Sakae Kato lies in bed next to Charm, a cat who he rescued five years ago and is now infected with feline leukemia virus, at his home in a restricted zone in Namie, Fukushima Prefecture. Photo: REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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The man who saves forgotten cats in Fukushima's nuclear zone

44 Comments
By Tim Kelly and Kim Kyung Hoon

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44 Comments
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Powerful article. Actually I am a little lost for words.

11 ( +13 / -2 )

A timely reminder, as we approach the 10th anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami, that things are far from ‘under control’, never mind fixed.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Firstly what this chap is doing is very commendable and he should get a subsidy for feeding all of these cats, etc, "He is looking after 41 others in his home and another empty building on his property". ive been in a few houses that have pets, but in his case all of those cat? jees, that house must stink.

IF. he was to take materials from another deralict house to fix his, would he, or could he be arested for theft? could he occupy another house as its been abbandoned?

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Crazy in the most acceptable kind of way.

8 ( +8 / -0 )

A decade ago, Sakae Kato stayed behind to rescue cats abandoned by neighbors who fled the radiation clouds belching from the nearby Fukushima nuclear plant. He won't leave

Mr. Kato should have a well-deserved subsidy over GoTo travel business owners,Dentsu and such.

6 ( +7 / -1 )

He's fallen asleep holding his phone!

@JT. Surely he spends 70,000 JPY a month, not ¥700,000? (Or should it be 700,000 a year?)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The Reuters story said he spends $7,000 a month.

Surely he spends 70,000 JPY a month, not ¥700,000?

Depends how much dog food he's buying for the wild boar?

Judging from the dishes piled with food in the photo, the cats are certainly not going without.

Interesting that he has pee-pads spread out instead of litter boxes. With no running water and presumably no rubbish collection, he manages by burning the pads? With 41 cats, a constant supply of pee-pads would cost a fair bit.

Still, 700,000 yen sounds a bit steep.

I hope he gets off on the wild boar charge.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

I take my hat off to him.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

Should have started a fund page I guess he doesn't know such matters.

"Radiation levels around her house are around 20 times the background level in Tokyo, according to a dosimeter reading carried out by Reuters."

The maximum allowed in Tokyo is 1 millisievert per year and in Fukushima 20 millisievert per year. The level is still low.

None of the animal mutations found at Chernobyl.

6 ( +6 / -0 )

The cats aren't pets, they are pests.

Culling them is the most humane thing to do with them.

Same for wild dogs.

If it's not a pet, it's wrecking the eco-system, as is this man.

-12 ( +6 / -18 )

Good point,Zichi.

If he started a fund page he would be sorted.

I wonder if they have internet where he lives because everything has been abandoned.

It is that time of year.....in fact 10 years almost to the date that the big one struck.

At that time many of us expats in Japan relied almost exclusively on Zichi for his updates on the situation.

His knowledge and information were a godsend.

I thank you again my friend for it.

Your updates were awesome and kept most of us from being in the total dark.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

This man is a hero in every way!

6 ( +7 / -1 )

Can't the cats pee outside....?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Seems like a mental health problem to me. He himself has actually gone feral.

Anyone here in the comments who is supporting this dude should first think about what it might be like if you were his neighbor.

He needs some help for sure but not more funds to continue the craziness.

He is not that dissimilar to those peeps who compulsively store stuff in their house.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

Looking at the photo...why is he "wearing" a mask? There is literally NO ONE around. At all!

Admire him for his actions, though, and agree, why hasn't he applied for subsidies and gone on social media to ask for help? A "Go Fund Me and my cats and wild boar"?

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Finally, how does he obtain all that cat and dog food? Amazon? Kuro neko? Surely, not the local pet store, which must be may kilometers away and out of the radiation zone? This article missed a few points of interest!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The dude is obviously rich, or has hit the mattresses in all the abandoned houses.

Cats look clean but extremely dirty especially with those front claws digging in dirt and soiling it with their feces. I cannot believe he has not gotten scratched and infected. Can send you to a hospital within hours.

I wish a picture of the boars were shown. No need to say wild in front of them. They are and extremely smart

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

The whole area needs massive amounts of work if it ever to be really livable again. So, what does the government do? Hmmm...hmmm....let's have an olympic games!! Yeah,that's a great way to waste huge sums of money!!

13 ( +13 / -0 )

While it looks like he's doing good in the greater sense, he should really help relocate the animals instead of staying there as it unnecessarily creates a separate problem that others will have to manage.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

He is being detained as we speak?

What an unecessary arrest! Free him immediately

7 ( +7 / -0 )

Anyone here in the comments who is supporting this dude should first think about what it might be like if you were his neighbor.

He doesn’t have any neighbors, that’s the whole point. They all evacuated. And left their cats behind.

why is he "wearing" a mask? There is literally NO ONE around. At all!

Kim Kyung-hoon the photographer is there.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Stories like this help a lot, not only because they inspire but also because they help reminding the tragedy that is still ongoing to this day.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Maybe ARK could help with a fund me campaign. I think the problem with feral cats is that they cannot be adopted. They are too used to the feral life.

ARK rescued animals ten years ago.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

What a kind and caring person.

whether he has mental health issues, or not, all the condemnation and negativity towards this man is just plain wrong.

in his heart he is helping defenceless, abandoned animals.

maybe he sees this as his mission.

yes he needs help, where’s the govt?

Modern day, St Francis ....

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Spitfire

thank you

2 ( +2 / -0 )

700,000 a month, meaning 8.4 MILLION per year, times roughly 10 years??????

Cripes with that much money he could have built a few new homes for all those cats. He does or used to own a construction company, so it's not like he doesnt have the know-how, or evidently lack of money!

Something tells me there is a hell of a lot more going on here than being shared in the article.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

If it's not a pet, it's wrecking the eco-system, as is this man.

As much of a cat lover as I am, I have to agree with this. Cats wreak havoc on native species, especially when they are in close proximity to scarce habitats. Pheasants and their young are particuarly prone to predation, and they are Japan's national bird. FeraI cats are a serious ecological problem in Japan, and I doubt his cats have been neutered.

I admire this man's compassion, but even well-fed cats are responsible for killing billions of birds and rodents each year. His pets should be humanely exterminated.

-3 ( +4 / -7 )

So stupid.

-6 ( +2 / -8 )

Imagine the stench.

-1 ( +4 / -5 )

I think there's some thing that needs to be cleared up. These are not feral cats, they were abandoned by the owners or so goes this article. If this is the case then by the logic that many pet owners delcare that their pets are like their children or family, he is basically taking care of an abandoned family member. I don't think the "crazy cat woman" or in this case man, stereotype holds under this situation. Would we say the same if they were orphaned and abandoned children? He needs to be supported and funded, and I'm sure the vet is helping him with the TNR.

1 ( +4 / -3 )

These are not feral cats, they were abandoned by the owners or so goes this article.

The owners left 10 years ago, and he still has 41 cats. He's breeding them.

Would we say the same if they were orphaned and abandoned children?

Of course not, but they are moggies, not kids.

He needs to be supported and funded

The neutering of these cats should be funded, he needs to get out.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

The owners left 10 years ago, and he still has 41 cats. He's breeding them.

Cats can live up to 20 years, they aren't necessarily breeding.

The neutering of these cats should be funded

Agreed, if they aren't neutered already.

he needs to get out.

It's his life, his choice.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Mental. The guy needs help, not his cats.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

With him being detained who is taking care of the cats? Like him I could not just let a boar starve to death in a trap. I just couldn't do it. There must be a special place in heaven for someone with a heart for animals like him.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

His pets should be humanely exterminated.

There is no such thing.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Those that that blast this man I assume hate cats. It did say he has a vet come out periodically so maybe the vet is helping fix the cats. Regardless the man has a heart for animals that shows a lot. I’m sure if a local paper in Tokyo would pick this story up he would have financial help from people who believes his cause. God bless him.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@zichi

If you doubt what radiation is doing to living creatures around the area then you should maybe ask yourself why one of his cats is dying of leukemia-coincidence?

0 ( +1 / -1 )

kurisupisu

@zichi

If you doubt what radiation is doing to living creatures around the area then you should maybe ask yourself why one of his cats is dying of leukemia-coincidence?

At Chernobyl there have been many cases of animal deformed births but that hasn't been discovered at Fukushima.

The Leukemia isn't connected to any radiation released.

"Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a virus that can be transmitted between cats via saliva. It's a tragic and fatal disease that is responsible for many cat deaths worldwide every year. More than 50% of infected cats die within 2-3 years after being infected. Most deaths in cats occur in the first year after diagnosis."

https://trupanion.com/pet-care/feline-leukemia#:~:text=Feline%20leukemia%20virus%20(FeLV)%20is,the%20first%20year%20after%20diagnosis.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Cats can live up to 20 years, they aren't necessarily breeding.

LOL. No, I'm sure they're being very good and resisting their natural urges, and/or using contraception when they do!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

There is no such thing.

Absolutely there is. Carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, or nitrogen will all put any mammal to sleep, and you'll never wake up.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

"extermination" - the killing of a living creature which does not want to die.

The process - trap the living creature, transport her, keep her in a cage with several other living beings or alone - either is terrifying - then shove her in a metal box with several other living beings and slowly gas her.

This is not humane.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

I'm sure they're being very good and resisting their natural urges

If they were neutered by their original families (which they should have been) they don't have any natural urges in that direction.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I think there's some thing that needs to be cleared up. These are not feral cats, they were abandoned by the owners or so goes this article.

From the article

"Kato leaves food for feral cats in a storage shed he heats with a paraffin stove."

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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