A Japanese island that imported cats to deal with an infestation of mice that overran fishermen’s boats is now overrun with cats.
Aoshima Island, which sits off of the coast of Ehime prefecture, now hosts six times as many cats as people. Over 120 cats prowl the island of less than twenty villagers, mostly older people who didn’t leave the island for Japanese cities after World War II.
The island attracts cat-lovers who visit from the mainland, even though the usual tourist havens such as restaurants, cars, shops or kiosks don’t exist, although there is a playground. The cats are well-fed by altrusitic tourists, who feed them rice balls, energy bars, and vegetables. The natives are trying to hold the cats’ breeding at bay: 10 cats have been neutered. The cats roam freely around the island because there are no predators to hunt them.
There are eleven islands in Japan known as “Cat Islands.” The animal is popular in Japan; cat cafes abound in Tokyo.