Destinations Japan

Finding Homes for Community Cats

Finally, back to the important things… cats!

A few days ago we had a pair of stray, identical kittens show up on campus, wandering around the cafeteria. These little guys are just about the size that Taters was when I got her, so chances are they’re just old enough to be without their mum. I had some fun, feeding them ground up chicken with chopsticks, and then some firmer chicken breast the day after that. They generally hung around the cafeteria deck and got lots of loving “kawaii neko!” attention from the university students.

However… it was rainy pretty hard today, and the kittens had nowhere to go but under the porch, where I found them mewling at lunch time when I brought a can of tuna for them. Originally, some of the other exchange students and I were planning to find a shelter to bring them to today. We figure the kittens are either begotten by one of the many stray cats around here, or were abandoned. The chance of them being somebody’s lost pets seems unlikely as after the first day the entire school knew about it, to the point where the administration even put up a sign saying, “don’t feed the cats, please” (a bit harsh, don’t you think?). Anyway, nobody stepped forward to claim the kittens as lost.

But, as fate would have it, when we went looking for the kittens at lunch time, as part of little ‘kitten rescue project’ turns out, someone else was looking for them too. A student here named Mako decided she was going to adopt them. Great! This means I can still check in on the cute buggers from time to time. We helped her carry them home and get them all set up in her little university loft flat. Mako was adorable, she wasn’t sure what the kittens needed, ate, or drank, but you could tell her heart was in the right place. At one point she was lying out some blankets on the floor so the kittens little claws wouldn’t scratch the floor. The longtime pet owner in me was like: “Good luck keeping that up”. She’s definitely got a lot to learn, but I think she’ll love them and take care of them, and that’s all that really matters. They have been tentatively named ‘Meru’ and ‘Maru’; mel in katakana, and the popular boys’ name suffix. Written, they look like: “メル” and ”マル”. Plus, it’s fun to say: merumarumerumarumerumaru.

Here’s a photo of one of the kittens sleeping on the deck at the cafeteria.

Fun Fact! In order to curtail its growing population of stray cats in urban centre, some cities in Japan have started spay-neuter release programs to create “community cats”. As the name suggests, they take feral cats, spay or netuer them, treat them for parasites, and then release them back into the wild. They also set up cat feeding stations, and shelters for inclement weather. Cats that go through this program are called ‘chiiki neko’ which literally means ‘community cat’.

(I like that it sounds like cheeky neko…which many of them are).

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