Feral Cats Rule Island In Japan: A Feline Invasion Of Strays Is In Effect

It's a real-life planet of the, err, cats. On a largely uninhabited island in Japan, feral cats rule. In fact, the furry felines are so numerous, they outnumber the small number of human residents by 22. Somehow, the two have managed to coexist on Aoshima since the end of the second world war, according to a Toronto Sun report.

The tiny stretch of island is located 30 minutes by boat just off the east coast of Ehime prefecture. The remote island once was home to nearly 1,000 people, but at the end of World War II, many fled in search of better housing and jobs. Today, just a handful of pensioners remain. The other Aoshima residents are scores of feral cats that rule Japan's tiny swath of land.

The island has become a thing of fascination. Tourists travel by ferry to the place referred to as Cat Island. There, they see all breeds of stray cats roaming around freely, mainly because they have no natural predators. However, the other reason, and likely the most important why they thrive in great numbers, is because a few of the two-legged residents provide a bounty of food to the feral cats. At the designated feeding time, cats from around the island convene to compete for handouts, largely rice balls and other scraps offered to them.

Despite the lack of infrastructure -- there are no attractions, stores or places to dine -- tourists like 27-year-old Makiko Yamasaki are still excited about taking the trip to the Japanese island for an up-close look at the army of cats that rule the small island.

"There is a ton of cats here, then there was this sort of cat witch who came out to feed the cats which was quite fun. So I'd want to come again."
However, not all retirees are fond of cats roaming around the island like they rule the place. One local was seen shooing the cats away for digging up their yard. Others like Hidenori Kamimoto, 65, expressed their lack of approval for all the attention from outsiders.
"If people coming to the island find the cats healing, then I think it's a good thing."
Decades ago, the cats were introduced to Aoshima in order to control the mice population. However, the number of cats has increased dramatically to today's numbers, which proved to be a paradox for residents. As a result, islanders hatched plans to cut down on the growing numbers of feral felines ruling the island. So far, nearly a dozen have been neutered.

So, feral cats rule island residents and the land they call home. Undoubtedly, they'd likely prefer a cat army to one ran by scores of mouse cadets.