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Japan’s most famous cat island moving towards plan to spay, neuter all of its kitty inhabitants

24 Comments
By Casey Baseel, SoraNews24

The island of Aoshima, part of Japan’s Ehime Prefecture, is commonly considered a feline paradise. While it’s not Japan’s only cat island, it’s the most famous, attracting visitors both domestic and international who come to see the 130 kitties that roam free along the streets of the island community.

Walking around Aoshima, you’ll see sights like this…

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…this…

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As a matter of fact, Aoshima’s residents feel they’ve finally reached the point of having too many cats. While the animals can wander about wherever they please, they’re largely taken care of by the Aoshima Cat Protection Society, which has recommended that all of the cats on the island be spayed or neutered in order to gradually reduce their population.

In contrast to the 130 cats that live on the island, there are only 13 human residents, with an average age of over 75 years old. Those demographics are up about 30 cats and down two humans since four years ago, and a lack of people, as well as infrastructure, has the society thinking it can’t reasonably sustain any larger number of felines than Aoshima currently has. In 2016, the organization even had to solicit donations of cat food to keep the animals fed.

The Aoshima Cat Protection Society recommended a spaying/neutering initiative last July, and the city has now earmarked funds for such a program in its preliminary budget proposal for the upcoming fiscal year. Working with Hyogo-based animal welfare organization Dobutsu Kikin, the plan would have veterinarians travel to Aoshima and remain on the island while the procedures are carried out, which would require roughly 400,000 yen in travel and lodging expenses.

While Aoshima’s cat island cachet has made it a popular tourism destination, the almost complete lack of commerce on the island (it doesn’t have even a single vending machine, a shocking status for a Japanese town) means that the influx of visitors isn’t accompanied by an influx of revenue, so it’s unlikely there’s enough money in the city’s coffers to simply expand the services/facilities of the Aoshima Cat Protection Society. Plus, while the cats are provided food by the society, their ability to go where they please throughout the island means that in many ways they’re like a pack of strays, and allowing their number to go completely unchecked could lead to hygienic or other issues.

A timetable for the proposed program is yet to be set, but the Japanese fiscal year begins in the spring, so if the initiative is ultimately approved, operations would likely begin soon after.

Source: Yahoo! Japan News/Ehime Shimbun Online via Jin

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© SoraNews24

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24 Comments
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All good things must come to an end. Now its paytime. Reduce the population, control their growth, and start being responsible for these stray cats.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

Too bad there isn't a practical contraceptive yet for cats and dogs but if you can do it for deer and horses hopefully companion animals are not too far off.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

With so many cars on the island you can be sure there are very few birds or any other native wildlife.

2 ( +6 / -4 )

Human playing with nature again, so far, so far...

-7 ( +2 / -9 )

in order to gradually reduce their population.

It will head to zero pretty quickly.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Feral cats are a huge problem in many places here, and it's irresponsible owners in many cases, that allow these cats to run wild.

The city offices will typically come and take away a dog, but not cats, and cats cause quite a bit more havoc, tearing into garbage bags, and crying and fighting into the wee hours of the morning.

I am glad to see that these folks are doing something about controlling the population.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

That must be one disgusting place. Cats running wild, multiplying with zero control and feces probably everywhere.

2 ( +9 / -7 )

Poured a cup of coffee and took a virtual stroll using Google Maps....fun to try to spot the cats while doing so. Never been there but might try to go. Interesting looking place and looks as though at some time in the past it must have been nice small fishing village.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

Went to a similar island in Kyushu, but they were already culling the cats, and didn't want visitors feeding them. A lot of cute cats, for sure, but not a sustainable program. Then there's that rabbit island in Hiroshima....

0 ( +2 / -2 )

While Aoshima’s cat island cachet has made it a popular tourism destination, the almost complete lack of commerce on the island (it doesn’t have even a single vending machine, a shocking status for a Japanese town) means that the influx of visitors isn’t accompanied by an influx of revenue,

There's your problem right there...Honestly, set up izakayas, coffee shops, conbinis-basically allow all the comforts of daily life, with the added attraction of cats. There are many Japanese young people who adore cats and the idea of living and working in a cat paradise would greatly appeal to them if offered the opportunity. This island isn't being marketed right.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Human playing with nature again, so far, so far...

Without a natural predator there is no balance to be upset on the island. When humans become a very long lived species, which isn't that far off, yes there are going to be numerous issues...

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Love cuts but give me "Rabbit Island" any day ... Have two pet bunnies, love em to bits, was a cat person, until I get bunnies.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Over the past forty years or so, many places in inaka have tried to turn themselves into curiosities to attract tourists, leveraging whatever gimmick they can ("our town is called Obama like the US President!") and building wacky fun fairs and attractions that have since fallen into disrepair and now attract only haikyo (ruin fetish photography) people. A notorious example is a town on Awaji Island that spend its tourism grant on a solid gold bar and then built a tiny museum to house it. That might actually still be open.

Anyway, here we have a town that is a curiosity but is trying to get rid of it. As the great man wrote, so it goes.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Nick in Japan:

I camped out once on Bunny Island. The place has some interesting second world war history there. Check it out sometime if you done so already.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Only 130? That is surprisingly few. I wonder if the human residents have been killing the kittens.

TNR is the most effective way to take care of the feline population, be it a feral cat or a stray (dumped) one. No killing required.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

About time, people need to be more responsible with pets, I am tired or rescuing kitties & trying to find them homes, I am on my fourth cat now from last fall(3 in total), that is around a 20yr commitment, told the wife no more, they will outlive us! And don't get me started on all the dead cats on roadsides, or seeing wounded sickly cats suffering horrible until they die. And I have spent over Y100,000 fixing local adults we can catch only to have my damned neighbour start putting out food.....

I like cats but people cause so many problems & suffering, need to FIX strays & STOP feeding them! Rant over

4 ( +5 / -1 )

TNR is the most effective way to take care of the feline population, be it a feral cat or a stray (dumped) one. No killing required.

Exactly, it's the most humane approach to this problem that was introduced by humans.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

No good deed goes unpunished. Most proverbs in Japan are incomplete. Nail that sticks up must be hammered down. Someone forgot to mention it might crack the wood.

On the surface they may seem like a good idea. Now here's the question. What does it mean for all the pets shops that breed animals? Would you like to pay over 200,000 at a pet store or would you like to adopt a kitten for free? Ever pay attention to airport regulations for bringing in animals that could be adopted from other countries?

Nothing is done at face value here. Dig a little deeper and you might find the profit somewhere in this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Couples buy cute cats, get married, have baby and their throw cat or dog away.

There was two stray cats around my house, now three. Never seen a stray dog in japan. Around the JR station there is a compilation of cat food and fecies only good point is they kill snakes.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

25 years late. But it's better than ignoring the issue for another 25 years. Japan kills over 500,000 animals a year, 90% more than the UK. The UK also prosecutes about 10x more animal abuse cases.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

only good point is they kill snakes

They kill disease carrying mice and rats, too.

The UK also prosecutes about 10x more animal abuse cases.

Exactly. People get away with some quite horrendous things here in that regard. Witnesses are reluctant to report it (see no evil, hear no evil), and authorities have a minimal, if any at all, presence in regards to ill-treated animals in Japan. I have seen a lot of animal cruelty with my own eyes.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

only good point is they kill snakes.

That's not a good point. Snakes control the number of rats and rodents which eat the grains consumed by people. Snake are a useful creature.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I am a Bunny person. Cats do nothing for me except make a mess of gardens and garbage and when in heat are so noisy.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

One small flaw in their plan (or the reporting of which here).... if they neuter/spay all cats... then there will eventually be no more cats, not a reduced population... wonder how much money the "Catrations" bring in ?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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