Japan’s Cat Islands

japan's cat islands

Japan is well known for its love of cats.  Hello Kitty, Neko Atsume, Maneki Neko, cat cafe’s and more. So much more. And then there are Japan’s Cat Islands.

Yes, islands. With an ‘s’.

japan's cat islands

Most people who have heard about this think that the cat island is the island of Aoshima, a 1 mile long remote island off the coast of southern Japan. However, it seems that there are actually 10 other islands where cats rule. On Aoshima (nicknamed Nekojima, Cat Island) the cat population outnumbers humans 6:1. The human residents number only about 20 and are quite elderly, having stayed on the island after World War 2 when most other residents left to find work. The cats were introduced to control mice who ate through the nets on fishing boats, set to work, settled down and the rest is history. Only a handful of the cats have been neutered so there numbers have grown. Despite having a varied diet the cats, which are feral, seem in good health and look well.


japan's cat islands

Recent fame has caused the island to become a tourist attraction, with increasing numbers of visitors looking to visit and see the cats. The islanders haven’t been too happy with this turn of events.

The other cat islands are dotted around Japan, with cats and humans living in close harmony.

As the story of the cat islands swirl around the internet fame has brought some added advantages to the cat islands. A recent cat food shortage on Aoshima island prompted islanders to reach out to the internet and ask for some food. Donations came pouring in – in a volume they hadn’t anticipated,  prompting the residents to ask for shipments to stop as they had no way to store the food. Saying they would be fine until April, “Thank you all very much”.