The proverbial cat lady can apply. There are plenty of cats to go around on at least 10 Japanese islands, sweetly known as the “Cat Islands” or “Nekojimas,” according to the Christian Science Monitor.
The tiny, remote Japanese islands of Aoshima and Tashirojima are two of the cat lovers’ paradises. In fact, they are both overrun with armies of feral or semi-feral cats, and that has been drawing some cat-loving tourists to flock to the otherwise forgotten islands. One tourist, 27-year-old Makiko Yamasaki, indicated a willingness to return to Aoshima after her visit, quoted by Reuters.
“There is [sic] 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.”
Cats first were introduced on Aoshima to address the problem of the mice that overran fishermen’s boats, according to Reuters. But then, they multiplied. And multiplied.
Now, cats are seen throughout the island, strutting about in groups or singly. They are curled up on the window frames of long-abandoned houses in the fishing village, and they outnumber human inhabitants six to one. They bask in the sun, run up to greet those who bear food, and sleep curled up anywhere they can, probably dreaming of the fisherman’s catch of the day, of which they may partake.
The small human resident population of Aoshima has lived in peace with the cats, though sometimes shooing them away when they dig in their gardens. The human tourists are welcome as long as they don’t bother the people remaining on the island.
The “Cat Island” or “Cat Heaven Island” of Tashirojima is another small fishing village where cats rule the small population of about 100 humans. Cats were first brought to that island to keep mice at bay from the silkworm farms. The farms closed, and the human population dwindled. But here, too, the cat population grew, according to the Daily Mail.
The cats on the islands survive on what tourists or residents throw them, eating rice and tourist fare, and cats can be seen swarming any locals or tourists who offer the prospect of a meal. Tourists come to the island to take pictures of the locals and the cats.
Of course, canines should keep their distance. Dogs are not welcome on the islands, and the cats have no other natural predators, so they keep multiplying, though locals on Aoshima have started a population-control program by neutering or spaying 10 cats. And in other islands, such on Tokunoshima Island, the government began a project to curb the island’s entire cat population of 3,000 stray cats, and has already spayed or neutered about a third, according to the Christian Science Monitor.
Other programs based in Tokyo are attempting to train, domesticate, and rehabilitate the cats, and 140 animal hospitals are involved.
Dr. Seuss, who wrote The Cat in the Hat, as cited in an Inquisitr article, cleverly told the tale in an entertaining, droll manner. If he had visited the Cat Islands, Dr. Suess would have had material for books for decades to come.
Would you want to visit one of the “Cat Islands?”
[Photo Courtesy of the Daily Mail]