Cat Islands Are Purrfect Creations

Dyandra Allen, Staff Writer

Japan is an island country in East Asia. Among the 6,852 islands, 43 prefectures and eight regions, did you expect there to be, not one, but twelve Cat Islands? Each island is distributed around Japan and isn’t relatively large. These islands serve as tourist hotspots in Japan. One of these islands is Tashirojima in Ishinomaki, Miyagi. It’s located off the coast of the Oshika Peninsula and has long since been run over by cats.To this day, the cat population greatly outnumbers the humans in the area with a 6:1 ratio. This aspect has only increased its appeal. The same case runs in the other eleven with the residential cats having caused a great stir of attention.

Originally, the cats were brought over to control the rodent population, but were left un-neutered. Thus, the cat population drastically boomed to an uncontrollable point; as the cat population grew on the islands, the human population dwindled once people moved away.. Nevertheless, the islands continue to support small populations, usually consisting of the elderly. The cats roam freely on the islands, as having a pet cat seemed inappropriate; they are welcoming and tame, despite being feral. They’re neither afraid of residents, nor the constant new faces of tourists. Locals generally get along with the cats, often providing them with food.

Needless to say, these cat islands are cat lovers’ dream come true. Most tourists are ferried to the islands in small numbers of around 30 people. Some islands like Aoshima are less designed for tourists (no restaurants, cars, or snack-selling kiosks), but that doesn’t deter backpackers. “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,” said 27-year-old Makiko Yamasaki, in a report with Reuter, “So I’d want to come again.” The cats are a comforting presence for tourists, in addition to being considered lucky in Japanese culture. Notwithstanding the fame, vacationers can be nuisances to the residents. “If people coming to the island find the cats healing, then I think it’s a good thing,” said 65-year-old Hidenori Kamimoto, also in a report with Reuter, “I just hope that it’s done in a way that doesn’t become a burden on the people who live here.”

If you want to go visit a cat island this upcoming summer, definitely go for it! Word of warning though: don’t bring any dogs. And to all my dogs lovers, where are your islands?


* photo via Google Images under the Creative Commons license