There are several CAT Islands in Japan that are home to hundreds of feral cats. The population of cats has grown consistently throughout the years, as residents and visitors encourage their survival. One such island is Tashirojima where cats outnumber people and the people like it that way.
In the 1800s, Tashirojima was a popular stop along fishing routes. Several inns catered to the traveling fishermen, offering a hot meal and a comfortable bed for the night. Often the fishermen were greeted by feral cats, who would beg for food or attention.
The cats became the inspiration for numerous legends and superstitions. One legend involves a fisherman who accidentally dropped a rock, killing one of the cats. Fearing retribution, the fisherman built a shrine in the cat’s honor. Numerous cat shrines can now be seem throughout CAT Island, underlining the importance of superstition.
Residents, fishermen, and tourists hold the legends and superstitions close to their hearts. It is thought that the cats are responsible for bringing good luck and fortune to those who show them affection or feed them.
In addition to the shrines, Tashirojima CAT Island is filled with monuments and buildings that are either shaped like cats, or have a cat theme.
As reported by Atlas Obscura, cats are protected by rules that prevent their harm. Additionally, predators such as dogs are not allowed on the island. There are under 100 human residents remaining on Cat Island, compared to several hundred cats.
The cats are described as friendly but wild. They generally remain feral as residents do not keep them as pets. However, they do feed the cats and keep them free from harm.
The cats on Tashirojima are loved by many visitors and residents. Unfortunately, they are being blamed for a sharp reduction in the number of residents. Cat island was formerly populated by close to 1000 people. Now Tashirojima houses more cats than people.
Click HERE to view 16 CAT photos by Thomas Peter of Reuters