Cats outnumber humans six to one on Japan’s Aoshima Island, known now as Cat Island.

What Is Cat Island

Aoshima Island, a small fishing village, is located in the south of Japan and has slowly become overrun with feral cats. In 1945, a reported 900 people lived on Aoshima Island, but, after WWII, many people left to find work, lowering the population. It’s unclear when, exactly, the cats began to take over the town. But reports suggest the cat population began growing exponentially 10 years ago.

First brought to town as a way of getting rid of mice attracted to the fishing boats, the cats appear to have multiplied without control. Meanwhile, as the cat population increased, the human population decreased, and there are now reportedly only a few dozen people living on the island. Some of the older residents of Aoshima Island will feed the cats, but mostly they scavenge for food, eating scraps here and there.

The Island has no shops and no restaurants, but it is quickly becoming a hot spot for tourists wanting to escape mainland Japan and walk amongst the felines. Aoshima Island only accessible via a 30-minute ferry ride from Ehime, and the ferry does only two round trips, meaning only 34 tourists can visit the island on any given day.

“I seldom carried tourists before. Now I carry tourists every week, even though the only thing we have to offer is cats,” ferry captain Nobuyuki Ninomiya told reporters.

According to reports, steps have been taken to attempt population control, and 10 cats have been neutered – but that’s out of over 120 cats roaming around Aoshima.

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