The other day, I wrote about “Cat Island, Mississippi” where the American army tried to train dogs to hunt Japanese people by smell. Today, I’m going to tell you about another cat island, except this one is in Japan, and it’s actually covered in cats, not dogs, and the cats only seem trained to find and eat fish, not certain Japanese people.

What Is It?

“Cat Island,” officially known as “Tashiro Island” (田代島), is an island near Ishinomaki City in Miyagi Prefecture… and yes, to answer your one burning question… it’s covered in cats. Check out this Google Maps satellite view of the island.

In all seriousness, though, it can be accessed via ferry. You can get from Ishinomaki (石巻) to Tashirojima (Cat Island). Here’s a big picture of Japan to see what area it’s in.

And if we zoom in, we can see Ishinomaki and Tashirojima and how close they are to each other.

When you go, you take an awesome little ferry, too. Sadly, not cat shaped in any way.

Apparently, cats on this island are way more populous than actual people on this island. There are approximately 100 residents on Cat Island, and most of them are over 70. One person is 37, and everybody else is over 60 years old. That’s a lot of old people, but luckily cats are here to save the day. According to Wikipedia:

In the past, the islanders raised silkworms for silk, and cats were kept in order to keep the mouse population down (because mice are a natural predator of silkworms). Fixed-net fishing was popular on the island after the Edo Period and fishermen from other areas would come and stay on the island overnight. The cats would go to the inns where the fishermen were staying and beg for scraps. Over time, the fishermen developed a fondness for the cats and would observe the cats closely, interpreting their actions as predictions of the weather and fish patterns. One day, when the fishermen were collecting rocks to use with the fixed-nets, a stray rock fell and killed one of the cats. The fishermen, feeling sorry for the loss of the cat, buried it and enshrined it at this location on the island.

The modern people of this island are hoping that they can use the cats (coupled with a decent amount of media attention they’ve been getting) to attract people to visit, then eventually live there. If they don’t, then I’m afraid the island will look like a scene from Jurasic Park 2: Lost World, minus the dinosaurs with a few thousand cats thrown in.

It’s only been a couple years, but I guess it’s kind of working – a lot more tourists make their way to Cat Island to take pictures of cats, feed cats, pet cats, and all kinds of other things you can do with cats.

Basically, if you like cats, this is going to be your little Cat Mecca. Besides the cats themselves, there are other cat themed things you can take part in. For example, there’s a cat shrine:

Also, there’s cat shaped buildings…

and other things as well… Thing is, you can walk this island in a day if you wanted. It’s only about 8 square miles. Don’t go into any dark alleyways, though, you never know what a mob of cats might do to you.

Oh, and of course, dogs are strictly prohibited.

Want to see more? You can watch a CCTV video on Cat Island, here. Also, here’s a map of fun things you can do (in Japanese) while visiting.

Update: Duh, YouTube has a ton of Cat Island videos. Warning. These videos contain cats.

Fisherman feeding the cats

Jack, the cat that made Cat Island Famous (he’s the one with the loppy ear)

Cat shrine

Our visit to Cat Island

P.S. If you’re worried about getting Zerg Rushed by cats, you should follow Tofugu on Twitter, Here.

  • Filouu

    i am very touched with joy,wile watching this video…….,cats..(and of cause all animals..)..deserve a peacefull comfortable life…!!!

  • Doriana Lehmann

    people who respect and love animals are blessed with special and great energy…..

  • Doriana Lehmann

    Die Groesse…( Liebe,Respect fuer Leben,Verstaendnis und Barmherzigkeit )..einer Nation und dessen moralischer Entwicklung kann beurteilt werden an der Art und Weise wie sie ihre Tiere behandeln…!!!!!

  • aliah

    My kind of place! <3

  • Sherri Moore

    Cats are cleaner than dogs and a lot of people I know. I gather you have no real experience with felines at all.

  • Valerie

    I’d be interested to know how these cats fared after the earthquake and tsunami.

  • Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

    I really appreciate seeing Tashirojima since the earthquake. I’ve been concerned about how everything held up and how the cats and people are doing.

  • Angelique Grijalva

    loved the videos you did !!! ,<3 =^,^= <3

  • psychicjane

    Do they glow in the dark? Maybe I could sell catnip to tourists…:)

  • zoomingjapan

    I went to
    Cat Island this May (2012) – so after the tsunami and earthquake hit the region – and could confirm first-hand what was
    damaged and what not.
    I wrote a blog post about it with a lot of
    information and photos, so I suppose it might be interesting for people
    who want to visit Cat Island but are unsure if it’s safe to go or not:

  • ovi respati

    please.. please.. take me there, koichi..

  • Winston Smith

    I wanna go there

  • annoyinganja

    i will live here

  • Chris Hugh

    Take a ferry to Cat Island? I’ll take a catamaran or I won’t go at all.

  • Charles F. Sommers

    Don’t play in any local sandboxes!!

  • westley henscheid

    so would i

  • Lolita

    Hahaha, dogs are prohibited. LOL. I love cats. <3

  • Arief Rakhman Caropeboka

    They’re so cute :D
    Such i wanna take one of them :D

  • rewwssfgg

    This is where they make plans to take over the earth…That grey cat in part one looks a bit shady..I bet that is the leader…

  • Laura L Britton

    Cat island is awesome…

  • Katie

    I’d like to go there but I am wondering: Are the cats neutered/spayed at all? Are there a lot of territory wars? From what I know about cats, they populate really easily and then they become a pest (like my side of Orlando.) Plus, I know cats make some really god awful noises when they come together sometimes. Whether it be for mating or fighting, there is usually loud caterwauling involved.

  • Katie

    If I remember right, it was in the news after the tsunami that cat island was okay.

  • Gayle Allen

    how do the people make a living here? is it only fishermen living here?

  • Crystal

    田代島… 凄い!!

  • Tea

    I luv this!!! Would luv to visit some day. I luv cats. This would be zen on earth. I’d almost think about leaving my family and living there.

  • DeadDreams.

    This Sucks all my dreams of getting millions off old crazy cat ladies, by creating Cat island is out the window! The worst
    part is i don’t get to drive a Lambo

  • liza araniego

    cool guys! more cat’s to live than human but its a lovely place funny are the lady in the store looks happy..

  • GuateCatLady

    hoping that due to their sacred standing that they are all receiving good medical care, spayed and neutered for population control … cats are beautiful creatures, but like any other group (people included) population control is critical to their success and well being.

  • jsussixfer

    <3333 that last video. That cat is a born chiller.