Have you ever wished you could visit an island full of cats? If this sounds like a cat lover's fantasy island, it isn't. Aoshima, also known as the Cat Island, is a small fishing island off the coast of Ehime prefecture in Japan. Why is it called Cat Island? Because this amazing place is home to over 120 free-roaming felines!
Before the 2000s, Aoshima was a relatively isolated place, with few humans aside from the approximately 20 people who live there. Ever since the cat-loving Internet found out about Aoshima, though, tourism to the island has exploded. While there is a cap on daily visitors, which helps keep the elderly residents from becoming overwhelmed, it is absolutely possible for cat lovers the world over to come and check out the adorableness. If you have a vacation coming up, and you're looking to get swarmed by cats, Japan's cat island of Aoshima might be just the right choice.
There's A Daily Cap On Visitors
Only 34 visitors are allowed on Aoshima per day. While this might be disappointing to tourists, it's important to island's elderly residents that tourism doesn't get out of control. They don't want their homes overrun with visitors who might disrupt their peaceful lifestyle.
So, if you're lucky enough to be one of the 34 guests, please be respectful of the human beings, and cats, who live there.
Aoshima Isn't The Only Cat Island In Japan
Cat islands are more common in Japan than you might think. Aoshima is one of more than 10 cat islands in the country. While all of them have being overrun by cats in common, they all have their own unique attributes that make them worth visiting.
For example, if you want to visit Iwaishima, you'll not only have a chance to interact with cats, but also other humans. The island has a population of at least 500 people, and "many cats." If you need someplace to stay overnight, you can stay at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn. Ajima has its own beach and camping sites. On Tashirojima Island, you can even visit a cat shrine.
The Cats Get A Lot Of Their Food From Humans
Despite originally being brought on to pick off the mice population, these cute cats mostly depend on tourists and residents to feed them now. Atsuko Ogata, a village nurse in Aoshima, regularly takes food to the cats in a designated feeding area. This results in an adorable storm of fluff and meowing. The cats also eat rice balls, energy bars, and other snacks that they manage to grab from visiting tourists.
The Cats Can Fend For Themselves
Despite the abundance of food the local cats get from both residents and tourists, Aoshima's felines would be okay without human intervention. Cats on Aoshima supplement their diets with fresh fish. The waters are still rich with sardines - a perfect snack for a kitty cat.