On This Remote Island, Cats are King: Tashirojima, Japan

Have you ever wanted to live on an island where the cats outnumber the humans? Well, if you’re willing to move to an isolated island just off the coast of Japan, your dream could become a reality.

The island of Tashirojima is just over a mile long, and has mostly been deserted by humans. The primary residents are hundreds and hundreds of cats, who have the free run of the island. The cats generally survive by eating scraps given to them by the handful of residents who still live there, as well as generous donations from the tourists who visit frequently. The cats also hunt mice, and eat any washed-up fish they can find. Any visitors to the island are forbidden from bringing dogs, as not to upset the cats.

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History

The cats that live on Tashirojima today are descendants of cats that were brought to the island to protect fishermen’s boats and nets from mice. Many fishermen used silkworms to spin silk for their nets, and mice consider silkworms to be a tasty treat. A few cats were brought on to the island to keep the mouse population down, and over time they began to breed, and spread themselves out all over the island.

Since they were doing them such a valuable service, the fishermen always had a fondness for the cats, which eventually turned into a superstitious belief that the cats could predict the weather, as well as give the fishermen hints as to where the biggest schools of fish could be found.

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