Extraordinary Photo of Feral Cats on Cat Island
Cat island is small (1.9 km long) and off the southern coast of Japan. It is attached to the mainland so is it an island? There are 20 people living on it. There are over 120 cats and they are the offspring of a few parents it seems, judging by this extraordinary photograph which is genuine but which has the appearance of being a collage created with Photoshop.
The cats on the island are a tourist attraction bringing in some money. It was a place where the fishing industry was thriving as in 1945 there were 900 inhabitants. It was first inhabited 380 years ago.
Fish stocks declined and people left. The cats were brought over from the mainland to control a mice infestation. As less people became available to manage the cat colony it grew rapidly in size. The situation got out of hand.
Progress to spay and neuter is too slow. Culling the female population has been proposed. Why just the females and why not spay and neuter en masse because the cats are semi-feral and probably easy to trap or perhaps even pick up and place in carriers. I may be dreaming but it looks that way.
The cats feed on rice balls, and other human food scraps provided by tourists. This is not good at all.
Map showing where the island (Aoshima) is.
The photo is real. As you say, we’re just not used to seeing that many similar looking cats, so close together in one photo. I imagine there would be a similar reaction if the photo were of 50 cats of one breed. Perhaps if we think of the Tashirojima (Cat Island) as a natural breed, then the photo makes sense and seems less surreal?
Cats were originally brought to the island to control the mice who were feeding on the silkworms. The silkworm farms may be long gone, but there are stil a number of humans living on the island, which probably explains why one of the cats is wearing a collar. Apparently cats outnumber humans 6 to 1 on Cat Island. Sounds like a good place to me 🙂
I’ve looked at that first photo several times now. Mainly to see if I could play “snap” with the lookalike cats 🙂
Today for the first time I noticed the cute, slightly longhaired young tabby, sat next to the large ginger and white tom in the bottom right hand corner. (I assume he’s a tom from the large, round head/face).
I really like that photo. It’s one of those where the more you look at, the more you see. Like the tabby rear foot in the bottom left hand corner (lol).
Did you come to the conclusion it is real? I believe it is real (as you can tell by what I have said) because it is unreal, if you like, in that the cats look similar and only an island inbreeding situation would do that. It is a special situation which results in a special picture. Also the cats live in a large colony next to the port waiting for food. This brings them together making such a photo possible.
Doesn’t matter if the first pic was “enhanced” or not…More than that amount do actually inhabit the Island! I wonder if it’s had any effect on the native wildlife?
Native wildlife wiped out 😉 . Certainly the rodents but…I believe the cats are fed by the tourists (junk human food) so they are probably not that motivated to hunt for the remaining rodents.
Cats…nature’s little serial killers…I still love them though…
We have to accept nature the way it is. Perhaps too many cat owners deny the nature in the cat. The cat is the perfect predator. That cannot be removed.
I only said it was my opinion Michael.
I agree. Fair enough. You may be right.
You can tell they’re from a small gene pool. Other than different coat colours/patterns, there’s little variation in their head/face shape or physique. Is this the evolution of a truly native cat breed?
Second picture doesn’t look photo shopped but sorry the first one still does to me. Just my opinion.
I agree it looks it but the second photo tells us that the cats are from a few families judging by the coats, which gives the first picture veracity as a normal picture. If the cats in the first photo were all very different in appearance you probably wouldn’t question it as a Photoshopped image.
You are right. If you look at the photo real closely it doesn’t seem natural. There may be some “real” ones in there but look how many look so much alike. I suspect photo shop.
I think you are wrong Linda. There is no need to do it (Photoshop) because there are so many related cats. They are going to look alike as they are siblings. This is because the cats are on an island (enclosed essentially) and there are a limited number of founding cats.
Linda this picture supports the view that the pictures are unedited:
Yay. I’m so pleased to see an article on Cat Island. This was featured heavily in that documentary you didn’t want to watch (lol). I’d love to visit there.
Fishermen come in once a day to leave food for the cats. Obviously it’s first come, first served and competition is fierce, but all the cats look reasonably well. There were an awful lot of them with bobbed or kinked tails.
How come the tortoiseshell cat in the centre of the photo is wearing a collar? Are you sure it’s a genuine photo?
I am sure it is a genuine photo. The exceptional circumstances created it. The collared cat is the best looking one there. I think a lot of these cats are semi-feral or even domesticated and this allows a collar to be placed on this cat. Perhaps it signifies that she has been spayed in which case the collar was placed on her at the time of the operation. It looks like an impersonal collar. She’s female we know that and we know that spaying has taken place.