Tourists Flock to Japan’s Cat Island In Record Numbers


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By Samme

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(Rachel and Jun/YouTube)

It’s a paradise for cat lovers. And Japan’s unique and delightful cat island is experiencing a tourist boom, according to a report in  Friendly cats roam free on the small island off the coast of Miyagi where felines out number humans. The island of Toshirojima is home to more than 100 cats versus 82 people, down from 191 in 1990. Many are elderly pensioners.

Nearly 40,000 people visited Cat Island in 2015 compared to just 6,262 the year before, government spokesman Hiromichi Suzuki told Quartz. The main draw is the cats, but residents have created cat-shaped homes. And  a cat-themed NGO is working to help the island recover from the tsunami and earthquake disaster.

The tourist boom is due to the popularity of “Cat Island” videos that appeared in 2014 on YouTube, the article notes. The videos show friendly cats swarming tourists who arrive with food. The cats have the run of the three-square-kilometer island where fishing was the primary source of livelihood.

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The Quartz article includes some interesting history: “Fisherman living on Tashirojima first brought to the cats to feed on the mice that were destroying silkworms necessary to make fishing lines. The relationship worked out so well that the locals even built a shrine to honor of one cat that died in the line of duty.”

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Japan has thousands of cat lovers, but many live in small apartments where pets are forbidden, all of which increases the allure of the island, which is rising to the status of a national treasure.

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13 thoughts on “Tourists Flock to Japan’s Cat Island In Record Numbers”

  1. Does anyone know if these cats get spayed/neutered at all?? A lot of them seem to have the same colors, possibly due to incestuous breeding, which is not healthy. Do they get any vet care?

  2. I have three cats….Who does the poop scooping and can you imagine the urine stench…Wow…

  3. I hope they have enough food! I’d imagine with breeding and the growing population, there wouldn’t be as many rodents on the island as there originally was. I think I would love it there– I would want to take a basketful home with me!!

  4. The cats are well fed. Hope they spay and neuter but don’t know. I would also love to go there and take a basketful home with me. Maybe some day!

  5. Are the cats healthy? Is ther vet care? De-wormed? Watched for any illness or spreading disease among the animals? Shelter from the weather? On the surface this is cute, but ultimately seems cruel. I too wonder about spaying and neutering, cleanliness and such.

  6. when they pee and poo outside you don’t really notice it like you would indoors, its like on farms they poo and wee outdoors in fields and such places.

  7. I love love cats!! Id love to go there but I DONT like seeing this and I highly DOUBT somene is taking the time to spay and neuter them!!! Ive ALWAYS had a weird feeling about eating at Japanese, Chinese or any Asian restaurants they have strange texture meats and they eat and sell almost anything RAW and COOKED!!!!! Its sooo SAD to say but maybe they control the population by using innocent cats as meat!! these cats look healthy fed, chickens,cows,pigs etc are healthy fed too!! I surely hope and pray im sooo WRONG! but again I dont like the texture, or taste of their meats in their restaurants, I do love the rice and sauces they cook but i never eat their meats!! I apologize for sharing my thoughts

  8. The cats seem to be well fed enough – but there are so many cats there I’d be afraid to lay down in case a mob of them decided I was a meal!

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