooden furniture.