Friday, March 18, 2011

Tashirojima - The Cat Island of Japan

The Cat Island, officially called Tashirojima, is a small island in Ishinomaki City, Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, that is inhabited by more cats than people. The island has become known as "Cat Island" due to the large stray cat population that thrives as a result of the local belief that feeding cats will bring wealth and good fortune. The cat population is now larger than the human population on the island.

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But Tashirojima doesn’t have too many humans to begin with. There are approximately 100 residents on Cat Island, and most of them are over 70. One person is 37, and everybody else is over 60 years old. With more than 50% of the population being over 65 years of age, the survival of the island is threatened. It won’t be long before the four footed animal end up being the only living being on the Cat island.

From Wikipedia,

In the past, the islanders raised silkworms for silk, and cats were kept in order to keep the mouse population down (because mice are a natural predator of silkworms). Fixed-net fishing was popular on the island after the Edo Period and fishermen from other areas would come and stay on the island overnight. The cats would go to the inns where the fishermen were staying and beg for scraps. Over time, the fishermen developed a fondness for the cats and would observe the cats closely, interpreting their actions as predictions of the weather and fish patterns. One day, when the fishermen were collecting rocks to use with the fixed-nets, a stray rock fell and killed one of the cats. The fishermen, feeling sorry for the loss of the cat, buried it and enshrined it at this location on the island.

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Tashirojima, the Cat Island

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The Cat Shrine

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Cats are so popular here that a local architect had several building built in the shape of cats.

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Sources: Wikipedia, Tofugu

50 comments:

  1. I think I know where I want to spend the rest of my life.

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    1. Well, cat meat must be a healthy option!

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    2. Me too!!! I would LOVE to go there - it'd be paradise!

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    3. Wonderful! I want to live there with my cats!

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  2. What a great place! Who knew this existed! A cat world! Fantastic! There needs to be incentives to bring more Japanese citizens to this area as to make sure the population survives. Maybe next trip will make a detour and visit! Great story!

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    1. I agree, at least I would love to visit, may not leave though:)

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  3. This is paradise. I have to go there.

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  4. not paradise for the cats who may have parasites and other medical needs and no veterinary care. they should put out food with anti-conception properties,if there is such a thing, and cat populations reduced by attrition.
    i love, love cats and this overpopulation is appalling

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    1. i would suggest you should do some research before you comment. each cat is accounted for and they receive regular vet care. they are well taken care of.

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    2. I agree with you, Anonymous (of Jan 3, 2013). I love cats, too, and I am sure the ppl on this island love them, too, but cats will breed themselves to infinity if allowed.

      They need to implement a spay/neuter program stat.

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    3. Maybe they should neuter humans too... We breed too much also. Guess you will be volunteering first... no?

      Cats are still animals, they are supposed to be wild, just like most other creatures on the planet, I am sure they can survive quite well without human intervention.

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    4. ...as I am sure they will all die eventually. Ellie, dont be stupid. Cat + island + no natural predators to keep them in check + eventually no humans to feed them = over population, eradication of all food sources on the island and then starvation and cannibalism.

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    5. Sorry...I agree with anonymous. A few of these cats do not look healthy and we haven't seen a lot of pictures of them. Spaying and neutering should be the first order of business there.

      I think it's really a great idea that the people who live there love them so much, but they still need to be controlled in population and shots.

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    6. Thinking that cats can simply survive on their own without human intervention once they have been cared for is why there are so many cats abandoned when their humans tire of them or can no longer take care of them. I agree that this situation is a big problem waiting to happen with the cats being the ones to suffer as a result.

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    7. Remember people, cats weren't always domestic. In this environment they have gone back to living as they used to, with a little help. I'm sure they would do fine on there own, and even if they began to overpopulate, they naturally take care of that themselves. Cats need space, and they would make space for themselves, by fighting or other ways. Cats also die, and in the wild they die sooner. I think the best thing to do is have as little human intervention as possible. Humans always mess things up. I am a cat lover too, but I think it would be better that way.

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    8. There are more cats in my neighborhood, why don't you solve the problem in the US first before speaking for the world? That's where spaying and neutering needs to happen. To be ethnocentric and say that every cat, domestic or wild in the entire world should be treated just makes you look stupid. Get a world view already dudes. Free your minds, let Tashirojima be fun, awesome, happy and free. Ain't nobody suffering here any more than anywhere else, so chill

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    9. If cat's are spayed and neutered, then random healthy cats are eliminated from breeding.. I saw an article earlier on how dog breeds had changed over 100 years and let me tell you, they've changed a lot, and for the worse.. and this is partially because of neutering healthy animals which would otherwise breed. So just let nature occur on its own, without human intervention.

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  5. I think I died from seeing the photos of cats around the island xD
    I will surely come there!

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  6. One more cat lover here! Count me in!!! Dogs are sluts: they give love to strangers. Cats only show their love and affection to their owner! The best kept secret in the world! And they have so much more varied and rich personalities! I've owned both and I'll take cats over dogs any time! I've paid to have 17 cats fixed and get shots in the last 2 years. 15 of them are now adopted and happy, only 2 were still feral and moved to a farm for feral cats in N. Calif. I'm very happy about it!

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    1. Ha,ha! I never thought of it that way (Anonymous March 3 - 12:32 AM) but it's funny that Dogs do give special attention to all, including strangers :) - While I rescue both Cats and Dogs and help place them in homes too, I prefer to have Cats as life companions. They "get me" more and I just LOVE all! And thanks for rescuing and fixing the ones you have encountered. People like you make a difference and give me a hope in a horrible world full of people that don't respect animals.

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  7. If anyone doubts card are smarter than dogs, (it's war! LOL), consider this: scientists have recorded multiple uses of an object as a tool by a cat, but none by a dog... :)

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  8. I LOVE MY CAT!!!!!!!!

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  9. sho fluffy shoooooooooo fluffyy

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  10. probably gonna live there, forever~~ muahahaha

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  11. I bet this place stinks of cat pee, live some crazy cat ladies house. LOL

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    1. WOW, you are a "downer", is that all you can reply with..cat pee and crazy cat ladies???

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  12. They are so cute!!! I'm almost old enough to go there and be a real cat lady!

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  13. Cats left to run outside have numerous medical problems, many of which may be caused by inbreeding within a small population. Small cats such as these were originally bred by humans to act as hunters of rodents to prevent the loss of grain and other food. Loss of human contact will result in lowering their quality of life as cats, although very smart, can't make food appear from thin air on a isolated island and they can't act as their own vet. This island needs an immediate campaign to catalog all the cats, a neuter and spay campaign, medical care plan, and an adoption program. Anything less is animal abuse - just take a look at the many stray cats that are left to run around and breed on rural farms. I've visited the http://www.rustichollowshelter.org/ cat shelter 3 times. It has over 400 cats housed in a no kill facility. These 400 cats take a huge amount of money just to feed, not to mention medical bills so an operation on this island is likely to be a lot more involved due to the isolation of the island, lack of daily human contact, and so forth. Perhaps the animal planet channel would get involved in a program for the island as they could make it into a documentary to show on their channel, thus making money for them via advertising during the show. They would be in a position to obtain donations of medical care and volunteers. Send emails to their web site asking for such http://animal.discovery.com/

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  14. I liked and appreciate the story, but after seeing these pictures I am concerned about inbreeding and the cats health. In one pic you could clearly see the eyes have some infection that has not been treated or even cleaned. If you love animals you make sure they are healthy and not so much inbreeding that can carry on any possible genetic problems.

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    1. I agree with you and they don't even look happy !!! They look like they're in "survival" mode....Sad...

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  15. How sweet a cat heaven .

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  16. That's an awful lot of pussy on one island.

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    1. That's horrible... and I laughed.

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  17. I'm concerned about their health also. But oh what a wonderful cat haven! I would love to be surrounded by such beautiful creatures. I wish them well of course.

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    1. It's all in the genetics. Think about it- an isolated population of cats. Due to polygenic inheritance, which is basically mixing colors for you uniformeds, eventually certain coats will just disappear unless more cats ade brought in. Soon enough, genetic disorders will wreak havoc on the island, which is worse than any disease as there is absolutely no way to fix it unless those cats were to get surgery.

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  19. I want to live there, And take my cats with me.

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  20. Wow the way I like cats just wanna make it there.

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  21. Yeah very nice, though i think the cats are split up into there own cat gangs... Better be careful - don't want to disturb the peace.

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  22. I would like to go there and spend the rest of my life looking after their welfare, and caring for them, in anyway that I can

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  23. These are possibly the meanest-looking cats I've ever seen.

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  24. Okay these are STRAY cats people, not cats living in the homes with these people. We have hundreds of cats running around our farm property and believe me, they survive just fine on their own without eating eachother or starving to death.


    I would love to go here...looks like a total mind fuck.

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  25. p.s these cats look a hell of a lot healthier than a lot of the stray cats i've seen.

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  26. All these people commenting about how they look ill. As a cat owner they look fine to me. they would look a damn site worse once us good meaning people get our hands on them. leave them alone and concentrate on the cruelty on your door step

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  27. Ugh. Too many cats. Gross!
    Cat people are weird. This place looks awful.

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  28. im booking my flight there haha :D ive got to be honest these strays look a damn sight healthier than the strays that live in my town. And they look healthier than some around here that have homes!! Im sure that the locals will put a plan into place for their survival especially as the cat population is revered so much.

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    1. You're right. Nonenof them are fat.

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  29. This is paradise!!!!!!!!!!! :'D I am tearing up just knowing about this place...aha

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  30. To anyone saying that the cats need to be spayed and neutered:
    1. If the island is overpopulated to where the cats rely on people feeding them, then it's fine, they're being fed. If people stopped feeding them and the island was overpopulated, then some of them would starve or otherwise die on their own. You'd have just as many dead cats either way, but with spaying and neutering, some of the surviving population would be unable to breed, lessening the already limited gene pool. Nice job.
    2. If the island isn't overpopulated, spaying and neutering the cats would keep the population stable in the short term, but in the long term would do more harm than good, as stated above. If people stopped feeding them and the island was not overpopulated, the cats in the wild would not hunt or breed enough to kill off their food supply or overpopulate.
    3. If the island is not able to support a stable and diverse population of cats, then the cats are screwed either way if humans left.

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