Imagine an island where the ratio of cats to humans is 36:1. Probably sounds amazing… Or terrifying, depending on the type of person you are. This reality exists on a small island in Japan.
How Many Cats Are There On Cat Island?
A lot. And many more than humans. In 1945, the island reportedly had 900 residents, in 2013 there were 50, and as of 2018 there are less than 20 human residents of the cat infested island. Some estimates say there are only six residents remaining, all elderly.
There are no shortage of cats however. In 2018, approximately 210 cats were caught and spayed or neutered in order to control the population, due to the dwindling number of humans. Interestingly, about 10 sneaky ones have managed to evade authorities.
Where Did The Cats Come From?
The majority, if not all of Aoshima’s residents made a living with fishing. In an attempt to get rid of rodents on their fishing boats, many cats were brought to the island and lived on the boats. Almost by accident, the cats remained on the island and over time produced to outnumber humans 36:1.
While the cats are feral, they have recently become accustomed to human visitors. Hundreds of tourists visit the island every year, and after the island went viral on the internet, it became an adorable sensation. The cats remain friendly and are happy to see visitors, assuming they get some food. That being said, the island is not made for tourism and does not feature any lodging, shops or restaurants. Given there are about six permanent residents, this is not much of a surprise.
This island, in the Shikoku region of Japan is not the only cat Island. In fact, there are about 10 others throughout Japan. Many of these got high numbers of feline friends due to the belief that feeding a cat brings on good luck and fortune. One popular one to check out is Tashirojima.