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Lonely? Rent a cat

18 Comments

Like dogs before them, cats are increasingly being welcomed into the human family. Lonely? Rent a cat.

You can thank the NPO Tokyo Cat Guardian (TCG) for the opportunity, explains Shukan Asahi (April 25). The innovative system they contrived is in response to what might be described as a humanitarian horror – the gassing nationwide of roughly 120,000 cats a year, a startling high percentage of the 135,000-odd a year that end up, for want of owners capable of or willing to continue caring for them, at municipal health centers. Surely, thought TCG president Yoko Yamamoto, there is a better solution?

Keiko Morishita is one happy beneficiary of the solution that emerged. She and her cat Luna live together in an apartment in Tokyo’s Meguro ward. She’s 51 and a company employee; Luna is a 2-year-old male. Morishita doesn’t own Luna – TCG does. Founded in 2008, TCG makes the rounds of health centers arranging living arrangements for cats who otherwise would almost certainly be put down. If the search was for an owner, it would be difficult. It’s a major commitment. What if it becomes too much? Any number of circumstances might arise to make it so – you learn by experience that the commitment is incompatible with your work responsibilities, or your company transfers you, or (a serious worry in this rapidly aging society) you grow too infirm to cope.

That last, more than any other single factor, is what makes settled life so precarious for cats – and given the disposal rate, unsettled life is likely to be fatal. Most people who abandon cats are in their 60s and up. Pets, like people, are living longer and longer. They get good food, good care, and ultra-comfortable housing, in consequence of which they often outlive their owners, or at least their owners’ ability to care for them.

TCG deals directly not with renters like Morishita but with apartment building landlords. The cat, in a sense, comes with the apartment, the terms of rental and care being included in the lease. There’s no extra charge for the cat, but all the attendant expenses – food, kitty litter, veterinary care – are borne by the renter.

Morishita and Luna have been happily together for a year now. From her point of view, it’s comforting to know that if she ever needs to, she can return him to TCG; from TCG’s point of view and that of the health centers, the major advantage is how relatively easy the rental system has made it to find homes for adult cats, defined as one year old and over. Kittens have always been able to find a home; adult cats, rarely.

Kazuteru Sawa, a company employee in his 40s, has a room-share arrangement with two friends in a three-room apartment in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward. Somehow the household was incomplete until they heard from the landlord about TCG. Now there was an idea. “We all went together to choose one,” Sawa tells Shukan Asahi.

Their choice was a year-old black male they named Fumi – who took immediately to his new surroundings. No sooner did they get him home than he sprawled out on the floor as though to claim ownership. How could anyone fail to be charmed?

“It’s a relief to know that if the room-share arrangement ends, we can give the cat back,” Sawa says. No less of a relief, though, is the possibility of acquiring ownership if he wants to. “I think I’d take him with me,” he says. “I’m completely hooked on him.”

“Hopefully,” sums up TCG’s Yamamoto, “within the near future, we’ll be seeing a drastic decline in the sad (disposal) numbers.”

© Japan Today

©2019 GPlusMedia Inc.

18 Comments
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Next step, Rent a Wife/Husband! Very soon, the word commitment will only remain just as a legal term in the society.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Sounds like a nice service.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

When I read the headline, I had a sinking feeling - I imagined a 'just for an afternoon'-type of arrangement, where the animal is treated basically like a living toy. Glad to see that that is not the case, and the cats are being given stable, loving homes. It's a good idea.

I'd take in another cat or two if Mr Cleo and the resident neko-himesama would agree.

4 ( +6 / -2 )

Rent a cat? women would do that.

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

How about renting a kiwi? Fully house trained and can help with English studies ! I think this is a great idea particularly for Japanese households which have never had contact with a pet. If it doesn't work out then no problem , but if it does , one less pet that needs putting down

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Haven't we already seen articles on JT about renting a boy or girlfriend?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Like dogs before them, cats are increasingly being welcomed into the human family.

Don't know what that's about. I think we've had them for thousands of years, at this point.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Good business opportunity surely. But nothing new. One of my great great... gramp was doing that too, renting horses, he'd install them on your carriage and his brother was taking them back tired at the next relay. Do they propose other animals ? I have a lot of free time to go hiking now. I had bad falls from horses and I'm too big to ride a cat. So I'd rent a donkey, an elephant or a camel for a couple of months. I'll bring them back in November and I'd trade them for a set of huskies for my sled. That's so great to go back to 16th century.

Haven't we already seen articles on JT about renting a boy or girlfriend?

Not exactly. It's a free service. You can pick up one (or more) stalker at any station in Tokyo and when you're getting bored, drop them at the next koban. But that's a beta version that doesn't work perfectly. Sometimes the koban doesn't take them back.

if Mr Cleo and the resident neko-himesama would agree.

No problem, TCG will rent them to other people. You'll take them back when you return the cats.

“Hopefully,” sums up TCG’s Yamamoto, “within the near future, we’ll be seeing a drastic decline in the sad (disposal) numbers.”

...but I don't see how cats would be saved with this system. They let renters choose their animal and they all take a friendly young healthy one. So they will end up taking back many high maintenance older grumpy cats and they will do what ? Take them to " municipal health centers" ? Or gas them themselves like PETA and other media star rescuers do ?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I think it's a great idea! We have the problem with dogs here though, unfortunately, you cannot do the same with dogs, because they become very attached to their owners so they would be very sad when they return them. Cats are very independent and easy maintenance, plus their purr is very therapeutic for some people that are sad, or feel lonely, besides, it is in their instinct to know whether you like them and need affection, they can provide that... I know because when my older cat died, there was my sister's black cat who visited me and stayed with me all the weekend when it happened, he was keeping me company, at the end he came to live with me.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Roughneck, "Next step, Rent a Wife/Husband!"

I'm pretty sure you can already arrange no strings attached human company.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Go to an animal shelter and adopt one. Lots of abandoned cats and dogs need love.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"Like dogs before them, cats are increasingly being welcomed into the human family."

Why yes! A recent trend that goes back only about 300 years pretty much around the world. Just a bit farther if you want to throw in Pharaohic Egypt.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Urqinchina, "How about renting a kiwi?" 笑う . . . too funny.

JoiceRojo, "my sister's black cat who visited me . . . he was keeping me company" . . . so sweet, good boy kitty.

In the States some elderly homes have cat and dog visiting days. There is nothing more soothing for someone than the thought of a friendly furry friend who comes to visit. Tokyo Cat Guardian answers the real problem for new owners, can they deal with the responsibility.

Of course, cats are a slippery slope. There is no going back once their little paws start making stars and mashing the bed spread. It's all part of their plan.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Thank you for your comment KcJapan

Of course, cats are a slippery slope. There is no going back once their little paws start making stars and mashing the bed spread. It's all part of their plan.

That's easily forgivable if you really like cats...

0 ( +0 / -0 )

@Fandango Spoonmonkey

Go to an animal shelter and adopt one. Lots of abandoned cats and dogs need love.

Yes, my "ex-police" dog came from JAWS and it was "love at first sight" ! From being a timid, scared, sad-faced Lab, he became the "talk of the town" by his good manners and proud stance. I miss him dearly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

So the question is, what came first the 2012 movie Rentaneko http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2246953/reference

Or this business ? Me thinks there is a J-drama fan at TCG. At least I can blame watching it on movie nights with the wife

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Great Idea during cherry blossom why not come up with "Rent A Tree"!!!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

JoiceRojo, "That's easily forgivable if you really like cats..."

Yes, but we know them. First it's the bedspread mashing then the "pwerrrt?" when they say hello in the morning and then . . . the welcome home fall down paws up thing with the chin scrub chaser.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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