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‘Cat Island’ Has 4 Times More Cats Than People

‘Cat Island’ Has 4 Times More Cats Than People

Cat Island in Japan is appropriately named since cats outnumber residents at least 4 to 1 — and the 100 or so residents love it that way. I imagine the cats are equally happy with the arrangement, especially since these particular islanders believe that feeding a cat will bring wealth and good fortune.

The tiny island, which is officially called Tashiro-jima, was a haven for Japanese fishermen in the 1800s who were looking for an overnight resting place closer to prime fishing grounds. The island had a thriving silk worm trade and the cats were kept to ward off mice who loved to dine on the precious worms.

The island-bound cats however were quick to figure out that fishermen always come with fish, so they would faithfully trail any sailor fresh from sea, almost like an official island welcoming committee. The fishermen became fond of the cats and would save their furry friends tasty morsels from their nets. Over time, the fisherman began interpreting the cats’ behavior as predictors of weather and fish patterns. For example, if a fisherman noticed many cats washing their faces over their ear it was a sign that the weather would be clear.

Not surprisingly, Cat Island also has its share of cat lore. One tale tells the story of a fisherman who was collecting rocks to use with his nets when a large rock fell and crushed a cat. The fisherman was devastated and built a shrine for his unlucky kitty companion. Today, there are over ten similar shrines across the island which when combined with fifty-plus cat-shaped monuments make it abundantly clear that these islanders love their cats.

In addition to the cat shrines and monuments, visitors are usually humored to also see numerous cat-shaped buildings.

Cat Island is accessible by ferry and a small tourism industry is popping up on the island – and just in time. Most of the islanders are over 65 (apparently there is one 30-something year old), and if the island and its cats are to thrive in the future new income revenues and residents must make their way to the island. Dogs however are forbidden.

Click here to see a wonderful array of photos from Cat Island compliments of Amusing Planet.

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Cherise Udell

Cherise Udell is a mom, clean air advocate, anthropologist and feline aficionado with the nomadic habit of taking spontaneous sojourns to unusual destinations. Before her adventures in motherhood, she was an intrepid Amazon jungle guide equipped with a pair of sturdy wellingtons and a 24-inch machete, as well as a volunteer at a rainforest animal rescue center.


+ add your own
2:27PM PDT on Mar 27, 2014

I am going to see if there are postcards about this place- it would be fun to send them via to see if other people have heard of it. I would go there!

11:40PM PST on Feb 26, 2014

sounds intersting :)

6:08AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013

Ooo, I totally want to move there!

5:51AM PDT on Aug 12, 2013


7:52AM PDT on Jul 17, 2013

thanks for sharing :)

10:40PM PDT on Jul 4, 2013


7:20AM PDT on Jul 1, 2013


11:52AM PDT on Jun 30, 2013

So nice!

8:03AM PDT on Jun 30, 2013

I want to visit.

8:12PM PDT on Jun 28, 2013

It sounds wonderful. I hope it really is.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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