Life in Japan in Photos: Kappa

azumanga sakaki cat
This is Kappa. She was the one of several rescues I made in Japan over the past few years who ultimately survived. The rest, despite immediate vet care, eventually died due to the severity of their injuries or illnesses. I and a fellow lover of cats kept Kappa in our respective houses for several months, although we weren’t supposed to – like many apartments in Japan, big or small, pets were not allowed. However, the reason I’ve chosen this particular photo to post about is not just because I love cats, but also to highlight exactly how much of a problem Japan has with stray animals, and with cats in particular.

kappa

Unlike many other first world countries, Japan has extremely few animal shelters given the size of its population. Those that do exist tend to be found only in the most major of cities. Needless to say, such shelters simply don’t have the money, time, and other necessary resources to deal with the large number of stray cats brought in each day. It’s been estimated that they euthanize around 80% of their animals as a result, typically after a period of around 3 days.

This still leaves well over 60,000 stray cats here in Japan, a great many of whom are left to fend for themselves in more rural areas. Since the majority of pet owners (including those who lose or simply decide to dump unwanted animals) rarely neuter their pets, the cats especially reproduce very quickly, exacerbating the problem. Inevitably, these cats and their offspring frequently die from exposure, starvation, and of course, being hit by vehicles.

Moreover – and I’ve certainly experienced this firsthand – the general attitude towards animals in Japan is that they are things to be owned or abandoned rather than living, breathing, feeling beings. Leaving them by the roadside in some remote location is viewed as bad because it’s against the law and against social mores, but not necessarily because it causes the animals harm or is viewed as immoral as far as the animals themselves are concerned.

I’m glad I was able to help rescue Kappa, eventually take her to the vet to be neutered, and find a home for her once she’d grown up a bit. But she’s only one cat, and I’m only one person. This post is also for Moku-chan (pictured below), who died after several painful weeks of nursing due to a suspected brain injury after she was dumped and hit by a car in my hometown in Ehime, and who gave me all the love she had to give in her tiny body anyway. It’s for Samson, a stray living around my next house in Fukui who also died after being run over, despite me negotiating a few private English lessons in exchange for an expensive surgery for his damaged spine. It’s for the kitten I found already dead in a bus shelter trash bin, and for its sibling I heard meowing nearby but never managed to find. It’s for every cat still out there with no home and little hope – and for every person who might just be able to do something about it.

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11 thoughts on “Life in Japan in Photos: Kappa

  1. Thank you for the difference you made in the cats life. It may be only “one cat” but it made all the difference to that one. It is hard to see animal like that in another country and it is hard to know how to help them. I got my first dog from Korea and he came home with me but the shelter there also had a high kill count and it was hard seeing all those dogs in the shelter knowing that I could only take one.

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    • Thank you! I hope Kappa’s still enjoying life to the fullest, and I can at least be grateful that Moku-chan isn’t suffering anymore. I gave her all the love I could while she was around, and I think she knew that. Funnily enough, I didn’t actually name either of these cats though. Kappa was named by my friend who I helped in rescuing her, and Moku-chan was named by my mum on Skype. ❤

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    • Thank you! I hope she’s still enjoying life to the fullest, wherever she is now.

      Yes, I did make a couple of major posts about that before I left. For various reasons (nothing bad, just personal stuff), I ended up deleting my LJ in September.

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    • Thank you. I know I’m far from the only person who cares, but it’s still sad to see that so many people in Japan simply don’t. I’m not asking that everyone here love cats – I just want people to not buy them at all if they’re not committed to caring for them long-term (and also to get them neutered; even supposedly ‘indoor cats’ can easily escape).

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