TOKYO, JAPAN – An army of cats ruling a remote Japanese island seem to be licking their whiskers after a plea for food aid triggered an onslaught of donations from cat lovers from all over the world.
More than 140 cats occupy the tiny island of Aoshima in the south of Japan — outnumbering humans by eight to one — but when the feral felines recently ran out of cat food, a cry for help led to an unprecedented response.
“Food began pouring in from all over Japan,” Kazuyuki Ono, 59, whose tweet raised the alarm, told reporters.
“There’s so much of it now we can’t store it,” he added.
“We’re asking people to stop sending donations. But the cats couldn’t be happier.”
Literally hundreds of boxes of cat food arrived at Aoshima dock, a 30-minute boat ride from the mainland, in time for February 22 — officially Cat Day in Japan.
“The food started arriving right at that time,” said Ono.
“In spring and summer, tourists bring food to feed the cats but when it gets cold, the sea is rough and nobody comes. Sometimes boats can’t cross in the rough seas. It’s a mysterious little island.”
Aoshima, known also as Cat Island, was once home to 1,000 people but today only 16 remain, and most of them are senior citizens.
But the cats, originally brought to the island to kill the mice that infested fishermen’s boats, rule the roost and visitors flock from across Asia and even Europe and the United States to see these amazing fluffy creatures.
“It’s a cat paradise here,” said Ono, who took to Twitter at the request of Naoko Kamimoto, president of the Aoshima Cat Protection Society, after she noticed that the cupboard was bare.
“There are no crows, no dogs, no bikes, no cars,” Ono said.
“They love nothing more than to just lie about in the street sunning themselves all day. Now their bellies are full, they’re purring happily.”
Just goes to show you, when cat lovers can come together in a common cause, miracles DO happen!
A taste of Cat Island: