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What To Expect When You Visit A "Cat Island" In Japan

What To Expect When You Visit A "Cat Island" In Japan  image

What To Expect When You Visit A "Cat Island" In Japan

Welcome to one of Japan's several 'cat islands'. Half abandoned community, half animal sanctuary, the 'cat islands' look like a scene straight out of a Studio Ghibli movie.

But according to photographer Andrew Marttila, these islands aren't the cat paradise he expected to find. After booking a flight to Ainoshima last November to photograph the cats, Marttila has a slightly different perspective on the concept.

"I had seen a few Internet articles over the years describing the beauty and wonder of Cat Island and, as a cat lover, knew I had to make the trip," he explains.

"To our surprise, we learned that there are actually many 'cat islands' scattered all around Japan, but the one we went to was in the Fukuoka prefecture. After the twenty-minute ferry ride to the island, my partner and I realized far too quickly that this was not all sunshine's and rainbows; many of the cats were suffering from infections and more importantly, none of the cats were altered (spayed/neutered)."

Once there, Marttila was confronted with an over-population problem. Many cats were sick and suffering. For locals, the health of the cats isn't their problem. Locals generally rely on nature will running its course. But for Marttila, watching "survival of the fittest" play out is a grim prospect.

Many of the cats were suffering from upper respiratory infections...

"It's a complex issue that doesn't necessarily have a singular answer," he says. "What we took away from the visit was to remain mindful of our impact in regards to animal-centric destination spots and to share what we experienced."

"Irrespective of the issues surrounding the island, the cats were absolutely marvelous and a lot of fun to photograph. Far from feral, most of them were happy to be pet and have their photos taken."

Via Creative Boom

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